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A Perfect Pair

A HUSBAND-AND-WIFE DUO STRIKES THE RIGHT BALANCE IN WORK, FITNESS AND LOVE.

After 23 years as husband and wife and 17 years as colleagues at Torrance Memorial, you’d think Diego and Marcela Agudelo would’ve lost that spark. But anyone who has seen them eat lunch together every day knows differently. Their chemistry is still very much alive.

“Once a lady came up to me and said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were dating Diego,’” says Marcela, 44. “I just laughed and replied, ‘No, I’m his wife.’”

The pair met in 1989, shortly after Diego emigrated from Colombia. Marcela, also a native of Colombia, was “more Americanized,” in Diego’s words, having moved to the U.S. at the age of 10. They were married on Valentine’s Day in 1990 and their son, Adrian, was born the following year.

In May 1996, Marcela began working in Torrance Memorial’s health education department. She held that position until seven months ago, when she transferred to the volunteer services department as an office assistant.

Diego joined Torrance Memorial two months after Marcela. He started in the billing department, then moved to the warehouse and radiology department before finding a more permanent home in IT, where he now works as a customer support analyst.

The Agudelos gained a new appreciation for their employer when, at the age of 33, Marcela suffered a heart attack. Fortunately, she was at Torrance Memorial when it happened. Michael Tarnay, MD, a physician in the emergency department admitted Marcela that day and held her for observation.

“Dr. Tarnay decided to keep her, and I’m glad he did it,” Diego says. “He could have sent her home. I believe he had a suspicion. He just wanted to make sure.”

Marcela’s cardiologist, Eric J. Castleman, MD, diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect. She had three stents inserted in her left anterior descending artery and was able to leave the hospital after a few days. But the episode forced the Agudelos, who had always been an active, healthy couple, to reconsider every facet of their diets and lifestyles. “The mentality changes when a health scare happens,” Diego says. “The whole family has to change.”

That change began at home, where the couple tries to cook most of their meals. “We changed from white rice to brown rice,” Marcela says. “We eat red meats once in a while, but we mostly eat fish, chicken; that’s what’s best for us.”

The Agudelos ride bicycles to the beach and take walks together, but for the most part, exercise is one thing they do separately. Diego hits the gym five times a week and runs at least one marathon every year. Marcela keeps it more low-key, walking at least three miles a day, usually with her poodle by her side. She also takes advantage of the exercise classes at Torrance Memorial.

Their focus on physical fitness has rubbed off on Adrian, who is now in college. The couple proudly describes how their son eats healthful, balanced meals, avoids sweets and runs eight or nine miles a day. He has entered the past seven Mud Runs at Camp Pendleton in San Diego and has joined his father for several local running events—but no marathons thus far.

“He says that I’m crazy,” Diego reports.

The couple plans to stay active, fit and healthy for a long time, and they plan to do it together. Their secret to longevity, in life and in love, is staying connected.

“People ask, ‘How do you keep it going?’” Diego says. “Communication and patience.”

“And we are completely the opposite,” Marcela adds. “He’s more hyper; I’m more calm.”

Diego agrees. “We complement each other. It’s a balance thing.”

Categories: Community,Heart Beats

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