I haven't posted a new recipe for several weeks now, and many of you have asked why. The reason is we are experiencing yet another one of those pesky life updates, and this time it's my wife.
On February 16, 2023, at about 4:00 am - I had to call 911 for my wife Rhonda as she woke up not feeling well and her blood pressure was 208/118 with a pulse of 92.
Weeks prior to this, she had been experiencing random nosebleeds, usually in the wee hours of the morning, and when I started checking her blood pressure - it was always very high. A response to the nosebleed? Or were the nosebleeds a response to the blood pressure spike?
In fact, we went to the ER when this FIRST started happening, back in April of 2022 but surprisingly to me, emergency room doctors are VERY HESITANT to do anything with blood pressure - so they taught her how to pinch her nose to stop the bleeding and sent her home.
On Feb 15, we FINALLY managed to get into our doctor's office to see a Physician's Assistant, who prescribed the drug Clonidine to help her relax and bring her blood pressure down, if we needed it.
Turns out we DID need it that night, but unfortunately, the prescription still had not been filled yet (due to a backlog at the pharmacy). So at 4:00 am - I made the call for a terrifying ambulance ride BACK to the ER with a blood pressure of 208/123.
I should note: my wife has been taking 2 blood pressure medications for as long as I can remember, but was actively trying to eat better and exercise to hopefully come OFF of them. She has been 100% WFPBNO since January 1.
After several EKGs and blood tests, even though they were still very hesitant to do anything with her blood pressure - they gave her a dose of Clonidine (but only because our doctor had already prescribed it). And at 6:00 am she was released to come home.
Another important factor in all of this - she was NOT experiencing any other symptoms. No chest pain, no shortness of breath, no headaches, or blurred vision... JUST the blood pressure spike and sometimes a nosebleed.
And so we have been in the "hurry up and wait" mode of our wonderful world of American HealthScare ever since.
It seems every time we try to set up an appointment for an office visit or lab, or imaging of any kind- we are told the earliest they can see her is in 1-2 weeks. And even though we also got a referral to a cardiologist - we can expect to wait up to 4-6 MONTHS for that.
"But what if it's an emergency?!", I ask.
Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands
So as we weave ourselves in and out of our extremely broken healthcare system, I also started looking into alternatives.
Maybe there is something WE can do - RIGHT NOW - as we wait.
Obviously, I thought of diet and lifestyle, but here's the thing, my wife HAS been eating a VERY clean 100% WFPBNO diet since Jan 1, and 95-98% compliant for years now.
If she is eating so well, why does she seem to be getting worse?
For that answer - I turned to the same doctor I turned to after I had my stroke in 2020 - Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, MD.
He called us last week and after a little small talk, he asked about her weight.
- Rhonda: "135 pounds"
- Dr. Essy: "And what did you weigh in High School?"
- Rhonda: "98 pounds"
- Me: "Hey doc - she HAS been losing weight and she DOES eat WFPBNO..."
- Dr. Essy: "So why is she still 30 pounds overweight?"
Ouch. He may look gentle - but don't let him fool you - he IS hardcore.
And this all happened JUST when I began live streaming to my support group. And that's when THEY suggested we all do the ESSELSTYN REVERSAL DIET together, for Rhonda, and they even coined it - "The Great High School Weight Challenge"
We are also reading his book, "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" as a group in our community's Book Club.
You can join us if you'd like - either for the book club or the challenge.
Here's the link. BNV Community
In addition to all of this, as a result of finally getting back into our doctor's office to see a nurse practitioner this time - she put her on a low FODMAP diet with yet ANOTHER blood pressure prescription.
One Last Thing...
So we still don't have any answers, she is up to 4 BP meds now, trying her best to follow Essy's Diet plan AND a low FODMAP diet plan (which trust me, doesn't leave much she can eat), and the BP spikes are still happening.
So just to cover every possible avenue available - I just set up a virtual appointment with Dr. Niki Davis, MD from Plant Based TeleHealth.
You may have seen her on Chef AJ. She is the "rocket scientist" turned medical doctor and is one of many plant-based doctors Plant Based TeleHealth has to choose from.
Even though this is strictly an online virtual telehealth company, let me assure you they are all real medical doctors (not just NPs or PAs) and can order labs, prescriptions, whatever - just like your real doctor can. And they cover all 50 states here in America, so ANYONE can have a plant-based doctor.
In fact, one of the co-founders is none other than Dr. Micheal Klaper himself.
So - that is where we currently are.
And trust me, there have been MANY sleepless nights since this whole thing started.
We just want answers.
WHY are the blood pressure spikes happening all of a sudden? What can we do?!
My poor wife is AFRAID of going to bed at night knowing she will probably wake up in a few hours - not fun for someone who eats very clean, exercises regularly, doesn't drink, has never smoked, and looks way younger than her age.
"I'm doing all the right things - so why me?"
Prayers? Good vibes? Healing thoughts? Send them our way if you'd like and thank you, they are very much appreciated.
We need all we can get.
Prayers and positive energies sent to your wife and you. I also follow this WOE- and have been for years, I get in 5 miles of walking daily as well as yoga twice a week- all was well with me until about 8 months ago. BP just will not go down - and I've never had an issue with BP. I'll be 69 in a few days.
I believe it's all residual from the Covid vaccines and boosters-prior the vaccines and boosters, I took no medication. Currently, I'm taking 2 meds for HBP and it still is not under control.
I'm feeling helpless, I trust this WOE. Just recently, I've added Hisbiscus Tea to my routine (Dr. Gregier).
Chuck, I split my BP meds, one in morning, one at night. I have found the night one helps keep my BP low while I sleep.
Check it out.
Chuck- prayers for your Wife and you. I hope you Wife feels better soon.
I have been WFPB NEAR zero Oil for 3+ years. I’ve lost >100 lbs, more than 1/3 of my body weight. I still have to take Lisinopril 40 mg. My Doc says I am probably stuck with the meds and likely hereditary.
I'm an MD but not a cardiologist but it seems a bit unusual that she needs 4 meds to control her BP. I don't want to be giving unwanted medical advice but I agree with others here that she should be checked for unusual causes of hypertension such as pheochromocytoma, hyperaldosteronism, thyroid disease, renal artery stenosis, etc. Just my $0.02.
I recently added grounding/earthing to my self-care. It’s free and no side effects. Can’t hurt to try. My prayers for you both.
Oh, Chuck, I am so sorry that during this already very stressful time you also have to deal with the medical system backlog. There seems to be a shortage everywhere. Here in Arizona we have Dispatch Health, which comes to your home, can write prescriptions, do xrays, etc. I have used them & really thought they were great. In your case, however, she needed 911 & the ER. When I worked the ER as an RN many years ago, our drs would call your PCP & discuss any medication changes so you could leave with a prescription as well as an appointment...soon.
I am glad you are looking to WFPB docs though, and hopefully w/o SOS--salt being pretty important for blood pressure for most people. Also, I want to mention Dr Dean Ornish's Lifestyle Program for Reversal of Heart Disease. Medicare covers it & now it is even available virtually, for those who do not live near a center that offeres it, & qualify. I am re-reading his book UnDo It and there is so much to learn from that, not just about food & exercise, but about managing stress, meditation, etc. I have heard from other drs that a good goal weight is what you weighed when you graduated from high school. I find it interesting that the weight at that time did not seem like a "scarecrow", rather quite normal at that time. I think because our society has gained so much weight, we now would look at that as "too skinny", (note the older movies, how "skinny" people were!), when in fact it is probably the most healthy weight for us---not that I am there, mind you! I do hope & pray that you find the right solution for your wife & that, as the caregiver, you remember to take good care of yourself.
I am sorry your wife is having issues. I was hospitalized with AFib in December, which shocked me, after being WFPBNO for 7 yrs. I was just released with clean bill of health, since I have had no recurring episodes (have pill-in-pocket if needed). I did start Dr. E's program, and started his diet, just to heal anything else that I can, in relation to my heart! What is your wife's total cholesterol?
I agree with Dr. E, however harsh, although a better question is BMI. I had anorexia in highschool and weighed 88 - 178 lbs, but was at a healthy weight before, so I go by that. I do weigh the same as my healthy weight in highschool. Dr. E is right, in that she needs to follow his plan 100%, if it is a cardiovascular issue. He doesn't allow of any leniency at all, because it all matters. It will take time though. Dr. Lisle is great for tweaking any diet to lose weight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAdqLB6bTuQ
I'm not an MD. I had a friend whose BPs were very high. The meds were not bringing them down. It ended up that she had a pheochromocytoma, a benign tumor on her adrenal gland.
Speedy recovery & quick answers for Rhonda.
I would consider going to another city for cardiologist expertise. You just aren't getting the medical evaluation you need. Perhaps there just aren't enough cardiologists in your area and they are overloaded. You can also get into places like the Mayo Clinic sooner than you might think, and many insurances do cover it. If you don't do this, do get in line with a local cardiologist of some expertise even if it takes a long time. I think the sleep apnea test is also a good idea, and that shouldn't take too long to schedule. One conducted not at home is more reliable.
All that being said, there are people who have unexplained blood pressure issues that still do well. While high, her BP is not off the scale at least! The fact that she is not overweight (in my non-expert opinion) and is living clean eliminates a huge array of disorders!
Chuck, I am hoping that you and your wife can get to the bottom of this soon. I did the Fodmap elimination and reintroduction diet and was so hungry all the time and tired of weighing and measuring and omitting foods. Why did the NP put Rhonda on that diet if she doesn't have stomach issues? Sounds like a needless shot in the dark. A sleep study and cardiologist sound like good avenues to try. Hugs for both of you.
Chuck, sending love and healing thoughts to Rhonda and you. May she have a full recovery.
Please don't forget to take care of yourself while attending to Rhonda.
may all be well
I'm sorry your wife is going through this. Sounds like she started BP meds at a young age and now BP is less responsive despite an excellent lifestyle. In addition to clean diet and appropriate weight, please ask her primary care physician to screen her for renal artery stenosis, an important cause of hypertension in younger individuals who may have fibromuscular dysplasia or people of any age with atherosclerosis. I would be persistent in advocating for this screening for me or a family member. I wish her and you well. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.
Sending healing thoughts to you both! So sorry that your medical options are taking so much time to access!!!
If you haven't read it, Dr. Fuhrman's book The End of Heart Disease may be helpful. Very low sodium (less than 400 mg. added sodium/day), eating lots of raw and cooked leafy greens, and adding 1 - 2 Tbs. ground flaxseeds are a few suggestions from that book.
I hope your wife can resume her normal life soon! I can empathize with the fear of going to sleep. When I had atrial fibrillation, the episodes occurred at night and I never knew ahead of time - made going to sleep especially nerve-wracking. (I have had no more episodes since a cardiac ablation 2 years ago - very grateful to modern medicine for the high tech procedure.)
Thanks fro your blog & recipes - several of them are staples in our house.
Request a CT scan to look for tumor.
Kidney function checked?
Kidney issues may cause blood pressure issues.
Watch the Earthing movie on YouTube.