Heart, Gram

Gram and my cousin once removed

Gram and my cousin once removed

Gram had a pacemaker for over 5 years and then had it removed.

When I was little (before the pacemaker), I mean a TODDLER, she trained me to NEVER take them but how to put nitroglycerin under her tongue when she couldn’t respond to me.

‘If Gram can’t wake up, put 1 of these under her tongue. If it doesn’t work right away, put another one.’ She spoke of herself in third person most of the time. ‘Grandma loves you.’

I also knew how to dial the phone as a toddler (rotary) and my numbers, so there were taped phone numbers on the phone by her bed (which she had installed so I could reach it!).

My mammy’s bday is 15 May and while normally I think of her often and many things remind me of her, I become hyper-sensitive around this time every year, hence the old photos. I sat down for a few minutes and flipped through an album.

I can still feel her saliva on my finger tips, it’s that kind of sensory detail from 40 years ago. I don’t think you get over losing your mammy (she passed 15 years ago), exactly. -if you had shitty parents and one person stood out to try to protect you, I think it’s normal to cling to her. I’m not alone, that’s for sure.



Cholesterol, a Love Story

Carla asked if my cholesterol improved after being diagnosed Celiac. As usual, I can’t tell a short story and it’s not even well-told.

My Cholesterol’s Character Arc

Short answer: No.
Medium answer: I fixed it before Celiac diagnosis.
Long answer: Since a KID, doctors said:  You inherited this and you’re screwed. I had high cholesterol and triglycerides.
I flung myself into a vegetarian lifestyle, eating meat once a month, around my period when I’d crave tacos or chili. I wouldn’t eat turkey at Thanksgiving so I could have dressing! I adhered to the prescription of low fat, whole grains, vegetarian as best model for lowering cholesterol and cardio health. BEFORE that, I was ‘quasi-vegetarian.’ I’d skip meat so I could have vodka — that was about calories cos I was young and dumb 🙂
My cholesterol grew worse over those 20 years. Doctors repeated their BS about whole grains, low fat… I’d show them my food journals (tracked most of the time since 1985). They’d shrug. With everybody in my family on cholesterol lowering or BP meds, I’d have to get on them SOME day. Then, that day came.
With nowhere else to go, I tried something crazy, based on what I’d seen lifters doing:
eat animal protein — lots of it —  healthy fats and remove processed foods (which excised a LOT of grains!).
In less than six months of eating ~1g animal protein per lb of body weight, increasing fat intake (avocados and EVOO) but mostly binning the low fat Wheat Thins and 17 grain breads…
I had blood panels for which people would kill. My doctor was GIDDY.
Let me digress: I was 98% on program  during this period because I knew what was waiting at the GPs: meds. It’s a strong incentive!
She said most people aren’t willing to do what I’d done for health. I proved that I would. I’m going to be honest: those first three weeks of meat-eating after non-meat eating was ROUGH. My body didn’t know what the hell to do with it!
My GPs next move was to tweak my autoimmune. My first food challenge was wheat.
After the Celiac diagnosis, my gut healed and I packed on a layer of blubber that I still haven’t shifted. I was deeply worried (just KNEW that I’d ruined my ‘fixed cholesterol’). To my RELIEF, my blood panels are still great!
Then, mum had her latest big hospitalization where they found she had to get quadruple bypass and that sent me into another tizzy about heart health. I had a full work up. Turns out, mine’s fantabulous. My genes are still my genes. I’m fighting them (sometimes I hit the frozen custard, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Doritos — and vodka).

This is what it looks like — America’s #1 Killer

I had noooo idea this is what it looked like. WOW!

Everybody should watch this–even if you’re super-healthy! Thanks to Laurie for sharing it with me. If you don’t have 2.5 minutes, skip to 1:00.

(as always, I have zero medical training–do your own research & get health assessments)



Goals? How about avoid THIS

Goals? How about avoid THIS

Mum’s were too bad to ‘clear.’ They chopped hers out and ‘transplanted’ arteries from her leg into the heart. My mother weighs under 80lb. She’s not fat.

a) it’s genetic, sure

b) while she doesn’t eat much, she’s a grain-eating fool

You know what grain is used for in ranching, right?

As oft-mentioned, I grew up on a working ranch. Our cattle (sheep, goats, mules and horses) were grazed. The hogs were pretty much grain-fed (hrm!) with additional ‘slop’ (which could contain things like chicken heads I’d just wrung or lopped off with an axe — my version of keeping it real is realer than most!).

Grain-feeding makes sickly mammals. They’re fat and weak. This is not in dispute.

Ranchers have always known this! That’s why, one month prior to auction, we GRAINED THEIR ARSES TO MAKE THEM CHUBBY.

(it’s like giving them cake with ice cream for all meals) *

I had no idea clogged arteries looked like that. I showed it to several friends who had no idea, one of which worked as a medic in the Armed Forces for over 20 years.

* I’m not saying eating a diet full of grains guarantees this. I haven’t consulted my Augury yet. We all know a diet high in grains makes fatty bodies. We’ve known it for centuries. I’m big on middle road living, however, if coronary artery disease/ artherosclerosis/ heart disease runs in your family OR you eat lot of sugar, fat and/ or grains…remember this video. Personally, I’m regretting that ice cream supper.

Quadruple bypass; a surprise lesson in family history

Wednesday, mum went into cardiac arrest at home (the family ranch is 1 hour from nearest hospital). Very luckily, my father found her, dialled 911 & commenced chest compressions, as he was told. Twenty minutes later, EMS arrived and commenced working on her.

We’ve been told by multiple RNs and doctors that when they hear somebody say, “I gave them CPR,” they don’t believe it. Aparently, most laymen–non-medical professionals–can’t/ don’t do it right. My mother is 4’10” and weighs 80lb. My father is 6’2″ and about 180. My theory is he had the strength and leverage to do it right. For two days following, he kept asking if he had broken her ribs. Well, he hadn’t…

The cardiology surgeon did when they sawed through her sternum and broke the ribs (“cracking the chest”) to perform quadruple bypass surgery. They told us it would take 5 hours. It took 3.5. While shorter sounds better, that scared us:

•couldn’t they “fix” her?

•where’s the doctor?

Surgeons “always” come out to speak with family following surgery. He did not. My brother is less than satisfied.

It meant we worried and worried and worried all day.

a) nobody is allowed in day of surgery

b) at 2 hours post-op, they try to get her off life support — they want this done by hour 4

c) she was on life support from 6:30AM til 6:30PM…she has an advanced directive (“don’t keep me on life support”), so this was getting scary

She’s tired. Mentally, she lost 4 days. She can’t feed herself, so I’ve been feeding her while in hospital but they say by Friday or next Monday she should be able to feed herself, use toilet and shower. Sounds great!

In “news” but about me:

First let’s cover the happy stuff:

Brother decided since having only catnaps since Wednesday-last, he and I would break out of the hospital on Sunday (planned since last spring, to attend the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon as my “birthday party”). We got there at 10AM. The race was going strong. So.Much.Fun! When I say “fun,” I mean live music, happy faces, runners and that bottle of bubbly I downed along with a few shots of whiskey.

I didn’t see Angela and Rob 😦

a) I was too drunk to make sense to anybody

b) We stayed as long as we could because Brother had to pick up his kids! Also, he had to drop me at hospital before picking up his kids — these are all in different counties, let alone cities

What sweeter image than a drunken, adult woman taking a nap in the ICU next to her broken mother, eh? Oh, staff must think lovely things about me…

Now the Serious:

Heart disease was a family secret. I didn’t know. Dad didn’t know about her family having this and they’ve been married 48 years.

Mum did. The jig is up: she obviously has it, her sister has it, their mother had it and her mother had it. My father’s mother died of cardiac arrest in her 50s.

The cardiology nurse gave me all kinds of gyp about not having my own cardiologist (I’m 41 Thursday). I DIDN’T KNOW WE HAD HEART DISEASE. When people died, they said it was other causes.

As soon as possible, I need to get my own cardiologist and have a stress test for starters (luckily, I have been getting yearly physicals so it’s not that I’ve ignored my health, it’s that I had ZERO clue that my heart should’ve been given extra tests/ care.