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Returning To Regular Work, Life, And Play After A Pulmonary Embolism

Updated on October 31, 2012

Recovering From A Pulmonary Embolism

How can you regain stamina and return to work after a pulmonary embolism when survivors finds themselves trying to recover; sleep; see numerous doctors multiple times a week; be a wife, husband, mother, or student; sleep some more; deal with medication side effects; heal from the emotional trauma; and regain stamina all at the same time? This is a daunting task. Pulmonary embolisms can cause significant damage. Even small, relatively harmless blood clots in the lungs can make for a long recovery. The heart, lungs, and sometimes veins in the legs or other areas are often damaged as part of the clots. Recovering from a pulmonary embolism feels like you are running in never ending, uphill marathon after spending a week cleaning your house. One of the best ways that survivors can help themselves out is to chart recovery. Charting can help patients see the recovery on paper, explain new or ongoing problems to doctors, identify medication side effects, and discover triggers that may worsen symptoms. Charting also helps patients to slowly increase endurance over time so that the transition back to the real world goes more smoothly.

Recommended Tools For Tracking Recovery

  • Pedometer
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Journal or composition book
  • Tracking software

How To Track Recovery

Start out with a notebook of some type. Make an introduction page. Include the current day's date, the date of your pulmonary embolism, your hospital stay dates, and current medications. Next, pick out some items that you can track easily and will show how you are healing. Some recommendations are pulse rate, blood pressure, INR, minutes of exercise and type of exercise, chores that are done, excursions out of the house, time at any given task, or steps per day. Pick the metrics that you will be recording. Each day you need to write down whatever you are measuring. This way you can review your notes and see your growth as time passes.

How I Tracked My Recovery

After my pulmonary embolism I started a log to see my growth. I felt like I was never going to get better. I had no clue how I would have the energy to make it through a day of work. My journal helped me to push myself within a safe limit as well as to see my progress. I started by recording my average heart rate and my blood pressure. After a while I realized I wanted to know more about endurance. I added a daily walk to my recovery plan. I started out with 5 minutes and was exhausted. I wrote down my walking time, pulse rate average and pulse rate high while walking. I also tracked my walk's length using a pedometer. Once I could tolerate 5 minutes without being out of breath or seeing my pulse skyrocket, I upped my walk by a few minutes. I made sure to only add a little at a time. I also used the heart rate monitor to walk at a pace that was comfortable. I made sure I didn't push my pulse too much. If it started to go too high I would slow my pace down. As weeks passed I could see the changes in my journal. This information helped me to return to work. I also knew that when I returned I would have to pace myself. My journal notes suggested that I should start at 4 hours a day in order to keep my body happy. I did those hours and slowly worked up to 8 hour days.

There are a number of apps that are now available to help you graph your progress and your symptoms. They have easy, journal formats and will make the data analysis an easy task by creating graphs and information sheets that you can print out for yourself or your doctor. (Symptoms are another thing that you can watch to see progress and healing.) I have provided a list of apps for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod). Many of these are available on android as well. I have used some of these apps for migraine tracking. The graphing features and charts are awesome.


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