Merle Meyers, a participant in the LifeBalance for Heart Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Madonna ProActive, was more than hesitant about joining any rehabilitation program after experiencing severe chest pains and learning he had 95 percent blockage in his carotid artery. As a matter of personal preference, Merle had bypass surgery almost immediately, but didn’t want to undergo surgery to repair the blockage in all four arteries. At age 80, he said he’s lived a good, long and happy life. He did, however, opt for cardiac rehabilitation sessions. Merle explained he’d often heard about cardiac rehabilitation as friends’ and family members’ health changed, but he never really understood what to expect. This is his account and description of cardiac rehabilitation:
“It was with a certain amount of trepidation I reported to Madonna ProActive Cardiac Rehab. I did some research and they [ProActive] seemed like the least of three evils. I felt pretty lousy and didn’t feel the service would be of much value and certainly not fun. Boy was I off base on all counts!
I reported with a blood pressure of 150/90, fluctuating a bit higher. I was tired and depressed. Sharon [Duffy, RN, MS, CRRN] gave me my indoctrination, outlining the treatment, then the cardiac team took the time to find out exactly what treatment and surgery I received and the medication I was on and what I could expect. Twice a week I reported, and each day I was weighed, made to fill out a form indicating pulse rage, if my meds had changed, and then strapped on a device that monitored my blood pressure and pulse rate. That’s not all. They took my blood pressure as I exercised and closely monitored each and every step.
As the process continued – and it was a process – I soon felt comfortable and confident that, as the Allstate ad says, I was ‘In good hands.’ Anthony [Sobotka, CSCS, exercise physiologist and trainer] and Sheryl [Pflug, RN, MSN] made me feel as if I was special. The constant banter going on between them and all of us involved made it fun and relaxing. Dr. Jerry [Reed] is on duty at all times, and his bedside manner is something to behold. He is an expert on almost anything you want to talk about, including medicine. He plays five or six musical instruments, works crossword puzzles, reads National Geographic while exercising and still has time to place your hands into his to warm them when you have Raynaud’s on a cold day in January. Dr. Reed even offers medical assistance and advice on subjects other than your heart or circulatory system.
During the time a person is enrolled in the cardiac rehab program at ProActive, they receive classes in nutrition from Karen McWilliams. She helps you understand all things related to food, everything from the grocery store to eating out at restaurants. Relaxation and stress control are also important elements of the program; these are taught by Sharon. While I was participating, senior pharmaceutical students from Creighton also had a chance to learn and grow from this program. They came in and asked questions concerning my meds and provided valuable answers to some of my questions, like what is Lipitor for? Is Fish Oil something I should take? What is a Beta Blocker? etc.
I’m sure by now you think I’m an employee or one of the above is related. No, it is just that I had so much fun with these people and my blood pressure dropped to 120/60 while I developed an exercise tolerance for 30 minutes with my pulse running around 100+ and returning to the before mentioned 120/60 in a few minutes after exercise. I feel great thanks to ProActive’s cardiac rehab program and Dr. Reed, Anthony, Sheryl, Monica, Karen and Sharon.”
The LifeBalance for Heart program at Madonna ProActive is a Phase II cardiac rehabilitation program that is Medicare-approved. It covers a variety of diagnoses including myocardial infarction (heart attack), open-heart bypass surgery, heart valve surgery and coronary stent placement. The program will be covered by most private health insurance plans with a physician referral. ProActive has achieved program certification by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) to promote health and prevent disease.