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Feeling Better Than Ever
As a young man, Bob Benefiel took care of his health by
eating well-balanced meals and exercising. He continued to
get regular health exams as he aged. So, when Bob had a
heart attack in his early 60s, it came as quite a surprise.
“I had always had low or normal blood pressure,” says Bob,
a longtime HAP member and retired attorney from Plymouth
Township. “My cholesterol levels were only slightly elevated.
I never expected to have a heart attack.”
Bob began feeling episodes of weakness one day while he
was riding a stationary bike at home.
“I didn’t feel tightness in my chest or pain radiating down
my arm, just general weakness,” Bob says. “I awoke one
night feeling very weak, like I couldn’t get enough oxygen
with regular breathing. My wife took me straight to Henry
Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.”
One of Bob’s arteries was completely blocked; a second
artery was 40 percent blocked. Doctors performed
angioplasty to restore normal blood flow and inserted
stents – or tiny mesh wire tubes – to keep the most
blocked artery open. During recovery, Bob completed a
comprehensive cardiac rehab program, which helped him
achieve a healthier lifestyle.
“The rehab included exercises on treadmills, stationary bikes
and rowing machines,” Bob says. “It also involved dietary
classes. I realized my heart problems had been building for
years. I ate well when I was younger. But when I became an
attorney and ran my own business, I ate a lot of fast food.
Today, that would be the last thing I’d eat. Now, my tastes
have changed; I enjoy fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
My wife has been very supportive. She enjoys making
healthy meals from scratch. We always split a meal when
we eat out for portion control.”
Bob continues to exercise and walks about five to six miles
daily. He also enjoys yard work, home improvement projects
and sailing on Lake St. Clair.
“Eating healthy and following an exercise routine have
helped me tremendously,” Bob says. “I lost 25 pounds since
my heart attack. Now, I feel better than ever. I still need to
take heart medication, but my cardiologist says there’s only
a 10 percent chance of another blockage. I feel I can do just
To learn more about heart disease risk factors for men, visit
and click on the
My Health and Wellness
Life is full of change and surprises – and not always welcome
Overcoming big life changes like divorce, job loss or the
death of a loved one is never easy. Most people react with
strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. But there
are ways to work through these feelings and become
resilient, says Health Alliance Plan director of behavioral
health Mary Clare Solky, M.A., L.L.P., L.P.C.
“Loss is inevitable in life, but our society doesn’t do
a good job of preparing people to go through it,”
Mary Clare says. “It is possible to gain strength by
overcoming a loss.”
Advice for overcoming difficult life events:
Allow yourself to grieve:
Grieving is healthy
after experiencing a loss. But see your doctor if
your grief lasts for more than a couple of weeks or
affects your ability to perform daily activities. You
may be experiencing a form of depression.
Accept the loss:
Make a personal acknowledgment
that the loss happened, even if it didn’t seem fair or
was completely unexpected.
Set a new personal goal:
Identify what you can do to
make your life better. It might be returning to school,
joining a self-help group or starting an exercise
program. Even small goals can help you feel a sense
Track your progress:
Record your steps toward
reaching your goal in a journal. Record keeping can
keep you honest and help you move forward.
Celebrate your success:
Review your progress
and recognize that you conquered your loss.
Perhaps you’ve sharpened your interview skills
and are ready to apply for a new job. Whatever the
accomplishment, acknowledge that you’ve made it
through a tough period and have moved onward.
For more helpful strategies, check out the
American Psychological Association website
. Members concerned about
feelings of stress or grief can call HAP’s
Coordinated Behavioral Health Management
department toll-free at
“I feel I can
do just about
– Bob Benefiel
Finally, Mary Clare suggests that it’s important to stay
connected and take care of yourself while working through
“A trusted friend or family member can be an incredible
source of support,” she says. “Remember to exercise, eat
well-balanced meals and get proper sleep. Those things
are big stress relievers. Choose to live life to the fullest, no
matter what the current circumstances. You can get to the
other side of the loss and feel better again.”