Grafton Is Still Adding Miles After Coronary Bypass
Grafton poses with the Cradiac Rehab team
at Genesis Medical Center, Silvis
He calls running a hobby, although someone who has an estimate of the total miles he has run – 78,000 and counting – maybe isn’t running only for fun.
Jim Grafton, the director of public works and city administrator for Silvis, is a passionate runner. He has covered the distance of 14 round-trip runs between New York and Los Angeles since 1982 when he started counting his miles.
He has run the Quad-City Times Bix 7 35 times and he will make it for No. 36 on Saturday. He is planning to run the Quad-Cities Marathon in September.
Grafton, 59, does not fit the typical image of a heart patient.
“No family history, I’m physically active, eat well,’’ he explained.
But last year he thought he had torn his left rotator cuff and was doing exercises to treat the injury. It may not have been an injury, he now understands. The pain may have been a warning sign.
Months later, in quick succession, Grafton went from more labored runs, to an EKG with abnormal results, to a stress test, then an angiogram with abnormal results, to an ambulance ride to Genesis Medical Center, East Rusholme Street, followed by open heart surgery performed by cardiovascular surgeon Eva Proctor, M.D.
Grafton had flirted with “The Widow Maker,” the left anterior descending artery (LAD), and survived. Grafton’s LAD was 99 percent blocked. Two other arteries also had significant blockages.
“Eleven days after the surgery I was running again. I never really felt that bad but when I woke up after the angiogram and my wife and kids were teary eyed, I knew something was wrong,’’ he said.
In addition to the shoulder pain, there was another warning sign for Grafton.
“My runs were more labored. I was more winded than I was used to being. I just thought it was because I was getting older,’’ Grafton explained.
In addition to his physical conditioning, Grafton had one more factor in his favor. His wife, Lynn, is a nurse. She insisted after hearing about more labored runs that he schedule a checkup. The testing led to his journey that is ending as he graduates from cardiac rehabilitation at Genesis Medical Center, Silvis.
Genesis Medical Center, Silvis is also where his heart journey started with testing before his emergency transfer to Genesis Medical Center, East Rusholme Street.
“Everyone was fantastic at Genesis. The staff was outstanding,’’ Grafton said. “My regret is that I don’t remember the names of everyone who cared for me.
“I’m humbled by all of the people at Genesis who took such great care of me. I couldn’t have been more impressed by the care I received.’’
Within a week of his surgery, he was back at work. Only 11 days after his bypass surgery, Grafton was running again.
“I felt so good running again. I hadn’t realized how much my heart issues were affecting my running before the heart procedure,’’ Grafton said. “I felt much better.’’
“This ain’t no vacation’’
Grafton worked on his recovery with the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation staff at Genesis Medical Center, Silvis. He wanted to push himself physically and thought it made sense to push himself with trained staff nearby.
“I turned rehabilitation into an intense workout program,’’ he explained. “I was monitored closely, as all cardiac rehab patients are.
“The other thing was I just liked being there with people who had had similar experiences. You bond with them because you know what they are going through. Someone new would come in and start cardiac rehab and I’d ask, ‘what are you in for?’’’
The cardiac rehabilitation staff at Genesis Medical Center, Silvis was impressed by the level of Grafton’s recovery and his workout routine.
“I would tell them, ‘this ain’t no vacation.’ I told the staff that when I graduated, I’d buy them all t-shirts with that on them,’’ Grafton said.
He recently graduated from the program and had a photo taken with staff wearing their new t-shirts.
He said he now approaches life, and his own mortality, with a different attitude.
“I don’t want to leave anything undone or unsaid,’’ Grafton said.
Genesis cardiopulmonary rehabilitation programs assist patients with heart disease to recover faster, and return to full and productive lives. It is also a fitness program for people who seek personalized exercise and help in managing healthy lifestyle choices. Pulmonary rehabilitation helps those with lung problems to experience less difficulty with breathing, increase muscle strength and endurance and improve quality of life.
A physician’s order is required for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. If you have questions about cardiopulmonary rehabilitation at Genesis Medical Center, Silvis, call (309) 281-4290.