Healing a Heart: An Inside Look at Cardio Rehab (Part I)

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, August 21, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---It can be hard work recovering after major surgery especially when that surgery is an open heart procedure. The rehab process for cardio patients is no walk in the park. In a monthly segment, this is one man's journey to heal his heart.

Thomas Draper is a 69-year-old cardio patient who had open heart surgery in May. This week he began his third week of cardio rehab, on a long 18 week road to recovery.

"Good morning," says Thomas. It is a good morning for Thomas Draper. He had double bypass heart surgery in May, and that's why he's here today.

"I said, if I knew it was gonna hurt this bad, I wouldn't have had it done and they said, yes, but you wouldn't be here," says Thomas.

After surgery Thomas came here, to University Hospital's Cardio Pulmonary Rehab Facility. "A lot of us take everything for granted, this is always going to happen to the other fellow, but it doesn't always happen to the other fellow," says Thomas.

Here, Thomas, gets one on one attention. "You can see they wire you up to where they know whats going on," says Thomas.

"The monitored exercise session gives them confidence and builds their muscles. They feel comfortable that somebody's is watching their heart while they're exercising," says Sheila Kamath, the Clinical Coordinator with the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Center at University Hospital.

"Nothing can go wrong that they don't know about. Within just a matter of five seconds," says Thomas.

After Thomas is on the monitor, he's ready to roll. Starting with a five minute warm up lap, and then ten minutes on the treadmill.

"I'm trying to keep up with the treadmill," says Thomas.

"We were going for a more endurance, not a power workout, but more of an endurance type workout so we want you to last longer with a lower rate of exercise," says Yolanda Robinson, a Rehab Nurse at the facility.

After the uphill walk, it's time to get on the bike. "I can do things now that I didn't think I could do a year from now," says Thomas.

"Mr. Draper is just a very motivated patient and motivation is a big important thing," says Kamath.

From the bike, Thomas moves on to the hardest machine. "This is the one I don't like. It's the best one for me," says Thomas.

After Thomas's heart is pumping strong, he ends the day with a cool down lap, and an anxious look ahead.

"I'm looking forward to the other machines to work on, but Rome wasn't built in a day so, I've got plenty of time,: says Thomas.

Thomas is also diabetic, which makes this battle an even tougher one for him to face.

On a scale of 0 to 10, Thomas says he was at a 0 after the surgery in May. He was at a 1 three weeks ago, when rehab began. He guesses he's around a 3 or 4 now.

We will be following his recovery for the next few months, as he tries to get back to a 10 again.

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