Gretchen Mann - Midland, MI
"With rehab, and with these good people helping me, I know I will get my health back."
Her Motto is Never Stop Trying and Never Give Up
Gretchen Mann refuses to give up. In May of 2013, she needed three stents implanted in secondary arteries to improve her heart’s function. Unfortunately, several months later, she needed another stent. On November 10, 2015, she needed yet another for a total of five.
Because Mann had wisely chosen to pay attention to warning signs of heart trouble – extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and pain in her jaw and sometimes between her shoulder blades – doctors were able to intervene. “I feel fortunate because, despite the heart attacks, I had minimal muscle damage,” she said.
After the first surgery, Mann followed her doctor’s advice and signed up for Cardiac Rehabilitation at the fitness center on the campus of MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland. “After they put in the stents, I felt on top of the world,” she said. “I went to rehab for the first time in 2013 but I didn’t make it all the way through.” After the second procedure, she had to take a break and recuperate but later returned to rehab. The most recent procedure again interrupted Mann’s efforts but did not keep her down.
“After a couple of months off, I started rehab again on January 5,” she said. “My last formal session was March 1 but my husband and I are members and we are there 3-4 times a week.”
From the beginning of her cardiac rehab experience, Mann said she was surprised by, and grateful for, the outstanding staff at the fitness center. “I could not ask for nicer, more caring, considerate people,” she said. “I never heard a word of criticism. They are always positive and help me recognize my accomplishments.”
From the initial visit, she felt safe at the facility. As a rehab patient, her workout was carefully planned and she wore a monitor that continuously reported her heart rate and rhythm to staff members. “I remember the first time I walked a mile on the treadmill,” she said. “It took me 23 minutes but I was so excited – I hadn’t walked a mile in forever! Just a month earlier I was lying in bed having a procedure on my heart. With rehab, and with these good people helping me, I know I will get my health back.”
She usually spends about an hour using a treadmill, recumbent bike and other aerobic and strength-building equipment, and she also takes advantage of health education opportunities offered by the fitness center including sessions on medications and nutrition.
“I’m comfortable there,” she said. “Having people around who are familiar with me, and know my history, gives me a sense of safety.” Mann, who has diabetes, added that the discipline of working out on a regular basis, and the knowledge she has gained, has helped her become more diligent about keeping her blood sugar under control.
Mann believes heart patients should take advantage of all the assistance that is available. “Too often people think ‘I’ve had a heart attack, there’s nothing else to do,’” she said. “When help is offered, accept it. Take advantage of cardiac rehab. If you have to go more than once, go more than once.” She also believes that, regardless of how small, every bit of improvement counts. “I know I‘ll never be a size 6 and wrinkle-free, but I can be healthier.”
While Mann admits there are days when she would rather stay home instead of exercising, “I just go,” she said. “When I’m done, I feel more energized and more secure with my health.” She is determined to continue improving her health. “I have two grandkids who light up my world and I need to be healthy for them as well as for myself. After all, I promised the 14-year-old I will be around to dance at his wedding."
MidMichigan Health offers a full array of heart and vascular services, including open heart surgery, vascular surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. Those who would like additional information on the MidMichigan’s comprehensive cardiovascular team may visit www.midmichigan.org/heart.