In 2007, I faced mortality when I had emergency heart surgery and stayed in intensive care for six days. This post is about a woman learning to be a vegan, and not for altruistic reasons either. I wish I was that altruistic. A little back story is in order here.
I have this theory: Two people with intense medical histories should not procreate. I am the product of a family with cancer and a family with cancer and heart disease: A double whammy. I have been fortunate, through the intervention of the medical establishment who has managed to remove just about every non-essential or redundant organ in my body, to have dodged the cancer bullet.
My brother died at age 46 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He did not believe in going to the doctor and waited for three months after he found a lump. That, and five direct ancestors and three not-direct-line relatives, and an HMO, took his life.
In 2005, I watched as my mother deteriorated from heart disease. She survived breast cancer but had/has congestive heart failure and all of her heart valves were/are leaking. I said, “not me” and began a program of alternating aerobics and weight lifting. Me, whose mother told me “ladies don’t sweat,” who was always picked last for any sport in gym, who was winded from walking up the library stairs, I was now loving weight lifting.
In 2005 and for nine months, I watched my diet and exercised. I lost two dress sizes and not a single bleeding pound. Yes, muscle does weigh more than fat, apparently. I could now run up the library stairs without a thought though. I beat it. I would not suffer what my mother was. I would be in great health. Then, I woke up one morning exhausted.
It progressed for two years until the aforementioned heart surgery. Sorry, guess it was a lot of back story, but here we are. Fast forward to early 2010. I am eating good enough that I have lost thirty pounds, and am eating a fairly low fat diet. I’ve never been much of a beef eater, although the rare Prime Rib is appealing. I like turkey burgers, chicken and fish. I’m happy. Then, I go to the doctor.
My G.P. is concerned that I am tired again (that seems to be a main symptom of many women’s heart problems. Cardiologist does another Cardiac Catherization, as the stress test does not show a problem on me. My blockage is still there. The bi-pass failed. The surgery did seem to take care of the spasm that was putting me in danger, though I am also on medication for that. But, now I am one vein short, if I ever need one.
I am told that I am not a candidate for further heart surgery. The blockage is at the heart, where a stint will not work. Since it has not gotten worse in four years, I should just keep doing what I am doing. WHAT? Keep my fingers crossed??? That’s not me.
I had recently seen an interview with President Bill Clinton, who decided to do something about his heart blockage. He went on a vegan, oil free diet. It is based on a diet you can read about in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.
So, I started eating what I imagined this diet was, but every night dinner was whatever husband fixed for he and the boys because I was just so hungry. Then, the book came and the fun began. Stay tuned.