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Name: Amanda S.

Age: 37

Location: CAMC

Health Challenge: Heart disease, diabetes, immune deficiency

Greatest Motivation: I have more energy, I can do my housework, and I can walk through the store no problem—which is a really big deal for me. If there are things that I need to do—things that I want to do—I can do them. I’m free. It feels great.  I just let it go, and I’m much happier for it. These components, along with the exercise and the group support, have gotten me to where I am today.My outlook for the future has also completely changed for the better. Instead of thinking that I wouldn’t be here for very long, I’ve found myself joking around with friends and imagining what it’ll be like to be 80 or 90 year old ladies together. I’ve even become more hopeful about accomplishing my goals.

Her Story: My heart disease story begins in February of 2014, but I’ve had to deal with health problems for much longer than that. I’m diabetic and I was born with an immune deficiency, so unfortunately I’ve grown accustomed to being sick. That’s why, when I first went to a hospital with some pressure in my chest, the doctors and I figured it was just another case of bronchitis or something. Throughout an EKG, a stress test, a cat scan, and a heart catheterization, I kept thinking to myself, “Okay, they’ll figure out that nothing’s wrong, give me another antibiotic, and I’ll go home later today.” Even the doctor was calm; he figured that if anything was wrong, it would be a small problem and a stent would take care of it. Well, that wasn’t the case. They found that I have a diffuse LAD, which means that the artery in front of my heart is narrowed from one end to the other, so there’s no way to treat it using stents. It was a lot to take in, but we started treatment right away. The only courses of action were medication and EECP treatments, but neither one was working. Eventually, the doctors recommended the Ornish program, and, finally, things started looking up.

“My health has drastically improved and I owe a lot of that to my work with the program.”

Since joining the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation), I’ve just felt great. The symptoms from my diffuse LAD have largely disappeared and—when I went back to the doctor—he was really impressed and told me to keep up the good work. My cholesterol has also decreased significantly and, when I see my family doctor again, I’m hoping to get off of my medicine for that. Dropping a medication would be amazing—one less medicine to worry about in my long list. I also used to live in constant pain from my surgically repaired hip, and thanks to the stress management that pain has decreased dramatically.

Overall, my health has drastically improved and I owe a lot of that to my work with the program. The program has also impacted my life beyond the obvious medical benefits. Before joining, I didn’t have a lot of energy or mobility, and overall things were kind of going downhill for me. I had been having trouble walking through my grocery store without an electric cart, and even doing chores around my house was very painful.

Today, things have changed; I have more energy, I can do my housework, and I can walk through the store no problem—which is a really big deal for me. If there are things that I need to do—things that I want to do—I can do them. I don’t have to rest, I don’t have to sit down, I don’t have to take it easy. I’m free. It feels great.

The program’s components have made this transformation possible. I was really surprised by the diet in particular; I figured that we would be eating rice, rice crackers, more rice—you know, boring stuff. But I found out really quickly that the food is delicious, and that totally changed my mindset. Instead of looking at all of the things that I couldn’t have, I looked at all of the things that I could. It was a great change. The stress management has also been hugely helpful to me. Little things, like someone cutting me off, used to irritate me to no end. Now, I realize that they just aren’t that big of a deal. I don’t cuss or rant and rave any more—or even cut them back off. I just let it go, and I’m much happier for it. These components, along with the exercise and the group support, have gotten me to where I am today.

My outlook for the future has also completely changed for the better. Instead of thinking that I wouldn’t be here for very long, I’ve found myself joking around with friends and imagining what it’ll be like to be 80 or 90 year old ladies together. I’ve even become more hopeful about accomplishing my goals. I don’t have any children of my own, but I do have nieces and nephews, and I want to be here to see them graduate and get married. I want to take care of them, but I know that I won’t be able to if I don’t take care of myself. So, with the help of the program, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Ultimately, without the Ornish program I wouldn’t have the hope for the future that I do now. In fact, I probably would have had a heart attack by now. Worst case scenario, I wouldn’t even be here. For those reasons and more, I would tell anyone who is thinking about joining to go ahead and do it. It will change your life and it will help you achieve your goals, just like it has for me. Simply put, I just want to make it—we all do—and I know for a fact that this program can help make that goal a reality.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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