I feel like I am getting close to baseline, the state I was in prior to the exercise testing. It’s taken almost seven weeks, and in that time I have left my house a total of seven times – 5 doctor appointments and 2 social outings in my wheelchair. It has been a hard slog back to normalcy, and I’m getting close.
I’ve been wearing a heart rate monitor for 18 days, and have the alarm set to go off when I go over 95 beats per minute. It does not take much to put me over that line. I’ve been so frustrated that it goes off when I climb a flight of stairs or laugh or walk through my yard. But that alarm has forced me to pace much more than I normally would. I am walking slower. I’m making different choices about what I try to accomplish in the house. And that alarm has stopped me from doing things I would normally have pushed to do, like weeding for even 5 minutes or planting flowers in the yard. I have done far far less than I was inclined to do.
Has it made any difference in my symptoms? Perhaps. I have not had a crash day since strapping on the monitor. But my fatigue, pain, and cognitive symptoms all persist. Nothing is off the charts, but none of it is gone, either. On the other hand, I have been coming back to baseline and I think it makes sense to attribute that progress to the careful pacing forced by the monitor.
Today I raised the limit on my heart rate monitor to 105 beats per minute. This was my anaerobic threshold on the first day of the exercise tests. Now that I am feeling closer to normal, I thought it made sense to experiment with the higher limit. If I can sustain that without crashing, perhaps it will be a sign of progress. So far today, I have been able to climb the stairs and water some plants in the yard without setting off the monitor for more than a couple of beats.
The anaerobic threshold is not the only barrier I am trying to avoid. There is what I am calling the crazy threshold (CT) to manage as well. The crazy threshold is that point at which I can’t take being isolated in this house for another minute. The past few days have been ok. My husband was home for most of the holiday weekend instead of running in several directions at once. We went out for ice cream at the dairy right by the house. And my parents came for a visit too. I’ve had enough human interaction that I don’t feel perilously close to the CT.
This week, I am in self-imposed seclusion and house arrest. We have a wonderful family event to attend on Saturday that will also involve a car trip. It will be a big outlay of energy, and I
cannot WILL NOT miss it. I don’t think I will be resentful of the heart rate monitor if careful pacing gets me to and through this family celebration without a crash. Too much to hope for? We’ll see.