My Cardiac Rehab Story
I was relaxing after a day of work at the hardware store my family owned in Villa Park for 80 years, when I felt as if someone punched me in the chest. I told my wife, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” I was only 58 and I’ve always been healthy, so it came as a huge surprise when Dr. John Cahill, a cardiologist with Midwest Heart Specialists, told me I had a heart attack and they need to perform emergency surgery. From the time my heart attack started at home to the time my angioplasty was completed at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, only an hour and a half passed. I was so impressed and credit them for saving my life. This was the beginning of my journey toward heart healthy life.
After surgery, I was required to participate in the Phase 2 cardiac rehabilitation program, which is a 12-week exercise program that meets three times a week to help you rebuild as much of your heart muscle as you can so you can get back to your life. The cardiopulmonary rehab facility is located here at the Center for Health, which is great for me since I live right here in Elmhurst.
Everyone that works at the rehab center very is attentive to people’s individual goals and they really care and want the best for you. With the help of the cardiopulmonary rehab team, I was able to go back to work with my family at our store.
Eighteen years later, I’m still attending the program twice a week because, at my age of 76 years old, I know I need to continue to take care of my heart.
I’ve moved out of Phase 2 and into Phase 3 and 4, which is a supervised exercise class for all cardiac or pulmonary patients. At least for me, these classes are not covered by insurance but at just a few dollars a class, its well worth it if it means adding years to my life.
I love coming here because I’ve become friends with my classmates and the staff, many who have been here longer than I have.
I see so many of my friends who recently had a heart attack do the required Phase 2 and then lie to themselves saying they will continue to eat healthy and work out at home or at a gym instead of continuing on to Phase 3 or 4. While they might work out regularly and eat well for a week or maybe a month, almost all fall off the wagon.
I just don’t understand why they aren’t taking their health seriously! Although I’m retired now, I know it’s difficult for people who still work to find time to exercise, however, isn’t your life worth it?
I had a second heart attack on Thanksgiving in 2012. I didn’t know it was a heart attack and waited until the next day to see my primary care doctor. Given my history, they took me to the emergency room where I had a triple-bypass surgery. However, without all the years of cardiac rehab, I doubt my heart would be as strong as it was this second time around and who knows where I would be then.
I am very grateful to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital for everything they’ve done to help me and my family. I will continue to go to cardiac rehab and would encourage anyone else who has been in a similar situation do the same and to not quit early. The heart is a remarkable organ and you only get one. It takes care of you, so make sure you do all you can to take care of it.