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Name: Judy

Age: 71

Location: WVU Ruby Memorial (Legacy Site)

Health Challenge: Open Heart Surgery, Congestive Heart Failure, Cancer

Greatest Motivation: In the past, I was taking two or three blood pressure pills per day, but not anymore! Now I only take a half pill in the morning and a half pill at night. We’ve also drastically cut back on my cholesterol meds and dropped my reflux medicine entirely. It’s absolutely wonderful. I’ve also been able to lose some weight without even trying. After many long years, I am finally, truly healthy. The program has helped with (depression) tremendously—my outlook and my attitude have changed completely for the better. Ultimately, when you really think about it, we only go around once in life, so I think that we need to enjoy it. Thanks to the program, I’m able to do that.  My biggest motivation to stay healthy has always been my grandchildren—and the Ornish Program has put me in a position to be with them, meaningfully, for a long time to come.

Her Story: My heart troubles began one day with some simple but unusual chest pain. I didn’t think much of it at first, but I went to a cardiologist to be safe, and he put me through all of the tests—you know, everything that can be done for heart checking. When I got out of one of the tests—the heart catheterization, I think—the doctor just stood there, looked at me, and said, “I can’t put any stents in, every artery is completely clogged. I want you to go into open heart surgery tomorrow.” Shocked and devastated, I got everything in order and did exactly that.

“My outlook and my attitude have changed completely for the better.”

I did not feel good after the surgery; the pain in my chest was horrendous. I got sick the night that they sent me home and had to rush back to the hospital, where I found out that I had congestive heart failure. I went home again four days later, but I was still living with unrelenting pain. Finally, I went to another doctor who listened to my heart and said that she could hear my bones rubbing against each other—it turned out that my chest had totally come apart from radiation during a prior bout with throat cancer. Days later, I had surgery to put my chest back together, and at long last, began to get well.

I was exhausted and terribly upset after that horrible ordeal, so when I got back home to Morgantown, I knew I wanted to turn things around. One day, I got a letter in the mail about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) that immediately caught my eye, and I started it shortly thereafter. Since then, I’ve felt so much better. I used to get tired all the time, but today I actually wear people out because I have so much energy! They simply cannot believe that I’ve been through so much and am doing so well. Furthermore, the doctors have had to completely change my medicine. In the past, I was taking two or three blood pressure pills per day, but not anymore! Now I only take a half pill in the morning and a half pill at night. We’ve also drastically cut back on my cholesterol meds and dropped my reflux medicine entirely. It’s absolutely wonderful. I’ve also been able to lose some weight without even trying. After many long years, I am finally, truly healthy.

The program has also helped to improve my mood. After I went through everything with my heart, I kind of plummeted into a depression. The doctor said that that was totally normal, but still, I had to pull myself up out of it. The program has helped with that tremendously—my outlook and my attitude have changed completely for the better. Ultimately, when you really think about it, we only go around once in life, so I think that we need to enjoy it. Thanks to the program, I’m able to do that.

I must say that all of the components really work, and that you’ve got to have them all to truly take care of your mind and body. The stress management and yoga were particularly helpful for me. When I first started the program, I could hardly sit down and stand up without being exhausted. Today, I don’t even have to think twice before moving around. If I hadn’t made those changes to my lifestyle, I don’t know if I’d be able to take care of myself; I’d probably still be living with my son in Kentucky, and no offense, but I don’t love Kentucky. West Virginia is my home. Instead, I’m able to live alone, happily, with my two beautiful little dogs. It’s just made such a big difference in my quality of life.

My biggest motivation to stay healthy has always been my grandchildren. I want to see them grow up and I don’t want to be a burden on them. I want to be healthy so I can do things with them like I do now. Just the other day, for example, I took my granddaughter (a horse lover) to the thoroughbred farms for some sightseeing, and I actually wore her out! Years ago I never could have done that. Back then, when I wasn’t feeling well, I’d always have to call my grandkids and say, “I’m sorry, your Nana is sick and I can’t do this and I can’t do that.” But you know what? Now I can! I can do it all. That’s my motivation—my beautiful grandkids—and the Ornish Program has put me in a position to be with them, meaningfully, for a long time to come.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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