Two weeks ago our family had a scare. My 70 year old dad went to the hospital with chest pains. Luckily he listened to his body, or he very likely would not be here today since he had suffered a heart attack. He had the injection dye test to show that two of his arteries were almost completely blocked, with a third artery 67% blocked.
The hospital put in stents for the arteries that were over 90% blocked. It wasn’t a very invasive surgery as they go through the wrist and avoided needing to do a double bypass once they checked everything out closer. He will need to go back within a few weeks and have the third artery done with another 3 day stay in the hospital. He will need to be on blood thinners and medications for at least a year. The cost for his first month was almost $500.
I went to spend time with him and my family during this scary time. It was a very special visit. I felt like my dad was more present than he had been in years. We had really good conversations. He wants to have a healthier life style going forward since he did get a second chance. I sincerely hope that will continue. It was very depressing to be in the ICU and see all the very ill people lying in the beds surrounded by machines.
Did you know that heart disease, the number one killer, is preventable or reversible with a plant-based diet? It would be a much cheaper and easier way to avoid costly surgeries and pharmaceuticals. YET, when I visited my dad in the hospital his menu choices for cardiac care had only one plant-based entrée, and for breakfast they had given him an egg, cheese and ham breakfast sandwich! I looked around the hospital cafeteria myself at Overlake Bellevue Hospital and there were very few plant-based options for anyone. Even the quinoa salad I chose from the salad bar had mayo in it to my surprise. You might think this menu looks healthy, but what this tells the heart patient is: you can have steak, pork, meatloaf and more. He tried to order the side of roasted vegetable with mushroom gravy. The cafeteria advised him to have beef gravy instead (I assume this is because of sodium content). The super food vegetable stir fry is the best option but who will want to order that for lunch and dinner for several days?
In general, this experience really made me think about the way our society and medical treatment functions. Is it easier for the doctors to “fix” people rather than encourage patients to be more proactive about their health? Just eat what you want, get a stent, and carry on? It’s a big gamble since the first heart attack could kill you. The solution is so simple yet there are large industries who do not want us to reject their main commodities. I’ll include processed food and sugar in with dairy and factory farm meat.
I started my 30 day challenge almost 6 years ago after watching Forks over Knives. Even if you don’t think you care about animals or the environment, think about the health aspects and what you can have control over in your life. NutritionFacts.org is a great source of scientific, peer-reviewed nutrition and health info. Dr. Michael Greger, the doctor who created the Nutrition Facts website and wrote the best selling book “How Not to Die” offers compelling facts. I’ve ordered the cookbook for my dad and will be reviewing that shortly!
As for my dad, he is feeling so much better now that his blood flow to his heart had improved. We feel extremely lucky that he was able to celebrate his 71st birthday and continue to be there for his family and to enjoy his retirement life!