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When Barb turned 65, she decided it was time to get healthy. With the Health Risk Management program offered here at ADC, she has been able to find success and lose 69 pounds in the process. She credits the health educators and her fellow classmates for being supportive of her during her journey.

Learn more about this program for yourself by visiting our HRM page or calling (512) 901-4540

Stroke awareness: “I never thought it would happen to my 56-year-old mother”

SallyDaughter shares story of mother’s stroke experience and why everyone needs to know the signs.

Phone calls at 2am never mean something good.

On March 18, 2014, my sister-in-law called to tell me that my mother has just suffered a stroke and was being transported to St. Luke’s in Houston.

It took me a few minutes to understand what was being said, my mother was only 56 at the time, and we didn’t have a family history of heart disease beyond high blood pressure.

Each year, it’s estimated that almost 800,000 Americans will suffer a stroke. I never thought it would happen to my 56-year-old mother. Yes, she smoked and drank. To be honest, she didn’t have the healthiest eating habits. But she was 56 years old. Strokes only occur in older people, right?

Not according to the CDC, where they report that 36 percent of all strokes happen in patients younger than 65.

Thankfully, my mother was aware of what was happening to her and was able to get immediate help. She was transferred to a stroke center in Houston where they administered the tPA (Tissue plasminogen activator) to help break up the clot.

My mother spent two weeks in ICU before being transferred to a rehabilitation hospital where she had to learn to walk and speak again.

As a mother to two young children, I began to worry about my own risks for developing heart disease.

I was only 36-years-old at the time, but when something like this happens to one of your own parents, it makes you pause and really take stock in your current lifestyle.

Luckily I had quit smoking over five years ago, and I exercise regularly. But what about the damage I had already done to my body from not eating well or smoking for 13 years? Did the preeclampsia I had during pregnancy have any effect on my heart?

I thought that using Google to answer my questions was a good idea, but believe me, it is not.

I made an appointment with Dr. Jennette Cross, my family practitioner, to run blood tests just to get some peace of mind. All the tests came back within the normal ranges, but I was still worried that I was missing something.

I remembered seeing a heart screening special a few months prior through the ADC cardiology section. The screening includes the Ankle Brachial Index, an EKG, Echocardiogram and a carotid artery ultrasound. This screening wasn’t covered by my insurance, however for $130, it was worth my peace of mind.

The entire process took less than an hour. The radiology tech was informative and was able to show me what he was seeing on the ultrasounds and Echo. The results were then reviewed by the cardiologist and shared with my general practitioner.

My mother returned home six months after her stroke. She continues to make daily improvements.

Thankfully, my heart screening showed that I am clear of heart disease. Having that small bit of information has given me a huge amount of relief.

I now understand the lifestyle risks that come with my new found family history of stroke and can take charge of my health by not smoking, eating right, exercising daily, controlling my blood pressure, and routinely checking my cholesterol and sugars.

Denette Plessala, a 2012 participant in ADC’s Weight and Health Risk Management program has seen weight loss success! She shared her story – what led her to the program and how it’s changed her life.

“My name is Denette Plessala. I am 50 years old – Yay! I’m a grandma. And love it. To date, I’ve been in the program since April and I’ve lost 42 pounds.”

How did you find the weight loss program?

“There’s a doctor here – Dr. McDermott – and I was seeing her and she knew that I had an issue with my weight and I was having a lot of stress at work which was causing a lot of chest pains. She said, ‘There are 2 things you need to do. Number 1, you need to try this program with Austin Diagnostic Clinic and number 2 you need to go talk to somebody.’

What changes have you noticed since you first joined?

“When I first started out my feet hurt, my knees hurt, I have lower back problems, and like I said I’ve got a grandson who’s going to be 4 in September. And he likes to climb in his tent and do stuff, and he always wants Grammy to come join him. Grammy would get down but Grammy couldn’t get back up again. You know, he’s my first and there’s going to be more coming, so it was time to do something with my body.

“My feet do not hurt. My knees do not hurt. Occasionally I get a little bit of back issues and stuff, but I feel so good. My whole mental thinking is gone, and I still… I walk past a mirror and I do a double take with myself sometimes. Is that really you? I mean, it’s like going back in time, because you really do not realize how much the weight puts on you – the puffiness. And just to see the people look at you and they light up when they look at you – “hey skinny!” Well I didn’t turn around. But, it’s incredible. I just feel good.”

What have you learned from the program?

“I don’t have to take pills to lose weight. I have learned that exercise does go hand-in-hand because in every thing that I’ve done, I’ve either taken the diet part of it or the exercise part of it, and didn’t do either one very well, because I didn’t put the two together.”

What would you say to someone considering a weight loss program?

“Pills are not the way to go. They hurt you. I have tried every diet out there. I have spent beaucoups of money, and unless you get out there and find… this program is medically-supervised, so you’re getting your lab work done, you’re being seen by a doctor, you’re being weighed each week. You have to go to class. So you are getting your nutrition spelled out for you and how to work the program. You have accountability with other people in the class. This is the way to go.”

Nat Russo, a 2012 participant in ADC’s Weight and Health Risk Management program has seen success! He shared his story, including what led him to the program and how it’s changed his life.

“My name is Nat Russo. I’m 42 years old. I’ve been in the program four months? Four to five months? And I’ve dropped 70 pounds, so far in that time.”

What led you to this weight loss program?

“I was living on fast food. And not even really paying much attention to it. I work in a very stressful environment, stressful occupation, and it was just very easy for me to run across the street at lunchtime and grab a bag of food from whatever fast food restaurant, and come back to the office and keep working. After a while, it adds up. I didn’t realize how quickly it adds up until I wound up having a heart attack.

“I was 38 years old, and I’ve been seeing my cardiologist every 6 months. It was clear to me that my weight was a huge factor. So I asked him about bariatric surgery. He told me he would support it, but I might not be aware of a program called HMR being run here at the hospital. He asked me to check it out, so I went and signed up about 2 weeks later.”

Was the program hard?

“I was eating a lot of garbage before coming here to this program. So I was hungry a lot, and there was a period of time when it feel like my thoughts were kind of foggy, I was lethargic. But after a while my body adjusted – you know, within a handful of days – it was almost like someone threw a switch and everything was back on even keel again.”

What physical activity do you do?

“I started by walking about half a mile a day, and the very first time I tried it, I got halfway around the block and thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ And it didn’t matter if I went forward or back – I was in the middle of the walk, so I had to go the same distance. But within a week and a half to two weeks, that little two week walk started feeling like it wasn’t enough, and I felt my endurance increasing. So I just gradually increased and increased.

“I keep trying to challenge myself a little bit without it being too much exertion. I’ve learned that you really don’t have to kill yourself with physical activity to be successful at weight loss. You just have to have physical activity. And getting up off of my couch is not physical activity. It used to be the most physical activity I did in a day. Not anymore.”

What has been the reaction to your weight loss?

“I have a colleague that I only see every three to four weeks, and every time he sees me he taps me on the shoulder and says ‘You look like a different person every time I see you.’ The reaction varies from person to person, but it’s always surprise.”

How has the weight loss changed you?

“There was a period of time before I started losing weight that I actually felt older than I am, and I felt as if I was getting sicker and sicker. And I was starting to have more and more medical problems. And now that’s reversing.  Now I’m having fewer medical problems. I’m taking less medication. My lab numbers weren’t this good when I was a teenager. So I’m just amazed all the way around.”

Why do you think this program has been successful for you?

“Of all of the programs that I’ve tried in the past, this has been the only one that’s worked for me. And I think it has a lot to do with the built in support system – going to classes and learning how to change your lifestyle, how to embrace a new viewpoint, a new relationship with food.”

Chase Kelly, a 2012 participant in ADC’s Weight and Health Risk Management program has seen weight loss success! He shared his story – what led him to the program and how it’s changed his life.

“My name is Chase Kelly. I’ve been in the program about 4 1/2 months, and as of today actually I’ve hit 102 pounds lost, so I’m extremely excited about the program.”

What led you to ADC’s weight loss program?

“I was looking at bariatric surgery options, and I was like, ‘You know, I don’t really want to go down that road if I don’t have to.’ It seemed pretty risky. So for me, if I could find a program that was successful, that was doctor-monitored, and this one is actually really close to my work. And looking at the results — some of the research on the program — it seemed like it was well-supervised and worked for a lot of other people, so for me it was a good option.”

How did you add physical activity?

“The first week or two I just focused on learning the skills to make the food in the program and making sure I incorporated everything into my routine. And then I felt better — after a couple of weeks I felt better physically so I started going to the gym every morning, and I’d get on the treadmill and I’d walk for 15 minutes, And that was a lot. And then I’d walk for 20 minutes. And then I started measuring it in distance. And now… my favorite part was when I got to the point where I was walking really fast and I was like, “I wonder if I can run?” And so I started running and I could run, and now I run 4 miles a day and absolutely loving it.

“So I’m really excited. The physical activity is one of the best parts of the program for me. It’s really motivating and it helps the weight loss.”

What has been the reaction to your weight loss?

“The reactions are really great. In fact, today someone was walking down the hall and they were like, ‘I saw you far down the hall, and you’re dressed like Chase, but you don’t look like Chase. You look great.’ And it’s fun. I look forward to going on seeing people that I haven’t seen in a while because they generally will double take to look at you, because I look different than I did before.

“They’re really positive about it. There’s a lot of encouragement, a lot of support, and “Good job, keep it going!” kind of thing. So it’s really positive and really great to see the results and see people’s reactions to the results.”

how has it changed your life?

Chase Kelly

“It’s not a quick fix. It’s a change in your lifestyle. But once you’ve made the decision, it’s very easy to incorporate. It’s an hour a week for a meeting. The doctors check you, which is really great for your health. You family really appreciates that usually. And in terms of the day to day it’s faster I think than eating fast food or going out to dinner or even making a big dinner at home.”

How do you feel?

“The way that I feel is probably the biggest thing that I’ve gotten out of it. I feel so much better than I did before. And I have so much more energy, so I can keep up with my kids. We do a lot more things outside than we ever did before.”

What do you tell people about the program?

“If somebody asks me if there’s a faster way to do it,  or is there a different way to do it, I generally tell them I’ve tried all of those ways – I’ve tried everything, and for me this has worked because there’s a support factor, there’s a medical factor — that health factor — and then there’s flexibility in the program.

“It’s not just a fast – a liquid fast diet – which I’ve tried before. There’s different aspects of the diet which allow you to have foods you can chew, things that are convenient. So I tell them it’s not as difficult as a fad diet. Once you get going, it’s actually faster than that and you know you’re going to be healthy at the end and it’s not going to come back.”

“I can’t believe I did it.”

Alan Dubicki weighed in at 380 pounds when he began our Weight & Health Risk Management program in May 2009. He was using crutches because of difficulty with his knees and was concerned about other health problems associated with his obesity.

“I considered gastric bypass or lap band surgery but my wife kept encouraging me to call ADC’s HMR® Clinic Program. A friend of hers had participated in the program with great results.

“Admitting I had a problem and needed help was hard for me. At the orientation the staff convinced me I could be successful. From the very first class I knew that I would have the support of my health educators, Maribel Rodriguez and Kimberly Smith and others in the program. They don’t let you give up.

“It’s been over a year now and I have never missed a meeting. I have learned to eat good foods and learned the value of a daily exercise program. I can now walk down the driveway to pick-up the mail without worrying if my knees will fail. I feel great,” he said.

Dubicki, 59, says he will always have to be vigilant about controlling his weight so he can live a healthy life.

“The ADC staff was there to coach and encourage me every step of the way. The rewards are great,” he said.

“It was just too easy!”

This testimonial was written by Mary Stuhr, a patient of our Weight and Health Risk Management program.

Carrying around an additional 60 pounds made me unhealthy, unhappy and unwilling to participate in many social events. I was so embarrassed.

I had tried everything hoping to find the quick diet or magic pill that would make all those pounds go away. None provided any lasting results and I would soon get discouraged and go back to my old habits.

On a visit to The Austin Diagnostic Clinic, my doctor suggested I talk with the staff in the Health Risk Management Department about ADC’s weight loss program.
Since my doctor shares the reception area with Health Risk Management, I had seen the program’s patients check in and out. They seemed healthy and happy. I decided to do some research and find out what the program was all about.

I reviewed the materials and joined an orientation class. This program was exactly what I was looking for. It would provide what was missing in the other “plans” I had tried.

  • Weekly meetings and accountability.
  • Healthy food choices. Options to make you successful.
  • Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.
  • Encouragement and support from fellow participants.
  • Commitment of the program staff – from the front desk, nurses, health educators and doctors. Your success is their first priority.
  • Learn the tools needed to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life.
  • Lasting results.

My commitment has paid off. I have been successful. I feel and look better. My lab results prove that I am healthier.

What a difference each and every Health Risk Management team member has made in my life. I didn’t take pills or eat crazy concoctions. The team taught me how to get healthy and stay healthy for life.

Thank you!