My Story of Survival as told by Lex Roulston
In September 2001, all five of the major vessels to my heart were blocked, and I experienced quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery.
My Cardiologist sent me to Cardiac Rehab about 6 weeks after my operation. I was weak and had lost 35 lbs. Food did not taste good. After undergoing 12 weeks of rehab (one hour, three times per week), I regained my physical strength.
The greatest benefit of the Cardiac Rehab program was the advice and encouragement of the nurses. As a result, I was determined to change my lifestyle: more exercise and change my eating habits. This has not been easy; I still work on it every day. Before I left rehab, I promised to cut out desserts and ice cream and for the most part I have kept that promise. (See later what that has done to my weight, cholesterol and blood pressure)
I exercise by riding a bicycle 30 minutes every other day. As I have grown older, I now ride a stationary bike. For several years I have been working with a personal trainer. Three days a week, I stretch and do weight training in the gym.
To improve my diet, I cut out dairy products, bacon, french fries, and all fried foods. I eat very little red meat and instead eat more fish and chicken, (grilled not fried). I request all sauces and dressings on the side. My diet includes more fruits and vegetables. And most importantly, I have greatly reduced both sugar and salt intake.
The results after 17 years: I feel good and at 84 years old, I am still quite active. My cholesterol is around 150, blood pressure 114/ 67, and my weight is 175 versus 215 in 2001.
Surgery alone cannot fix your cardiac problems. I have learned that lifestyle changes are essential to better health.
We recognize how important social support is to those recovering from stroke and heart disease. The goal of the Support Network is to connect people living with stroke and heart disease with others who are going through similar journeys.
Research has shown having a support system helps to improve a patient and their loved one’s quality of life along their recovery journey.
The Support Network was developed for heart and stroke patients and their loved ones, to gain peer to peer support, learn more about their condition and share their stories and experiences, in their journey to recovery. The network, in the short period of 38 months, has more than 100,000 registered users and is rapidly growing at the rate of over 1,000 new registrants per month. The Support Network impacts not just the survivors, but also their circle of influence including unpaid caregivers like parents, spouses, family, and friends. Individuals with chronic diseases and their families reported that Internet discussion groups were used for receiving emotional support.
The American Heart Association would like to thank Lex and Eileen Roulston for their generous gift in bringing the Support Network to Lee County.