10 months; tennis anyone; english channel?

After 10 months of recovery, I ventured onto the tennis court (scene of my ATR) for the first time yesterday with one of my daughters.  Even though we were just hitting ( wound up playing a few games), it was a bit nerve racking.  No observable difficulty but I took it very cautiously.   After an hour we called it quits and I thought to myself, “have i aged this much in 10 months or i am just that much out of shape for tennis?’  As most of us know, one form of exercise (swimming in my case) is no substitute for another (tennis) and there will be a lot of reconditioning required to get back in form.  But it was a good start and a bit of a milestone (getting “back on the horse after you fall off”)!

I read a few comments about swimming and reiterate my previous statements that swimming has been one of the real unexpected benefits from the ATR experience.  My swimming began at about week 9 and could have been 3 or 4 weeks earlier, I believe.  I am now swimming a mile and a half 4 or 5 times a week and, other than the joint problems I rediscovered on the tennis court, feel as healthy as I have for a long time.  The english channel might be a stretch but I do believe I will try to attempt some long open water swims this year.

I wholeheartedly recommend pool exercises and swimming as early as possible for all of you in the therapy process.

Happy holidays to all the ATR community around the world.

8 Responses to “10 months; tennis anyone; english channel?”

  1. Your post is very inspiring. I’m interested to know how long you took to get up to that distance? How did you go about building up to that goal. I used to swim a mile about three times a week, and at week 16 post surgery am just about able to do about three quarters of that distance. I was in the pool the day after my cast came off and it felt so good. Do post your progress on your open water swimming. Best wishes.

  2. Great, gunner, and I agree completely, even though I haven’t been in a pool myself for a LONG time. (Maybe as part of the cardiac rehab — though I know they definitely DON’T recommend it for the first few weeks. Something about drowning, I think!)

    About switching from one form of exercise (and fitness) to another: When I was a grad student at Princeton, and probably in about the best shape I was ever in, I used to play squash at lunch time. I was a pretty solid squash player, having “played with” my undergrad team in university. After a while, I found myself wondering if swimming a few laps in the pool might be even better exercise.

    So one lunch time, instead of playing squash, I went to the pool and swam a few laps. Afterwards, I thought I was going to DIE. But I stuck with it for a while, and got so I could swim laps for 45 minutes or so and feel pretty good afterwards (except for the chlorine). Eventually I got bored, and tired of the chlorine, so I decided to go back to squash. So I did — and I thought I was going to DIE.

    It took just about as long to become comfortably fit at squash again, as it had to become comfortably fit at swimming. No way was one very significantly HARDER than the other, they were just DIFFERENT. I was shocked at the symmetry.

  3. Hi Norm: I hope you are well on the mend and fully satisfied with your progress. Have you left a blog or note with the key lessons you learned from the open heart experience?

    It is amazing how conditioning is specific to an activity or sport. Cardiovascular fitness is one thing, the muscular and flexibility requirements specific to each sport are quite another.

    All best wishes to you and your family for a great 011.

  4. teresa1: thanks for your reply. I started in the pool at 9 weeks post ATR (non surgical route). After about two weeks in the pool walking and stretching, I began swimming a few laps, started with 5 laps, I believe (in a 25 yard pool, so 250 yards). Increasing every day, I was up to a mile in no time. At our pool there are a number of triathletes training with a coach who once coached the S. African Olympic swim team. I picked up some tips from him then got a plan from swimplan.com. Worked that for a month or so, then moved up to 2000 yards, then 2100, then 2500 and now 2700 or a little better than 1.5 miles. I use kickboards at points and swim all four strokes at times, but about80% of the workout is freestyle.

    Hope that helps.

  5. Thanks, Gunner. One of the main “take-home messages” I got from this open-heart surgery thing is that “ATR patients don’t get no respect,” to paraphrase the late Rodney Dangerfield.

    In many ways, my lifestyle, my wife, and I all suffered MORE “pain” and dislocation from my recent ATR — even with a painless and fast non-surgical rehab — than from my open-heart surgery! Heck, I couldn’t carry a cup of coffee across the kitchen without a wheeled chair for a MONTH post-ATR! Post-OHS, I was almost completely self-sufficient as soon as I got home, 6 days post-op! Couldn’t lift heavy things, not easy reaching way high, and moving slowly, but pretty close to fully functional.

    But post-ATR, everybody sees a stupid sports injury to an ankle, and wonders why I need so much help. Post-OHS, everybody’s amazed to see me alive, sounding and looking so much like myself after my heart’s been stopped for 4+ hours and my lungs collapsed, etc., etc.

    I’m not saying this hasn’t been incredibly major and serious and scary surgery. But it gathers sympathy and “respect” out of all proportion to the actual disruption to my daily lifestyle. ATR recovery, OTOH, tends to bore our loved ones to tears after the first few hours, and then it’s the Rodney Dangerfield of injuries, with huge disruptions to the patient’s lifestyle and NO RESPECT!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all!

  6. I’ll echo what you said about not getting any respect. Last year at the ski area someone I knew asked where I had been and I told him about the ATR. He actually thought is was funny and not a big deal. I quickly and bluntly disabused him of the notion that an ATR is something to joke about. Haven’t seen him at the ski area yet this year. Maybe he ruptured his Achilles tendon - that would be karma.

  7. Hi Gunner

    Glad you got back on the tennis court. And took it easy.

    I went back to tennis at about 5 months, and found myself really weak pushing off on backhand shots. Right-handed, ruptured left Achilles. Compensated by buying a racquet better suited for backhand.

    At 12.5 months, finally getting some good push off that foot - I walk the beach 2 miles a day, try to push on the ball of my feet as much as possible.

    Also working out on a Wii Fit. I find my balance and strength improving greatly from using it. Got my Wii Fit Age down to 39. I’ll be 67 in August.

  8. Welcome back, Sully, and glad you’re doing well. Wii Fit could be an answer to this tough winter, though more post-heart-surgery for me than post-ATR.

    I haven’t noticed Gunner around here since the site returned from a month-long outage. I didn’t check, but Gerry and I may have been among the last posters before it went down. (Anybody remember Bart Simpson’s “I didn’t do it!”?)

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