Straight from the heart . . .

Straight from the heart . . .

Adventures in Cardiac Rehab - Day 2?

Why the question mark after the title?


Simply put, my official first day of cardiac rehab was on Tuesday.  That day was spent primarily completing paperwork, going through oritentation, and meeting the folks with whom I will be spending the next 12 weeks.  I did do a little exercise ... six minutes on a treadmill.  


Today was my first cardiac rehab workout.  I've decided to chronicle my experiences in my blog to keep track of my progress.  The first thing I realized is that  I have a lot of work to do!



They say "confession is good for the soul" so here goes.  For about the last 10 years, I have not done what Mamma told me years ago.  She said, "you better take good care of yourself, because nobody else will!"   She was so right; but it wasn't intentional.  First there was the battle with mitral valve prolapse that slowed me down. I spent five years working around that issue but in the process, I began sitting more and more.  At work, I sat all day long and, when I got home, I crashed on the couch.  Part of the MVP was battle with chronic fatigue and the one thing I learned is that fatigue begats fatigue.  Even with that we still went on walks and I was active with the grandchildren that came along.


A little over two years ago, I was able to walk the length of the National Mall in DC with my husband. We spent entire days walking around the city and in the museums.  I noticed subtle changes and then within a few months, I began to see more and more joints affected and I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis.  Within six months of the diagnosis, sitting or walking for prolonged periods made knee and ankle joints swell and ache; repetitive motions like working for hours on a computer keyboard cause more pain and joint damage in my wrists, fingers and myneck.  So once again, exercise wasn't something I was excited about.  


I do miss those long walks and on our last trip to DC, where I had walked all day I could only manage a few hours.  I am not a person who likes limitations ... I've never liked being told I can't do something. I learned quickly that to have mobility, flexibility, and minimize pain that excercise had to be a part of my day.  So light yoga, stretching and my exercise bike have become things I need to keep on keeping on! Now after the heart attack (aka "my episode") my exercise routine has definitely gotten kicked up a notch!


When you particpate in cardiac rehab the first thing you do every morning is weigh yourself.  This is important because three to five pounds up or down could mean you are either retaining too much fluid or losing too much and either extreme could be a problem.  The cardiac rehab team then hook you up to a portable heart monitor, check your vitals and they monitor you the entire time.  


Then the routine begins.  For me, that meant 10 minutes on an elliptical bike, 15 minutes on a treadmill and 15 minutes on a recumbent stepper.  My first thought was how I would fair with the arthritis but when I met a 94 year-old man who was outpacing everyone else, that thought was replaced with a preference of a healthy heart; at least I would still be alive to be concerned about the arthritis.  Easy choice!


How did I do today?  I think pretty well.  It was a bit of a struggle at first.  Working at a pace that meets cardiac goals without causing a lot of joint pain is a balancing act.  I will admit that after having "my episde" I have had a little apprehension about shortness of breath or feeling any kind of  pressure in my chest or arm.  That is one reason why I am so grateful for PMC's cardiac rehab program.  I know that there are trained professionals monitoring me the entire time and as long as I don't make any alarms go off on the system, it's a good day!


For most of the summer, I will be going to cardiac rehab every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.  In between, I'll continue exercising at home so keep up the momentum.  Who knows, maybe I'll have that bikini body back by August!  LOL



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