Rochelle VanDyke: Cardiac Catheterization & Open-Heart Surgery

"I was at Henry Ford Allegiance nearly a month, and I can say that the care I received at the Heart Center was excellent."

Rochelle VanDyke is 63 and has had complex health issues for many years. Now, after successful open-heart surgery at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, Rochelle says she has more energy and is more active than she has been in a long time.

A caregiver by nature, Rochelle enjoys cooking for others and helping anyone in need. She has an appreciation for all that goes into caregiving. “I was at Henry Ford Allegiance nearly a month, and I can say that the care I received at the Heart Center was excellent,” she said. “The doctors and everyone on that staff, including the food service and housekeeping people, treated me like their family. They could not have done a better job.”

In addition to having high blood pressure and diabetes, Rochelle has sarcoidosis, which is the growth of tiny collections of inflammatory cells in her lungs. Prior to her surgery, she felt tired all the time. Just showering in the morning would leave her feeling short of breath. As part of her treatment for lung problems, she was given a chest x-ray. The results were sent to her cardiologist, Rajendra Mehta, MD. “Dr. Mehta looked at the x-rays and told me to get a cardiac catheterization,” Rochelle recalled. “I asked if I could go home first, and he said, ‘No. Go directly to the hospital—and don’t drive yourself.’”

Dr. Mehta explained that a cardiac catheterization is a test to identify any blockages in the arteries that would decrease blood flow to and from the heart. Rochelle’s results revealed several blockages. She was admitted to the hospital, and open-heart surgery was scheduled for her.

At this time, Rochelle was introduced to Henry Ford Allegiance cardiothoracic surgeons Mahender Macha, MD, and Vincent Simonetti, MD. “These are great men,” she said. “I know I wouldn’t be here now if not for them.” Rochelle also said she and her family were fully prepared for the surgery, “because the doctors explained everything so thoroughly—every detail. I was completely confident that I would be okay. I put my faith in them and in God.”

"The doctors explained everything so thoroughly—every detail. I was completely confident that I would be okay. I put my faith in them and in God.”
- Rochelle VanDyke, open-heart surgery patient

Due to her other medical issues, Rochelle stayed in the hospital longer than most Henry Ford Allegiance patients do after open-heart surgery, but she said she felt completely comfortable at the Heart and Vascular Center. “Everything about that place is very soothing and healing. I remember that when I woke up after my surgery, I heard soft music that made me feel at peace. Everyone took such good care of me that, even with my complications, I knew I would be fine,” Rochelle said.

Rochelle’s recovery has been very successful, partly due to her dedication to exercise. She completed the first two phases of Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program and has continued on to Phase Three. “I try to go and exercise at least three times a week, because it is making me feel so much better and stronger,” she said. “I try to do 30-40 minutes on the treadmill and 20-25 minutes on the sit-down stair stepper.”

Friends and family members have noticed that Rochelle has more energy for her favorite activities, which include cooking, making candy, doing crafts and, most important, taking care of others, especially her elderly mother. “I’ve also become more sociable,” Rochelle said. “I am able to get out more and do more. I am blessed to be here.”

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