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Ginny Shriner

Starting a fitness program helps grandmother feel better than ever.

In 2009, Ginny Shriner, a cardiac rehabilitation patient at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, had been enjoying the first few years of retirement. She experienced digestive problems, but chalked it up to acid reflux. Little did she know that a health scare would soon be the catalyst to change her life for the better. Her physician said her symptoms were likely the result of acid reflux, but scheduled a stress test to rule out any serious issues.

Just hours after she took the test, her physician’s office called to say they had found a blockage in her heart. They then scheduled a cardiac catheterization procedure to determine the extent of the blockage. Her cardiologist told her in the event of a serious blockage, they would send her to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital for surgery. “I ended up with a catheterization and they took me right away in an ambulance up to Piedmont Atlanta,” she says. There, she had triple bypass surgery to correct three arteries that were 98, 95 and 75 percent blocked, respectively.

Cardiac rehabilitation

After her bypass surgery, Shriner’s physician told her she needed to go to cardiac rehabilitation. “It was really hard at first,” she admits. When she first began cardiac rehab, Shriner had difficulty catching her breath, especially when walking uphill.

“Our mailbox was 225 feet up the hill and I couldn’t really master that without stopping and resting and catching my breath,” she remembers. Shriner said there were other patients in the rehab program who had undergone similar cardiac procedures and they all began similar routines together. Her exercise physiologists told her exercise would improve her symptoms. Before she knew it, she began to notice a significant improvement in her fitness level and how she felt. “After cardiac rehab, I began to feel so much better,” she says.

Fitness for a lifetime

The rehab team encouraged her to continue exercising regularly, so she went across the street from cardiac rehab to the Piedmont Fayette Fitness and Rehabilitation Center. She hasn’t looked back since. “I just started feeling better and better. I could do more and there was a spring to my step,” she says. “I could walk without getting tired and winded. I could be a part of doing everything again. I was really living, not just lumping around.”

When Shriner retired from teaching, she said some people told her life would go “steadily downhill” from there. Shriner couldn’t disagree more and says her active lifestyle has made retirement even more enjoyable. “We have had such a good time in retirement, doing little things and having the element of choice,” she says. “I can play with the grandchildren and even get on the floor – better than before – and get up. It’s fun.”

Since she began cardiac rehab, Shriner has lost 45 pounds – and counting. “Now I can keep up and go forward and I can really enjoy things,” she says. “It really makes it worthwhile. You don’t want to say you can’t do it. You’ve got to give it a try.” For more information, visit Piedmont Rehabilitation.

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