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Name: Bill Dame

Age: 66

Ornish Site: Saline Heart Group

Health Challenges: Triple bypass, pacemaker, persistent A-Fib, intestinal blockage.

Greatest Motivation: I have reached (by the grace of God) retirement age. I have always looked forward to this as a time to learn new things and find new experiences. 

His Story: I had intended to work until the end of 2017 and start my retirement on the first day of 2018. My health decided otherwise. Due to my steadily worsening health problems I was forced into retirement a year early. The surgeon got his first crack at me as my intestinal problem got more acute. Thank God it was not as bad as we feared and didn’t require re-sectioning my bowel. I started the program on May 1st in a state of mild depression. I weighed 208 lbs. I had been told what I could expect from the program, so I started with hope. The people in the program gave me inspiration. I came out of the program with a new sense of self-worth and a new weight of 185 lbs.

I relaxed and opened up in a way that I haven’t since high school

Sure, I will recommend Ornish Lifestyle Medicine (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation). As I write this, I don’t yet know if I have brought my A-Fib under control. I certainly hope so, but if I haven’t, I am still better able physically, emotionally and mentally to deal with whatever is required. In short, it is no longer an insurmountable problem. I do know personally of people who were able to reduce or even stop some of the meds they previously depended on only a few weeks into the program. Honestly, as far as I can see, there is nothing to lose and life to be gained by participating in this program.

As I’ve gotten, I’ve withdrawn into a comfortable nutshell, avoiding social interaction and new friendships as much as possible. The group I participated with changed all of that.  I felt accepted from the first day by the group support facilitator who ran our sessions and the participants with whom I was lucky to share my experience. I relaxed and opened up in a way that I haven’t since high school. It seems to me that I always left sessions relaxed and happy.

Yoga is a foreign concept to me. In my mind, it belongs in the 60s practiced by women wearing paisley dresses and beads with flowers in their hair while eating strange brownies. Turns out, it’s not like that at all. Our stress management specialist was poised, professional and more than competent. I have learned that an hour of yoga leaves me feeling refreshed. I’m more limber than I have been in years. My back no longer hurts. I still have trouble getting my mind to focus the way it is supposed to, but I will keep trying until I get it right.

I am now a decaffeinated vegetarian. Well, almost. Some of the meals we tried were very good, others – not so much. The benefits? In addition to the weight loss, I no longer run down in the middle of the day. So, I not only have more energy, but it is at a more sustained level. We are learning how to continue this at home, and we are expanding our list of available foods and new tastes on a daily basis.

Over the past several years, my doctors have cautioned me about the harm I could suffer from too much physical activity. It made me afraid of doing anything. The trainers showed me how much I can actually do. Now I work out at least 5 hours per week and I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in decades.

I have reached (by the grace of God) retirement age. I have always looked forward to this as a time to learn new things and find new experiences. I simply want to be well enough to enjoy it.

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