Heart patient finds support close to her heart

Emergency room employee becomes a patient

During the 39 years Cheryl Reid-Douglas has worked as a unit secretary in the Norton Audubon Hospital emergency department, she has seen it all: heart attacks, appendicitis, broken bones and wounds to be stitched. So when she started experiencing chest pain and dizziness, she knew something wasn’t right.*

“I actually ran into my doctor one day while at work and told him about my symptoms,” she said. “He ordered a stress test and quickly discovered I needed to have a diagnostic catheterization.”

Having had a previous heart catheterization in 2009, Reid-Douglas thought she knew what to expect. But to her surprise and the doctor’s shock, they discovered that one of her arteries was 99 percent blocked, and a stent was implanted.

“The doctor told me I was an awfully lucky young lady,” she said.

In the weeks that followed, Reid-Douglas found support and encouragement everywhere she turned. She was overwhelmed to receive a phone call from the hospital’s chief administrative officer, who called to tell her she was in his thoughts and prayers.

Her co-workers checked on her frequently, and although they looked forward to “Momma Cheryl” returning to work soon, they encouraged her to take plenty of time off to recover.

Reid-Douglas also found comfort in cardiac rehabilitation at Norton Audubon Hospital.

“I remembered from previously being in cardiac rehab how caring and compassionate the nurses and staff members were,” she said.

Her doctor referred her to the Woody and Lucille Stephens Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center on the Norton Audubon campus for a medically supervised mild exercise and education program. Registered nurses and an exercise physiologist work with patients to tailor an exercise program focused on improving endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility and self-confidence. The education portion emphasizes medication management, nutrition and techniques to help control anxiety and fear after a heart issue.

“I know that exercise is important in allowing me to stay fit and live a long life,” she said. “I want to be around to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren for years to come.”

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