For George Haidsiak, the “new normal” is actually better than ever. “I feel wonderful!” he reported on a cold day in January. His story begins when he experienced chest pains and was rushed to the hospital. “They did an enzyme test, and sure enough, I’d had a heart attack,” he explained. “They took me to Des Moines to see a heart specialist. Luckily, it was a very small obstruction that affected only about 10% of my heart. After trying to do an angiogram, which didn’t work, I was told that I could go back to my normal activities.”
A lifelong farmer, currently managing about 90 head of cattle, George has been active all his life. But like anyone in his 60s, over time he had begun to “take the easier roads when doing things.” His “normal activities” included plenty of physical labor, but not necessarily constant work for extended lengths of time. When Jennifer England from Ringgold County Hospital’s cardiac rehab department contacted him, he was skeptical at first. “The doctors had cleared me for normal activity, so I didn’t think I needed rehab. But I agreed to come in and talk to her. I thought it sounded very interesting so I decided to start the program.”
George’s rehab focused on exercise and nutrition education. He began with 2 ½ miles per hour walks on a treadmill for about 20 minutes. Along with the walking he did stretching and weight lifting and other muscle-building exercises. By the time he finished his 16-week program he was up to 3 miles per hour for at least 40 minutes. “I could really feel the difference,” he said. “As it got more strenuous, I kept
improving.” He’s continued the exercise program at home. “When I’m doing chores and working on the farm I don’t get tired or winded like I used to.”
Because of his overall health and the condition of his heart, cardiac rehab was recommended, but not mandatory for George. It was the convenience of Ringgold County Hospital and the quality of the staff that made the difference for him. “If they’d wanted me to do rehab in Des Moines, I just wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “It’s a two-hour drive and not economically feasible. But this worked out perfectly for me. Jennifer was superb.”
George’s “new normal” really is better than ever. “I feel wonderful. It’s been worth it. Whenever someone asks me how I’m feeling I tell them I’m doing great. I’ve never had another chest pain. I am very lucky.”
For more information on Ringgold County Hospital cardiac rehab program, contact Jennifer England at 641-464-3226.