Doug has been comfortable behind the wheel of a bus since age 18. But he didn’t get in the driver’s seat of his own health journey until 2018.
“There was a season in my life where a conversation about health wouldn’t have made any sense,” said Doug. “I referred to myself as a ‘seafood lover’ – I’d see food, and I’d love it!”
He had a wake-up call that he needed to take control of his health in December 2017, just weeks before his 65-year-old brother died of a massive heart attack. He set a goal to lose five pounds a month over six months – and vowed not to shave his beard until he met it.
“I call it ‘weight loss through ugly beard growth,’” Doug said with a smile.
He didn’t do it alone; Doug enrolled in the care management program offered to him through his Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) health benefit plan and worked closely with registered nurse health coach Kelly and other resources available through the Wellframe app over the next several years.
“The timing of [BCBSNE] making this available has allowed me to keep my health on track,” Doug reflected. “I use it every morning. It’s one of the first things I do.”
Doug’s dedication paid off twofold. He surpassed his goal by losing 50 pounds, reversing the prediabetes his doctor had warned him about and developing healthy habits he could take with him on the road, including nutrition, exercise, sleep and mindfulness.
COVID-19 put a wrench in things when Doug caught the virus after driving a busload of cruise passengers home from Louisiana in the earliest days of the pandemic, and he was furloughed due to travel restrictions soon thereafter. Still, he stayed as healthy and optimistic as ever, continued to engage with the care management program and got back to work in late 2020.
Unfortunately, Doug couldn’t drive off into the sunset just yet. In the wee morning hours of Feb. 5, 2021, shallow breathing and tightening in his chest sent Doug to the emergency room in his eldest brother’s footsteps. He had a quintuple bypass the following Monday.
Fortunately, the open-heart procedure was successful. Kelly continued encouraging him through the Wellframe app and immediately helped with his transition home from the hospital to learn about things like coronary artery disease (CAD), adhere to his complex post-surgery medication regimen and continue making the most of his insurance benefits.
“All of these lessons that come day after day [through the Wellframe app are] not overwhelming; it’s just information,” Doug explained. “I am so fortunate… it gave me the information I needed to know at the right time. It reassured me… [and] I feel it has the means to change other people’s lives.”
“Doug is pretty special,” Kelly said. “He’s just such a positive person and talking to him makes me happier, so I’m just excited that everybody gets to see him and hear his story.”
See more of Doug’s story below:
Doug’s story is just one of many. What’s yours? To share your health journey with BCBSNE, please visit NebraskaBlue.com/YourStory.