Stories of Inspiration : Rita

Rita said, “my experience with PAD made me depressed and angry.”

Rita was a heavy smoker, but quit 17 years before she was diagnosed with peripheral artery disease (PAD), which was about seven years ago. Other than that, she didn’t have other risk factors. Rita had been an extremely active person, but PAD made it so that she couldn’t walk more than 50 yards. After complaining about her symptoms to her physician for six months, Rita finally got a diagnosis. She says she felt like her life was over.

After a failed angioplasty and the impracticability of a stent, Rita met a vascular surgeon who she says saved her. He gave her clopidogrel bisulfate and cilostazol, and sent her to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she was treated with an experimental drug. She also sought alternative treatment through acupuncture and grape seed, and she began a walking regimen.

Rita says she rarely feels pain any longer. She believes that her treatments—both medical and alternative—and walking have helped her greatly. She now feels like she has taken back her life, and she encourages others to take the ankle brachial test and seek answers for their pain.

Rita, age 62
Lorton, Virginia