He started rehab shortly after getting out of the hospital. This is important since numerous studies have shown that cardiac patients do better with rehab. The therapists started him off slowly, and have been making regular, incremental increases in his exercise program. When he’s not in therapy, he’s walking and exercising at home – within prescribed limits.
This last point is key to improvement – exercising on your own, outside of PT. Too many people rely solely on PT, whether it’s cardiac rehab or injury-related. Your physical therapist can only do so much, a couple times a week. You must continue the work the other days. It’s your body; it’s your responsibility. And it’s you who will suffer the consequences if you are not diligent.
I also got to meet my dad’s cardiologist. I was quite pleased with what I saw – and not just because he saved my dad’s life (although that is an excellent quality in a doctor!). I was impressed with how carefully he listened to my father’s questions. He listened carefully, considered, answered, and then explained why he answered the way he did. He didn’t just have pat answers for routine questions. It didn’t matter if some of the questions were quite unusual or even outrageous for a cardiac patient (my dad asked about playing tennis next week with his granddaughters, and whether he could go repelling!). The doctor took all the questions seriously and answered seriously. He gave my father some cautions, and explained why. He didn’t dismiss the queries or simply say yes or no. He explained. Like I said, I was quite pleased.
Dad has basically been given a green light to do what he wants – within reason. He’s made great progress, but it’s been a gradual, step-wise process. We expect he’ll continue to make great progress, but only if it’s a gradual, step-wise process. Even if he’s frustrated sometimes, gradual progress is best for long-term health. So he can play a little tennis, as long as he takes it easy and doesn’t play in the midday heat. Repelling is not off the table either, as long as he builds up to it gradually – he can’t go out next week and climb a 30ft. tower to repel off.
These are the same guidelines we all should follow. They are the same guidelines I stress with all my Life-Cise clients. We can all do just about anything. We just have to make a safe and reasonable plan, with gradual, step-wise increases. The plan can always be modified as we go along, but it must always be gradual. It’s not worth it to make a big leap in order to do one thing if it will cause us injury or set us back – no matter how important that one thing is to us.
We’re in this for the long haul, right? We want to be healthy and capable for a lifetime, right? Sometimes that involves pushing ourselves, and sometimes that requires patience. Both are equally important.