Friday, February 25, 2011

Gots to "Hab" the Rehab

"You can look like me after rehab. Without the leopard
Speedo thing and fab gold boots of course."

After the general mental malaise went away, I went back to the my cardiologist and asked about rehab. Initial calls to rehab from her office not successful. No call-backs or lines were busy. Totally irony here because my cardiologist HEADS up this program. Ah, the battles of bureaucracy never end. A week or so passes and I get the call that, yes indeed, I am in. her office

I get a letter in the mail telling me to preregister (standard) and to expect no exercise on the first visit. This is consultation. I meet with a rather pleasant young man who walks me around the place, which is smaller than I expected, and shows me how to weigh myself, hook up a heart monitor and what I can expect. I am immediately impressed by the causal and friendly way this is being done. I also sense that there is an efficiency to this place.

I then meet with a nurse and we have a closed door talk. "Hmm...,"methinks, "To what purpose the closed door?" I am then answering questions about my medical history. Now, it makes sense. We have a pleasant chat about all these things and then the "How are you feeling" stuff comes.

I want to say, in my best Hannibal voice, "Oh Agent Starling, are trying to dissect me with that blunt little tool?" I resist all temptations (though I am vain enough to let a psychologist or a psychiatrist into my head to truly understand what makes me so offbeat), but best not tempt professionals on their own turf. I tell her honestly about the mental stuff immediately following surgery. I did joke at the end about the voices in my head spoke Spanish and since I have a limited vocabulary in this language, there was no danger of any rooftop jumping. She took this in the spirit I intended. Hopefully...

A colleague of mine, a man who used to intimidate the hell out of me, went through the same surgery years ago. This has become our bond as he usually comes in at least one or two days a week to chat about this very subject. He told me, "You don't realize how weak your body is right now." Those words contain both truth and wisdom. As I finish week three, I am beginning to glimpse this.

CAMC Cardiac Rehab has the latest in high tech exercise
 I enjoy the hell out of it. Here I can focus on my body, leaving all other concerns outside the door. I carry nothing on me except a watch which can read my pulse. Cell phone, wallet, keys and all other annoyances are left at home.

I was talking to a fellow musician who is having heart issues. I gave him my take on this: "For years I have dedicated my time and life to the guitar and music. Now, it's time to dedicate the second half to taking care of my body." He agreed. It's a new game in an old body. Exercise is not optional, it's mandatory.

Coming home, there's always a point where the endorphins kick in. That painkilling feeling of well-being, peace and a quiet place well nurtured inside of me. It's a sacred place.

And it's about damn time.

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