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And the Oscar goes to…

By Bob Seltzer of Huntingdon Valley, PA

Bob Seltzer

Bob Seltzer

I am in favor of giving Academy Awards to deserving health care professionals.

I am 100 days out from successful quadruple by-pass surgery at Abington. And now as I reflect back on what happened from the time that hopes were dashed that stents could fix my issue, to the unreasonably short but medically necessary period of time, (shorter than an elementary school recess) to make the major decision as to who might be available to surgically do the fix, and to the multitudes who took care of me thereafter, there are no shortages of deserving Oscar recipients for roles which include:

“Best cardiologist to manage the entire process.”

“Best stent person who tried to avoid open heart surgery.”

And of course the Oscar presentation everyone stays up late to watch:

“Best surgical repair of a compromised heart.”

All the professionals in these major roles have received sincere and enduring expressions of thanks.

But if the story ended here, we’d still be missing a whole host of other deserving Oscar nominees – people whose names are relegated to the fast-moving closing credits.

You see, when you are in a medical crisis and time is not your friend, major characters – critical as they might be – come and go relatively quickly.  Some even appear while you are lightly or heavily sedated, so your knowledge of their services is measured by what happens later. These wonderful and sometimes invisible lifesavers are richly deserving of a tsunami of praise.

But we patients, post-major surgery patients, spend more “quality time” with nurses, with food service professionals, with blood and vitals-takers, with various therapists, with linen-changers and room cleaners, and even with an occasional chaplain (any faith or denomination works just fine.)  These good people – professionals all – deserve prime-time recognition as well.

By way of example, take Abington’s Cardiac Rehabilitation team. We’ll give them names to make it real: Karen and Joann.  Let me explain….

If you are blessed to come through your heart surgery feeling well enough (with doctor’s orders, of course) to start rebuilding your strength and energy (put another way, rebuilding your self-confidence, your independence and your humanity), then you will spend several months under the direction of Karen and Joann at Abington Hospital’s cardiac rehab facility. You will work out – extremely slowly at first – wearing a heart monitor held snugly in place by a sling which hangs around your neck, the sling bearing your name written in blue marker… just above a hand-drawn smiley-face.

That sling around your neck, while initially awkward, will soon evolve to be a badge of honor as you progress in time and intensity. You will watch the new arrivals each week, patients who are what you were just several weeks earlier – disoriented, unstable, uncertain.  Scared.  Karen and Joann guide you through the rehab process – day to day, week to week, month to month. A life-altering march toward healing for those fortunate to experience it.

It was not hard to part company with the surgeon, and the deep appreciation is ongoing. Yet I found it profoundly difficult to graduate out of rehab and say goodbye to my new friends there – both the courageous patients on the treadmills and bikes, but especially our rehab shepherds, Karen and Joann. Their rod and staff comforted me.

For this reason, I am proud to announce that the Oscar for Best Supporting Role in a Cardiac Rehab Story goes to, (drum roll)….

Karen and Joann at Abington Hospital Rehab

(Audience rises.  Thunderous applause. Tissues needed.)

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