Wendy Rash - Open Heart Surgery Patient

February 8, 2019

Wendy Rash is no stranger to heart surgery. The Lewisville resident has had a number of procedures over the years to address her irregular heartbeat. The latest surgery, though, may be the most impressive yet.

In August, Wake Forest Baptist Health Drs. Ted Kincaid, Tony Simmons and Sean Whalen helped repair Wendy’s bad heart valve, diagnosed in early 2018, using minimally invasive open-heart surgery.

She chose that surgery because of its shorter recovery time. She chose Wake Forest Baptist Health because she trusts the care she has received there since the 1990s and she has witnessed outstanding care provided there by her colleagues for more than 20 years.

A Better Recovery Path

Wendy is a nurse practitioner in interventional radiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health. She started her Wake Forest Baptist career as a nursing assistant and later worked as a flight nurse on the AirCare helicopter crew for about 20 years.

She knows Wake Forest Baptist offers the full range of cardiovascular care, from preventive to advanced and everything in between, and she understands what it means to provide the best care. She says her background in medicine helped her grasp the importance of choosing a care team with specialized training who teach that care to others.

“I knew the Heart and Vascular Center was well-established and worked to build excellent relationships with their patients, and I knew the doctors would put my best interests first,” says Wendy, an active “go-getter” who first experienced heart issues in her mid-20s and got her first pacemaker at 31.

She’s now in her late 40s and on her third pacemaker. When she learned one of her heart valves would need to be replaced within months, she wanted to take care of it sooner rather than later.

“Mostly because of my activity level and the things that I do—lifting, chasing after my two dogs—I felt like I would have a better recovery path with minimally invasive surgery,” she says.

Her treatment following the surgery, from intensive care to the cardiac floor and through cardiac rehabilitation, was stellar.

“They were compassionate and understanding, yet pushed me to get up and out of bed when I didn’t think I could,” she says. “They have been amazing every step of the way. I owe them everything!”

Back at Work in 2½ Weeks

Her recovery was exactly what she had hoped for—she was back at work 2½ weeks after surgery. She feels 100 percent better, with no symptoms, a higher energy level, increased endurance and no limitations.

“I wish I had done it sooner,” Wendy says. “You don’t realize how bad you feel until you feel a whole lot better.”

She’s grateful for her care and for the simplest of conversations.

“One of the nurse practitioners sat down with me one morning in post-op and said, ‘What can I do to help you feel better? What do you need?’” she recalls. “I just needed some sleep, and she made it easier for me to rest in a setting where that’s not always easy to do.

“Just her sitting down, listening and talking with me, and that phrase ‘What do you need?’ That was amazing. I listen a bit more to my patients now because of the way the doctors, nurses and staff listened to me.”

As someone who has options for the best place to receive her heart care and the best place to work, Wendy chooses Wake Forest Baptist on both counts.