A Heartfelt Journey

I am living with heart disease. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to get your heart screened.
--David Bordewyk
Chocolate cake from my family to celebrate. One year ago today: 4 stents. Today: Indulging in chocolate. #blessed.

Chocolate cake from my family to celebrate. One year ago today: 4 stents. Today: Indulging in chocolate. #blessed.

Grateful and blessed

Grateful and blessed. For me, those words sum up 2013. Grateful that my heart disease was discovered and blessed to have the opportunity to do something about it.

I started the year learning about my three badly blocked coronary arteries and ended it running two 5Ks in the fall. In between, some top-notch heart work at one of the best facilities in the Midwest. (Thank you, Dr. Adam Stys/Sanford Heart.) Along the way, a realization of the need for better physical fitness, life balance and wellness.

What did I come to realize?  Here are a few:

  • Move. Walk, bike, jog, swim. Whatever the mode, just move more.
  • Fresh vegetables. Eat more of them.
  • Drink more water every day.
  • Speaking of drinking, a glass of red wine a day is OK.
  • Make time to exercise regularly at least a few times a week. Don’t skip it.
  • Family and faith matter most.
  • Don’t let stupid stuff stress you unnecessarily.
  • Laugh.

And so, here is to 2014 and continuation of a heartfelt journey.

Posing for a photo on Hobo Day with numbers across your chest sometimes is not a good thing (just saying). But this was all good. Completed my first-ever 5K yesterday – the Hobo Day 5K. Another step along the Heartfelt Journey to a healthier heart and wellness.

Posing for a photo on Hobo Day with numbers across your chest sometimes is not a good thing (just saying). But this was all good. Completed my first-ever 5K yesterday – the Hobo Day 5K. Another step along the Heartfelt Journey to a healthier heart and wellness.

Sweet corn and tomatoes from in-laws’ garden to go with salmon  on the grill. Dang good heart healthy summer bounty.

Sweet corn and tomatoes from in-laws’ garden to go with salmon on the grill. Dang good heart healthy summer bounty.

Today was my six-week follow-up appointment at Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. All good. Six weeks ago, Dr. Adam Stys put four stents in my three main coronary arteries, opening up the 90 percent blockages in each. Today, I had my follow-up with Dr. Marie Stys, Dr. Adam’s wife. Now that’s a cardio couple with heart-healing clout.

Today was my six-week follow-up appointment at Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. All good. Six weeks ago, Dr. Adam Stys put four stents in my three main coronary arteries, opening up the 90 percent blockages in each. Today, I had my follow-up with Dr. Marie Stys, Dr. Adam’s wife. Now that’s a cardio couple with heart-healing clout.

My new healthy heart tool.

My new healthy heart tool.

Almost 4 weeks since 4 stents and we are hiking at 8,500 ft. in Rocky Mountain National Park. Beautiful Cascade Falls near Grand Lake, Colo.

That is what I’m talking about.

That is what I’m talking about.

The new kid in the cardio rehab class

Starting cardio rehabilitation is like being the new kid who just moved to town and started his first day in school. Everyone knows everyone and you don’t know anyone.

And like the new kid on the block, very soon you are fitting in and getting comfortable with your new surroundings. Such is the case with my cardiac rehabilitation.

I started cardiac rehab almost two weeks ago, three weeks after my cardiologist put four stents in my heart’s three main arteries.

By the end of the first week of rehab, I was acclimating to the routine and approaching first-name basis with my “classmates.”

Martin, LeRoy, Marilyn. All of them on average 20 years older than me. All four of us brought together Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1 p.m. because of our circulatory or respiratory ailments. All four of us huffing and puffing away on treadmills, stationary bikes and other assorted exercise machines.

Our routine: three 10-minute sessions on an exercise machine, interspersed with short breaks. All while having our hearts monitored electronically.

We banter back and forth about the weather, our ailments and other small talk. We listen closely to what our rehab instructor and RN tell us to do. They are good about keeping our rehab class on track, offering encouragement and advice along the way.

Two flat screen TVs hang from the walls in the rehab room. Sometimes it’s Fox News with Megyn Kelly on the TV. Other times it’s a talk show of women talking about what, I do not now. None of it seems very conducive to helping us lower our blood pressure. Still, it’s background noise for our class.

Each class lasts about 60 minutes. At the end, we sip our ice water, get disconnected from our heart monitors and out the door we go. One step closer to a healthy rehabilitation.