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Turn Back the Hands of Time One Bite at a Time | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Turn Back the Hands of Time One Bite at a Time

Waiting for My Test Results

Waiting for My Test Results

Seven months ago, I had a heart attack. Besides the stent they put in one artery, they discovered another artery with an almost-70% blockage in it. They opted not to operate at that time but to monitor the other artery to intervene as necessary.

After I was released from the hospital, I met with a dietitian friend and got a crash course in re-inventing our diet. The first day post op that I exercised, I started with walking around our home for 2 minutes and worked myself up, a minute a day, to riding an exercise bike for 45 minutes at a time. Spending two months in cardiac rehab, 3 afternoons a week, helped me work up with endurance and learn to exercise safely. Yes, I had to stay after rehab one time, like a kid after school, because I tried to push harder than they told me to, and I pushed my blood pressure too high.

I took the whole medication regime to decrease my chances of a heart attack and began to research what foods to eat. Some studies said that coronary artery disease was sometimes reversible. Others said they weren’t. So six months ago, on a visit to our cardiologist, I asked him if it would be possible to reverse the artery blockage.

He told me no. All we could do was delay its worsening, and the best thing I could do was lose weight. He told me I had to lose a minimum of 51 pounds.

Well, I’m 34 pounds down, 17 to go. For the past six months, besides exercising, I’ve worked to at least double the amount of fruits and vegetables in my diet. I didn’t give up meat or dairy, but I did reduce portions of them and also reduced portions of processed foods like bread. I researched lists of super foods and foods known to help heart disease, and I worked to include them regularly in my diet – foods like kale, salmon, avocados, nuts, berries, beans, spinach, and flaxseed.

Over time, I learned if a food got in my head and bothered me, it was better to eat a small sample of it and get it out of my head than it was to keep denying myself until I binged on it. Over time, my taste buds have also changed. Processed foods taste saltier. And my system is so used to lighter foods that if I eat something that is laden with fat, it tastes bad.

For the past six months, that artery blockage has loomed like an ax above me, about to swoop in and devastate me once again.

Two weeks ago, I was admitted to the hospital for chest pains which turned out not to be a second heart attack. After I took a second stress test, while waiting for the results, I was told that if they showed more blockage in that artery, it would mean surgery for another stent the next day. I was also told that the blockage was in a bad spot that would make fixing it difficult. We steeled for the worst and prayed for the best.

When the stress test results were in, I was released with no need for surgery. Yesterday, I was given the official stress test results. The blockage has decreased from almost 70% to less than 50%. In 6 months. Because it is less than 50% now, it is no longer considered at risk.

Thanks be to God! I feel more than lucky that in my case, I got to turn back the hands of time – with a combination of prayer, medication, diet and exercise. ┬áPart of me wanted to go dancing up to the cardiologist who gave me the grim report 6 months ago so I could sing, “If You Could See Me Now…” However, I know this battle will require a lifetime of vigilance, or I will end up back where I was.

Not everyone who tried what I’ve done would have the same results. Nevertheless, I’m firmly convinced that a good diet and exercise are integral to my health plan now and for the rest of my life. Besides the test results, I have more energy and endurance than I have had in decades.

And I will continue to encourage others to make the changes before they have to go through what I did. Start with baby steps. But start today. And keep going.

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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