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Name: Steve M.

Age: 66

Location: KentuckyOne – Louisville

Health Challenges: 3 heart attacks, two additional episodes

Greatest Motivation: I’ve been a meat and potato and French fry freak for all of my life, but giving up those foods has been no problem at all. The stress management has helped me deal with things at my job, the group has become another family to me, and the exercise has actually gotten me to the point where I was able to run a 5k last weekend—which was really tiring, but really good.

His Story: It was a Sunday morning in 2002, and I woke up with my first heart attack. My wife was going through nursing school at the time, so she knew exactly what to do, and I made sure to listen to everything she said. As I followed her instructions, she looked at me and said, “Get in the car. I’ll get you there quicker than an ambulance.” She was right; we made it downtown from my house in about seven minutes. It was quite a ride. Since that day—September 9th, 2002—I’ve had two more heart attacks and two incidents where my heart stopped. Eerily enough, two of those incidents also came on September 9ths, which—I’m beginning to think—is just not my day.

“I feel like the program has given me a second chance at life—and this one, I don’t want to mess up.”

After my most recent incident, I was afraid; I didn’t think my heart could take many more episodes, and I didn’t want to be out driving a car when the next episode hit—I didn’t want to take the chance of hurting someone else. Simply put, I wanted to get better, and I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. That’s when my doctor told me about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) and everything changed.

The way that I feel today, after graduating from the program, is almost indescribable. I’ve lost 40 pounds, I’ve dropped 5 sizes on my waistline, and my stamina is so much better. I have a sister who hadn’t seen me since I started the program, and when we finally got together last weekend, she looked at me and said “Holy smokes, I want some of what you’ve got. You look unbelievable!” It’s so humbling to hear people that I love say things like that. Moreover, this year’s September the 9th rolled by without an issue, which was quite a relief.

Each of the program’s four components has been tremendous for me—even the food. I’ve been a meat and potato and French fry freak for all of my life, but giving up those foods has been no problem at all. The stress management has helped me deal with things at my job, the group has become another family to me, and the exercise has actually gotten me to the point where I was able to run a 5k last weekend—which was really tiring, but really good. Honestly, every one of the program’s four elements has changed my life for the better. Just ask my wife, she’ll be the first one to tell you—“I love this new guy!”

In this life, I can look at my grandkids and know that I’ll be able to teach them to play golf. In this life, I’ll be able to make it to my daughter’s wedding.

This entire process has been really helpful for my son as well. He’s has Alport Syndrome, and he’s been struggling lately; it’s not easy to be a 20 year old who needs to do dialysis three days a week. But through this program, he’s been able to watch me progress from being unhealthy to healthy, and I think that has been great for him. He’s been telling everybody about how much weight I’ve lost and how much better I am around the house. I think that it’s given him a new strength and a new hope for what’s coming down the road for him. It’s really cool.

Ultimately, I feel like the program has given me a second chance at life—and this one, I don’t want to mess up. In this life, I can look at my grandkids and know that I’ll be able to teach them to play golf. In this life, I’ll be able to make it to my daughter’s wedding, which is coming up in November. In this life, I won’t have to live day to day, fumbling around in my jacket for a nitro pill, hoping that it works just as well as the last one did. Overall, I’m such a changed person; it’s a special feeling.

Moving forward, I’m really excited to go out and be an advocate for the program. That’s why I share my story. I spoke at an open house for the program last week, and I’ll tell you, whoever reads this, what I told them: Don’t walk to this program—run. Get here as quick as you can, and I’ll give you a ride if you need one. This program is what you need. This program is going to add time to your life. I really believe that, and I hope you believe it too.

 

 

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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