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Back in the groove | After successful heart surgery, this 610 Stomper feels better than ever.

Back in the groove | After successful heart surgery, this 610 Stomper feels better than ever.

Local dancer back in the groove after successful heart surgery

DorianDorian, who is living with HIV, had always lived what he thought was an active lifestyle. As a member of the 610 Stomper dance group and an HIV advocate, his days seemed far from sedentary, often filled with dance practices, second-lining, educational events, special appearances, and Mardi Gras madness. It wasn’t until a few months prior to the 2020 Mardi Gras Season when Dorian realized something was off.

“For a few months, it felt like someone was standing on my chest when I would exert myself – if I would walk fast, dance, or walk upstairs, and I thought that it was weird,” Dorian recalls. When he danced, his chest pain would always be steady. Initially, he made an appointment with his primary care physician to get this pain checked out and his primary care physician recommended he see a Cardiologist for further testing.

Dorian met with Touro Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Leonard M. Glade, and after running tests which included an angiogram, Dorian was told that he needed triple bypass surgery. A bypass surgery helps improve the blood flow to the heart and it is used for people who have coronary heart disease (CHD).

Sidelined for the season

doctor talking to patientDr. Glade immediately pulled together Dorian’s cardiovascular team, including Cardiovascular Surgeon, Dr. Eugene Kukuy. “Do you think I can dance this year for Mardi Gras,” Dorian recalled asking both of his physicians. Both Dr. Glade and Dr. Kukuy told him that while he hadn’t had a heart attack yet and didn’t have any damage to his heart, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to dance for Mardi Gras this year.

That was the hardest realization for Dorian. “I had three weeks from the original appointment to my surgery and I was seeing my guys dance and I was really sad about missing out,” Dorian says.

Immediately after Mardi Gras and right before the COVID-19 global pandemic really hit New Orleans hard, Dorian had his bypass surgery. “Dorian had quite severe coronary artery disease requiring up to 4 bypass grafts, however, the good news is that he had excellent targets in his coronary vessels and his heart was working very well,” Dr. Kukuy says of his surgery.

Throughout his six-day stay in the hospital after his bypass surgery, Dorian would get up and take walks throughout the hospital. “I cannot say that it was a bad thing to recover during a pandemic, because of course, you can’t go out to eat, drink, and a lot of things were shut down. So I never felt like I was missing out on anything."

The healing begins

Dorian was released and was able to begin his recovery process at home, where he was able to go outside for walks and slowly increase his distance and pace. After spending some time healing at home after his bypass surgery, Dorian began a twelve-week cardiac rehabilitation program at Touro. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program includes individualized health education and exercises supervised by cardiovascular nurses and an exercise specialist. “They have been really good at allowing me to push my body,” he says.

His team of nurses and specialists in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program created a customized treatment plan that helped Dorian build back up his strength. They evaluated his heart and its capabilities and adjusted his treatment plan as his heart got stronger throughout the appointments. Dorian went from ten minutes on a treadmill at a very slow pace to about twenty minutes on the treadmill with a high incline.

Feeling better than ever

Dr. Glade believes that Dorian’s success is driven by his commitment to the cardiac rehabilitation program. “His determination started on day one post-operation and continues to this day,” Dr. Glade explains.

Following his cardiac problems, Dorian has changed his lifestyle, diet, and is in the best shape ever. He’s walking about seven miles a day and runs about two of those miles. Dr. Glade says, “A few months after surgery he’s already passing me running in Audubon Park.”

Dorian is looking forward to continuing his HIV advocacy work, getting back to dance practices, Mardi Gras 2021, and being back with his 610 Stompers brothers.

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