Home is where the heart is for cardiac rehab group
A day after his 62nd birthday, David Doane unwillingly joined what is often euphemistically called “The Zipper Club.” It’s a reference to the scar that runs down the chest of those who have undergone open heart surgery.
Three years later, he belongs to another club – a group of regular attendees at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Maintenance Program at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. Bound by their determination to maintain good cardiovascular fitness, they come two to three times a week to exercise.
Doane, who has been exercising three times a week since first coming to cardiac rehab in March 2016, says it’s working so well he doubts he’ll ever quit coming.
“I think the world of Brenda Leuthold [the program’s supervisor] and all the cardiac rehab employees. They are all super people, and I’m a strong believer in their program,” said Doane, who had a quadruple bypass in 2016. “When I went to my cardiologist last December, I took him my exercise chart from rehab, and he said, ‘David, if I had all patients like you, I wouldn’t even have a job.’ I’ve been well pleased and wouldn’t go anywhere else. I found a home here.”
He’s not the only one. In fact, the friendships he’s made and the support he’s found has turned the FSRMC cardio-pulmonary workout area into a “second home” of sorts – a club for anyone recovering from a heart procedure or managing a heart condition of any type.
“Our workout club doesn’t have a name – we’re all buddy-buddies,” said Doane. “We just gather there two or three days a week, and we’ve become close friends and support each other. I asked one of my buddies where he would go after he ‘graduates,’ and he said, ‘Right here.’ He had talked about going to another place like a workout center, but he said everybody he’s seen who’s tried other facilities has always come back here. We have a good time.”
Brenda Leuthold, supervisor of cardiopulmonary rehab at Fort Sanders Regional, counts on this group of regulars to keep her informed when one of them doesn’t show up for their weekly workout.
“If someone is absent they are checking on them, if someone is in the hospital they are visiting them. They have a special bond of friendship and are brought together because they are all recovering from different cardiac incidents,” said Leuthold.
“Each one has a unique story and different background, but come together for support. Friendship goes a long way in their recovery.”
Laura Eshbaugh says she can’t really describe the workout buddies as a “club,” at least not in the traditional sense.
“I do think it’s beneficial. For one, you see people with more frequency than you might if you went to a large gym. You do have conversations with them on the treadmill. I wouldn’t say we talk the whole time because you have to focus on what you’re doing, but there is a social engagement there because we see each other with some frequency, and we talk: How are you doing? What’s going on? How are the grandkids doing?”
Eshbaugh appreciates the friendly conversation while she works out and also is appreciative of the staff she has gotten to know during her time at cardiac rehab.
“It’s good to have people who know you available to help you. The staff is extremely nice, and I think they’ve been an important part of my recovery. I’d rather not have ever had the heart attack and surgeries, but the people at Fort Sanders Regional have been extremely helpful in getting me back to where I’m as well as I can be.”