There have been so many questions from readers about what has happened since my heart surgery on Sept. 5. There really is no thanks that I can express to each and every one of you for your concern.

The second surgery was completed Oct. 23, again at Portsmouth Hospital by Dr. Jeffrey Colnes. No stent was needed for this surgery, but there was a balloon catheterization of the second artery that had been damaged. The blockage was found to be less than 90 percent; therefore, the stent wasn’t necessary. 

Afterward, I was put in a room, again on the second floor, with the same nurse, Suzanne. For seven hours I lay there completely straight, unable to bend my legs or raise my head. I kept Suzanne very busy, as she had to keep coming to my room and telling me not to raise my head! I’m not one for being very patient with myself.

However, during all this, I was privileged between the September and October surgery to do my cardio rehab. This activity is one for the best things that I’ve ever accomplished during my life. Anna Jaques cardio rehab has been the most exhilarating experience and the people who run it are, by far, the most experienced, wonderful individuals that I’ve ever met.

Steve Pizzo, head of the department, has been there multiple years and is extraordinary in not only his knowledge, but his sense of humor. As my readers know, I love all of my constituents to have humor because I believe that’s how you make it through life. Steve is always available to the patients and to his staff, who seemed to really appreciate him. 

The first week that I was in rehab, he sat me down and explained my whole first surgery to me and showed me what was done to repair the heart. I appreciated his knowledge and his patience. His expertise and background in exercise physiology with bachelor’s and master’s degrees makes him well suited at AJ for nine years, six of which are in cardio-rehab.

Carol DeForrest and Mary Anna Young are the two RNs who run the computers, do blood pressures, oxygen levels and tell you what to do on the machines. Since I was never mechanically inclined, I have to have a lot of instructions. Carol, who personality is magnetic, has nine years in the rehab and previous critical care in cardiac.

She teaches, confers with patients, runs the computer that checks the heart monitors that we wear, does blood pressures, oxygen levels and makes sure that we keep busy. 

She graduated from the UMass Lowell and has a history of 28 previous years in ICU’s and a bachelor’s degree. Mary Anna’s number of years in cardio rehab at AJ is 13 years with one year at the previous AJ cardiac rehab in the medical building started by Dr. Sherman and Dr. Chris Harris. She also has a bachelor’s degree for cardio rehabilitation. She has been more than helpful to me, and helping me learn the different instruments and machines in the facility. She’s very patient, to say the least.

The three others who make up this wonderful department at Anna Jaques are Andy Robitaille and Caitlyn O’Brien; both of them have degrees in exercise physiology; and Denise Clay the secretary.

The spirit of the patients and the friendships formed between the patients as well as with the staff shows that this is a very successful program.

There is vast equipment available for use by the patients, many of which have been donated or money given to purchase this equipment and some of the donations have been met with Anna Jaques’ financing matching amounts. As with most departments, the budget is submitted yearly and newer equipment and updated painting and carpeting is needed, but this is my opinion. 

As I finish my rehab, in late November, after eye surgery on Nov. 12, I look forward to returning, as I have found that I miss the exercise, conversation and seeing familiar faces. Thank you to Anna Jaques and to the wonderful staff at cardio rehab.


Sara Anne Eames lives in Newburyport.

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