Sam George's Cardiopulmonary Rehab Story
I have never been one to sit still. I have always pursued some kind of activity. Some of that was instilled through my time in the US Army; I flew CH47 helicopters in combat in Vietnam. After the service, my love for flying grew to fixed wing planes and later, I began to enjoy building, collecting and flying radio-controlled model planes. Another of my passions has been fast cars and I have enjoyed collecting and driving them. I even got into racing on private courses. Probably the thing I love most is hunting — it is also the most demanding physically. I have spent hours actively pursuing all types of game from deer to pheasant. Friends saw me as fortunate to retire from my pharmacist career with all the “toys” a man could want, the time to enjoy them, and a wife who enjoyed them along with me. I had to agree.
But in 2016, I had what turned out to be a “silent” heart attack, while on vacation. It left me without the energy to enjoy any of these things which were so much a part of my life. The least activity left me winded and exhausted. I became what heart attack victims call a “cardiac cripple” — afraid to do anything that put me at risk and might trigger another attack.
After failing a treadmill stress test, I was prescribed cardiac rehabilitation. Not wanting to have to drive a long distance, I chose to go to Johnston Health’s Cardiac Rehab Center in a new facility in the Medical Mall in Smithfield.
My first impression of my class was of a diverse group of all ages, genders, occupations, races and cultures. I wasn’t sure how I would fit in. But I quickly found how much alike we were. We were all dealing with the same things—same fears, same limitations, same goals. Most importantly, we were not alone with our fears and the effects of our conditions.
We all were struggling with looking at a life as “cardiac cripples.” Under the guidance and coaching of the rehab staff, not only did our differences quickly disappear, we soon became like a family support group for each other.
The facility had everything needed to positively impact our conditions. Beyond the equipment, we had highly trained therapists and instructors, nutritionists—even a physician—in the facility at all times.
The staff was excellent—business-like and focused but at the same time, fun to be with. They immediately set out to establish each individual’s current limitations and set achievable goals. They kept a close eye on our heart monitors, keeping us from overdoing it while also encouraging us to push ourselves to our max safety levels.
They helped us understand how important nutrition and good dental health are to your heart health. One course that I initially thought was very strange was meditation, but it turned out to be one of the things that I have used most often. It helps lower stress and anxiety.
This is a place of hope. When you leave, you will be a much healthier person and more optimistic than ever before. I strongly believe that you won’t find a better cardiac rehabilitation program anywhere than what we have here in Johnston County through Johnston Health. They give you everything you need to make a successful recovery. I am no longer a cardiac cripple. I am so much better and stronger and back to enjoying my toys and my time.”
Four Oaks, NC