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Jim's Personal Blog - Post Cardiac Rehab

Life after Cardiac Rehab


As of August 7, 2022, Major News in Post Rehab


1. Volunteer Assignment at Mayo Clinic Update August 7, 2022

I began my volunteer work at Mayo Clinic on May 8, 2022

Since then, I have logged in 77 hours total

I am now volunteering at the Mayo Clinic’s Medical Supplies Store on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.

I find the work rewarding given I get a chance to assist patients to find the supplies and equipment which they need for their recovery or rehab. I am continuously learning about all of the medical supplies and equipment and work hard to help the official staff address the needs of patients continuously during the time I am working in the store.


2. Volunteer Assignment at High Point Condominium Update August 7, 2022

I began my volunteer work at High Point Condominium where my wife Connie and I live in May 2022. I work on grounds upkeep (namely picking up twigs and scraps from the lawns around the complex). I also make sure our sidewalks and driveways are cleared of leaves, twigs, and scraps. Unbeknown to me was that the trees around the complex are subject to the impact of high winds during major storms which occur more frequently than I expected. It is a challenge but one I enjoy doing in that it gives me an alternative level of outdoor exercise which helps to sustain my Cardiac Rehab Life Plan. I even have worked on special projects of setting up special designated stone layouts for designated plant settings and property border enhancements. I am averaging 10 to 20 hours a week in this assignment and now have a buddy assisting me. Connie is now my right-hand helper in maintaining a neat appearance on our grounds and property.


3. Grandchildren visits

Connie and I have been blessed to have our three grandchildren visit us once or twice a week all this time since we moved up to Rochester. We engage them in all kinds of crafts, games, and Lego activities. Starting in the fall we will be working to have them come to our house once a week since they will all be enrolled in an after-school program at their school. This time with our adorable grandkids is good for both our physical and mental health. Being around these youngsters is a breath of fresh air and help us both appreciate our moving up to Rochester to be close to our family.


August 21, 2022

1. Mayo Clinic: this week I complete over 100 volunteer hours at Mayo. I am thrilled to have reached this milestone. I love the interchange with the patient(customers) in the store and I am learning a ton of material on what goes with what medical condition. It is a great challenge and keeping my mind hopping.

2. High Point Grounds Keeping: I am busy as ever putting up to 20+ hours a week. The weather has been for the most part fantastic and the setting is spectacular. I love getting out and doing the work and Connie and I are so happy to be providing this grounds-keeping for the Condo.

3. Grandkids: we are in the process of developing a plan to arrange for the three grandkids to come over weekly or we will go over to them after school lets out. We plan on watching the kids at least one a month at night to give their parents a “night out.” We will see how all this works out. More later.

4. Medical Update:

- August 12: A1c results of 6.7. Comments from my physician, Dr Suarez was: Your A1c is under excellent control. 

-Weight taken daily: averaging 184 which is the ideal weight Dr Suarez wants for me.

-Pace maker Remote Heart assessment:  In June the pacemaker underwent device interrogation. The supervising Doctor agreed that the device interrogation was medically indicated to provide appropriate care and continue routine device interrogations as indicated every three months.

So overall the news is great and my Cardiac Rehab routines I implemented for life are working. 

Labor Day September 5, 2022

Weather here in Rochester, MN has been great, and Connie and I try to get outside each day to do a little yard work around the Condo. Today I completed putting in large stones on the new rock garden in the back of the Condo building along a fence. Here in Minnesota, they use large stones instead of plants for accents. Our condo property had so many large stones which were hidden by plants that we were able to complete the large stone collection. But the biggest thrill was that this weekend someone put a large Candle lantern on the roadside for garbage pickup. Well, I went to look it over and it was in immaculate shape, so I brought to my workspace on my porch and cleaned it up and it now graces the entrance to our new rock garden in the back yard. What fun it was!!


Work at the Mayo Medical Store has been wonderful. Meeting great patients with lists of materials prescribed by their doctors and listening to amazing stories about their health progress. I have completed 120 volunteer hours and already have a pin on my badge designating this status.


Between the condo grounds and Mayo store I am keeping busy and still am doing my daily exercise routine and feeling fantastic. Fortunately, I have had no health setbacks and so far, so good. My next doctor’s appointment is in November, so I am on track in my long-term recovery.


Our grandkids start school fulltime this week and once they are settled, we will work out a schedule with their parents to see them at least once a week.


Fall is here and winter is around the block. Not sure what activity I will be doing to replace my grounds keeping work. But time will tell.

October 16, 2022

This past month has been busy with my volunteer work at Mayo and our outdoors grounds work at our Condo. Leaves are in the air and we Floridians were not ready for the onslaught of leaves falling and still the trees still have many more leaves to drop along with walnuts, that’s right, we have walnuts around our condo complex and those nuts are huge! And plentiful!

Connie and I are healthy and enjoying the outdoor activity and we have learned a great deal how to manage the leaf pickup.


On another note, our floor in the condo sponsored a social event in October and I cooked both carrot cake and corn pudding, both recipes on our website blog. They both were well received, and we got many requests for the recipes, so they put the link for our recipes in their November Newsletter. It was fun to have my cooking appreciated given until we moved up to Minnesota I had not cooked or baked in a long time.


We are getting ready for winter up here. And just to remind us that winter is on the way, it snowed here on Friday this week (Oct 14!) and it was beautiful to see the snow on the trees, which thankfully melted by noon time. Wow, we will be in for some cold times for sure!


I just want to keep you folks up to date on how we are doing and after my doctor’s visit in November I will have a good read on how my health is progressing. I feel strong and well and hope the medical screening will support my feelings of good health and full recovery.  Thanks for keeping up with us.

October 24–30, 2022

Unexpected Caretaker Role for Jim

On October 24, Connie went to Mayo’s Dermatology Clinic for what was supposed to be a simple removal of a tiny basal cell carcinoma on the left side of her nose. Dr. Christian Baum did the Mohs intervention which required taking out the cancer cell layer by layer. To everyone’s surprise it took 7 removals of layers to get all of the basal cell which they believe was growing there for years. By the end of the intervention which lasted 10 hours Connie had her left side of her nose removed.


On October 25, Connie was seen by Dr. Grant Hamilton for reconstructive surgery of her nose and forehead. Her surgery was scheduled for the next day. Staff taught me how to set up a soft layer of gauze under her nose to catch droplets. This was the beginning of more instructions to come.


On October 26, Connie had surgery at Mayo’s St Mary’s Hospital. The surgery took 12 hours. She was under anesthesia, and it took about an hour for her to get back from her medically induced sleep. I got oodles of instructions that day on care for Connie’s wounds and given a boat load of tools to use with her.


On October 27 we returned to Dr. Hamilton for post-op follow up and he was pleased with her responses.


From October 28-30 Connie has been handling her recovery well and she is anxious to get on with full recovery which looks like it will be around Christmas of this year.


I am happy to be Connie’s caretaker for this and it is bringing us even more closer than we have been close for our 49 years together.  

November 2, 2022 – Connie’s Follow up

Connie saw Dr Hamilton for post-surgery follow-up, and he let us know that she would get another major surgery on Wednesday Nov 23 which will free up her scars to heal more. He was pleased with the care I was giving Connie for her healing. She does not wear gauze on her wounds and only petroleum jelly is applied all over her healing tissue. Meanwhile Connie is resting at home and hoping to be healed by Christmas. Dr Hamilton did say that after her next surgery she might need two more smaller surgeries.


November 4, 2022 – Jim’s Follow up

I saw Dr Suarez today and he was very happy with my progress. I weighed 180 today which was 4 pounds less than his target for me. My heart, breathing, lungs, and general health is great, thanks to my maintaining my Cardiac Rehab routine. I won’t see him again for another six months.

November 24, 2022 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Yesterday Wednesday Nov. 23, Connie got her second major reconstructive surgery on her nose by Dr Grant Hamilton at Mayo Clinics St Mary Hospital. Thankfully the surgery was half the time of the first one. Our son Steven got a chance to come by during the surgery and he was able to reassure us that everything being done for Connie was medically on target. She still needs twice a day care for her healing, and I clean the wounds with Saline and then cover them with petroleum jelly. We are cautious about her going out around others for fear of her getting an infection. However, we have been reassured by her 3rd surgery which will be in a month she will be in better shape to engage with others outside the house. This would be around Christmas time. She is in great spirits and is very accepting of her situation. She is thrilled that starting this Saturday she will be able to shower and wash her hair (A real blessing for her). We want to thank those who have sent their best wishes for her recovery, and we will continue to keep you informed on this blog. Again, Happy Thanksgiving!


November 30, 2022 – Connie’s 2nd Surgery Follow up

Connie was seen by Dr Hamilton on Tuesday November 29 for follow-up to the surgery last week. They took out the stitches around the left side of her nose. Dr Hamilton said that Connie was healing well. He does not plan on another visit until late this coming January and then they will schedule a 3rd surgery. She is healing well, and his team was pleased with her progress. They reassured us that Connie can now go out in public if she wears covering on her wounds and a mask. She will still avoid crowds however to insure her safe protection from any infections. The team also informed us that it will take close to a year until Connie’s full recovery will take place. I am still twice a day cleaning and putting Vaseline on her open head wounds. Once those wounds close this routine will no longer be needed. She will need to shave her nose until down the road they can use laser on her hair follicles which were used to restructure the left side of her nose. We both were happy with the news from this appointment and are beginning to relax and be patient with her eventual full recovery.

February 15, 2023 Follow-up on Connie’s Progress

Connie has made vast improvements and has healed well on all of her scarring due to her surgery. She saw Dr Hamilton a couple weeks ago and he says she will get a third surgery in April to fix up some nerves around her nose which will help her sneeze and blow her nose better. He will also work on her left side of her nose to bring down its inflated state.

Connie has been back with the grandkids and our neighbors and she is doing fine and not at all having a problem with people looking at her face which happens very little of late. She had a Happy Valentine’s Day, and she is back to her Carefree and Humorous-

Self again.  


February 15, 2023 My Progress Follow-up

I saw Dr Suarez a couple weeks ago and he gave me a clean bill of health and today I saw Dr Huntley and he too gave me an AOK! I have been maintaining my weight loss, continuing my daily exercise program outlined in my Cardiac Rehab plan and have spent 10 hours a week volunteering for Mayo at its medical supply Store. I also got a 300-hour volunteer pin for my work. It’s been cold and snowy up here in Rochester, so I have not done any outside work since November 2022. I will get back to it once winter goes 😊.


Exciting news for me is that I was asked to prepare a 12-session online training program for counselors on Gerontology. The program will be rooted in my Gerontology section of my website at: I have recognized that I must have been very sick prior to our move up here to Rochester and Mayo since I could not remember doing that section on my website and really couldn’t remember much from fall 2021 and winter 2022. So getting back to doing some professional work has spurred my memory and emotional health and it feels so go to being back and doing productive professional work again.

Tuesday April 11, 2023 - Mayo Volunteer Honor
Tonight, Connie and I attended the Mayo Clinic Volunteer Appreciation Gala at the Mayo Civic center along with close to 500 others. At this event during the honors presentation, Subashnie Devkaran, Chair of Quality and Value at Mayo Clinic said the following:

In 2022, 882 individuals provided volunteer service on our Rochester campuses. With more than 72,000 hours of service, an average of 82 hours per volunteer, it is undeniable that your time adds value to the care our patients receive. 
Soon after those comments I was then surprised, embarrassed and honored by the Mayo Volunteer Organization. I was recognized and awarded the: Most Hours in First Year of Service award. Here is the introduction given me at the Gala:

Our next honoree provided an extraordinary number of hours last year – but it is important to note that 2022 was his first-year volunteering at Mayo Clinic. James Messina joined the volunteer team in May 2022. He shared on his application to volunteer, that he wanted to volunteer at Mayo Clinic to encourage patients and be with them during difficult times.

In just 8 months, James contributed 271 hours to improving the experience of Mayo Clinic patients. Several times each week (5 hours on Tuesdays and 5 hours on Thursdays), James greets and assists patients in the Mayo Clinic Store. This is a location that can be overwhelming to patients. James connects with store patrons and is attentive, assuring they find what it is they need.

James, your empathy for the journeys of our patients are on is commendable. Thank You.

Suffice it to say I was shocked that they considered my time spent worthy of such an honor.

Thursday April 13, 2023 - 400 Hour Recognition
Today I was awarded the 400 hour pin for volunteer service by the Volunteer Department. My first full year will be marked on May 8, 2022. It has been an honor and pleasure being a volunteer at Mayo and I look forward to more time spent in serving the patients at the Clinic. Thanks Mayo Clinic for letting me be on your volunteer team. 

Friday April 14, 2023 News on Connie's Progress
Today we learned that Connie's next surgery on her nose will be on June 5, 2023. She has made tremendous progress and has healed well. She is looking forward to this next surgery to move her progress along. She is grateful to all the support she has gotten from friends and family and the Mayo Clinic staff. 
Monday June 5 & 12, 2023 Connie's Third Surgery
Connie had her 3rd Surgery on her nose today. Dr Hamilton took a piece of cartiledge from Connie's left ear and used it in her nose to strengthen it. He also did some other procedures. Then on Monday June 12 she had a follow-up and the nose was holding up well. 

July 19, 2023 Connie's Final Follow up appointment with Dr Hamilton 
Dr Hamilton gave Connie a clean bill of health and wished her well and he said he would not need to see her again except for an annual follow-up. We were all relieved since she had made great progress and her nose was really looking better. We expect in a year it will be harder and harder to even know she had her nose reconstruction surgery. God is Good...All the Time.

July 25, 27, and 28, 2023 Annual Check up for Jim with Dr Suarez
I had a series of lab tests done prior to my meeting with Dr Suarez on Friday July 28th. They tested me for alll sorts of things and I came out with a clearn bill of health. My pace maker is working great, I am doing all of my Cardiac Rehab routines a minimum of 5 days a week and still doing exercises on the other two days when I work at Mayo. I switched in May to work in the Charter House Assisted Living center at Mayo Clinic. It gets me back to my old routines and it is going slow but it is a nice change of pace. PS I am busy 10 hours plus a week working on the grounds keeping at our condo as a volunteer as well. Life is great.

Friday August 4, 2023 Connie's and Mine 50th Wedding Anniversary
Connie and I chose to have a very low key 50th Anniversary due to all of the health crisis stressors we had faced in the last two years. We had a great and happy time and we wanted to share the following poem which was in the anniversary card I gave to Connie. The poem was by Donna Fargo and was in a Blue Mountain Arts anniversary card.
Happy 50th! Connie

Because we have each other, loving
you gives me the confidence to believe
that nothing is impossible for us and
together we can get through any
challenge we face.

Loving you means I am loved by the
person I care most about. It means
I'm satisfied and excited about life
and I am blessed beyond anything
I could imagine.

Loving you means I feel complete.
As we've grown older together, our
love has been like a burning flame.
It has kept me hoping and believing
in our future together and trusting
in the power of our love.

I hope you're as happy as I am on
our 50th Anniversary, for loving you
means everything to me.