Our friends at the White River Junction VA received this heartfelt letter from “A Grateful Veteran” who graduated from the MOVE Program. The Veteran has physically and mentally turned his life around, and he wanted to give thanks to those responsible for his excellent care. The letter has been edited for clarity.
It has now been a year since my first visit to the White River Junction Medical Center. I would like to share my life-changing experiences with your facility and to thank the amazing men and women responsible for them.
A year ago, I washed up on your doorstep. I was morbidly obese and rapidly heading towards diabetes. My heart was performing erratically and it looked like I would have to undergo repeated cardiac procedures for the rest of life. My mental state was horrible and my depression had turned into despair.
Today, I am seventy pounds thinner, my cardiac condition has been tamed with oral medications, and my despair is largely behind me. I still have my issues, but I am far better able to handle them through the knowledge gained over the past twelve months. [I wrote this] to share my successes about the incredible people who proved that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
My nurse practitioner, Kate Van Arman, is remarkable. She is spirited and smart, and her enthusiasm knows no bounds. I have never had such a wonderful relationship with a medical professional. Kate outlined, in a stern but compassionate manner the life I would be living if I did not make some serious changes. It was not a pretty picture. She made some incredible suggestions, notably joining the MOVE program. Any success I merit, I owe to her.
The problem of my erratic heart was given over to Jessie Cullen. Jessie had the audacity to actually involve me in the decision-making process. How refreshing! We decided to try controlling the rapid heart rate with medications rather than repeated shock treatments. The result is that my heart condition is no longer driving my day-to-day decisions; rather, it is in the background of my daily life and is something I no longer fear. Many thanks, Jessie.
I think it is impossible to overstate just how bad my mental state was this time last year. The depression was colliding with anxiety and made me an emotional wreck. It seemed like I was heading for some form of electroconvulsive therapy. A popular anti-depressant was prescribed and seemed to help a bit. However, I firmly believe that anti-depressants work best when paired with therapy. I was truly blessed to be paired with psychologist Casey Allington. A good therapist will get a patient to dig deep within themselves and come up with solutions. Casey is very good at this. He has subtly gotten me to open up in ways I never thought possible. For the first time in a long while I feel that there is definitely light at the end of my long dark emotional tunnel.
I really need to talk about the MOVE program. What an inspired idea… pairing a nutrition expert with a food psychologist. The lessons I learned from healthy eating will be for naught if my food trigger issues were not addressed.
I need to give special thanks to my dietitian Laurel Ross and Dr. Mark Detzer for their leadership. The enthusiasm and support that came out of our small group was largely due to their efforts. I understand that “Dr. Mark” is about to retire. I wish him all the best and hope he finds another outlet for his knowledge and limitless energy.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the front desk staffs at Green Mountain and White Mountain. They are a tremendous group of men and women who are always friendly, professional and courteous. It seems like I was continually getting lost for the first few months; their kindness and their impeccable directions were greatly appreciated.
There is one more thing I would like to bring up.
Last December, I was in inpatient care for several days for a battery of tests. The large room had four beds in it and reminded me of my old USAF barracks. [My three roomates and I] talked a lot and laughed a lot. It felt really good, much like the old days. Just for the record, your hospital food and your nursing staff is the best around. I received a hand-drawn Christmas card from Otis, a local third-grade student who thanked me for my service. It is the sweetest card I have ever received and it holds a place of honor on my desk at home.
Leaving the hospital was bittersweet. My tests came back negative and I was happy to go home. Unfortunately, my roommates were not so lucky. Their conditions were far worse than mine and some of them were facing long hospital stays.
As we head into this holiday season, I just wanted to stop and give thanks for all the good things that have happened to me over the past year. Truly, my incredible experiences at White River Junction Medical Center were more than life-changing… they were life-saving.