Cardiac Rehabilitation

Hearts Alive benefit

The seventh annual Hearts Alive Auction and Dinner is Feb. 28 in the McMullen Conference Center at Mercy Tiffin Hospital. Doors open at 5 p.m., with dinner at 5:30 and the auction at 6:30. The dinner is $9, or $75 for a table of eight. Purchase tickets in advance if possible.

Auction-only admission is free. Prizes are to be on display 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 25-28. Raffle tickets to win a stay at Kalahari Resort in Sandusky are $5. Door prizes and other raffles also are planned.

Proceeds are to benefit the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation department and the American Heart Association.

Call Kathy Weaver at (419) 455-7141 for dinner or raffle tickets or to donate auction items.One of Kathy Weaver’s cardiac rehabilitation clients is Robert Meyer of Tiffin. Family history played a large role in his heart disease. Meyer’s father died at age 62, and a younger brother had a quintuple bypass a few years ago. Although Robert and his wife had always made an effort to stay active and eat nutritious foods, heredity worked against him.

“I had a quintuple bypass on May 4 (2012). I had a heart attack but didn’t realize what it was. It was silent and I had no pain.”

After more than a week of not feeling well, he paid an office call to Dr. James Bosse. Nothing obvious turned up during the physical exam, but the doctor ordered an EKG and a chest x-ray. Two days later, the office called and recommended Meyer see a cardiologist.

The following day, Meyer was feeling worse than ever.

“My wife and I agreed that I probably ought to go the emergency room. So I got dressed to do that, and I came out and collapsed in the garage, in a chair,” he said.

At that point, his wife called the EMTs to come to the house and take him to Mercy. The ER staff summoned Life Flight to transport him to St. Vincent Mercy in Toledo. Meyer said he remembered the EMTs, being in the ER in Tiffin, and the helicopter ride, but in the heart catherization lab, his memory faded. What he does remember is good care all the way through the ordeal.

“My wife and I have always walked. We tried to walk every day,” Meyer said. “In March, we had been in Florida for three weeks and walked no less than 3 1/2 miles a day, even closer to 7, with no difficulty.”

Meyer’s cardiologist speculated because Meyer had been active and otherwise relatively healthy, his heart had “built an auxiliary system around it to compensate for the blockage.”

Three of Meyer’s main vessels were 100 percent blocked, while two others were nearly so.

He remained at St. Vincent’s for 11 days to recover from the surgery and complete Phase I of cardiac rehabilitation. After returning home, fluid built up on one side of his body. That was removed in August. By early September, he was well enough to start Phase II or outpatient rehab.

Now, he is continuing with Phase III or maintenance.

“I’ve never experienced any depression through this whole thing. I have a wonderful support system with my wife and family. The 11 nights I was at St. V.’s, one was there every night. That helps,” Meyer said.

The heart attack and surgery left some permanent damage, but Meyer said he believes he can adjust to the “new normal.” He wants to return to his volunteer work for CASA in Sandusky County and as a member of various boards in the area. Family activities also are important to him.

“I have five children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, so I like to keep track of them,” Meyer said.

The Meyers have always been conscientious about portion control, eating on a regular schedule and keeping snacks to a minimum, but they have made more nutritional changes.

Meyer must limit leafy greens that could interfere with his blood thinner, and he pays more attention to nutrition labels on all food products to reduce his intake of sodium, sugar and fat.

Avoiding excess weight and having some positive habits already in place enhanced his recovery.

“That’s one thing Kathy (Weaver) and I have talked about. It seems to me, if you’ve never exercised, and you run into a situation like this, it’s hard to adapt or adopt a program of exercise and stay with it This made it easier,” Meyer said.

His insurance covered 36 visits for outpatient cardiac rehab, during which patients wear a heart monitor while they exercise and receive instruction on preventive measures such as diet, stress management, weight loss and smoking cessation. Now Meyer is paying the remaining visits out of pocket at $5 per visit a small amount when compared to medical bills for surgery and medication.

“The only thing they don’t do is put the monitors on you. They take blood pressure, before you start, after you’re done and between,” Meyer said.

He has stayed with it for the discipline and to keep track of his progress. Weaver informs Meyer’s doctors. As a bonus, the social interaction with the nurses and patients provides additional encouragement and support. Besides rehabilitation three days a week, Bob and his wife try to walk at the mall or go to the YMCA the other days. Meyer hopes to prevent any further damage to his heart.

“I feel very fortunate to be here,” Meyer said.