The Safety to Do More
The story of Tom Pitzer

Tom Pitzer is not your typical cardiac rehabilitation patient, but when this long-time marathon runner collapsed at the finish line of Bloomsday, that fate changed.

“I don’t remember much of that time,” said Tom. “I don’t remember any of the race day and very little of my time in the hospital. When I was discharged, I had a book of information and an appointment for cardiac rehabilitation at St. Luke’s.”

Tom took his cardiac rehabilitation appointments and used them to his advantage. “The staff is very knowledgeable and the atmosphere was conducive to making you feel safe. I would bring in information and questions and we would discuss them, testing each other, and learning.”

The time after a cardiac event can be scary for many patients and a time of significant change, even for patients who were in good health and who had good eating habits going in. “I was impressed by the team at St. Luke’s,” said Tom. “They were very cognizant of each of their patients and their individual challenges, and were very competent, talking in reality about what has happened, and how to practically apply changes to your life.”

For Tom who lived a healthy lifestyle prior to his cardiac event, it was not as much about the nutritional and lifestyle information, although that was a good refresher; it was about feeling safe to push himself. “I was able to push myself there, and test my limits and do more, in a controlled and safe environment. They were continually testing my vitals and my pace to make sure I wasn’t pushing too far, but I felt safe to step a little further out of my comfort zone than I would have done at home by myself.”

Tom is using the information he learned at cardiac rehabilitation, and the confidence, to continue his aerobic exercise at home. “The team at cardiac rehab is extraordinary. They know what they are doing, and they make people feel safe. There are very few places where people are happy to go to rehab, but at St. Luke’s everyone showed up early for class. I think that speaks volumes.”

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