I had lost Paula, my wife and best friend of 34 years to pancreatic cancer. I thought my chest pain was just from stress and grief. I was shocked to find out that I had coronary artery disease.

After losing my wife and best friend, Paula of 34 years to pancreatic cancer, I continued my lifestyle as an avid runner. Running was the one thing that helped me find some needed relief from my grief. I started experiencing chest pain as I ran. It stopped me. I chalked the chest pain up to being stressed from trying to cope, but when I would try to run, the chest pain and pressure was right there, again and again.  I mentioned this frustration of not being able to run to my pastor. He then reached out on my behalf to a Prairie Heart doctor friend, Dr. Nilesh J. Goswami, MD. In my humble opinion and as a Believer, it was Divine Intervention.

When I told the doctor what I was going through, he recommended a stress test to evaluate my chest pain.  I asked him if I let him do what he is suggesting, will I be able to get back out and run again? His answer was, “Yes.”

But my stress test did reveal that my chest pain was a sign on something serious. Dr. Goswami found a blocked artery in my heart and told me I have coronary artery disease. I had a cardiac catheterization and  I ended up having a stent to open a blockage in a blocked coronary artery.

At first, being so ‘healthy’, people seemed to find it inconceivable that I could have a serious heart problem. Already battling with the grief over losing Paula, I found it was very isolating.

Follow up with Dr. Goswami’ s nurse practitioner, Meredith Fleming, I was introduced to the 9-week Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program at Prairie Heart Cardiovascular. Ornish Lifestyle Medicine is the only program scientifically proven to reverse the progression of heart disease through significant changes in lifestyle. I chose to participate with fellow participants as a member of Cohort One. Now, I am back to the way I have always enjoyed running and I am feeling great about my health and personal life. While exercise and a healthy approach to eating are good things, I discovered the Stress Management and Group Support that is part of the Ornish Program has truly helped me. I am a ‘work in progress.’

We’re all under pressure to stave off illness and stay well for our families and our work. But our body has the deepest wisdom. We must listen to it. For me, the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program continues to heal my body and my mind. The choices we make in our lives have a powerful effect on our health. It’s never been a better time to make those choices count. I am thankful to Prairie Heart and to the local, dedicated Ornish team. We are blessed to have this program in Springfield.