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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Cardiologist's "180"

Yesterday was a very discouraging day.  It was my dh's one year annual review with his main cardiologist.  DH was happy to go this appointment knowing that he had lost 48 net pounds over the past 13 months, and knowing he had lowered his total cholesterol 60 points and raised his HDL 10 points, not to mention also that he got his blood pressure under control and had been taken off of his blood pressure medications.

I sat in the office in a amazement as I watched the doctor "ream" out my husband for not getting his HDL up to 50.  And who in the past year has even told him how to accomplish that?  NO one!

There was absolutely no acknowledgement that he had a total cholesterol of 138, which we now know to be a level which renders the patient heart attack proof.  There was no acknowledgement that he was three sizes smaller, and had been able to been taken off of his blood pressure medications.

He was told he was a man of no self-control, a glutton, and that if he didn't change his ways he would be a cardiac cripple by the time he was 60.

Change his ways!!!!?????

What more could he change?  He has given up all sweeteners, sugar, agave, honey, sucralose, nutrasweet, saccharine, syrup, jam and jellies, any form you can name of an derivative of any sweetener, except a small amount of stevia.  He has given up all oils, even whole food vegetable oils, including avocados.  He has given up breads, cakes, pancakes, muffins, tortillas, refined pastas, etc. He has given up alllll meat and fish. This is a man who has watched his five children at home celebrate their birthdays in front of him as he passed up the birthday cake.  He has not had one piece of cake in over a year; not one cookie, not one bowl of ice cream, not one piece of pie.  Could the doctor say the same?

On top of all of the sacrifices he has made to give up the foods he loves, the doctor wanted him to give up calories too; 200 more a day. and his before bedtime snack; a bowl of oatmeal.

Is there no joy in living anymore?  At what point does it not become worth it anymore.  If I were him, I would be close to that point right now.

After the appointment my husband felt like a kicked puppy.  He temporarily lost his desire to comply to anything.  He feels his ability to choose to do anything as he pleases in his life has been taken away from him.

Unlike no other patient, he chose changes in lifestyle to manage his disease not medication, and he is meeting with success.  Prior to this success his doctor seemed supportive of the lifestyle change.  He acted like he was interested in the research, that he was also experimenting with it himself, but has something changed this past year?

Last year he said to me, the doc, that is, "I believe that the low-fat plant based diet works, but I can't chain my patients to the basement and make them eat that way."

Now I'm wondering, was he really converted to it, did he really do the research? or what he just beginning to learn about it, experimenting with it and it became too hard.

 He had only dabbled a bit in Ornish's research.  Am I too much lower than he on the education totem pole, to be taken seriously in my recommendation to read the Esselstyn studies?   Has he been caught back up into pharmaceutical backed studies that all people would benefit from a low dose of statins for a lifetime?  Studies that were done on meat eaters, not whole foods plant based folks?

What happened to the discussions of mutual interest and excitement and understanding of solid studies that have gone on and have been increasingly embraced since Pritikin?  There was none of that to be had yesterday.  He would not hear of it.  He would not let my husband get in a word edgewise, nor myself, for that matter.

And yet, he too has gained weight since I saw him last.  Was he too busy to keep his vegan lifestyle going?  Had he fallen off the wagon?  Was he lashing out at my husband because of his own experience?  Or was he just recuperating from a weekend hangover, or a fight with his wife?

It feels like the doctor is trying to whittle dh down, belittle him and make him feel like he needs medication. I won't get into the possible connection between that and drug company perks.  It just seems like it.

We are stymied by our doctor's "change of heart" and striking lack of support.  We don't know where to turn next.


  1. Deb, you posted a wonderful comment on my blog about this experience, and then went ahead and deleted it. I just wanted to congratulate your husband on all the positive changes he has made, so that at least one cardiologist acknowledges all he has achieved. But, he certainly doesn't need a cardiologist's approval, because he probably feels better on the great diet he's following and will add many great years to his life.

    1. Thank you so much for the validation. I can't remember why I deleted the comment. I usually try to be as positive on other people's blogs as I can, and maybe I hadsecond thoughts and felt was not being well behaved, or something. I sure appreciate your taking the time to read both my comment on your blog and my post here. I will pass on your encouragement to him. He will really appreciate it, as do I.