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Old 08-06-2009, 08:34 AM   #1
Patrick Poblocki
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Thoracotomy and Loss

Hi all.

After a recent freak accident, I had to have a thoracotomy to drain fluid from around my heart and lungs. I'm in rough shape, with a big incision in my back and multiple incisions in my side from chest tubes. Dr. says 6 - 8 weeks before I feel like myself, but even longer for strenuous activity. Right now I can't lift anything heavier than a milk jug.

Now, I have things in perspective and realize that I'm lucky to be alive. BUUUUT, I've worked so hard at CF for the last 1.5 years that it's killing me to see my body wither away. Does anyone have advice for limiting my muscle loss? Right now I can only walk. I feel like I'm 85. I'll probably only be able to walk for the next 4 weeks. What sorts of things can I do as I get stronger to transition back into a CF routine? I realize that this shift is going to take MONTHS, but I have no idea how to scale to such a large degree.

Any input would be appreciated. Right now, I'm gaging progress on the depth of breaths I can take and the amount of time I can walk without getting winded.

Thanks,

Patrick
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:15 AM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

If it doesn't hurt get your extremities wiggling and moving.. contractions if possible. Squeeze stuff with your hands, etc. I mean I'd normally hesitate to say biceps curls or leg curls, but if that's all you can do then do it.

Any neurological activity would help prevent atrophy. Diet stays the same,.. if it's quality
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Old 08-06-2009, 03:18 PM   #3
Patrick Poblocki
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

Thanks!
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:20 PM   #4
Everett Steinbarger
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

Tell us about the freak accident.

If you can document your progression from chest tube extraction to being able to do a pull-up, we would be very appreciative.

Good luck in your recovery,

Everett
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Last edited by Everett Steinbarger : 08-06-2009 at 07:20 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:13 AM   #5
Patrick Poblocki
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

Steven,

I tried, last night, to flex my bicep and I had a cramp ripple down my back causing me to fall to my knees! I tried--haha! I can flex and squeeze other parts without problems, so I'll keep it up.

Everett,
The accident was really weird and a bit embarrassing. I was at a friends birthday party for his three-year-old. He decided to rent a moon bounce for his son. When the youngsters were out of the picture, the adults decided to "play." I attempted to dive into the moon bounce through a small doorway, BUT someone had zipped closed the opening. So, I hit this relatively soft wall at a full sprint in a superman position. I thought I broke my neck, so I was put on a straight board with a collar. The doctors couldn't find a fracture (thank God) but couldn't understand why I was having so much pain in my chest. After five hours waiting, they read a cat scan of my chest and realized it was quickly filling with blood. I had limited time to be rushed to another hospital that could facilitate the thoracotomy, and by the time I got there on lung was running at 10% and the other at 30%. I was slipping away. Luckily, they got a chest tube in me right away to relieve the pressure, then they drained my back, finally, I had the major surgery to drain the rest of the liquid. Still, the doctors had no idea how that type of impact could have severed my mammary artery--freaky.

Anyway, since then (it's been 11 days since my surgery) I've built up my lung capacity so that they are expanding at 100%. I'm walking 1 mile, twice per day. But, per doctor's orders, I'm still not able to lift anything over the weight of a milk jug, get my heart rate elevated too much, or swim. So, I'm just relaxing. I've been eating pretty clean (some ice cream of course). That's it at this point.

Thanks for the interest. I'm anxious to be able to get back to some body weight workouts. I think chins will have to wait for a while since the major incision is just below my left shoulder blade. Might start with some bw squats, light jogs, jump rope, planks and pushups initially. Thoughts?


Thanks,

Patrick
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:56 AM   #6
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

Listen to your doctor. Thank whatever Higher Power you believe in. And be very happy for all that Crossfit training: being in good shape to start with will let you recover MUCH faster than you would otherwise.

My experience coming back from much less serious injuries is that all that stuff about "listening to your body" is really true. Your body will tell you if you're pushing too hard. This is the time you should listen, rather than toughing it out.

Katherine
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Old 08-12-2009, 02:38 PM   #7
Patrick Poblocki
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

Thanks Katherine,

I took your advice: after my walk today I figured it'd be a good time to start doing pushups. I could only do them from my knees and when I did five my body got very upset with me. Pain wrapped around my torso from my ribs to my back. I guess it's still too early, even for light body weight stuff. So for now, walking is it. Thanks,

Patrick
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:14 AM   #8
Paul Casimir
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

Best wishes for your recovery. 5 knee pushups 2 weeks after major surgery sounds like an accomplishment to me.

If it makes you feel less embarrassed about what happened, I knocked myself out running up a playground slide as an adult (forehead full speed into metal bar). I have a neighbor a few doors down that broke his neck on a slip-'n-slide (as an adult) and is in a wheelchair for life.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:12 AM   #9
Patrick Poblocki
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Re: Thoracotomy and Loss

Thanks Paul, it does make me feel better, although that's a terrible story about your neighbor. I consider myself very lucky and blessed. I'm re-evaluating my "rest day" activities.

Patrick
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