Monday, September 7, 2009

Myeloma transplant - Exercise

How to approach exercise during my stem cell transplant for myeloma had me baffled. What exercises to do, when, how long, why, could I do it, will it have any good or bad effects.
My medical advisers said that being isolated and immobile during transplant would cause muscle wasting and may cause decreased circulation, DVT, pneumonia or respiratory complications.
My attitude was if I was to achieve a successful outcome I want to stack all the odds in my favour so if maintaining exercise during transplant was going to help my success then I would do it.

Pre transplant I had recovered from initial treatment, gaining strength and walking an hour a day.
Until my white counts dropped too low I continued walking at the hospital for 30 minutes at a time when I could, initially outside then the hospital corridors. My pace slowly reduced as my white counts lowered and fatigue started.
When my neutrophils were low and I was unable to go outside the ward I used an Exercycle in the ward and walked around the room.
The hospital physiotherapist gave me a range of exercises to do during transplant. Stretching, chest expansion, deep breathing, ankle strengthening, arm lifting and rotation, leg lifting all on the bed or standing up and generally tried to keep moving to maintain circulation and limit muscle wasting.
There were times when I could not exercise due to fatigue or tiredness.
Did it help? A little, if I did nothing my condition would have deteriorated. When leaving the BMTU I was fatigued, could walk slowly non stop for 15 minutes and had to rest.
I believe exercise kept me healthier during transplant and helped me recover more quickly.
This is one of “part 2” a series of postings relating to my autologous stem cell transplant for myeloma. As they are complete the posting series can be found under labels/part 2 [Part 2 link]

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