Life-changing moments often arrive unexpectedly. For Ron Wright, it happened during a routine pre-surgery consultation when he was denied shoulder surgery due to a history of heart disease. “I was getting ready for shoulder surgery, and during the pre-surgery consult, they found a little issue and said, ‘You’re not having shoulder surgery,’” recalled Ron. The surgeon estimated that Ron had unknowingly suffered up to four heart attacks in the past and informed him that he needed a six-way bypass.
Realizing the depth of this discovery, Ron knew he needed to transform his health but needed guidance doing so. Enrolling in Outer Banks Health’s Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehab (CPR) program, Ron was guided by a team of dedicated healthcare professionals, including Jaclyn E. Hall, registered dietitian and nutritionist, and cardiologist, Lindsey L. White, MD. “The dietitian downstairs, Jaclyn, helped me at first; she helped set me straight. Diet is important,” Ron said with certainty.
Initially uneasy about starting exercise after the heart events, Ron found solace and support within the CPR program. “Being with nurses that monitor and check on me in case I start feeling funny is great. I was scared at first. I didn’t know what would happen,” he shared. But under the careful guidance of cardiac nurses, exercise physiologists, and respiratory therapists, Ron gradually increased his confidence, progressing from walking slowly to a brisk pace of three and a half miles per hour on the treadmill and shedding an impressive 74 pounds along the way. “When I first got here, I had to take the elevator up and I walked so slow. On day one, I was barely able to walk on a treadmill; now I do three and a half miles an hour. I weighed 274 pounds, and now I’m down to 200. I feel lighter,” said Ron, crediting his progress to the program and its staff. “The whole crew—Ashley, Marcie, Jenn—they’ve all been awesome. And I feel great. They’ve seen me come along from not being able to stand on one foot to now being active.”
The CPR program not only improved Ron’s physical health but also drastically enhanced his mental well-being. “It’s exciting. It’s nice to enjoy life a little bit. Much better mood, learned to deal with stress,” he said. “There were years I didn’t even go to the beach, and we lived here. Like, what are you doing? At least go walk on the beach.” He admits that he worked himself into bad health over the years, even working through the heart attacks. “I feel lucky. The alternative was much worse. You have to take control.”
Choosing a healthier lifestyle, Ron is more active, eats a better diet, and has a newfound appreciation for life. His journey serves as a profound awakening—a reminder that anyone can take control and rewrite the narrative of their health, even after a cardiac event. Ron’s hope is that his story will inspire others to prioritize their own well-being.
If you’ve experienced a heart or lung event and would like to take control of your health, reach out to the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehab team at 252-449-5930.