Or as my co-worker Hank said when I got to work this morning and showed off my stylin' new red shirt, "I survived cardiac rehab and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." [Let the Star Trek red shirt jokes commence ;)]
Actually, it's a pretty cool shirt, and rehab has been, for the most part, a really good experience for me. There were a couple of bumps in the road, but when I look back at where I was 12 weeks ago, more psychologically than physically even, it's been a tremendous benefit, and it's a tragedy--a health emergency I'd almost say--that a lot of women never have cardiac rehab mentioned to them.
Last thing I read said that just over half, 56 percent, of patients who need cardiac rehab actually get referred, and women get referred at a much lower rate than men.
That's been borne out by my experience--for most of my time in rehab I've been the only woman in my class. For part of the time there was an older woman, then she left and I was alone again. Then a couple of weeks ago another woman, maybe in her mid-50s, joined. But we're still far outnumbered by the men. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the US, but cardiac rehab is still very much a man's game.
When I started rehab, my total cholesterol was 225: HDL of 54 and LDL of 149, triglycerides at 109. Now my total cholesterol is 172: HDL 57, LDL 94, and triglycerides at 105. I've been on Zocor (well, the generic) since my heart attack, so I can't claim all the credit.
Blood pressure has stayed about the same, in the 110/70 range, though when they checked it right after I'd come off the beta blocker, it was 102/64.
When I first started, I was so scared and anxious that I stopped my initial treadmill stress test after only 5 minutes, so the upper end of my target heart rate range was 87. Plus also beta blocker. Now, with no beta blocker, my THRR is 126 for the upper end. :)
I did 8 biceps curls in 30 seconds at the start of rehab; now I can do 15.
But more than anything else, I know that I can go swim for a half hour and not collapse. I can run on the treadmill with no fear. I can go for a bike ride just a like a normal person. There are a lot of things I can do like a normal person now, and that's the point of getting up at five-freakin-thirty in the morning three days a week for twelve weeks.
Don't think because I won't be at rehab anymore that I'm going to turn into a slacker, though. I've signed up for the Triangle Heart Walk on Sept. 27th, and I'm looking over the super-sprint triathlon options.
Can I get a hallelujah? :)