Monday, October 31, 2011

Honey Eating Vegan

Stroke 2006
Heart Attack 2008
CIM Relay 2010
Healthy Husband? Priceless

This is the sign I held on the race course when Ernst ran a leg of the California International Marathon last year. I drove to a few parts of the course and cheered him on as he ran by. The back said:

Carnivores Drool
Vegans Rule!

The sign was quite a hit, runners would comment on it as they saw it. One woman said, "You're making me cry!" There were people at the finish line taking pictures of us with our sign. If I had only known five years ago that things would turn out so well, because...

...five years ago today, Ernst had the first of three huge wake up calls:

Halloween 2006 - Stroke - After this we really cut down down on dairy and meat.
Easter 2008 - Heart Attack - This is when meat, poultry, all dairy and eggs went too.
New Years Eve 2009 - We thought it was another stroke, turned out to be an ear infection, but CT scan showed plaque in artery feeding brain - This is when we went on the McDougall Diet - low oil and vegan, herbivore, plant-based, starch-based, plant powered; whatever you call it, it isn't easy but we are doing it.

Lessons learned:
I really detest Halloween.
ERs on holidays are incredibly busy.
Life is better than food.

On that awful day, I came home from college to hear the message on the answering machine, "Honey, I'm in the ER, I have some tingling on my left that is getting worse, don't worry but please come and bring..." When I got there, I was so relieved to see him calmly lying on the ER bed, reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. My reasoning said, what bad thing could be happening, he is reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, surely that is a good sign. Bad things don't happen to people who bring Maya Angelou books with them to the Emergency Room.

As it was, the whole ER seemed to think nothing bad was happening to him. He knew. But he just stayed calm as he read his book, as his stroke symptoms continued to get worse, as they continued to give him one pill every hour or so, trying to lower his crazy high blood pressure. I reassured myself that if they didn't seem worried, I wouldn't either. I wish I would have screamed like an insane wife for them to do more.

There are not two but three kinds of strokes. The bleeding type, the clotting type and the type he had, where the vessels are constricted because of high blood pressure. High BP is not something to mess around with. Strokes are scary. For us, we are happy he was "just" left with tingling and numbness, it could have been so much worse. But who wants "it could have been worse?" We know it could have been better. You only get one body, but sometimes you get another chance to be good to your body. We are not blowing that chance. We are not living with the mantra "everything in moderation." Tell that to a freaked out wife who thinks her husband could die or lose his great mind. Moderation my foot, we are living to the extreme! We are living like hamsters on a diet.

 Life is Better Than Food. Friends and strangers marvel when they find out all we have given up food-wise. They say they could never do it. To us it has been a no-brainer. Others are amazed that I eat the same way. But why would I continue to eat the stuff that almost killed one of the greatest minds I have ever known? That almost stopped one of the biggest hearts around?

We aren't militant vegans. I wear leather. Hey, if the whole world gives up beef, I'll switch to hemp shoes, but until then I can't pass up a cute pair of leather sandals. And we eat honey. It's not like anyone has a "bee bee gun" to their little heads forcing them to work. I am much more concerned about the tomato workers in Florida working in abominable conditions than I am about bees or silkworms or already dead cows. When I see the videos of filthy slaughterhouses, I am so glad we don't eat meat, but health reasons were our motivating factor.

Yet I do prefer using the word vegan rather than the term plant-based diet. Vegans are very often annoying and self-righteous (me included), but at least when someone hears that word, they stop to think whether they put bacon fat in the food they are about to serve the Big E. (Or at least I hope they do.) This is a meat eating society, and it is hard to swim upstream - "you don't eat FISH either??" -  but we've got our fins flapping like crazy going up that stream.

We are plant-based.
We are starch-based.
We are vegan.
And Ernst is here.

or not


and after?

Bill Clinton - meat eater
Bill Clinton - vegan