My OHSU Heart Story - by Mark
I'd had open heart surgery to repair a heart valve and fix atrial fibrillation, but I was still having difficulty breathing and felt like I wasn't getting better. I'm normally very active, but I was having problems with daily activities. That's when my cardiologist suggested cardiac rehab at OHSU.
I met with Trevor Holman: He is the most positive guy. You can't help but feel better and encouraged after talking to him. I felt like he genuinely cared. We discussed my background and what I was hoping to accomplish in the program. I thought many of the questions were really well-thought out and progressive; for example, the questions he asked that related to mental health. I didn't think I was depressed, but when an activity that should be simple –like walking around the block—was difficult, it definitely affected my mood. The cardiac rehab program definitely helped me take that first step and then continue in my recovery process.
Cardiac rehab was a class that met three times a week at OHSU. We had whole range of folks, from young to old, with different stages of surgery or issues. We were all related in some way in that our hearts were operated on and we were trying to get back to a healthier state. I got to know everyone in the group: It was fun to see everyone each week and bond with people who were going through the same things. It's such a supportive environment; both Trevor and Brad Dexter are great.
I just loved going there. The consistency of going each week helped me the most; I don't know if I would have done that on my own. I was a little afraid to push myself, but the team closely monitors you. It made me feel safe. The whole program is really well constructed. In addition to help with exercise, you're educated on many things relating to your heart, such as nutrition, meditation and how to deal with stress. Brad was especially good with teaching our group. That was really beneficial to me.
After graduating from the program, I try to keep up with what I started. I'm more conscious of what I eat, and try to only eat when I'm hungry. I ride my bike to work; it's about seven miles. It used to be easier, but I keep at it. That's one thing they taught us: Don't give up.