Avid Traveler and Cardiac Rehabilitation Patient
"I would not even consider skipping cardiac rehabilitation. Not only does your body feel better, your head does too."
Heart Patient’s Prescription Is Exercise and Laughter
Kay Hale felt “blindsided” when she found out two of the arteries that supplied blood to her heart were plugged and she needed double bypass surgery. She didn’t want to leave a job she loved in the front office of her husband’s dental practice.
“I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’” said the 73-year-old Midland resident. “Little did I know that, after heart surgery, I was going to go to cardiac rehabilitation and end up joining a gym! That was a year and a half ago, and now I’m feeling absolutely great.”
In the hospital after her surgery, a member of MidMichigan’s cardiac rehabilitation staff visited Kay to talk about how the program could help her recover.
“It was a great wake-up call,” she said. “I wasn’t exercising. I knew I had to make a lifestyle change.”
Building Strength Without Strain
About six weeks after surgery, Kay began going three times a week to the Cardiac Rehabilitation fitness center on the campus of MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland.
While she worked out on the treadmill, arm bike and other aerobic equipment, Kay wore a monitor that enabled trained exercise physiologists and registered nurses to continuously track her heart rate and rhythm. They made sure she was training just hard enough to build strength without strain.
“The staff were awesome and made everyone feel welcome,” Kay said. “They start slow, and you exercise on each piece of equipment for a short time because they don’t want you to overdo it. As the exercise got harder, I got stronger. I discovered that I felt wonderful and had more energy.”
The staff also communicated with Kay’s heart surgeon, Robert N. Jones, M.D., about her progress and shared information with her about diet, medication other topics important to her recovery.
Kay is aware that many women who have heart surgery choose not to go to cardiac rehabilitation, even though it is usually covered by health insurance.
“I can’t understand why anyone would not go to rehab,” she said. “I would not even consider skipping it. Not only does your body feel better, your head does too.”
Fit for Life
Exercise became a habit, and when Kay finished the 12-week program, she joined the fitness center maintenance program. Now on days when she doesn’t work out at the center, she exercises at home. She and her husband, Larry, even worked out on the ship when they took a cruise.
The physical conditioning paid off again a year and a half after her heart surgery, when Kay had a knee replacement.
“I don’t know how I would have been able to walk after surgery had I not been exercising,” Kay said. “I saw other patients in the hospital who obviously had not exercised and as a result had a hard time.”
These days, Kay is busy and happy, with energy enough to travel with Larry, visit her grandchildren, exercise and still do some work at the office.
“I don’t think of myself as old,” she said. “This is my second life, my retired life.”
Her family doctor was also happy with Kay’s condition. “You’re fine; you’re fit,” she said. “My prescription for you now is exercise and laughter.”
Trust the experts at MidMichigan for every stage of your cardiac care. Our comprehensive cardiac program includes state-of-the-art emergency care, advanced diagnostic testing, cardiac catheterization labs, primary angioplasty, pacemaker implantation, a dedicated coronary care unit, specialized cardiac rehabilitation and in-home cardiac care. For more information, visit www.midmichigan.org/heart. For a referral to one of our experienced cardiologists, call MidMichigan Health Line toll-free at (800) 999-3199.