Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
At least four doctors told me it couldn’t be done. One nutritionist implied that my changes were utterly unnecessary. But they were wrong. I reversed my heart disease in less than a month with the help of my computer, several books, our county road, my husband, our daughter and grandkids, and a few friends with special expertise.
The serious push began this year right after Mother’s Day. The blockage that had been seated in my heart was probably causing uncomfortable sensations made worse by emotional stress. About four years ago, a doctor warned me that I could easily fail to wake up one morning, having experienced a massive coronary in the night. After all, heart issues are common in my birth family. Following an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test, a cardiologist advised that I HAD to have an angiogram (running a wire up my leg to my heart) and probably either stents or angioplasty. Being as stubborn and independent as I am, I didn’t. My mother was dying, my career was ending, and my animals were passing away. It was a bad time to start messing with my health.
This year, an unexpected death in the family forced me to re-examine my situation. This would be a horrible time for me to die. After an abnormal EKG, my new cardiologist (I replaced the former one) scheduled testing for me—newer versions of all the tests I had undergone before—as soon as he returned from his conferences. I figured I had one month to avoid the diagnosis and recommendations I heard last time. One month—less after inertia prevented a speedy start.
With Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book Goddesses Never Age as inspiration, I began with Dr. Dean Ornish, famous for creating the ONLY heart disease reversal program in the United States that’s covered by Medicare. Hooray! I’d be able to participate. I was already imagining joining a group of like-minded people in a health adventure…when I did more research. Medicare covers Ornish’s program only for people who have survived an “event”—meaning a major heart attack, heart surgery, etc. I didn’t want to go that far down! I bought his book Spectrum (used, of course), instead, and consulted his website www.ornish.com. There I found a description of his program (relaxation, exercise, connections, and diet) plus a wealth of chef-designed, delicious recipes that my loving husband and daughter began creating—not only for me, but also for the entire family. We were going low fat, plant-based.
Eventually, with more current research-based advice from The End of Heart Disease by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger, and a PBS special by Dr. Mark Hyman, my husband delivered custom meals from somewhere in the spaces between them all—mostly organic vegan including nuts and dabs of genuine olive oil. We began patronizing restaurants that offered really delicious vegetarian dishes such as Vietnamese black mushrooms with vegetables and tofu, Thai spicy red curry with tofu, East Indian saag paneer, or Mexican whole-grain enchiladas with spinach and mushrooms. At home, we use liberal doses of homemade hot habanero salsa and spices. We do our best to navigate around most dairy, almost all processed foods and meat, white flour products and white rice—and all the GMOs we can escape. We plan to add bits of seafood to our menu as we progress.
In high school, I had A’s in all my subjects EXCEPT physical education, so how was I going to meet Ornish’s exercise requirements? I don’t do exercise. But I do like to walk, so my husband and I started walking daily—only a half-mile at first, but now a mile and a half each early morning before the summer temperatures and storms arise. We were already taking private yoga lessons, so it was logical to add a little yoga to each morning. (Okay, we don’t do yoga EVERY morning.) I have small weights to do weight training, but we haven’t gone there yet. (To be honest, my cardiologist thinks my success is due solely to my exercise regimen.)
Of course, the most important ingredient in my disease reversal is probably the love and support I’ve received in many different forms—body energy work, Reiki, hugs, and prayers. The result so many professionals scoffed has happened. My new tests were good. My blood pressure is nearly ideal. My blockages don’t show at all—which doesn’t mean no soft, mobile ones that aren’t visible on stress tests could be lingering, but it’s wonderful evidence that what I’m doing is right.
The doctors are still muttering that I should be taking a statin—for cholesterol that may not be high any longer. I’ll take a few supplements, but no drugs. They sincerely believe I’ll abandon my changes over time. They believe everyone does. They’ve been taught that people are doomed by their DNA. They’re wrong again. We can intervene! Epigenetics rule!
I want to live well more than I want to eat steak, cheese, chips, and donuts. If something kills me, I want it to be a natural event, not a consequence of drugs I was suffering through and paying dearly to take. (Have you seen those warnings crawling beneath drug ads on TV? Who accepts death as a possible side effect?)
When people tell me they can’t make these kinds of changes, I hear what I was really saying before I defeated my inertia and began: not “I can’t” but “I won’t.” “Won’t” is a HUGE obstacle bolstered by Madison Avenue and sometimes even by the AMA and doctors who’ve been taught to believe in “can’t.” But what I’ve begun can work for many kinds of terrible diseases—according to the research, even diabetes and cancer. I’m hoping we can make significant changes in my husband’s asthma. You don’t know for sure lifestyle changes won’t work until you try. As Ornish asks, “How badly do you want to be healthy?” You won’t live forever (life is a terminal condition), but you can have a whole lot more fun while you’re here if you don’t spend the last chapters of your life recuperating.
*If you want more information about my personal experience, just ask. I can provide more detail. Otherwise, I highly recommend the books I’ve mentioned. I’m only one of many who have succeeded this way! Dr. Fuhrman admits there are three heart conditions that cannot be addressed with lifestyle/diet, but I had none of those three.