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Name: Jim V.

Age: 62

Location: WVU Ruby Memorial (Legacy Site)

Health Challenges: Diabetes, Overweight, Risk Factors for Heart Disease, Extensive Family History of Heart Disease

Greatest Motivation: When I started on the program and began following the four components, I truly came back to life. I play with my grandkids, I do my garden work, I cut the grass, and I have a farm here, so I take care of the farm and cut firewood. Those were all things that I couldn’t do previously. Now I do everything that I did when I was younger.  The effects that the program had on me internally were even better. I went from taking 16 medications to 3, my blood pressure numbers normalized, and I was able to get off of the morphine pump. I’m healthier now than I was when I was 55. I really am.

His Story: In 1992, two tons of slate fell on me when I was working in a coal mine and crushed me pretty good. Afterwards I was disabled, went up to 286 pounds, and started taking 16 prescription medications. Sixteen of them. I didn’t have the energy to do anything back then. Truthfully, I was just getting up and going to the bathroom and then going back to bed. That was my whole day. I was struggling from a health standpoint unrelated to the injury as well. I had diabetes, I was on a morphine pump, and I had high blood pressure—everything was going in the wrong direction. The high blood pressure was particularly worrisome because of my family history; out of my dad’s 11 siblings, 10 of them died from heart disease, and my brother had 7 heart attacks at age 40. All of that made me realize that what we were doing—and what I was doing—just wasn’t working. I was the lowest I’d been in my whole life. I had to make change.

Overall, the program has had a huge impact on my relationships.

In 2012, I got a letter from my insurance company about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation), did some research on it, and was sold. Then I talked to my wife about it, and she also had high cholesterol at the time, so we decided to do the program together. It was one of the best decisions that we ever made. Quickly, my weight dropped from 286 pounds to 194 and I went from wearing size 46 pants to wearing a size 34. People walk up to me all the time and can’t even believe that it’s me—that’s how much of a difference there has been in my appearance. The effects that the program had on me internally were even better. I went from taking 16 medications to 3, my blood pressure numbers normalized, and I was able to get off of the morphine pump. I’m healthier now than I was when I was 55. I really am.

The impacts of the program have not only been physical, however. As I mentioned earlier, I had absolutely no energy before I got on the program. I didn’t even have the energy to go to my grandkids’ plays or ball games or anything. I was totally drained. But when I started on the program and began following the four components, I truly came back to life. I play with my grandkids, I do my garden work, I cut the grass, and I have a farm here, so I take care of the farm and cut firewood. Those were all things that I couldn’t do previously. Now I do everything that I did when I was younger.

Being able to spend more meaningful time with my grandkids and my wife has been tremendous for me. I have 9 grandkids, and they all want to come to the house to be here with Pap and Gram, and now I can be there for that. My relationship with my wife has also really improved. Before, I basically avoided her because she wanted to do things that I just didn’t have the energy to do. But now, we travel and we do things together every chance we get. Plus it really meant a lot to me that she did the program with me, and it really helped her, too—her numbers and her cholesterol went down quite a bit. We cook for each other and help each other out. Overall, the program has had a huge impact on my relationships.

I truly enjoy each of the program’s components. The stress management, the group support (which I was a bit skeptical about beforehand), the exercise, the food—it has all been really beneficial for me. The stress management gave me more flexibility than I’ve had since before my injury, and the diet really isn’t as hard as people expect it to be. For all of my life, I’ve been a meat and potato man, and I ate fried foods and other stuff like that. In this area, that’s basically what you grow up eating. It’s how I was raised. But my wife and I went on the Ornish nutrition program and have had no trouble with it whatsoever. It was easy to do, really.

Ultimately, I’d probably be dead today without the program. That’s the road that I was headed down. But now, my outlook for the future has completely changed. My wife and I used to worry about being bedridden and putting a burden on our kids, but we don’t worry about that as much these days. Plus, when my wife retires in two years, we’re planning on traveling throughout the United States. Honestly, I don’t feel like there’s anything that I can’t do today, whereas just three years ago there was nothing that I felt I could do. It’s been a world of difference for me. The Ornish Program is a lifesaver.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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