Lifestyle & Physical Activity
"When my ejection fraction was up to 30 percent, I was told to enroll in a cardiac rehab class. To be cleared for the program, I had to have a cardiac stress test and interview with the nursing staff that runs the classes. By their reactions to my talking about getting back to volleyball, they reinforced my initial belief that the mortality of my disease was high and I'd probably never get back to the activities I loved. Actually, I think that also made me more determined to get better.
"The first few weeks of rehab were awful. I remember thinking, 'I don't belong here!' I wasn't old. And that it was a crock, it couldn't help. So I endured hours of classes about diet, stress, living with a cardiac disease, advice on how it affects others in the family, medications and even a class on sexuality. I was trained to use two types of stationary bikes, a treadmill and a rowing machine, and to do light aerobics.
"The first few classes on the equipment were not at all what I thought. As an example, the treadmill was set at 0.5 mph. A baby crawls faster than that! Also, the minute I started to do anything faster than a slow walk, my pulse shot up over 130-140. The nurse watching the monitor had me stop several times. But after awhile I saw a slow improvement. My pulse stayed lower, my endurance got better and I felt invigorated after exercising. I graduated from the Phase One Group, the monitored class, to Phase Three, which isn't monitored. I did that for six months.
"I have made a lot of progress. I'm back to playing volleyball every Monday night for 2 to 2 1/2 hours."