I finally began Cardiac Rehab, which will help me determine my limitations. The past few times I’ve gone walking in my neighborhood, I’ve had some pain in my chest and back when breathing. Cardiac Rehab will allow my heart to get stronger and will hopefully increase my stamina. I will start off with 18 sessions, and then they will reassess to see if I need an additional 18. My insurance covers it, but my copay is $40 per session, which is way more than I can really afford, but it’s something I have to do. I can do 2 or 3 1-hour sessions per week, so I’ve agreed to start out with 3, and then I’ll drop down to 2 per week for financial reasons.
My first session was over 2 hours long because the nurse wanted to go over my file with me, discuss my prescriptions, and review my cholesterol numbers. Then, I got to try out some of the machines. I wear a heart monitor and there are nurses and exercise physiologists in the room that monitor your heart rate and check your blood pressure. I started out walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes at a pace of about 2.1. I had no problems! Then, I tried 5 minutes on an elliptical-type machine where you are sitting down. Finally, I tried 5 minutes on a stationery bike. Even though everything was done at a slow pace, I still worked up a sweat. It really is a great feeling to know that if something happens, I’m surrounded by a team of medical professionals.
During my second session, they increased my time on the 3 machines to 7 minutes and increased the pace. I had no pain and worked up more of a sweat. My heart rate and blood pressure exactly what they should be for someone my age. In fact, I even went back on the treadmill a 2nd time for 6 more minutes and felt fine.
My goals from Cardiac Rehab are to ensure my heart heals, build up my stamina, and eventually get to the point where I’m healthy to run again. Years ago, I was a runner and would run 3-5 miles a day. I competed in 5Ks, 10Ks, and even completed a half marathon. I believe that running for so many years is the reason that my heart bounced back so quickly after the heart attack. The doctors are still amazed that my heart went from 15% EF to 40-44% EF in a matter of a few days. I attribute this to running for so many years.
The first appointment with my Dr. went as well as it could. Everyone is so nice. First, I met with a nurse who took my bp on both arms and did an EKG on me. Next, I met a PA (Physician’s Assistant) who talked to me more about the tightness I’ve been experiencing in my chest and to go over other details of symptoms and side effects I’ve been having. I explained all of the pain I’ve been experiencing (back, chest, arm) and let her know that I’ve still been very tired and worn down, especially when trying to walk for exercise. I asked her how my EKG reading looked, and she said it was beautiful. That felt great to hear!! Then, I met with my Dr.
I explained in detail everything I experienced over the weekend and anything I was still experiencing. He said he will have to talk to a cholesterol expert to see what they recommend because I have to be on a cholesterol medicine. In the meantime, he asked me to no longer take the Crestor and start taking 2 Advil every 8 hours to see if that helps. He thinks the pain and tightness could be from the sac around my heart and wasn’t sure if the feeling was musculoskeletal or not. He also wants me to start cardiac rehab, so I can learn my limitations. Once again, he reminded me that he saved my life! 🙂 And he told some of the story again. My dad came with me to my appointment (so he could make his own appointment with my Dr.) but waited outside. The Dr. asked about my parents, and I let him know my dad was here, so the Dr. called him in so he could listen to everything he said to me. It was good to have 2 sets of ears to remember everything. I wish I could bring a voice recorder into my appointments so I remember everything.
I had my list of questions ready, and before the Dr. left, I let him know I had a few more questions. He said I can’t do roller coasters or go running 3 miles or do anything that would quickly increase my heart rate for a couple of months at least. That is fair. I also asked for clarification on the foods that he originally told me to remove from my diet. Again, he said NO fried foods, NO egg yolks, and NO cheese. I asked if that meant forever…he said I could have cheese on a rare occasion. I told him I was trying the vegan route (but eating fish/seafood), and he told me he never said I couldn’t have meat. I knew that, but I was taking it a step further. He said his wife is a vegetarian and because vegetarians can’t eat meat, they supplement with a lot of cheese in most of their dishes. As a result, his wife’s cholesterol is higher than his! So, it didn’t sound like he was forcing me into the vegan lifestyle, which I’ve found very difficult. I took that as my queue to relax a bit on the strict diet I was on. Plus, I haven’t lost any weight.
He decided to put me on a Holter Monitor for 24 hours, which I picked up a few days later. I’m so glad he did that so he can see if everything is normal when I’m not at the Dr.’s office. And he wants to see me again in a few weeks.
It’s been a few days, and I haven’t heard from his office yet regarding the new cholesterol medicine. They also haven’t contacted me about setting up my next appointment with him or Cardiac Rehab, so I will follow up with them tomorrow.