Debbie Hughes shares her experience in her own words:
I had open heart surgery/quadruple bypass in October 2020. My care from the start was exceptional considering where we were at with COVID-19. My Baystate Noble Hospital emergency room visit was quick as it was determined that I was having or had a heart attack and needed to be transferred to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.
QUICK TO SURGERY, NEXT STEP, CARDIAC REHAB
Not much time to reflect, ask questions or change my mind, I was operated on the next day. My daughter was my proxy, so she was able to come and visit with me. I was elated to know that my outlook was good. The care I received was exceptional right down to the young man who took me for a walk several times around my floor. My doctor and I agreed that the best place for me to be was ‘up and moving’ and at home. I had a wonderful support system and left the hospital after only a few days. While I was very happy to be home, I was very anxious as the next step in my recovery was rehabilitation. How would I be able to do rehab, walk on a treadmill after a heart attack and during a pandemic?
FELT SAFE TO START MY JOURNEY
Baystate Noble cardiac rehabilitation was the closest to my home and my sister drove me the first few times. From the moment I walked in the door I felt safe. I was temperature checked, given a new mask each time and asked to use the hand sanitizer. I must say the walk from the lobby down to the cardiac rehab area was the longest I had attempted to walk, and I really doubted that I could do it, but I made it to start my journey.
STRONGER AFTER EVERY VISIT
Immediately, I met with the supervising nurse. This visit with her was longer than I thought and so thorough. She asked a lot of questions to better understand how I ended up in rehab. She asked what I wanted to get out of the program and explained the procedure that I had so that I could visualize my body parts and understand what was fixed and how. I was overwhelmed and anxious at first and thought maybe I didn’t need rehab. I was scared and my nurse knew it and so she encouraged me to at least give it a try. Each visit I became stronger and after several visits I was able to start driving myself. I must say the walk to the rehab center, knowing the care team that was there and the time spent with my group, felt like being part of a team. They were my motivation.
SLOW AND STEADY AND ONLY BACK TO SAY ‘HI’
I started slowly on the treadmill while hooked up to the cardiac monitors and the sounds the monitors make to this day bring back memories that are unnerving for me. The nurse would give me the look without rushing over that everything was fine. She would say and I would repeat, “slow and steady.” I was only asked to do more or try a different piece of equipment when I felt ready. I never thought I would do the bike. I hate bikes. I was determined to stick to walking. However, by the end I was using all the machinery and doing 30-20-20 minutes on each, even the bike!
I was able to sneak in early and get started and finish up with stretching. I asked questions and appreciated the material that was given out each week. I made a notebook with the recipes and exercises that they provided to me. The visit with the dietician was informative as I was a big condiment girl and things were about to change. All the nurses were kind and caring and always encouraged me to do more, safely. We all motivated each other, and the camaraderie was felt.
I ‘graduated with honors’ and thank all the people who were a part of my success. Baystate Noble Rehab rocked. And I will only be back to say "hi"!
Learn More About Cardiac Rehab at Baystate Health
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