Toni McNaron, 79, is doing aerobics again after heart surgery

Toni McNaron

Today Toni McNaron, 79, attends aerobics twice a week, paints her own kitchen, gardens and actually enjoys shoveling snow.

However, a year ago, she had no interest in doing any of that. Following a heart surgery for aortic stenosis at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, McNaron was told her heart was recovering wonderfully. But she felt terrible, she said. "I had no energy. I was in pain."

Her gastrointestinal tract wasn't functioning well, ongoing stomach pain made eating a chore, and her spirits were low.

That's when a friend recommended she see Carolyn Denton, a licensed nutritionist with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing's outpatient clinic in Minneapolis. McNaron, who benefitted from aromatherapy and massage services of the Penny George Institute while in the hospital, made an appointment.

Denton said she thought that McNaron wasn't making enough digestive juices—possibly due to the physical and emotional stress of the surgery—and that caused the pain and trouble with eating. Denton recommended a daily regimen of probiotics, a digestive enzyme, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Within a week the pain was gone, McNaron said. "As far as I’m concerned, Carolyn Denton performed a miracle."

McNaron, who is not a big fan of prescriptions, had not wanted to take her prescribed heart medication until her stomach felt better. And once it did, she wanted to make sure she had all the information she felt she needed to get the right dosage.

Denton recommended McNaron see Courtney Baechler, MD, a cardiologist and integrative medicine physician at the Penny George Institute. Through a series of conversations and tests, Baechler partnered with McNaron to determine the right prescription for her.

McNaron says Baechler saw not just her heart, but how it related to her mind, body and spirit. Baechler focused on a course of action to support McNaron's whole person and how she wants to live.

McNaron says without the Penny George Institute, she would have become depressed. "The care I received was crucial to my physical and spiritual health," McNaron said. "Now if something is wrong, the first place I will call is the Penny George Institute."


photo: Courtney Baechler, MD; Toni McNaron; Carolyn Denton, LN (left to right)