Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. My husband has been in hospital since last Wednesday, finally returning home last night. He underwent a couple of surgical procedures to eliminate a blockage from his main bile duct and to remove an infected, stone-filled gallbladder. This week taught me how very precious our health is and I wanted to share some thoughts.
My husband has been in pain for a long time. He was diagnosed last June, after all sorts of tests. Doctors speculated at first that he had an ulcer, then GERD, finally doing an ultrasound to discover a gallbladder full of stones. He was scheduled for surgery in October, but was told to lose 20-25 pounds before “laparoscopic” surgery could be performed. Failure to lose the weight would result in traditional, invasive surgery with a very large incision and additional recovery time. My husband met with the surgical team’s Nutritionist who proposed putting him on a liquid diet to quickly lose the weight. In concept, the liquid diet sounded good, but the reality was a regimen full of chemicals – fake shakes, puddings, etc.
Having recently seen “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” my husband decided to lose the weight on his own terms, via a 60-day juice fast. I went along for the ride as well. After only 2 weeks existing on juice (80% vegetable / 20% fruit) my husband’s symptoms (pain, acid, indigestion) disappeared. After 60 days he had lost 55 pounds and I had lost 30. We then moved on to a plant-based diet. He has maintained his weight loss and I have gone on to lose an additional 18 pounds in about 3 months.
The good news: they called off my husband’s surgery when his symptoms subsided. The bad news: he still had gallstones that proceeded to proliferate, one or more obstructing his bile ducts and causing infection. Which leads us back to his week in the hospital. His pain became unbearable and he was jaundiced. A trip to the ER resulted in immediate admittance and two surgical procedures. Doctors informed us that we had brought him in just in time: he was only days away from a life-threatening case of sepsis.
My husband’s 2nd surgery was on Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon he was walking the halls, joking with everyone. His recovery has been called “exceptional” by his surgical and nursing staff, and it is my absolute belief that his healthier weight and plant-based lifestyle are behind it.
My brave husband’s 6-day stint in hospital was a real eye-opener for us His roommate was a 33-year-old stroke victim, struck by an aneurism on his honeymoon. We saw pain and heartbreak everywhere we turned – some of it preventable, some of it not.
What we take from this situation is a choice to come from a place of gratitude and a decision to never again take our health for granted. In a two-week period, we went from hiking in the mountains of Arizona – “on top of the world” – to the ER with a potentially life-threatening situation. I realized that we cannot always control what happens in our lives, but we can control what we put into our bodies. Our decision to eat a plant-based diet was a sound, well-researched one that we are – now more than ever – prepared to continue for the long haul. This is not a fad or an extreme “diet” – it is a journey to living a life of optimal health and compassion. Health is truly a precious gift.