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Name: Tina M.

Age: 53

Health Challenge: 2 failed double bypass surgeries.

Greatest Motivation: Today, my motivation is to live a very long and healthy life. I want to be ambulatory and have all of my marbles well into my 80s, and I want to do that because I want to play a real, meaningful role in my grandchildren’s lives. I want to have a real relationship with them; I don’t want to be too fatigued or sick to go see their basketball games or whatever it may be.

Her Story: In the fall of 2007, I was going through a very difficult time in my personal life. My family had disintegrated, I had gone through a divorce, and my mentally ill son had just entered a new institution—it was just a really tough time. My daughter and I had just begun to settle into our new home when I started to notice that something was wrong with my health. I was having considerable chest pain and—after an inconclusive stress test—I was scheduled for a cardiac cath. It ended up being a pivotal day. My doctors found some substantial blockages in my arteries, particularly in the left ventricle, which is often referred to as “the widow maker” for its perilous implications.

I wanted a program that would give me some hope—and the Ornish program turned out to do just that.

Furthermore, they told me that I was not a candidate for stenting. I would have to have surgery right away. It was emotionally overwhelming. It was the scariest thing that I have ever been through. When I woke up, I found out that they had performed double bypass surgery twice in 24 hours because the first surgery didn’t take. After a few weeks of recuperating in the cold Iowa winter, I developed new severe chest pain. I went back to the hospital and, low and behold, we found that none of the grafts took. The doctors gave me five years to live. I was 46.

At that point, I really didn’t have much hope. My outlook was pretty grim and I was still responsible for both of my kids. I’ve been resilient for all of my life, but that was the least hope I’ve ever had. I was scared. My one glimmer of hope happened when I came across Dr. Ornish’s books. I was immediately intrigued. I wanted a program that would give me some hope—give me some control over the future—and the OrnishLifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) turned out to do just that. It made sense on an intuitive, gut level, and I loved that the program was a combination of four life-changing components rather than just a simple diet or exercise regimen. I started following the program that day and have been loyal to it ever since.

Fast forward to August of 2014. I was in the hospital supporting a friend who was having heart problems when my heart began to hurt as well. I didn’t know if it was sympathy pains or what, so I decided to have another cardiac cath to get it checked out. Before the procedure, the doctors prepared me for the worst, warning me that it was likely that—at the very least—stents would be necessary. After the procedure, the usually chatty doctors were ominously silent. My heart plummeted; something must have gone wrong. I lay in the recuperation room worrying for what felt like an eternity before my doctor finally came in. Her smile alleviated all of my worries; grinning, she said that “we almost thought we made a mistake seven years ago…there’s no evidence of cardiac disease anymore whatsoever.”

It’s hard for me to keep my composure when I talk about this experience. It’s just amazing. It’s an augmented miracle. Seven years ago, I was told that I had five years to live. Without the program, I probably wouldn’t even be here today. I might not have even gotten the chance to see my daughter graduate from high school. I’ve been given a second chance, and I owe it all to Dr. Ornish and the Ornish program. He gave me hope when I didn’t have any. He turned my life around. I am so thankful.

Today, my motivation is to live a very long and healthy life. I want to be ambulatory and have all of my marbles well into my 80s, and I want to do that because I want to play a real, meaningful role in my grandchildren’s lives. I want to have a real relationship with them; I don’t want to be too fatigued or sick to go see their basketball games or whatever it may be. I really believe that the program will help me achieve these goals.

Finally, to anyone who is thinking of joining the program, do it. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’ll start noticing the benefits really quickly—within just 2 or 3 weeks—and you’ll continue to feel better for a long time. Additionally, the mental benefits are even better than the physical—at least they were for me.  I was desperate for something that would give me control, that would allow me to make a change in my own life, and the program filled that void. It provided me with hope for a better outcome in life. It lifted my spirits, motivated me, and made me a happier person. If you join, it can do the same for you.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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