How the YMCA made all the difference

in Featured/Health by

Photo above: Su working out at the YMCA fitness center.

Su Mercier has been a resident of Beaufort for 45 years. Originally from New York, she is a retired teacher, having taught at Broad River Elementary, and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Beaufort High and Battery Creek High. Last year, while on vacation out of the country Su suddenly had a problem walking. This is her Y story…

By Su Mercier

“When I was on a trip to Russia last year all of a sudden I could not walk very well. I was pulling my right leg and felt as if I could not take another step. At the time I thought, “Well, it’s just because I’m tired and the excitement of being on vacation has me a little off”. But it kept getting worse and by the time I was on my way home I had to use a wheelchair in the airport.”

Su Mercier
Su Mercier

“When I returned to Beaufort, I went to my doctor and got an MRI. The MRI showed I have damage to my lower spine. So my doctor sent me to a neurologist where I had three more MRIs. The neurologist told me “Hopefully you won’t get any worse, but I don’t know if you’ll ever get any better.” He recommended physical therapy. It was then that I decided that I was not going to let this thing defeat me!”

“Before I went to physical therapy, Mike Bostwick (YMCA CEO) told me to bring back the exercises I need to do and that he would help me with them. He said, “I’ll go back there (the fitness center) with you and make sure you use the equipment correctly.”

“So he did just that and helped me get started. If it hadn’t been for Mike I don’t think I would have made it very far. So I started the exercise regime and Mike checked on me regularly. Plus, the other members in the fitness center were also supportive and encouraging when I was having a tough day.”

“I had no idea the other members were paying any attention to me! I thought they were probably scoffing, saying “the old goat is back there!”, but it was actually quite the opposite! They would tell me, “You can do it!”

“Honestly, I don’t think I could have done this without all the support. I don’t think those Y members realize how much they have all helped me just by the encouragement.”

“Now I am back seeing my regular doctor and on a sustainable diet. So far I’ve lost 60 pounds. I think losing weight and adding exercise has had a lot to do with where I am today. No longer do I use the walker. I WAS a diabetic on pills and insulin shots. Now I am NOT a diabetic!”

I have been able to reduce or eliminate many medications so that now all I take is 1 pill a day where as I was taking 6-8 prescriptions a day! My blood pressure is better that it has ever been.”

“My secret is the Y … the Y and eating right.”

“I will say that motivation has kept me on my diet for 6 months – with no cheating! I made up my mind that I wanted to do this and I am committed to sticking to it. Yes, it is a long hard road, but it’s a steady pace that will win the race.”

“There are many times when I thought I would not get this far and my journey toward better health would fail. It takes commitment and a ‘don’t give up attitude.’ I have good people to back me up – My GP, Dr. Trask, Mike Bostwick, my friend Pat Sanders, and the Y members – without them I truly believe I would not have made it so far.”