Bud Emerson thought he was taking care of his health the same way he took care of everything in his life — with a can-do, no-room-for-failure attitude. He ate reasonably well, worked out or played tennis every day and maintained a healthy weight, all the while achieving a satisfying personal and successful professional life.
By the time he was 50, he had it all. By the time he was 65, he had triple bypass surgery.
“I was a classic Type-A personality, an overachiever type, with too big a workload and too much testosterone to slow down,” he explains. “I thought I could do anything. But then I got my cosmic goose.”
In a span of five years, Bud Emerson was diagnosed with melanoma, prostate cancer, shingles and heart disease. It was the heart bypass that finally stopped him in his tracks.
He discovered that his moderately healthy lifestyle was no match for his tremendously stressful career. His “cosmic goose,” or wake-up call, prompted him to take his health concerns to the next level, one that involved stepping back to move forward.
His wife learned about the Lifestyle Change Program at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine and encouraged him to give it a try.
From the moment he met cardiologist Mimi Guarneri, MD, co-founder of the center, Bud Emerson knew he was among people who understood him, not just his medical condition.
“High achievers have high stress, which is a major risk factor for disease,” Dr. Guarneri says. “Bud was like many men who put their work first. He’s lucky, though, because he learned to reprioritize his life and strengthen meaningful relationships, which are essential to a healthy life.”
Through the program, Bud Emerson learned to open his heart and fully experience a wide range of emotions.
“I let myself see that it was okay to laugh and to cry,” he says. “I now take time to appreciate the wonders of nature and have rediscovered the little things in life through the eyes of my grandchildren. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to openly admit my vulnerabilities and concerns. My life is finally in balance.”