On Friday, December 19, I went to rehab. Ed had received my test results from the doctor. He said he had never seen results this good before. Simply stated, my heart was functioning perfectly at rest and when stressed. No concerns about damage to the muscle. He changed my workout and gave me the go ahead to run in addition to the rest of the normal routine. He said we would have to tweak the workout as we go. But he gave me a max heart rate of 165 and a starting point of 5.2 mph on the treadmill without an incline. I had 25 minutes to get it done, which includes a 5 minute warm up and a 3 minute cool down. So, 17 minutes of pure running. Ed said I'd probably want to run for about 5 minutes, then walk for a minute or two, then run again. He was wrong. I ran the entire 17 minutes uninterrupted. My speed maxed at 5.6 mph (just over a 10 minute mile) and my heart rate maxed at 165. It was a good start.
I had eaten lunch late that day and had a slightly full stomach when I went to rehab. Ed said that could affect my heart rate as blood was needed to support the digestion and the exercise at the same time. In short, if I eat at a normal time on Monday, I might be able to increase my speed.
The weekend passed as it usually does. I was told not to run outdoors until I had a few more sessions of monitored running behind me so I couldn't do a Saturday morning run yet.
So when Monday rolled around, I couldn't wait to get to rehab. I ate at a normal time. No afternoon snacks. The difference between Friday and Monday was tremendous. I was able to increase my speed without going over my heart rate. I ran a 9:22 mile during my 17 minutes of running. It felt great. The rest of the routine was just that...routine. I was so proud of myself, I practically dislocated my shoulder patting myself on the back.
Wednesday was Christmas Eve. Rehab closed early so I wasn't able to go. Instead, I had planned to walk for an hour in the morning before I left for work. Didn't happen. The alarm went off at 4:15 and I hit the snooze...again, and again...and again. Never got out of bed until it was time to get to work. Oops.
After work, my mother-in-law was at our house. Rachel and I decided to go for a walk while my MIL watched the girls. For the first time, however, I went against the advice of my rehab physiologist and we decided to run. I had my heart rate monitor and kept the 165 max rate in mind as we went. Three and a half miles later, we were back at home. We had run about 3.25 of it. We had to walk a few times to keep the heart rate down. I maxed at 170 going up hill. I also had a walking warm up and cool down. I found it difficult to contain the bravado. Just 11 weeks after a heart attack and a 3 day hospitalization, I ran 3.25 miles.
The rest of the day was a jumble of bravado, reflection and thankfulness because I realized how unbelievably lucky I was. I had had a heart attack but with no permanent damage. More importantly, I had an awakening without suffering a loss.