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Name: Ada S.

Age: 87

Ornish Location:THR Arlington

Health Challenges: 8 stents, 2 pacemakers, congestive heart failure, extensive family history of heart disease

Greatest Motivation: I have a great grandson who’s about two and a half years old, and I first started this program because I wanted to live long enough for him to know who I was—just like his mother knew my mother before she died. Now, he knows who I am. 

Her Story: I inherited my cardiac problems from my daddy. We all did, actually; everyone in my family has heart conditions—every one of us. My first experience with heart disease was through him, though; I remember that he’d sometimes have to go lie down in the shade while he was working on our farm, and he’d often have to lie down at the end of the day as well—always by the door so he could catch a breeze through the bottom vent. Nobody talked about it, but I knew that something wasn’t right with my daddy’s health. Then, when I was 11 years old, he had a massive heart attack at a cotton gin and died.

By the end of the Ornish program, one woman in our group looked like a different person

My personal issues with heart disease started in my sixties and continued for a long time. At first, the only symptom was dizziness, but it progressed from there. Since that time, I’ve had 2 pacemakers installed, 8 stents, a punctured lung, congestive heart failure—you name it. But when I had my last stent installed, one of the nurses came to me and said, “We have this new thing called the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation), and we’d really like for you to be in it.” So I enrolled, and since then, things have been looking up.

Today, I feel much better than I did then. I’m feeling very strong, very healthy, and my doctor agrees; he said the program has absolutely helped my condition. Furthermore, I know that—if I want to live—then I’d better stay on the program. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I was very impressed with each of the program’s four components—stress management, exercise, group support, and nutrition—but the group support particularly stands out in my mind. The members of my cohort entered the program as strangers, but we all opened up to each other and supported each other throughout the nine weeks. By the end of the program, one woman in our group looked like a completely different person, and one of the men—who had been hesitant at first—had completely bought in. Looking back, it feels really good to have made those new friends. Really good.

The program has been important to me for a few reasons. First, I can do things now that I wasn’t able to do before. The improvements aren’t revolutionary, but I’m walking again and getting to the fitness center more often than I had been. Second, the program allows me to set an example for the rest of my family. My brother and sister have both been declining in health lately, but I think they’ve been somewhat energized by how well I’ve been doing. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I think that the program has given me a good chance of living a longer life. I’ve had stents installed every year or so for a long time now, but today, I’m doing really well. That means a lot to me.

Finally, to anyone who is thinking about joining the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program, or to anyone at all with heart disease, I’d recommend that you enroll. Commit to it and do it; it can change your life. If you think about your goals—about why you want to get better—the program really isn’t hard. That’s what I did. I have a great grandson who’s about two and a half years old, and I first started this program because I wanted to live long enough for him to know who I was—just like his mother knew my mother before she died. Now, he knows who I am. So I definitely recommend this program; it’s been good to me and I know that it can help you too.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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