new life

Almost dying puts things in perspective. Since I’m not afraid of death, the perspective might not be what you think.

The spotlight illuminated all of the falsehoods of ‘wellness’, ‘healthiness’, and how to live a healthy life.

At a young tender age, not sure which year, my father held me up in his hands to look through a hospital window in order to say goodbye to his mother.  Back then air conditioning wasn’t an option (yes, that’s how old I am) so it was pretty easy to peek through a screen.  My grandmother was dying—I think it was a mix of diabetes and alcoholism related issues.  The woman was huge.  And I mean HUGE.  The hospital had to make a special oxygen tent for her.  It was all rather sad.

I don’t recall my feelings from then. But I know it’s when my obsession with food began. Tied up with the obsession was a desire to be healthy.  I stopped eating meat…not because I thought there was anything wrong with it, I just didn’t like how it made me feel.  That was around age 7.  My mother would make me sit at the table until I finished eat the icky brown blob on my plate.  I’d chew it up, spit it into a napkin and toss the napkin.  Freedom from the kitchen table would be mine.

Over the years I began jogging, lifting weights, aerobics and reading the newest research on health.  The facts changed again and again.  I’d long been driven by how I felt, so I wasn’t surprised by the newest research that lifting weights could help with running. Or that yoga could help with other sports.  It all seemed so natural to me.

Given to self-competition, I didn’t really care about what other people were doing. I wanted to be the best I could be, and feel the best I could. Not interested in the Olympics or putting myself through crazy rituals, I understood the balance that made me happy.

So imagine my surprise on 9/26/2013 riding along in the ambulance to the ER with a heart attack. It just didn’t seem possible.  If you’ve read the beginning of my blog, you know the general story. How the hell could I have a heart attack??

Now in 2014 I have a general sense of what’s been going on, and I have a supposition.  And a pretty hefty list of all the little things that created the perfect heart attack. (it’s a perfect heart attack from my view point that I had no damage)

The medical community really doesn’t know or agree on what causes heart attacks. Not consistently, not for everyone, and still uses old science. Some of the younger doctors challenge the old, but still can’t really answer some of the questions.

That means we’re really on our own.  And I step up to that challenge. I’ve read every research report I can get my hands on. In turn I thought I knew what caused my heart attack at least 10 times.  Then I stepped back. Is my situation more complex? Or is it that our heart is complex? Or can it be that all of the parts that make the whole person, the whole body have more variables than we thought?

Out of all the things I read, here’s what I think impacted my body:

  1. Childhood stress.
  2. Work stress.
  3. Self-driven, no skills to build healthy relationships
  4. 9/11 survivor
  5. PTSD
  6. Magnesium deficient (among other minerals and vitamins)
  7. Not enough healthy food, rather than cutting out the bad food
  8. Focusing only on work, not giving enough attention to deep friendships
  9. Loss of retirement funds
  10. Knee issues that impacted athletic drive
  11. Inflammation by arthritis

There’s no one thing that caused my heart attack. I don’t believe genetics seal one’s fate, though no one died young from heart disease in my family.

Things have changed. I’m 98% vegan. Nothing with a face or a mother most of the time. I’ve cut my sugar intake by 85%. Working on making it 90%.  It’s a tough one cause I like chocolate and wine. I’m working on meditation. I try to remember that if no children are killed or animals harmed, it’s something I can let go of.

Most days I am grateful to have a 2nd chance (maybe 3rd or 4th chance) to be grateful to be in the SF Bay area now. I love where I live. Natural beauty and moderate weather makes me feel grounded. Liberal politics suit me. Watching love among diverse people inspires me. I feel emotionally safe.

I have a new dream. Vegan culinary school. I want to teach other to eat and inspire them to make healthy changes. Jewelry line for heart attack survivors. Something that reminds us of the day our life changed…almost a talisman.

What a difference a year can make, right?