Tamami Shirai is a PhD candidate in the Saybrook University School of Mind-Body Medicine (www.mindbodygrace.org), specializing in healthcare research. Tamami has just completed a clinical practicum at the Cardiac Treatment Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, CA. Scripps Memorial Hospital is the leading Cardiac Treatment Center in San Diego, and a variety of participants have benefited from its rehabilitation programs, not only cardiac patients but also pulmonary rehabilitation patients, post-cancer patients, individuals with Parkinson’s disease — even family members of rehab participants and employees.
Tamami‘s assignment from the Center Manager was to start a new meditation class for pulmonary rehabilitation patients as her practicum. Tamami already understood the rehabilitation challenges of cardiac patients, as depression and anxiety are correlated with their mortality and mobility. However, working with pulmonary rehabilitation patients was a new challenge for her. Tamami says that pulmonary rehabilitation patients have anxiety and fears about breathlessness, and sometimes this causes panic or feelings of helplessness. In her meditation sessions, she therefore modified her meditation and guided imagery scripts to adjust to pulmonary rehabilitation patients. She focused their meditations on body relaxation using Autogenic Training.
Tamami also discovered that pulmonary rehabilitation patients tend to think they cannot do anything new, because of their condition — it is not curable. So Tamami invited a special speaker, a cardiac rehabilitation patient, Jim, who has inspired her in many ways in the past, to introduce himself in the class. The title of Jim’s presentation was “What Only You Can Share.” This inspiring gentleman is on the list for a heart transplant, and his heart was functioning through an external ventricular assist device (VAD). Although Jim has a chronic illness, he is involved in volunteer activities, such as visiting the hospital to encourage patients to go through with their surgeries, and to listen to their worries. He has also joined support groups to introduce guided imagery and Healing Touch. Another participant in Tamami’s pulmonary rehabilitation meditation class was waiting for a lung transplant, and Jim’s presentation inspired him. Jim said, of course, that he needed to adjust to his new life style, such as taking care of the VAD machine, diet, exercise etc. However, he said these are “not a big deal”! Jim always managed to make everyone laugh, and encouraged the people around him.
Scripps Memorial Hospital will launch a new cardiovascular institute, Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, in San Diego in 2015, and Tamami Shirai is grateful that she will be a part of their daily efforts to help heart and pulmonary patients.