Bill Pryor - Cardiac Rehab Over the Years
I had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery in September 1985 at the age of 46. The heart surgeon, Dr. Joe Utley and cardiologist, Dr. James Story, referred me to the Cardiac Rehabilitation program. It was located in the basement of Spartanburg General Hospital – one room with two treadmills and two bicycles that I recall. I went three times a week.
I recall that three nurses, Vicki, Diane and Donna, were there to monitor our response to the exercise. A nutritionist was available to help us with a healthy diet plan. A counselor was also available to help us with the emotional impact of the heart attack and surgery (the impact on family, work and any interference with aspects of daily life). We had a great respect for the staff and appreciated all they did for us. We were able to meet other people who had heart problems that required rehab. In this first class I attended there were only a few participants, six, in my class. We bonded and looked forward to keeping up with the progress we were making. I completed the 12-week program.
Once the Heart Center was completed, the Cardiac Rehab program was relocated to that area of the hospital. In this area I was in a maintenance program. What a big change. The room was large, with a walking track that spanned the entire area. There was a lot more equipment available to us. With an increasing focus on cardiac needs and new ways of diagnosing and treating problems, the number of patients at cardiac rehab grew. We continued to appreciate the support of the rehab staff forming supportive relationships with other patients enrolled in the program was important, too. We were especially supportive to first-time patients who joined the program following cardiac events and treatments.
When I returned to Cardiac Rehab after a stint insertion, the location of the program had moved to a larger area on Serpentine Drive – more equipment and staff, and more emphasis on assessments, education and prevention. But the basic principles from the days in the first center in the basement of SMC were always in place. Good, supportive relationships – staff to patient and patient to patient.
I am a survivor! I had very long periods free of attacks and procedures. Thirty years after that first heart attack and bypass (1985), I had a single bypass that took me back to Cardiac Rehab in 2013. The staff, with old and new faces, welcomed me back with a new plan tailored to meet my needs. Initially, there was a large focus on orientation and assessment. The excellent assistance from the staff remained the same. I was back alongside a number of my old rehab friends. After a year and a half of Cardiac Rehab, I am doing well.
I credit my family practice physician, Dr. Melvin Medlock, cardiologist Dr. James Story, cardiac surgeons, the late Dr. Joe Utley and Dr. Taun Nguyenduy for the excellent medical and surgical attention to my needs over the years. It is my belief that I benefited greatly from the support provided by staff in the cardiac rehab program; they have “shown me the way” for 29 years. From time to time I would have self-imposed breaks from the Cardiac Rehab program. They are always “there” for me on my return.