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Name:Jim C.

Age: 72

Location: Chambers Center for Well Being – Atlantic Health System

Health Challenge:Heart Attack, Two Stents, Multiple Sclerosis, RSD, Arterial Blockages, High Blood Pressure.

Greatest Motivation: Now, I walk around the block 3-4 times daily. I also ride the stationary bike 2-3 miles on a regular basis, which I had never done before the program. After 6-9 weeks on the program, I was able to go off of my blood pressure and cholesterol medications. I am eating better, and both exercising and relaxing more often. I do not think about what I can’t have; I focus on what I need to do to live better and longer and possibly make a difference.

His Story: On December 5th of 2014, I was lying in bed experiencing shortness of breath. Previously, I had attributed breathing difficulty to my age and lack of exercise. But this was extreme, so I called my wife Kay to our bedroom and asked her to lie down next to me. I told her that I couldn’t catch my breath. Thinking back, we should have called 911, but my eyes drifted upward to our cathedral ceiling and focused on a Salvador Dali print of The Christ of St. John of the Cross. I instinctively said “Lord, I am in your hands. Do with me what you will.” I did not expect to wake up, yet I felt a sense of total calm as if an invisible hand had scanned by body from head to toe. The first thing I saw when I woke up the next morning was the picture of the cross, and I instinctively knew that there was more to do in life.

“After 6-9 weeks on the program, I was able to go off of my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.”

Five weeks later, I went to the hospital for an MRI to follow up on an earlier procedure that was unrelated to my heart. While awaiting the MRI, an unscheduled EKG was performed in the hallway, and within minutes I was redirected to the cath lab. The EKG found a previously undetected heart attack, and the doctors had to scope out my arteries. The doctors found a 95% blockage in what I learned is called the “widow maker” artery, and put a stent in. I was told that I was a “very lucky puppy,” as I was at the right place at the right time, and that someone must be looking out for me or want more out of me.

The surgeons advised me to follow up with my cardiologist, and told me that in 3 months, the three remaining blockages (80%, 60% and 30%) might need to be addressed. Due to my medical history, I was concerned about the risks of future surgeries and stents. That’s when my bride of 46 years showed me a flier on the Ornish Reversal Program  (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) at Chambers Center for Well Being. After seeing the flier, Kay and I decided to attend an open house. I stepped out of the hour-long presentation after 15 minutes, when I saw a slide of a severely clogged heart artery. Realizing that the Ornish Reversal Program offered a means of reversing such situations through nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and group support, I did not need to hear more. Such an integrated approach offered a way for me to solve my problem—a way to reverse plaque buildup, and to delay and possibly avoid more risky stent surgeries.

Before the Ornish Reversal Program, I got winded when walking or doing minor chores that expended energy. Walking around the quarter mile in my neighborhood was unthinkable at the time. Now, I walk around the block 3-4 times daily. I also ride the stationary bike 2-3 miles on a regular basis, which I had never done before the program. After 6-9 weeks on the program, I was able to go off of my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.

Having had MS for 30 years, RSD for 4 years and other medical conditions, I am very much in tune with my body. Although the MS continues to create electrical impulses throughout the right side of my body, the integrated Ornish Reversal Program (including group support, stress-reduction techniques, nutrition, and exercise) helps improve my quality of life. Before the program, vegetables and fruit dared not approach my plate in 72 years. Sweets were a soft spot. I even bought a candy store many years ago, and ate some of the profits because of my sweet tooth.

With the help of the program and its amazing staff, these habits have changed. I am eating better, and both exercising and relaxing more often. I do not think about what I can’t have; I focus on what I need to do to live better and longer and possibly make a difference.

As I said previously, after I woke up from my heart attack, I knew that I had more to do in life. I’m holding my grandchildren. I’m distributing communion to thousands of people at my church, and I continue to help tens of thousands of the poor and marginalized spanning 56 countries through my volunteer work with non-profits. I am a happy and positive person. If I am able to save a life by sharing my story, then I’ll be even happier. The Ornish Reversal Program has helped me and I hope that it can help you.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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