I don’t know why it is that physical trainers think they must be chirpy, but one met me at the double doors of the cardiac rehab section of the hospital. I was still puffing hard from my walk from the parking lot. The hospital is also a teaching campus and is a huge facility. I was feeling smug because I have handicapped plates on the car, and I can park in those spaces with impunity. But not at this hospital. They have many handicapped spots, and they are quickly filled.
But today I was fortunate find a spot that was closer to my door than the stickered spaces, and I took that as proof that God indeed does love me. Not that it was so unbearable today. Autumn has arrived in the Texas pampas, and you can feel the chill in the air. Yeah. A true Texan feels a bit chilly at 72°.
But back to the cardiac torture chamber.
The first thing that happens is one of the ever-perky rehab people meets you at the door, gets your name, pull your wireless cardiac monitor and marches you back to the nurses station to take your vitals and wire you up. She assured me that in time I would know how to do that myself. Then you get the twenty questions. I lied a little about a couple.
“Has it been two hours since your last cup of coffee?” she asked.
“Yes”, I lied.
“Did you eat breakfast?”
Well, I did have a slice of coffee cake with my coffee, so I said, “Yes.”
“Did you get a fasting glucose reading?”
For once I didn’t have to fib. “Yes”
“Is this your first visit to a cardiac rehab unit?”
“Yes” I lied again. I had been in the same facility 15 years earlier and left before I completed the regimen. It was extremely painful experience because the doctors still hadn’t found the precise point of the heart pain I was having. I was starting to think that I was a slacker.
But now that the pain has been taken care of, my only remaining concern is the COPD. Most of my life I could power past fatigue, but now, when I reach that point, I am done. There are no reserves to call on, so I approach this phase of recovery with great tepidity.
They then sat me on what is called a recumbent cross trainer. It exercises the arms and legs, and you can vary the effort between your arms or legs. My left leg is very weak, and I would work it until it started shaking, then use my arms to give the leg a break.
The trainer told me to do 15 minutes on it. So, I started peddling. I did stop often to get my breath, then continued past the 15 minutes until I reached half an hour. The trainer stopped me at half an hour and asked me how I was feeling.
“I am just SO ecstatic!” I replied, trying not to overdo the sarcasm. I think I failed.
“I am going to have to watch you a bit closer” she retorted.
Then it was back to the nurses’ station to get the vitals and remove the heart monitor.
“You’re done for the day!” she chirped.
“I guess you failed to kill me today” I quipped.
“We get another two chances at you this week” she shot back …