Elizabeth Beard – Never Give Up
Elizabeth Beard is a survivor of Peripheral Artery Disease. Today she shares one of her greatest victories since her diagnosis and bypass surgery and what the Heart Walk meant to her.
On May 1, 2013 I underwent a bi-femoral aorta bypass due to having Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). September is National PAD Awareness Month.
I found out very quickly after my bypass that there was going to be no rehabilitation offered to me after my surgery. For PAD rehabilitation is walking they said…just exercise – not payable under my insurance plan.
Never mind that I had an incision that ran the full length of my body and had undergone a major seven-hour surgical procedure. I could not even walk to the bathroom alone, much less rehab alone. If you have ever had abdominal surgery you will understand what I am talking about.
So, my journey began to try and rehabilitate myself with only the assistance of my husband Stephen. After recovering enough from my surgery to stand upright and walk my husband began taking me on short walks. My first one was to the mailbox. We would try every day to go just a little further.
I could not go out alone. I had to have him with me. There were several times when I had to sit down on a curb and wait for him to walk back home and get our vehicle to come get me because I was too weak to continue, or my heart would be pounding, or I just could not walk. I cannot describe to you how scared we both were during this time. But, somewhere within me I drew up the strength to get on with it.
After I had some stability walking outside we purchased a treadmill because if it was too hot or too cold outside I could not exercise effectively. I started out walking 1 mile an hour for about 5 minutes. Each day I had to make myself get on that treadmill and walk. Each week I set a goal to go a little faster and a little farther.
I would read on social media how other people were working out and lifting weights and I would start to talk down to myself about where I was at in my journey. I was angry that I could not even WALK, much less do anything else. I was mad at the world and myself. I fought a depression so profound that I didn’t think I would make it through it. My husband is the one that brought me up out of that place. He literally made me walk. He told me – whatever we need to do we will do it. He changed his eating habits, he exercised with me and he kept my head above water.
September 9 was my local Heart Walk in Denton, Texas. I decided a few months ago to start a team and name it Team PAD 17. I named it this because 2017 has been a very important year for the American Heart Association in bringing more awareness to PAD.
Four years ago, I couldn’t walk to the mailbox. Today my husband and I walked 3.1 miles…with some of my best friends that have been through this with us from the beginning.
My message to you – never give up. No matter how long it takes you will see victory if you keep trying. I will never be physically whole, but I have the satisfaction that comes with getting up each day and trying again. Nobody can ask more than that of you.