I had the pleasure, privilege and good fortune to be a member of Arlene's 8:00 am cardiac rehab class.
First, a bit of background. After my valve replacement surgery, I scouted the area rehab centers and talked with the in-charge RN's. In looking back, it's funny how things just seem to work out for the best. Arlene and I "hit it off", and, as is sometimes said, the rest is history.
When I attended my first class, even though Arlene had given me a heads-up as what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised at the class atmosphere. Privately, I had told myself that I'd probably last two or three weeks and then bail out. This wasn't to happen. I actually looked forward to showing up at 8:00 am each Monday-Wednesday-Friday even though my workload was gradually increased. Arlene made certain that each of us followed his individual workout plan, but there was always a considerable amount of quiet, good-natured humor. During the time frame of my thirty-six sessions, several rehab patients came and went, but the class atmosphere never varied. The one constant during that time was Arlene Sherwood.
As I look back on my thirty-six sessions, I fully appreciate the way she managed to weave critical information relating to blood pressure, heart rate, sodium intake, how the heart works, diet, etc. into the morning dialogue. I remain amazed at her skill in managing the class. She was an absolute magician at monitoring each person's heart rate and blood pressure, carrying on a conversation, helping us with machine settings, not letting us hurt ourselves and laughing with us as the class of three or four AARP members made attempts at humor. Equally as important, Arlene stressed safety, safety, safety, safety and more safety in the use of the workout equipment.
With respect to her emphasis on maintaining a healthy diet, I'll share an anecdote. A couple of days after completion of rehab, I stopped in at an area fast-food restaurant. Instead of loading up with my usual cheeseburger, jumbo fries, and large milkshake, I settled for a grilled chicken sandwich and water! I didn't want to disappoint Arlene even though she most likely doesn't have access to the surveillance tapes of the restaurant. One never knows, though.
It was poignant that I completed my thirty-six rehab sessions, and it was finally time to say goodbye. This was not only to the 8:00 am class members but also the group arriving at 9:00 am. I can't merely thank Arlene Sherwood enough.