May 17, 2016
Meagan Pierluissi, Communications Specialist
It wasn't at a spa or a weekend retreat that Spokane resident and middle school teacher, Chris Vogel, age 51, found his healing experience. It happened during his 36 visits to St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute's Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program after he suffered a heart attack.
"I ski a lot, probably 20 weekends a year," Chris says about his active lifestyle before the heart attack. "I was starting to get a little winded. I thought I was a little out of shape. I also started having what felt like indigestion."
"I listened to my body," he adds. When Chris felt pain in his left arm and a sharp pain penetrating throughout his chest, he drove himself to the emergency room when the pain subsided. He attributed the episode to indigestion and went home.
Chris was in Canada when the heart attack occurred, where he received six stents at University of Alberta Hospital. After returning to Spokane, Chris entered the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at St. Luke's where he joined a community of heart disease survivors.
"Going through the St. Luke's program has been the most positive and uplifting experience I've had since my heart attack," he says. "Everyone felt very close-as people graduated and left, you felt thankful they were better and sad to see them leave. I walked out of there with lifelong friends.
"The staff is absolutely life-changing and soul-healing," Chris says. "When the therapists came in each morning, the whole room would light up. Their education on heart disease was fantastic, workouts were well monitored, and we received great feedback on what our hearts were doing. But it's the people running the program-it comes from their hearts and souls."
A heart attack was not something Chris thought would ever happen to him. He has no family history of heart disease, didn't smoke or drink and was extremely active.
"I am the history of heart disease in my family now," he says. "That's brings a level of humility and being honest with myself. I've lived a very active life, but what I had done for about eight years was neglected my diet, and I let my stress level go through the roof. I paid the price."
Although Chris says he is doing well now, he does plan on re-enrolling in St. Luke's Cardiopulmonary Maintenance Program to continue in the success he found. "I need that support," he says, "and I need the healing feeling again."
Find out more about St. Luke's Cardiac Rehabilitation services by visiting us online: www.st-lukes.org/Cardiac-Rehab/ .