Location: Saint Joseph, Missouri
Network: Greater Plains Collaborative
My life has been impacted by heart disease from an early age. My Dad passed away when he was 56, and I was a young adult at the time. I have always been a runner and very active in general but given my family history, when I was 59, I decided to see the cardiologist to check in on my heart. My stress test found something wrong and I ended up with 5 bypasses! I did not feel bad, have any indications of heart disease, and had not had a heart attack that I am aware of, but my dad’s history made me seek out a cardiologist and as it turns out, I was not wasting his time!
I am a mechanical engineer professionally and I design construction equipment for a living. This career can be demanding, routinely requiring more than a 40-hour workweek, weekends and nights — whatever is required to get the job done. It is a fulfilling career and I love the work. It’s a huge thrill driving down the road and seeing a piece of equipment you designed working on a job site.
Personally, I enjoy working on cars, wood working, fishing.
How did you get involved in patient-centered research?
I was sitting at home one night and my cardiologist called me. A little frightening….! He mentioned the study and asked if I would participate, and I said yes. Half of my life I have been involved in research and development (from a mechanical engineering perspective), and while this is very different, the principles are similar. My interests and history appeals to this type of work.
Why do you think the ADAPTABLE study is important?
I do not have a whole lot of experiences to compare this to in terms of medical research. From what I know, getting the voice of the patient in a study is important as opposed to a bunch of academic professionals making assumptions. This is a unique and important opportunity!
What do you enjoy most from your involvement in the ADAPTABLE study?
I have enjoyed doing something different and separate from my own profession and thinking about research differently. Adaptable has been a great change of pace for me. I enjoy the interaction with the other Adaptors and hearing their different points of view that I would not normally consider on my own. As an engineer I’ve always enjoyed working with customers, it was obvious early on that the people we sell the equipment to and who use it every day, know more in some ways than the engineers who design it. It is always humbling to talk with customers because they can be frank about what they like and do not like– this has been very constructive for me in my career. This experience as an Adaptor is similar in this respect — it is different and valuable.
Why is patient-centered research important?
I think patient centered approach is important and communication to the public is one of the most difficult things to do. When I mention this project to people, they are surprised. To the public this question about aspirin dose is an already a closed case. It is ingrained that 81 mg is the right way to go! People are not always willing to consider there may be another answer.
The way studies are presented in mainstream news is almost a joke. The say coffee is good for you one year and the next year it is bad for you! I’m not sure the general public (which I am more a member of) takes these findings seriously, and sometimes study results are discounted since you get so much conflicting information.
The public does not read medical journals or in-depth study results, we need to think about ways to share research back that is not conflicting and incorporates the patient perspective.
What would be the three words your friends use to describe you?
Driven, Cheerful (optimistic), Caring. Other people’s perspectives matter to me, and I hope these are the three words people would use to describe me.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Listen. When I was a young engineer, I thought school taught me everything I needed to know. I need to listen to mechanics and operators who have a different perspective than I do, they use the tools I design every day. I learned this from a mentor when I was young and it has served me well. It works in all phases of life, personally and professionally.