Randy Meyers set off for the top of Mingus Mountain that June morning in search of a training site among the Ponderosa Pines. The Prescott Valley resident volunteers as the training coordinator for the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team Dog Unit.
Meyers and Bo – his 82-pound yellow Labrador – had taken many hikes on the mountain’s trails, but that 2013 scouting expedition was different for Meyers. “I was walking on level ground and I had some shortness of breath,” said Meyers. “That was unusual. I’d been out of breath before but it was only when I was doing something strenuous.”
At home that evening, Meyers experienced mild chest pain, which he attributed to a pectoral muscle he had injured while weight lifting. “I knew something wasn’t right, but it never occurred to me that I was having heart problems,” he said. When the pain persisted into the next morning, Meyers headed to the Emergency Department at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) East in Prescott Valley. Tests revealed he had experienced a heart attack.
Meyers was transferred by ambulance to The James Family Heart Center at YRMC West in Prescott where he underwent successful quadruple coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Meyers remembers the encouragement he received from The James Family Heart Center team. His surgeon, the nurses and other YRMC staff were all supportive during his stay in YRMC’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) and then the Progressive Care Unit (PCU).
“I did lots of laps around the PCU with the help of hospital staff,” Meyers said. “I also was grateful that my family was given access to me throughout my stay.” Meyers – a father and grandfather – tapped into other support from YRMC after he returned to his Prescott Valley home.
He joined the Adult Fitness program, part of YRMC Preventive Medicine and Wellness. Available at both the Pendleton Center West in Prescott and Pendleton Center East in Prescott Valley, the program helped Meyers become more consistent with his exercise.
He works out five days a week at the Pendleton Center and hikes between four to 10 miles two times a week. In May, he ran the Whiskey Row 10K. “With the help of the Pendleton Center, I’ve made three major changes,” Meyers said. “I’ve learned to better manage stress, committed to regular exercise and developed a more positive attitude.
The exercise classes have played a major role in helping maintain that positive attitude. To me, the social aspect is just as important as the physical aspect.” Meyers also attended several meetings of the Reversing Heart Disease Support Group, led by YRMC’s Rita Carey-Rubin, RD, MS, CDE. Rubin also hosts YRMC’s Your Healthy Kitchen, a series of brief, entertaining videos that focus on how to prepare delicious, heart healthy and affordable dishes.
“I like it that this kind of support is available to help people adopt healthier lifestyles,” he said. “The Pendleton Center has made all of the difference in my recovery.” Meyers is familiar with the effort it takes to embrace new, healthier behaviors. Born in Arizona, he spent most of his childhood and adult life in Nebraska. There he worked as a probation officer for 28 years, rising to the post of deputy chief.
As part of his job he facilitated cognitive behavioral groups designed to help people released from jail adopt positive thoughts and behaviors. In 2002, Meyers returned to Arizona. He worked as a probation officer for the Yavapai County Adult Probation Department for nearly 12 years before retiring. Today, Meyers works part-time, facilitating three cognitive behavioral groups for the Adult Probation Department.
Meyers pays forward his positive attitude by volunteering each Friday for Mended Hearts, a volunteer-driven organization that provides peer-to-peer counseling and support to heart patients. He visits recent CABG surgery patients and their families as well as people preparing to undergo surgery at The James Family Heart Center at YRMC. “I let them know they’re in the right place and that there is life after a coronary event,” he said. “I also talk about the importance of paying attention to diet, exercise and stress levels. I always recommend Pendleton for physical exercise and emotional support.”
Today, Meyers and Bo are back on Mingus Mountain and other area trails. Both are dedicated members of the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team, work that’s best done with a healthy heart.