When were you first diagnosed with heart disease?
I was diagnosed with a heart murmur years ago and didn’t have any issues with it until last year during a routine physical when my doctor discovered a problem with my aortic valve.
The first thing the doctors told me was to stop exercising and prepare for surgery. I belong to Midtown Athletic Club and have worked out several days a week for years, taking time off and slowing down was a big lifestyle change for me.
How did your support network of family and friends help you as you underwent surgery?
My daughter came down to take care of me when I got home from the hospital and my neighbors made sure that we didn’t go hungry. Everyone was supportive and caring during my recovery, running to the store for me, keeping me company and just being an encouragement.
How did you keep your spirits up as you underwent surgery?
I knew that I was in excellent hands with my doctors and medical team at Cleveland Clinic Florida, so I left any anxiety to my medical team. When I purchased my home in Weston 27 years ago, I saw on the diorama where my home would be built and where they would eventually build Cleveland Clinic, Florida. Their excellent reputation and the close proximity to my new home were my deciding factors in my purchase. I knew then that in order to maintain my independence, I would need to maintain my health and having my athletic club and hospital right around the corner was a reassuring choice.
How has your experience with heart disease changed your perspective on life?
As I get older, I am enjoying having my family around me and really appreciate traveling with my daughters and grandchildren. I’m trying more than ever to stay active and involved.
How long have you been a survivor?
One year this month
What is the most important lesson you have learned from surviving heart disease?
When I was first told that I needed surgery, I thought that because of my age I should just let it go and not have it, but my Primary Care Physician, Dr. Dalia McCoy was extremely reassuring and encouraged me to reconsider in order to maintain my quality of life. I’m so glad I went through with the surgery, because today I’m back to my active life of working out and being involved with my very active family. The saying, “Use it or lose it” has never had more meaning than now.
What advice would you give to anyone just diagnosed?
Don’t hesitate getting surgery; come to Cleveland Clinic Florida, where you can get your expert care. Trust in your doctors and their medical team, They understand the entire surgery process and can reassure you and your support team from beginning to end. I was always confident that my doctors had my best interest in mind and communicated that to me and my family.
What is the most personal experience you can share about going through heart disease?
I’ve had two major surgeries, a knee replacement and my heart surgery, both at Cleveland Clinic Florida. Up until the last few months, I’ve lived alone and going through the clinic visits by myself has never been a problem because my medical information was always kept in one place. I’ve known that whenever I go for doctor visits, the staff, nurses, technicians and doctors have access to my electronic medical record. Knowing that I don't have to remember all the paperwork is a load off my mind.
Now that you are a heart disease survivor, do you have any new goals?
"Use it or Lose it"... Keep working out, reading, traveling, playing cards, and computer games and staying current with affairs of the world and my family. In general live my life to the fullest, as best I can.
Did your illness lead you to become involved in any charity work?
My oldest daughter has MS and I have always been a supporter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. I have five grandchildren, four boys and a girl and my youngest 11 year old grandson, visits on the weekends.We enjoy exploring the neighborhood trying new things like museums, parks and movies together. He is all boy and just keeping up with him is work. I would love to bottle some of that energy and use it... then the golden years wouldn’t be so rusty!