Shirley Wilson, Southport, returns to an active lifestyle after cardiac rehabilitation care at Dosher. Photo courtesy of PhotoAdventure.com.
Cardiac rehab patient takes on new level of activity post treatment


Shirley Wilson had one concern when she learned that she needed open heart surgery-would she be well enough to take a planned trip to Costa Rica with her grandson a few months later? The answer, with the help of Dosher Memorial Hospital's Cardiac Rehabilitation staff, was a resounding "yes."

Shirley learned that she had severe aortic stenosis, and would have to have her aortic valve replaced. She knew she needed surgery, but hoped to still be able to make a family trip three months later. "When each of our grandchildren turns 10, my husband and I take them on a trip," she says. This particular grandkid wanted to go see the rain forest. "I just hoped that my husband and grandson wouldn't have to make the trip without me. There was a small window of time that I wanted to be healthy enough to travel."

Her condition was further complicated by lung problems that worsened during the surgery. "But it seemed the whole staff at Dosher worked together with me to make my trip possible," she says. The doctors and nurses devised an individual, monitored program for her that would return her to health as quickly as possible. During her recovery and the ensuing complications, she also lost 33 pounds, and the staff was helping her find ways to add more protein into her diet. "So, not only were they helping me with the heart and lung issues, they were also working with me on nutrition," she says.

And three months after surgery, she was zip-lining through the rain forests of Costa Rica. "Without the help from them, I know I wouldn't have been able to do that."

After each patient has heart surgery, he or she receives a prescription for recovery that includes cardiac rehabilitation. For Dosher, those services are located at Dosher Wellness Center. The program includes a combination of monitored exercise and educational sessions. "For each patient, it's a little different," Shirley says. The staff devises individual programs depending on each patient's needs.

After her trip, Wilson still is going to the Wellness Center, this time through a voluntary follow-up program. "I try to go three times a week," she says. "You pay a fee, but it is quite reasonable and it is a wonderful program to have in Southport." Patients still are monitored and can ask for help with specific problems. The center is also set up with lots of extras that make cardiac care easier on a day-to-day basis.

"There's a white board with different messages about cholesterol or heart-healthy recipes," she says. There's also a display of heart-healthy products, so people can more easily find them when they're grocery shopping. "It's very supportive," Shirley says. "And it's something I hope to continue to do for the rest of my life."

For more information on Dosher Cardiac Rehabilitation, call 910-457-3871.

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