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A Heartfelt Good Friday Thank You | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

A Heartfelt Good Friday Thank You

Good Friday is always a mixed bag. ┬áThis year, it’s doubly so. My Lent began on December 9, the day of my heart attack when my life changed. Since then, I’ve given up many of my old favorite meals and foods.

This is a poignant Good Friday because it’s also the day I end my time in cardiac rehabilitation. As I went through my exit evaluation, I nearly choked up as I left. The ladies who work here have helped me change my life and save it.

For two months, three afternoons a week, I’ve spent time with them. Cardiac rehab is a season of closely monitored exercise. Each session began with a weigh-in (talk about pressure) and then the strapping on of heart monitors. During cardiac exercise, they take your blood pressure and monitor your heart rate.

In my time there, I’ve seen them intervene when blood pressures raise too high and help a diabetic when glucose levels dropped too low. They’ve monitored weight changes in case someone shows weight gain as a symptom of congestive heart failure.

With me, when I had a “niaspan flush” – like a hot flash induced by medication – they helped me work through it. When I tried to bend the rules and push myself too hard, they had me slow down my exercise. As I built relationships with these remarkable heroines, they became very in tune with how we were doing. Last week, one day when my blood pressure was low, a nurse picked up on it and raised concerns that I looked tired; that evening, I realized I had taken the wrong medication that morning. She knew something was off before I did.

At each step, as I mastered one level, they encouraged me to raise my workouts up a notch. When they needed me to slow down, they did that too.

Besides the rehab, each session included a class on lifestyle changes. Some of them I knew – like how to fix healthier foods. Other ones – like the time they showed us a dissected human heart so we better understood what made us sick – were whole new territory for me.

And so now, on the day we remember the crucifixion, I feel a deep loss. The professionals who have worked so hard with me give the same effort to every patient, each hour of the day. They know us, nurture us, and prod us.

This week, after an especially strenuous workout, I wanted to leave to meet my next appointment. But my heart rate was elevated, and they don’t let us leave until our heart rates are in normal range. If you know me, and my Type A emphasis on schedules, you know I was like the stallion pawing to get out of the barn. But the nurse told me, “Sit down, get a drink of water, and relax. Pushing too hard will give you a heart attack.”

Oh yeah. She knew just what to say to slow me down.

But the really remarkable thing is she – and all those she work with – know that about every one of their patients in cardiac rehab.

So this Easter, as I celebrate the resurrection, I’ll celebrate my own second chance and say a special prayer of thanks to the healthcare heroes who helped me get here.

Rejoice!


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