I have learned that health care is self care. I am going to give you a timeline of my life so you can see how I got to where I am today in regards to my health. My parents had me when my mother was 40 and my father was 50. By the time I was 49 they were both deceased. My father had a history of high cholesterol (700 when discovered) and rheumatoid arthritis, he was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx when he was 74 and had a total laryngectomy at age 75 and died from complications of chemotherapy at age 76. My mother smoked from age 14 to age 66. She had slightly elevated cholesterol and hypothyroidism and had a heart attack at the age of 74. She had stents and a pacemaker and died of congestive heart failure at age 87. I took care of both of them and they both died in my home with the care of hospice.
As a child, my only ailments were severe constipation and bad seasonal/ animal allergies. I remember seeing a doctor and having a proctoscope at around age 5. I remember being put on a clear liquid diet and being given castor oil in orange juice. This constipation would be with me the rest of my life.
I had my first child at the age of 24 right around the time I discovered that I had high cholesterol (357). From that age to my present age I have tried every cholesterol therapy. Statins caused me to have severe muscle aches and they just plain scared me so I refused to take them. I had my second child at age 28 and started to get eczema, mainly on my hands. For the next 20 some years my hands would get itchy, blistery and cracked and sore. I was always using prescription strength hydrocortisone creams. I had my 3rd child at 31. Life continued on with my never feeling awful but never feeling great. I was tired often and had indigestion. I was always about 25 pounds over weight except for when I was fad dieting. I tried weight watchers and lost 33 pounds but gained it back over a few years.
In the spring of 2012 I was given Flonase for my allergies and found it worked incredibly well. Zyrtec type meds did nothing. Benadryl always worked but I would have to take it every 4 hours for about 2 months in the spring. That year on Mother’s day I ended up in the ER vomiting with chest pressure and racing heart. They determined I had severe acid reflux (I had always had issues with heartburn especially throughout pregnancy). Doc started me on Prilosec and Protonix and I would also take tums each night. My chest pressure and racing lasted a few weeks and then was gone.
In the spring of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 I ended up in the ER with racing heart , nausea, chest pressure and my blood pressure was very high. I was kept overnight in 2013 for observation. I had 2 stress tests over this course of time and was put on Metoprolol and Prozac daily and Xanax PRN as all they could come up with was anxiety. I never felt that anxiety was my problem. My blood work always came back normal except for my elevated cholesterol levels and one time my TSH was elevated and I was started on synthroid. I was always fine for the rest of the year…episodes always occurring at the end of April beginning of May. I missed a few days work every year because of this phenomenon. In 2016 I almost passed out in the shower. My heart was racing and my feet were sweating and the back of my neck felt burning. My blood pressure was sky high. I was also started on catapress for hot flashes, I don’t remember the date. Menopause brought me hot flashes 20-30 times a day and my doctor did not like to prescribe hormones but suggested catapress. There were a few nights that I had awakened feeling very odd and actually had a hard time feeling my own pulse. After the 2016 episode I had felt enough was enough. I was going to figure out what was happening to me because no one else was looking for a cause, they were just prescribing more medications
I considered myself to be pretty healthy but found myself on a gazillion meds. I was still refusing statins because of the side effects. I have always been very sensitive to medications so I should have figured it out sooner. Anyway, I started researching and plotting my every move in the spring to see what the heck was causing all of this and I came to the conclusion that my problem was my inhaled allergy steroid. I found several other people that have had such severe reactions as mine. I was determined that when the spring rolled around and I did not start using Flonase that I would not have another episode and I was right. No more high blood pressure… I think it was dropping so low in the middle of the night during the off months that it was dangerous. No more chest pressure or racing heart. Now, wanting to be off all medications, I started to research diet and cholesterol as mine was still in the 300’s. With my mom having a heart attack and myself thinking I was having a heart attack every spring for years I was determined to find a prevention. Not one medical professional had ever talked to me about really changing my diet. Through my extensive research I found Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn and I started his prevent and reverse heart disease plant based (vegan) no oil diet in July of 2016. Through more research I found Dr. McDougall and his wife Mary. And my life began to change.
My whole life I remember that my mom loved to cook. She loved to cook greasy high fat, high carb foods and I loved to eat them. I didn’t grow up on fast food… I grew up on roast beef and mashed potatoes with corn and gravy and box cakes and icing… all homemade. My mom showed her love by cooking huge meals slathered in butter… or I should say margarine after my dad was diagnosed with high cholesterol. We had a meal on the table every day at 5pm and it was delicious. She knew all the tricks… she knew sugar and fat and salt made everything taste better. I loved her and I loved her food but I was on the same slippery slope her and my father were on and I knew I had to do something. After speaking directly to Dr. Esselstyn on that July day in 2016… he was very firm about the fact that I would have to drastically change my diet… and I did.
On July 21st of 2016 I went cold turkey so to speak and plunged 100% into a whole foods plant based diet. Within the first 2 weeks I started to have regular bowel movements… like every day! No more laxatives and misery! For the first time in my life my bathroom habits were normal. I didn’t have to give a thought or revolve my life around trying to having a bowel movement. I can’t even begin to tell you how life changing this was for me. Within 1 month my acid reflux was history along with all my acid reflux medications. Gone was the abdominal bloating and sleeping nearly sitting up to keep my food down. It was like a miracle. The red sauce and red wine I though were my enemy were no longer. It really was the grease and oil that was making me so sick. No more tums beside the bed. Within 2 months my skin cleared up… no more eczema! No more itchy, peeling, cracked and bleeding hands. In that first 2 months my hair started to grow… my hair was getting so thin and not growing for like 5 years and now it was nonstop growing! My blood pressure was normal and no more racing heart. My seasonal allergies were also better. Within 3 months I had more energy. No more naps, no more trying to keep my eyes open at work. I was sleeping better and was not a bit tired throughout the day. My life was truly changed. My weight dropped dramatically even though I eat all the time. I have never felt better in my life.
People may look at me strange when I pass up burgers, fries, pizza with cheese, cakes, cookies, chips, and ice cream. They may look at me like I have three heads when I take my own food to restaurants, theaters, and on planes and vacations but this is now my way of life. I only eat real food. Real food is hard to find in the real world and that is so sad. The United States of America is hooked on fake food filled with grease, sugar, and salt and Americans are fat and sick. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes kills so many people in America and it is nearly all preventable. Meat products, dairy products, eggs, and processed fats and oils are responsible for more deaths through illness in the United States than any other cause. The second, after illness, is the treatment of illness in causes of death. So many people die from the treatments of illness… medication reactions, surgeries and procedures are so often deadly.
When I do my talks the first thing I have the audience do is write down 3 things most important in their lives… things they feel they can’t live without and things of most value. They write things like “my wife”, “my kids”, “my parents”, “my home”, and “my health”. They sometimes write “my pets”, “my looks”, “my money”, and “my job”, …but I have never had anyone write junk food! So there we have it in a nut shell… If you love and want those top 3 things on your own list… something has to change! You must give your body the food that was designed specifically for your human body and that is whole plant foods.
I hope you give 100 percent plant based living a try, It can truly change your life!