Despite its obscure beginnings, Valentine’s Day has become a widely celebrated holiday
intended to show love and appreciation to those closest to us. Like most children, Valentine’s Day during my elementary years was swarmed with candy hearts, stickers and personalized mini exchange cards. The irony in it was that peers, who never once said hello to each other during the entire school year, made it a point to include each other in the treat and card exchange. As we mature, our definition of this day changes. We begin to associate it less with treats and more with the expression of love for those we care for. Although chocolates, flowers and dinners are common associations with the holiday, the desire to show those you care about that you love them is the main purpose of the day.
As a physical therapy student, my viewpoint on this holiday goes deeper and directly to the universal mascot of love, the heart. The heart is one of the most fascinating organs in our bodies. Through its rhythmic filling up and pumping of blood, it provides our organs with enough nutrients and oxygen to help us function each day. Ever since I first learned about the heart in detail, I was extremely fascinated with it. My fascination grew further as a freshman in college when I first encountered a real heart. To see the vessels that led blood in and out of the heart as well as the muscles of the heart itself, was a sight to behold. I recently had the privilege of interviewing a friend and colleague of mine, Gabriella Pasos after her recent experience with cardiology.
In the fall of 2016, Gabriella had the opportunity to do her clinical rotation at Florida Hospital where she was a physical therapy intern on the cardiac floor. Upon hearing about her experience, I asked her if she would be willing to do a filmed interview with me in order to enlighten others about her experience, the wonders of the cardiac floor, and any advice she had for individuals who wanted to keep their hearts healthy. She graciously accepted as she went on to enlighten the viewers and myself about what she had learned.
The interview was an enlightening experience where I learned that Gabriella’s experience was not only educational, but personal as well. She began by explaining some of her concerns leading up to her clinical rotation on the cardiovascular floor. Her answer indicated that she was mainly nervous due to a challenging cardiovascular class taken two semesters before, indicating a high standard of expectation. Her experience at the hospital soon eased some of her initial worries leading up to the rotation.
I soon learned that her experience held a much deeper level of significance for her as she described how her father had been in the very same cardiovascular unit as a patient a few years before. While reflecting on her father she stated that leading up to his admission onto the cardiac floor, he had been “in a coma for four days.” The realization led to a personal and deeper appreciation for her role as a clinician on that particular floor. Her ability to empathize and give each patient her all was heightened. At times our difficult experiences allow us to care for, communicate, and interact with other individuals in ways that we would not have otherwise been able to.
Gabriella went on to talk about receiving the opportunity to observe three open heart surgeries, which has honestly been a dream of mine. This included double bypass surgeries and valve replacements. She also gave some advice to PT students who would be interested in doing a cardiovascular clinical rotation. She reminded students like herself of the importance of going into their given clinical rotations with an open mind, prepared to internalize everything that is presented to them throughout the experience.
As we concluded the interview I asked Gabriella what piece of advice she would give to anyone who would either like to keep their heart healthy, or doesn’t know where to start on the journey to a healthier heart. She broke her answer down into three segments.
- Start Moving! This can be as easy as “getting up from your desk” after a long work or school day. Find ways to incorporate movement throughout your day. Use the stairs instead of an elevator as much as possible. Try parking further away from your workplace or school. Set a timer on your phone or watch for every hour, as a reminder to take a few moments to be active. Even in the little things, it is important to try and find different ways to move.
- In reference to the American Heart Association, Gabriella mentioned that it is important to aim for about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. The best break down of the 150 minute recommendation is, 30 minutes a day, five times a week. She went on to explain that the 30 minutes of exercise in a given day “[doesn’t] have to be all at one time.” It can be broken up into 10 minutes, 3 times a day or 15 minutes, twice a day. Therefore, even with a busy schedule, it is possible to achieve the 150 minute goal each week.
- Lastly, Gabriella pointed out that exercise and fitness to keep your heart healthy is more enjoyable when you are doing what you enjoy. This can be almost anything
that allows you to move and work out. Some examples include cycling, Zumba, CrossFit, swimming, running, walking and more. The beauty in participating in activities that you enjoy is that you experience less discouragement with goals, and you end up sticking with the activity for a longer period of time. Therefore, choosing something you will enjoy is important.
During this Valentine’s Day holiday remember to show those around you that you care. However, don’t forget to take care of yourself by making sure to maintain a healthy heart. Remember to also inspire those around you to keep their hearts healthy while encouraging them to make choices that will lead to a better, healthier, and more fruitful life.
Thank You For Your Time!
My success and inspiration has come from the guidance of Greg Todd and the Smart Success Physical Therapy course! If you are a Physical Therapist or future Physical Therapist interested in leveling up, I would highly recommend being a part of the Smart Success Season 4! It has changed my life!
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Joses Ngugi, SPT