Stories from Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache

This page features stories from Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grade, and Saguache Counties. Listen to these stories, visit our Featured Stories page, or search for stories by topic or by location.


Debbie Higgs

My name is Debbie, and I am a yoga practitioner and teacher. I maintain a healthy lifestyle that focuses on clean eating, exploring the outdoors, and yoga. Most would assume from all physical appearances that I am a healthy woman in her mid-twenties, but I have a hidden disability.


Angie and Tony

Angie and Tony – Alamosa, CO

Angie and Tony - Alamosa, COAngie and Tony, of Alamosa, share their inspiring health story. After being told her cholesterol levels were too high, Angie put herself and Tony on a strict diet and started the “couch to 5K” program. Within a few months they had each lost significant weight and were training for a half marathon.

“This has actually helped our relationship too. Losing weight and some of the stress that you get involved in as far as life is concerned … and working through a relationship. Having something to do together really does help.”


Theresa – Alamosa, CO

Theresa - Alamosa, COTheresa, of Alamosa, shares a deeply personal story about losing her daughter. In her story, she recalls the importance of small moments between her family and the hospital nurses that had a long lasting impact.

“The reason I got into the health care field is that through losing her .. I watched what the nurses did and [thought] that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be there when people were going through the hard times.”


Logan – Rio Grande County, CO

Logan - Rio GrandeLogan shares his health story. Growing up, he struggled in gym class hated physical activity, especially running. While on his wellness adventure training for a marathon, Logan needed to return home and prove to himself that he wasn’t that unhealthy kid anymore.

“So the weight when I guess I was at my heaviest was about 230 [lbs], and right now I’m about 145 [lbs] and that’s mainly due to … running.”


Elaine and Tracy – La Plata County, CO

Elaine - La Plata County, COElaine, of La Plata County, describes her difficulties with her oral health and her struggle to secure dentures. After failing to navigate the local health system on her own, she found help in the way of an senior health nurse navigator named Tracy. With the help of Tracy, Elaine is on the path toward recovery.

“I suffer depression and it’s mostly because I can’t eat. It takes me a whole hour to eat without my teeth.”


Diana – La Jara, CO

Diana - La Jara, CODiana, of La Jara, describes her experience with chronic ovarian cysts. She wanted to be as strong as her family, and developed an impressive pain tolerance so she could continue running. Although her doctors have agreed birth control would help, Diana can’t afford the medication and has to live with the uncertainty and pain.

“My family is all really tough…all of them. My dad’s a farmer and he’s like the strongest guy I’ve ever seen. I wanted to be as strong as my family.”


Lares – Alamosa, CO

LaresF - Alamosa, COLares, of Alamosa, shares her health story. She shares her anxieties around navigating the health care system, finding the right provider, and the need for more humanity in health care.

“I think that [in] our health care system, because it’s just so massive, that personal connection and the humanity of it gets lost really easily.”


Jess – Denver, CO


Growing up going to a sleep-away camp, camp nurses played an important role in Jess’s life. She talks about how their immersion in campers’ and staff members’ everyday activities helped teach kids that health care professionals are “real people” too.

“There’s a lot of talk now about medical homes and integrated care… all of these buzz words. I think the camp nurse is the prime example of when this works best, because they’re living with you!”


Sandra – Adams County, CO

Sandra_SquareSandra, of Adams County, shares her health story. A few years ago she lost her job, suffered from physical health ailments, and needed some assistance. Her primary health care provider connected her with a behavioral health specialist who helped her through those stressful times.

“The stress of all of it, about finding a job, finding health care, it all builds on you… When I went to the clinic to get the physical health care taken care of, I was afforded the opportunity for some mental health care.”


Angela – Littleton, CO

AngelaC - Littleton, COAngela, of Littleton, shares her health experience. With a family history of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, Angela has always been very good about her women’s wellness visits. She tells her story about an abnormal test result and the emotional journey that followed.

“The moment was like a slap in the face. Because I knew that I had taken every preventable measure possible. I felt like my gut was being pulled in many different directions.”


Adrienne – Golden, CO

adrienne_pic (1)Adrienne, of Golden, shares her story. During her pregnancy Adrienne had no complications, but when her daughter Sylvia was born she could hardly breathe and then spent ten days in the NICU.

“I didn’t know if my child was going to survive. I didn’t know if I could even form an attachment… Everyone says the moment their child is born is the most magical moment of their life, but I kind of feel like I didn’t get that.”


Connor – Denver, CO

Connor - Denver, CO

Connor, of Denver, shares his story of personal transformation. Feeling like he had little control over his life, Connor seized the opportunity to get in shape and change his outlook through boot camp classes.

“I was looking at myself, I had kind of gotten a stomach, I was sitting at this desk all day, and you just think to yourself… this really isn’t who I am and I feel like my body doesn’t really reflect my personality. You’re thinking, there’s something that I can change here.”


Michele – Weld County. CO

MIchele - Weld County, COMichele is a nurse from Weld County.  She shares a story about the relationship between nurses and the families of their patients.

“I thought, how unique, both nurse and family member used the same exact words, but they were coming from a 180 degrees difference in how they felt this patient should be treated.”


Laura – Durango, CO

Laura - Durango, CO

Laura, of Durango, is an RN working in one of the local School Based Health Centers. She shares her story about the kids she works with and the pride she takes in her job.

“Being in the school, being accessible, the kids can walk in anytime…Having it in a place that’s familiar to them really makes a big difference.”


Nancy – Salida, CO

Nancy_SquareNancy, a resident of Salida, CO, shares her story of developing and receiving treatment for Guillain–Barré syndrome. Within days, Nancy went from leading an active lifestyle to being completely paralyzed.  She describes her emotional experience on the road to recovery.

“When I was at the first hospital it was like a nice big round room and all glass windows and I could see the nurses’ station and I was comfortable there…But then, at the second hospital it was more private and the doors were closed and I could see anybody and I was afraid and I was upset and I was depressed.  I just couldn’t understand what was going on.”


Julie – Salida, CO

JulieD_SquareJulie works at an oral health program in Chaffee County.  She shares the story of the impact of oral health on one local woman’s life.

“Part of it was because she worked in the restaurant business, had been for a long time…and as her teeth got worse she was pulled out of the public’s eye and she became a dishwasher and made less money. And so, she was really wanting to get her teeth back so she could have a higher paying job.”


John – Chaffee County

John_SquareJohn, a resident of Chaffee County, discusses his son’s lifelong condition of cystic fibrosis.  He explains that while his son has not been able to receive a lung transplant he has been able to lead a fulfilling and active life.

“He has surprised [the doctors] a whole lot of times because he’ll get way down and then he’ll snap back up.  So, we’re hoping that that rubber band keeps on working and he stays alive for longer than the next year.”

Dr. John

Dr. John – Grand Junction

Dr. John - Grand JunctionDr. John, of Grand Junction, shares a powerful patient story about the importance of mental health care. Despite a dedicated team effort, his patient took their own life after suffering from severe depression.

“It just reminded me of how BAD our mental health system really is… There was nobody who was at fault …”


Jennifer – Westminster, CO

Jennifer - Westminster, CO

Jennifer, of Westminster, shares her health story. After a car accident, Jennifer struggled with migraines, back pain, depression and anxiety. She describes the difficulties not being able to care for  her family and the impact integrated care had on her recovery.

“It was very very depressing for me to go from being very active to being … just … bedridden. It was debilitating.”


Sara – Denver, CO

Sara - Denver, COSara is a family nurse practitioner in Denver. She talks about the challenges associated with serving a refugee population and the importance of cultural competency.

“We come from a perspective of Western medicine… [We have to] learn where they are coming from. What does hypertension mean to somebody from Nepal? We don’t really know.”


Pat – Basalt, CO

Pat - Basalt, CO

Pat, of Basalt, shares his health story. After a tragic spinal cord injury he became depressed and turned to alcohol. Under the careful eye of his primary care physician, Pat connected with a trainer, nutritionist, and behavioral health coach. The integrated approach helped Pat reach goals and set new sights for his future.

“I’ve gone from a single bike path where I would fall off every three steps, to now I feel like I’m navigating a six lane highway and the group is my bumper guards.”


Katie – Lamar, CO

Katie - Lamar, COKatie, of Lamar, shares her health story. After her husband’s passing, she struggled with grief, depression, and substance abuse. Fortunately, Katie now has an excellent relationship with her therapist and is doing much better.

“I got connected with my therapist, my substance abuse therapist, through my domestic violence therapist and my doctor… We’ve talked over some stuff I’ve never told anybody.”


Sarah – Colorado Springs, CO

Sarah - Colorado Springs, COSarah, a behavioral health provider in Colorado Springs, describes integrated care in her geriatric clinic. At their clinic, they have worked to tweak the “co-visit” to help both patients and their families.

“Her family [wasn’t] understanding how she was experiencing the world. And the provider and I were able to say medication isn’t going to do anything. And that united front really helped that family to understand.”


Cheryl – Chaffee County

Cheryl describes Cheryl_Squareher experience working with her two siblings to identify a quality long term health care facility for their mother who has dementia.  While there was information available to assist them, Cheryl and her siblings found themselves in a very demanding situation.

“What I think was sad about that, though, was that we were so inundated with the practical matters that it was difficult to deal with what was going on in our family, the dynamic of our family.  You know, our mother was, for all intents and purposes, gone.”


Jonathan – Denver, CO

Jonathan, a young man living in Jonathan - Denver, CODenver, describes his experience supporting his fiancé as she battled Lyme disease. It is a rare disease in the Rocky Mountain region and there are a limited number of providers able to provide adequate care for treatment.

“My perception was that the doctor would kind of control the path of the care…actually that was not the case.  Looking back at it now the doctor kind of took a stab at what what he thought was going on but didn’t really follow through on that.”