Monthly Archives: October 2014

I Graduated…

…from Cardiac Rehab!!!

After 36 sessions of Cardiac Rehab over the past 4 months, I finally graduated!  Here is my “graduation” photo, which they will hang up along with all of the other photos of graduates, on their bulletin board.

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For my last session,  I did my workouts as normal, but the nurses and exercise physiologists talked to me quite a bit about my Individual Treatment Plan (what I can do at home) and answered any questions I asked.  On the first day of Cardiac Rehab they took measurements, and they took measurements on the last day to compare.  I did not really lose any weight or body fat percentage, but I am extremely happy about the 3 inches lost from my waist!  I can tell a difference in my body even if the other measurements don’t show it.

They gave me a packet of information to take home that included my Individual Treatment Plan (listing the things I was doing – speed, duration, weights, etc – in Cardiac Rehab). Within this packet, they wrote down my maximum heart rate, so I know what not to go over when working out, as well as heart rate range I should be in while working out.  They suggested that I take my blood pressure before and after working out and keep a log in case my cardiologist needs it.  I also received a certificate and, most importantly, a Tshirt!

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I have the option of moving into Phase 3 with Cardiac Rehab if I ever want to, but I don’t think I will need to do this. This would consist of going into Cardiac Rehab to work out, but without the heart monitor and constant supervision of the nurses.  It’s kind of like going to a gym where someone checks your blood pressure for you before and after your work out, you wear a heart rate watch during the work out, and you work out on your own (based on your Individual Treatment Plan).  This is not covered by insurance and costs $4 per visit, but you have the comfort of nurses around you in case something happens.  Since I already have a gym membership, and my focus is jogging/walking, I will continue my Phase 3 at home and at the gym.  But I can definitely go back to Cardiac Rehab to continue Phase 3 if I change my mind at any time.

I’ve had such an amazing team assisting me throughout Cardiac Rehab.  It helped me gain confidence and decreased some of my anxiety about working out.  Now, I’m on my own, and it’s up to me to continue to workout 150 minutes per week.   Let’s do this!!

I’m Jogging Faster!

It’s funny how you switch up something in your work out so minor but it turns out to make such a huge difference!  Normally, in Cardiac Rehab, I do 10 minutes on the bike and THEN go to the treadmill for 26 minutes of walking and jogging.  My lower legs usually get really fatigued and my 2 minute jogging intervals are difficult.  I find myself “pushing” through them and only being able to maintain the 4.3 speed for about a minute before decreasing down to 4.0 speed for the 2nd minute.

During my last Cardiac Rehab session, the bikes were all full when I started, so I HAD to start on the treadmill.  Of course, there was some trepidation on my part.  Not sure how I would feel doing that before my legs were “warmed up”.  So, I grabbed some water to put in the treadmill’s cup holder (I have to run with water) and began.

THIS TREADMILL SESSION FELT A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!  I began my 4 minutes of walking at 3.0 speed.  Then increased the speed to run.  My range is between 4.0-4.4, but I’ve never felt good enough to try 4.4 until NOW.  I increased the speed to 4.4, and it felt good.  After a minute, I still felt good…maybe even better!  I did it!  I ran for 2 full minutes at 4.4 speed, and it felt great!  No pain, no fatigue, didn’t feel like I was “pushing” through!  I was glad to get back down to the 3.0 speed to walk and catch my breath.  I completed my next 4 minutes of walking at 3.0 and then accelerated to 4.4 to run again for 2 minutes and did it!  Again!  And it still felt great!  My legs felt so strong, I felt so in shape!  I was able to complete ALL 4 of my 2 minute jogging intervals at the 4.4 speed for the entire time!  What a work out!  And to think I’ve been getting tired and fatigued on the bike, which has probably been holding me back.

After the treadmill, I went to the bike for 10 minutes.  It was hard.  I felt like I was struggling a little, and I was sweating quite a lot!  But I finished.

And now I know that next time, I want to start with the treadmill and save the bike until the end.  It’s funny how a small change like that can make a world of difference.

I could definitely tell a difference later in the day.  My legs felt stronger and tighter, and all around, I felt better (those endorphins!).

It feels great that I was able to increase my speed and maintain it.  Maybe I’ll get to that 5K in well before my 1 year goal!

P.S. I did buy new running shoes.  Didn’t spend a lot of time researching and shopping because I was super tired that day.  I normally rotate through various brands – Nike, Saucony, Adidas, and New Balance.  The pair I bought this round is Saucony.  We’ll see how they work out for now.

Medical Bracelets

It’s been almost freaky how so many things have happened since the night of my heart attack that just can’t be mere coincidences; they must be divine intervention.  The stars were all aligned the night my life was saved, and even the doctors say the fact that I’m alive is a miracle.

I was driving the other day and started thinking about Rescue Wraps, which is a product that I found on Facebook and shared on my Facebook page.  What a great idea to have a Rescue Wrap on my seatbelt if I’m ever in a car accident so EMTs/Rescue workers know that I’m a heart patient.  If I’m unconscious or can’t speak and I’m taken into the ER, how will anyone know that I have a stent and I’m on blood thinners?  Medical professionals need to know this information so further damage is not caused.  If a doctor is requesting an MRI, you must disclose to them that you have a stent.  So I was thinking, hmmmmm, I need something that is easily visible that I have on my person to let rescue workers know that I am a heart patient.  I don’t have a scar from open heart surgery like my dad does that would be a giveaway.

I do a lot of thinking and come up with my best ideas when I’m driving.  It’s kind of like meditating for me, I guess.  I don’t listen to the radio.  So, when I reached my destination, I naturally put the thoughts out of my mind.

Later that evening, I went to dinner at Cracker Barrel (I ordered the grilled chicken vegetable salad with vinaigrette on the side – it was ok).  I love shopping at Cracker Barrel…or at least browsing and mostly shopping in the clearance section.  While diving through a basket of clearance jewelry and small knick knacks, I came upon these!!!!!!!

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What were the odds?  I’ve NEVER heard of these or seen these before – especially at Cracker Barrel.  And I was JUST thinking about emergency identification THAT DAY!  They were 50% off, and there was one that said “heart patient” and one that said “blood thinner”.

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WHAT??!!  It was meant to be.  Divine intervention again.  Of course, I immediately bought them.  The thing that is cool about these tags is that they are charms for bracelets, so it’s not a bulky medical ID bracelet that I never really wanted because I didn’t want it to draw so much attention or cause people to speculate in their minds of what is wrong with me.  (not everyone that I know is aware of what happened to me)

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I get to “design my own medical bracelet” with these tag charms.  Not sure what I’m going to do yet.  I checked to see if I had any bracelets that they would fit onto, and I didn’t.  I’m thinking I may just go with a black or red cord and stylishly tie them around my wrist and never take them off.  Once I determine how I’m going to wear these, I’ll be sure to post a photo.

And if you are interested in these clever and inexpensive bracelet tags, they were listed as $10.99 (remember, though, I got mine for 50% off), are made by Fashion Alert located in Riverside, MO,  and are stainless steel and hypoallergenic.  You may want to run (or drive) to your nearest Cracker Barrel and see if they carry them!

Ways to Cope

I have been looking for several ways to cope with what I’ve been through.  As a child, I loved hearts.  My bedroom was wallpapered in hearts, my bedspread was covered in hearts of all colors, my mom made me heart pillows to match everything.  Who knew that one day, my life would be all about my heart!? Funny how things come full circle.

One of the ways I’m coping is through accessorizing.  I am drawn to anything heart-shaped and/or red.  I’ve always loved the color red, but now I want to add more red pieces to my wardrobe in the form of accessories such as scarves, jewelry, dresses, shoes, etc.  And I want to add anything with hearts!

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There is one item, in particular, I decided to purchase and wear daily to give me strength and motivation.  That item is a Pandora bracelet. I hit a special that gave the customer a free bangle with a certain $ amount purchase.  I studied the charm options for a few days and went in ready to make my selection.  I purchased one charm with red hearts on it and another charm that says “Faith”; and now I look forward to adding on a few more charms – each must have meaning related to my story.

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Every time I wear this bracelet (which is everyday except when working out), I think of my heart and it reminds me to make heart-healthy decisions all day long.  I am very proud to wear this bracelet.  Others may not know what my charms mean, but I do, and that’s all that matters.

Hmmm…do they make running shoes with hearts on them?  🙂

If you are a heart disease survivor, how do you find ways to cope?

Lake Eva State Park

Walking in my neighborhood can get boring and monotonous.  So, I’ve started exploring other options for walking to help motivate me to get outside and do it (rather than the gym).  And once I’m jogging more, hopefully these spots I’m exploring will be great jogging spots.  I used to always run on a track in college, and I prefer that the most.  However, I’ve done some research and can’t find any public-use tracks in my area.  Even though schools have them, they are locked after-hours and not open to the public.  Very disappointing.

Lake Eva State Park is located in Haines City, Florida.

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Over the past few years, it has been improved with recreation areas, playgrounds, etc.  It’s a great spot for a picnic or to bring the kids.  The playgrounds are even age-specific.  Something I had never seen!  There is a sidewalk that winds through the park and near the lake.  Some shade trees are along the sidewalk but not many.  I don’t know the distance of the sidewalks, but I took my time walking and taking in all the sights (it was hot) and walked for a little over 20 minutes.  Hopefully, once the weather gets cooler, I can take advantage of walks/jogs in this park on the weekends.

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There’s a little dock that goes out into the water.  It was nice and peaceful on this day as there weren’t many people near the water, they were mostly on the playgrounds.  As with any body of water in Florida, beware of alligators.  LOL.

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I’m Jogging!

I’ve started jogging in cardiac rehab!!!!  It was so exciting to begin!  Of course, my doctor had already given permission for me to start, but I had to work up to it in cardiac rehab to ensure my blood pressure and heart rate were doing ok first.  I am doing 26 minutes on the treadmill there now – 4 minutes @ 3.0 speed; 2 minutes @ 4.0-4.2 speed (jogging); repeat.  I’m glad they only started me with 2 minute jogging intervals.  Since I haven’t been running since February, I was fine with this short amount of time.  I don’t enjoy running on treadmills, and with the heart monitor strapped to me and nurses checking on me every few minutes, it’s a little overwhelming.  I am not experiencing shortness of breath like I thought I might (and like I did during my stress test), but I am definitely experiencing fatigue in my lower legs and heavy breathing towards the end of the 2 minutes.  My running shoes probably aren’t helping because they are an old pair that is uncomfortable.  I’m only wearing them because my other running shoes (5 years old and ready to be replaced) got soaking wet a few weeks ago and now smell incredibly terrible.  Maybe this weekend I will go shopping for running shoes!  That will also help inspire me to run.  It’s like shopping for school supplies every fall (some of you will know what I mean)!

I’ve been running now in cardiac rehab for 3 sessions and I even ran at the gym one night!  On the gym’s treadmill, I walked for 5 minutes at 3.0 speed and ran for 2 minutes at 4.0 speed.  I did this for 30 minutes total.  I felt my pace was better and overall I felt better on this treadmill.  I’m sure because I was in my own element.  The only hard thing was checking my heart rate on the machine.  I have to place my hands over the handles several times to get the reading.  I can’t wait to get my own heart rate watch!!

I haven’t set my goal yet…but I feel it coming on.  I’d like to be able to run a 5K in about a year.  Wouldn’t that be great to prove that one doctor wrong who said I’d probably never run a 5K again!!!