Barbara Ellington – Cardiac Rehab Rockstar: Regaining Energy After Valve Disease
I had a bovine aortic valve replacement 9 days before my 60th birthday on September 13, 2016.
I had known for 10 years that I had a bicuspid valve and would one day likely need open heart surgery. I had yearly appointments with my doctors and was stable. So, I was shocked when they told me at the end of June 2016 that I had developed severe aortic stenosis. I was scheduled for a cardiac catheterization three days after returning from a vacation out west. Afterward, I was referred to a cardiothoracic surgeon for evaluation. I ended up having surgery within a few weeks as I started having chest pain, dizziness and a near-fainting episode. The surgeon told me to cancel two upcoming trips and not even drive a car until after my valve replacement surgery!
The surgery was a success with a couple of setbacks. At the beginning of November, I was referred to cardiac rehabilitation at the Heart and Vascular Institute in Augusta, Georgia by my surgeon and cardiologist.
I did intense rehab four times a week for two months. I have been amazed at how much better I feel and how much energy I have now.
The rehabilitation staff was so caring, knowledgeable, and helpful that I decided to remain there to exercise once I graduated.
I felt they would hold me accountable if I slacked off exercising. I've been seriously exercising for over three months and it has made a huge difference.
I now feel guilty if I don't work out and am even finding the fitness center on vacation!
In short, the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation have been remarkable and I would encourage everyone to participate and set goals for yourself.
It can change your life for the better!