Pamela Price is the type of independent woman who never asks for help – Ever. So, it isn’t surprising to hear that after her hour and a half commute from work last fall, she drove herself to the ER – only to find out she had just suffered an Acute Stroke. Pam spent the next six days in the ICU while specialists ran test after test, trying to figure out what had caused her stroke. After several days of testing, Pam was diagnosed with what doctors told her was “a really sick heart.” Medically, this was defined as heart failure; her heart was only functioning/pumping at 25% (for healthy folks at her age, the heart should function/pump at 50% - 60%). Unable to release her without some sort of monitoring of her sickly heart, doctors surgically implanted a heart monitor into Pam’s chest. Results from this monitoring confirmed she also had Atrial Fibrillation (known as AF or Afib - an irregular, rapid heart rate that may cause symptoms like heart palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath). In Pam’s case, AFIB caused a blood clot to go to her brain, which in turn caused her stroke.
After a plethora of doctor visits with specialists and more follow up tests, Pam was still struggling with her recovery. She expected some difficulty in getting back to her normal routine, but she was not prepared for the extreme fatigue that slowly began to debilitate her life. At a follow up appointment with her Cardiologist, doctors convinced Pam not to go home, but to go right to the ER. After much persuasion, Pam finally agreed to go.
As you can imagine she was a bit hesitant, considering her last trip to the ER ended in a six-day ICU visit. When she arrived at the ER, nurses took her vitals, and sent her through triage. However, they had problems reporting her Blood Sugar. The number wasn’t registering on their monitor. It simply read HIGH. With an inconclusive reading, doctors decided to admit Pam, until they could get an accurate reading. She was admitted and the doctors ran more tests. When the ER doctor returned with her test results, the look on his face frightened her. Very bluntly, he said, “You should be dead right now… or minimally in a coma.” The average blood sugar for a person without diabetes can range between 70 and 100 mg/dL. Those with diabetes are closer to 200. Pam’s blood sugar was hovering 800! They started an insulin drip immediately and gave her an IV for fluids, to treat her dehydration. Pam spent five days in the hospital – four of which were, again, spent in the ICU. Pam was finally released once her blood sugar reached levels the doctors felt were comfortable to work with.
Pam knew that things had to change. She set a goal to lose 25lbs and made a commitment to start exercising regularly. She saw a FaceBook ad promoting a FREE fitness program at CHHRC and decided to check it out. Registration for this program had officially closed and the 30-day program was already underway, but luckily we were able to squeeze her in at the last minute. Pam completed her Fit-30 Assessment and was well on her way. Although, Pam did have some reservations. Her biggest fear before starting the Fit-30 was worrying about what her limitations would be. This is an ongoing battle for Pam. Every day new challenges arise. “I don’t know what I’m able to do until I try,” said Pam. “Is what I’m going to do, going to cause me to have a stroke, or cause too much pressure for my heart. I was able to realize and determine what my capabilities were and match them to how far I could go,” she said.
Her Personal Trainer, Fran reminded Pam that she was capable of doing all of the exercise - even if she had to modify them. She encouraged her by referring to these challenges as capability not limitation. Pam enjoyed the pace and level that Fran worked with the Fit-30 group. Every participant in the group had varying fitness backgrounds and medical conditions, and Fran allowed everyone to determine individually how far to push, and to honor their own bodies. “Fran showed real concern that I was okay. When folks are kind and genuinely want to help and watch you succeed, it is humbling. Because even though the world isn’t full of these type of people - they do still exist. And when they do show up . . . I am in awe,” Pam said. The staff at CHHRC is in awe of Pam’s determination, resilience and her positive attitude. We’re excited to share her fitness journey with you and hope that she inspires you to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself beyond what you thought were limitations. Because as Pam proves every day, we are all capable of so much more than we ever thought.