Overcoming the ‘Chicken-Wire’ Objection

Survivor Roy Kenny manages his "chicken wire" with regular 

When I complained to my heart specialist that I was not getting back on my feet months after having three more stents, he said, "You’ve got to understand, your heart is full of chicken wire." Chicken wire? In my heart? "To your heart those stents, which I’ve called chicken wire, are foreign objects. It doesn’t appreciate them, and what you’re sensing is your heart’s objections to them."

"With a total of four stents will I ever have enough strength to return to normal activities?" I asked. I suspect others who have had surgery or a serious illness are left wondering the same thing.

The sedation a patient receives before being wheeled into the operating room only subdues part of that anxiety. But after a successful procedure, at least the way then opens up to return home. As for me, I felt my recovery was a far-off possibility. But a ray of hope came when my family doctor suggested cardiac rehab. He said, "Cardiac rehab has a good record of helping patients such as you and those who have had open-heart surgery." The day began to look brighter.

About a month later, I met with a cardiac rehab physiotherapist to learn what was involved and to set my goals. Above all, I wanted to get some energy back. Another goal was to be able to climb the stairs at home without gasping for breath. We agreed on my goals, but when I left her office I peeked at the exercise equipment I would use, and I wondered if I was in over my head? During the first month of cardiac rehab I felt worse not better. My heart (and every other muscle) shouted complaints at being disturbed from its easy routine. Still, it was so comforting to have the supervisors taking my blood pressure and heart rate every ten minutes during aerobic exercise as well as after the session. I also participated in muscle strengthening with weights and stretching. After a couple of months, I noticed I was stronger in every way. I was tickled that my heart did not go wild getting a job done. The specialist might’ve said my heart had finally made peace with the chicken wire.

At the end of 18 weeks, I’d exceeded my goals. Another part of the program is a dozen classes about diet, exercise and stress. I think cardiac rehab is a terrific program; both the classes and the aerobic exercise exceeded my expectations. I’m getting my confidence back, and I expect to return to my previous activities.

Before I was allowed to graduate, I took another stress test, which told me I had exceeded my every hope. I let them know the power of "chicken wire" had faded. Then they explained to me that I had surpassed their highest expectations. I got high-fives all round, smiles, screams of delight and even a hug. When I left I was walking on cloud nine for I understood that the program had been more than successful. It is not often a teacher in a program gives out high-fives or a hug, but if you ever join a cardiac rehab program it could happen to you.

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