Wednesday, June 27, 2018

And Now For A Terrific Story (That, Admittedly, Gets Off to a Slow Start)...

Three months ago my husband went to the doctor and found out his cholesterol was through the roof. In fact, they couldn't even tell him how bad it was because his triglyceride levels were too high to determine LDL levels. (Note: He's one of those stereotypical men who won't go to the doctor more than once in a decade, and then only after being nagged for 5 years by a woman.) But - here's the stupid thing - he'd actually gone for the same tests a year earlier and no one called him back with "bad results" (which is the don't call us, we'll call you policy. Except when they mess it up. Which they did because his doctor died shortly after he came in for the tests more than a year ago and then Scott's file was misplaced.)

Now, one might not worry overly, if one wasn't in one's mid-fifties with a family history of heart disease. Every man on both sides of Scott's family has died of some sort of circulatory heart disorder. Scott's father has had triple bypass surgery. His mother has a pace-maker. Both of his parents have been on mega doses of statins since first they became available on the market. Scott's father actually takes the kind of statin that stops your body from producing cholesterol AND the kind that stops your body from absorbing it. And his cholesterol is still high. 

Y'all also know about my feelings about statins. I am really down on them. Everything I've read points to evidence that a) you need cholesterol to keep your brain working throughout the span of your life b) you need it to keep sex organs happy and c) you can have high cholesterol (even VERY high cholesterol) and it needn't impact artery hardening or width, though it can, of course, in a subset of patients. I predict that statins will eventually be known as the drug scam of the early 21st century. Only time will tell if I'm right or wrong.

Of course, I'm not unrealistic. I know that my husband's medical treatment is not my call. I also know that when you've got family members dying at the Xmas table from heart attacks (no joke), you don't take a light approach - unless, perhaps, you happen to be the kind of person who doesn't bother to go to the doc despite your family history.

However, statins weren't on the table after Scott's initial visit because they couldn't determine his LDL levels. The doctor read him the riot act and told him to get 150 minutes of exercise per week, cut down on booze, cut down on sugar, cut down on saturated fat and come back for another test in 3 months. He also said: Then we'll put you on statins. The guy was something out of the Canada Food Guide.

At first Scott was pissed. I mean, our lives have been unpleasant enough over the last 18-months. To cut out everything fun and find time to exercise was not a welcome prescription. But he realized that we haven't been going through drama and hell to make our lives luxe and sexy, only for him to die prematurely from complications of high cholesterol.

In true Scott style, he just decided to give it his all. He went from arguing with the doc about not having time to exercise (and he really doesn't right now) to somehow getting an average of 250 minutes of really vigorous exercise per week. On my watch, but driven by his own goals, he gave up all grains (except for half an english muffin in the am), sugar (english muff doesn't get jam and coffee is cream-only!), most starchy carbs, all but 1 G&T a week and all processed foods. He opted to increase his vegetable consumption by 1000 per cent and I am not on that bandwagon with him. (Note to reader: The only thing I can eat right now without feeling like I'm going to throw up is hot dogs, no joke. So I'm no role model.) I also bamboozled him into taking fish oil and a probiotic.

That's all he did. He's still massively sleep-deprived. He's more stressed than he's ever been in his life. He's currently a workaholic by necessity. He's continued to eat 20 oz of steak at a sitting and all the meat, daily, with skin and fat on it.

Yesterday he went back to the doc to find out the results of another blood test he did last week. The doc was blown away - like stunned. Effectively, Scott has managed to eradicate generations of family predisposition in 90 days without taking a drug - unless you consider supplements and food to be drugs. His every level is now in the range of normal. Seriously, the guy went from being borderline diabetic (and he didn't even know it) to being cholesterol-normal in 3 freakin' months - which would be impressive for anyone, much less someone with family history who's working 14 hour days, sleeping 4 hours a night and doing the work of 5 people. Oh, and he lost 10 pounds (and he wasn't overweight to begin with).

In the words of my mother: Just goes to show you can eat a marbled cow weekly and still bring your cholesterol levels down - if you're willing to give up sugar.

Other note to reader: My mother's had the best diet in the world forever and she still can't bring down her cholesterol by eschewing sugar, so I'm not suggesting that Scott's results represent everyone's potentiality.

I'm writing to tell any of you who are on the fence - and no one was more on the fence than my husband: Before you go on statins or medication for type 2 diabetes or the myriad other drugs with potentially deleterious side-effects you'll prob have to manage on the flip side - give up sugar and grains for 3-6 months. Scott didn't even give it up entirely. I mean, he still eats fruit and drinks alcohol and he has that freakin' half english muffin every freakin' day. Of course, follow the advice of your doctor - though know enough know to when your doctor isn't giving you good advice - but, just for kicks, take the sugar and processed foods out of your diet and see what happens.

It could make every difference in the world or none at all. But you won't have the vaguest idea unless you try.

20 comments:

  1. Amen sister!!...After 30 years of feeling like crap, having the weight pile on (in spite of daily trips to the gym, cycling and swimming-not all at once, but regularly) and watching calories, I had an epiphany. One of my quilting customers came to visit and looked wonderful and I asked her what she was doing...intermittent fasting with a low carb, high fat diet. Her husband had had a leg amputated due to diabetes and she was seriously on the way to it herself. She lent me two books by Dr Jason Fung. The complete guide to fasting and The Obesity Code. I was fascinated. Since April 23, I have lost 22 lbs and my blood sugar is the most normal it has been in decades. Since I have 4 family members with diabetes, I was always on the edge, but never had to take meds. Now I won't . I fast once a week for 40 hours, and it works. My metabolism was in tatters from yoyo dieting, but I now feel much better. Not to mention the savings in groceries, and the simplicity of it all. My sister and my son have both started it and have already lost weight. Hippocrates said" Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" I am happy for your husband, and I hope he can keep on track. We have lost far too many good people to heart disease and diabetes. Take care.
    Barb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats to you Barb! How wonderful. And I went right out and bought the Obesity Code (fun that the guy practices in TO) because your review was so compelling. I'm really enjoying it! Keep us posted on your wonderful progress. So thrilled that your blood sugar is stable. That is incredibly important.

      Delete
  2. That's amazing! You two are role models for grit and perseverance. I'm so glad he is doing well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I think we're more likely examples of peeps going through middle age and realizing that now's the time to do all of this shit because pretty soon we're going to want to coast - for, like, a long time! :-)

      Delete
  3. Keep on working, great job!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The reason the doc said "then we'll pu you on statins" ist that most People don't manage to consistently (keyword here) implement the life changes your husband did within 3 months. My dad went through exactly the same a few years ago his physician was equally impressed. Granted, he did go on to take a statin a couple of years later but he's been on the lowest dosage eversince, a decade ago. And that's also impressive to most docs.
    Even insulin-dependent type 2 Diabetes patients are sometimes able to go off Insulin if they significantly lose weight, that is well documented. The issue is that most people are not able to maintain the efforts and life changes to reach those goals. So yes, kudos to y'all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right G. Consistency is the answer to it all. And, I say, a low dose statin (when considered as part of a long-term viable plan) is a lot better than high doses without making other fab changes to support the efficacy. Best to your dad!

      Delete
  5. That’s bloody awesome!!! The power of will and ‘good for you’ food!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. And, on the plus side, Scott's one of those people who will not make a decision until he does. But once he does (painful, slow), he sticks with it.

      Delete
  6. K-Line,
    Your brand of honest, intelligent, upbeat, practicality could heal the world. He's lucky to have you in his life (let him know I said so!).
    A man fan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well you win for the best comment :-) Thank you T!

      Delete
  7. Bravo! I am so happy for both of you! And I'm all for taking control anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks M - it's very encouraging.

      Delete
  8. WOW this is amazing!!! Kudos to Scott!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! (I do love to get some of the credit even if it's not mine to take!)

      Delete
  9. This is so inspirational.
    Not only to achieve this, but also to achieve it whilst working every hour sent, and doing the reno too!
    Bravo Scott!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what blows my mind. It would be one thing if recalibrating high cholesterol was his only stressor but it doesn't even rank at this point. So I think we all need to consider the magic of diet.

      Delete