A Clean Bill of Health

January 26, 2015 | Mary Faith Bell

In the past 18 months, Mike Widestrom had three major vascular surgeries, and in January he moved to Bali, Indonesia, to teach English — with the blessings of his physicians. Widestrom credits Adventist Health with his new lease on life. “I feel like I have a second chance, the opportunity to start a whole new chapter of my life thanks to Adventist Health,” he says.

Widestrom's medical healing journey began at the Adventist Health – Manzanita Primary and Specialty Care Clinic in Manzanita, Ore., where his primary care provider listened to his carotid arteries with a stethoscope and heard “the telltale swishing” sound of blocked arteries. A radiologic assessment showed that Widestrom's carotid arteries were more than 90 percent blocked. Within three days he had his first surgery on his left carotid artery.

“It was explained to me that I was a stroke waiting to happen,” Widestrom reflects. “While I was in the hospital recovering, there was a woman in the next room who had just suffered a massive stroke. I was overwhelmed by the realization that that could have been me. I could have been unable to speak or to walk. I could have been a burden to my children, or I could have died.”

Widestrom's only symptom of vascular disease was high blood pressure that did not respond to medication. When Widestrom’s blood pressure issues did not resolve following his first vascular surgery, he went to see Jeffrey Boskind, a vascular surgeon at Adventist Medical Center Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular in Portland, Ore. Boskind recommended surgery on Widestrom’s right carotid artery.

Following the second vascular surgery, when Widestrom’s blood pressure still had not improved, a radiologic assessment of his renal arteries showed the major arteries into his kidneys were more than 90 percent blocked. “They told me that it was unusual for a person to have both carotid and both renal arteries 90 percent occluded,” Widestrom says, “but vascular disease runs in my family. I probably couldn’t have avoided it.”

He had a bilateral renal vascular surgery with Boskind in the fall of 2014. Since then, Widestrom has partnered with his physicians to take ownership of his health and of his life. “I’m asking questions, doing my research, and actually listening to my doctor and making the changes he directed,” says Widestrom.

“In every step of my medical journey — from the coast to Portland — Adventist Health has provided me with excellent and compassionate service," Widestrom continues. "I have witnessed the Adventist Health mission in action, and I can honestly say that this is what sets Adventist Health apart from other health care organizations. I wasn’t really a believer when all of my health problems began; but I have come to the conclusion that there must be a power greater than me at work in my life, and it led me to Adventist Health.”