I am a 71 year old female. I don’t exercise as I should; and I am twenty pounds over my comfortable (not ideal) weight. However, I am disease free, have minor arthritis, have no major heart problems and my DEXA scan tells me my bone density is well above average for gals my age. I exercise my brain daily and keep active in life with social, family and internet activities.
I recently underwent a partial right side colectomy to remove two pre-cancerous polyps and six inches of colon. I went into the hospital on a Tuesday around eight in the morning, and after surgery, recovery, room preparation waiting and other unknown delays, was wheeled into my private room around seven that night, still so groggy that I could hardly open my eyes to say good-bye to my daughter who had been there the whole time.
Two hours later, around nine, my competitive, “do-the-best-you-can-do” spirit awoke with a vengeance. Why I am this way, I don’t know. But I was committed to “going for gold” in the over-65 year old age group for major surgery! True, I would be classed in the laparoscopic division, which has a lesser degree of difficulty, but still I wanted to be the best.
By midnight I had told the night nurse I was ready to walk. With her assistance I walked around my room twice, sat in a chair, and even stood up to get something while she was out of the room. By seven the next morning of day-one, post-op, I went around the entire floor circuit. Two more times that day I did two circuits, and by the day-two I had done more than five circuits, was advanced to solo walking and scored gold! (Take that– you wimpy men just dangling your legs over the side of the bed.)
Even on day of surgery, I had managed to move my own body weight to the hospital bed but on day-one, post-op I was able to raise, lower, move laterally and to do the “IV pole shuffle” from the bed to the recliner where I sat and took my clear liquid meals (whoopie!) By day-two, post-op, I had discovered the a new technique of bed-entering: crawling onto the bed on the knees, which did not pull on the five laparoscopic openings that were sewn and taped shut, then do a flop-turn to a desirable position high enough to not have to do any scooting. Another gold!
Activity: Endurance and Intelligence to follow instruction
Enter the “Incentive Spirometer.” This is a clever little contraption that helps keep lungs clear, strengthen breathing and muscles and prevent complications. The technique is pretty simple:
Place lips and teeth around mouthpiece.
Inhale slowly as much air as possible, while keeping a little plastic disk hovering between arrows for at least three seconds.
Repeat ten times an hour
I had perfect form. Did not once hear the “tone” that indicates foul and subtraction of points; kept the spirometer in an upright position with firm grip and met all challenges including personal goal of attaining 1500 ml volume of air. Triple gold!
Activity: Pleasing the Gods (The Surgeon and Nurses)
Advance information had indicated a three to five day hospital stay. My surgeon had given the “thumbs-up” okay for release by eight in the morning of day three. Excellent! I had been a model patient, except in one teeny bitty category; nurse-call button pushing. Okay, okay, I have a flaw. I can’t stand when a machine needs attention and is beeping and beeping and beeping. EVEN if I caused it with too rapid of movement with the arm containing the IV needle; this error is called “patient occlusion.” But, even with points deducted, I won Silver!
As soon as I returned home (a winner!), I broke the rules. I was not supposed to lift more than ten pounds, so my eighteen pound kitty was way off limits, but I coaxed the fifteen pounder onto my lap. AND, wonder of wonders, I found out I was really not a super-woman as much as my competitive spirit hates to admit. I put so much effort into being a patient of Olympic-Gold quality, that I wore myself out. Hope you enjoyed my hospital event. Three Gold medals and one Silver.
I am going to go take a nap now.