Gordon’s Story: Cardiac Rehab Is More Than a Workout

When Gordon Wise of Piqua told his family doctor he had recovered from an illness with only 90 percent of his previous energy, the doctor sprang into action. That conversation probably saved his life, Gordon said. 

“I had had a rough winter with a couple of bugs. When I went to Dr. (Ronal) Manis for an all-clear, he asked how I was feeling. I said, ‘I am 90 percent back.’ He said, ‘Where’s the other 10 percent?” Gordon recalls.

Gordon’s energy decline led Dr. Manis to request testing and refer him to a cardiologist with Upper Valley Cardiology, now the Premier Cardiovascular Institute. Soon, he was at Good Samaritan Hospital (closed in 2018) for what he thought would be a couple of stents, which are small metal coils or mesh tubes placed in narrowed arteries to hold them open. Instead, he needed coronary artery bypass graft surgery, an open-heart surgical procedure to bypass four coronary artery blockages.

Within weeks after open-heart surgery, Gordon was participating in the cardiac rehabilitation program at Upper Valley Medical Center.

“This is a great place. I’ve been coming four years, three days a week,” Gordon said recently. Program participants are hooked to monitors and watched by staff as they go through a series of exercises, with their time on each machine increased gradually.

Gordon, who spent 51 years in the college classroom at his alma mater, Miami (Ohio) University, and Wright State University, admitted “exercise was not a strong point” in his routine.

But his visits to the cardiac rehab unit have helped. “I don’t remember being scared very long. You sort of fall into a routine and get to know the people. The exercise equipment is a necessary component,” he said with a laugh.

“They watch you like a hawk. You can’t mess up, they won’t let you,” Gordon said of the staff. He added, “I so often find myself telling old guys, like me, that the most important thing to do is those tough exercise workouts, as they are such a key to life. The program gives you the ability to cut loose and work hard, knowing how closely those nurses are watching over you. And the staff and other program participants make for an enjoyable atmosphere of camaraderie.”

Now in his 80s, Gordon said he’s fortunate to be married to a nurse, Susie, and to have a good relationship with his doctor. His advice to others? “Pay attention to what your body might be telling you. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘This hurts’ or ‘I can’t do this or that,’” he said. “Your doctor can be your lifesaver.” 

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