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A Second Chance at 63: My Wake-Up Call to Health

Our health is the most valuable asset we have and yet sometimes it takes a major wake-up call to remind us of that fact. For Brian, that wake-up call came in the form of two serious conditions: diabetes and liver disease. When he first met his Harrison team, his health was in a precarious state. But with their unwavering help, he was able to transform his prognosis and add years to his life.

When Brian arrived at Harrison, he knew he needed help. He was freshly diagnosed with a serious liver condition with a poor prognosis, and new onset diabetes with worrisome lab results. He needed immediate specialist attention and a reason to lift his spirits. He was told he may only have 18 months to live if he didn’t make some serious changes to his lifestyle.

“Dr. [Eric] Gulliver didn’t waste a moment. He had me admitted to the hospital where I stayed for 7 days to be treated for kidney stones and a bleeding ulcer in addition to my existing conditions. I was not in a good place,” says Brian.

Brian also sought out care from the world-class Mayo Clinic, which was fully supported by his Harrison team. Through the exceptional support from his Care Coordinator, Shayna, the team at Mayo got the information they needed to quickly reconfirm his diagnosis. They were so impressed by the support, communication and care Brian was receiving at Harrison, the lead physician confidently told him to “go home because you’re in great hands.”

“Never once, has Shayna been too busy to help me or any member of my family,” Brian remarked. “She’s been instrumental to my success, her attention to detail is extraordinary.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Gulliver continued pushing forward, running tests, and leaving no stone unturned. He and the team were committed to ensuring Brian’s health was carefully examined and the best treatment options were considered.

Brian’s son Mark reflected on the care and compassion he and his father have received, “I’ve never seen a doctor treat anyone so well. I’ve never seen that, ever.”

“Brian met with all members of our Calgary care team including myself, nursing, exercise physiology, and dietitian services. We collaboratively came up with a plan of action to optimize his health. Over the course of a year, he worked extremely hard and made significant life changes. His medications were optimized, and he was connected with the appropriate specialists.” says Brian’s physician, Dr. Gulliver.

With the help of his team, Brian has lost over 60 pounds and his markers from a liver, diabetes and cholesterol perspective are substantially improved.

“What impressed me about Brian is how dedicated he was to his own health. He made a complete overhaul of his diet, increased his activity level, and is now at a normal body weight. His diabetes markers which initially were extremely elevated were essentially cut in half. He is currently stable from a chronic liver disease perspective,” says Dr. Gulliver.

“I believe Harrison truly saved my life,” exclaimed Brian.

Brian U - Family in the Fall

Brian’s success over the past year cannot be attributed to just one factor. It was the result of collaborative partnerships between Brian, his wife Sharon, his children, and the experienced team at Harrison working together. Above all, Brian’s dedication and perseverance were the driving forces behind his achievements.

“When I think of all Brian has accomplished this past year, my first thought is of his wife, Sharon and the unwavering support she’s given him. She is a rock and together they can conquer all,” says Harrison Registered Dietitian, Dayna Zarn.

Dayna worked with Brian on dietary changes aimed at improving his liver health, while also managing his blood sugars and other sensitivities. It was a challenging lifestyle change, but Brian felt well informed and highly supported.

“Dayna was there for us whenever we had questions about supplements, sodium content, even what kind of protein powder would be best. She was so kind, extremely knowledgeable, and encouraging,” says Brian.

The support and expertise didn’t end there.

In addition to his physician and dietitian, Brian was in regular contact with Joey, his Harrison Registered Nurse, to check on his medication, alert him to when lab tests were needed, and generally ensure he was feeling well, physically and mentally.

“Being able to pick up the phone or shoot over an email when I had a question about my medication or anything else, made everything that much less stressful. There were even instances where I reached out to Joey with a question, and she simply told me to ‘pop in’ and she’d see me that day. I didn’t think this kind of care existed,” says Brian.

“Brian has reached out directly to me multiple times with health concerns,” says Joey. “He is always happy for my advice and is a delight to speak with. His spirits have improved time and again since we first met.”

Brian’s results are extremely impressive and he hopes to keep it that way.

“I hope to remain stable and keep prioritizing my health. I’m 63 and I’m not done on this earth yet! I have four beautiful grandchildren, the best wife I could ask for and wonderful kids. Staying healthy for them is worth everything to me,” says Brian.

Brian’s success is a testament to team-based healthcare, the power of perseverance, and what engagement with your own healthcare can do. It’s not always easy to make lifestyle changes or stay motivated when faced with chronic health issues, but with the right support and expertise, it’s possible.

Health is more than just the absence of disease. It’s a precious asset that requires diligence, attention, and care. Brian’s story reminds us that it’s never too late to take control of our health and make meaningful change. By working with a comprehensive healthcare team, anyone can achieve success, even in the face of chronic health issues. So, if you’re struggling with your health, take heart. It’s possible to overcome your challenges to enjoy a better quality, longer life.


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