This is Part 3 of a series where I discuss my recent visit to the hospital where I discovered I had a mild Ischemic Stroke.
If you've been following along in this series, you learned in Part 1 that on February 24 of this year, I had a small Ischemic Stroke. In Part 2 of the series, I outlined the care and treatment I received while I was in the hospital.
In this last part of the series, I want to share with you what I did, for my own self-care, after I got home.
One of the very first things I did after I got home from the hospital, is to start reaching out to a few experts I knew. Because even though the hospital docs told me my diet saved my life, I couldn't help but wonder why it happened in the first place.
What did I do wrong?
Did I miss something?
What else can I do? etc
So, like many of you, I called upon a doctor that I knew would give me a straight answer, and that was none other than Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
And just like I've been told, I received an email reply almost immediately followed by a personal phone call from Dr. Ess himself.
And what did he say?
He said since I live in Portland, I should go to OHSU and see Dr. Craig McDougall. Craig used to be my doctor several years ago when he worked with Kaiser Permanente, so it was a perfect solution.
Only, he was no longer seeing patients. Now what?
Self-Care After A Stroke
Fortunately, I also happen to know Craig's dad, none other than the legendary Dr. John McDougall himself. So I emailed Dr. John, told him what happened, and asked if there was any way Craig could squeeze me in.
And, like Dr. Esselstyn, I received a reply almost instantly.
"You need to come to Santa Rosa and attend my 10-Day Program"
He also said that he and his wife Mary would also be there, and between his medical director Dr. Anthony Lim and himself, I would receive the care that I needed.
I knew it wouldn't get any better than that, so I gave the McDougall Center my down payment, bought my plane ticket, set up my rental car, and waited until March 26.
It was a lot of money, but I knew I needed to do this! I was actually going to go! I had my tickets in my hand, and all I had to do.... was wait.
And then Covid19 happened.
For the very first time in the history of the 10-day program, the program was canceled (and understandably so).
Reduce The Risk
So here I am, STUCK at home, just had a stroke, while we prepare for a worldwide pandemic to hit.
I swear you can't make this stuff up!
So I did the only other thing I knew.....
I did everything at home - that I knew I would have been doing in Santa Rosa.
- I drank lots of water
- I exercised a minimum of 30 minutes a day
- I made sure I got 8 hrs of sleep every night
- I turned off the news so I wouldn't stress
- And I ate a whole-foods, starch-based diet
I knew I was overweight and that I had high blood pressure.
These were not only risk factors for another stroke, but they were also risk factors for Covid19, so I knew I had to do something about them so I could get off all the meds the hospital had put me on (another risk factor).
So I eliminated anything in my diet that Dr. McDougall would call a "yellow light" or "red light" food.
Foods that had more fat or calories, that were higher in calorie-density.
- All nuts & seeds
- Peanut butter and tahini
- Olives and avocados
- Tempeh and tofu
- All processed food (vegan butter, sour cream, cheese, etc)
- All restaurant food (it all has oil)
- All alcohol
Dr. McDougall has an entire slideshow presentation where he explains these yellow light and red light foods. And he even has a free downloadable pdf of his book here...
So what DO I eat?
Instead, I've been eating lots of potatoes, leafy greens, rice, beans, and veggies. I ate like I did when I attended the Remedy Food Conference and like I imagine I would have eaten at the 10-day program.
Whole foods, plant based, 100% oil free
And the result?
Since the hospital, as I mentioned in this article, How I Cured My Hypertension in 30 Days Without Dieting.....
- I have lost nearly 20 lbs
- My blood pressure is now normal
- I now take NO medications of any kind
And now, when I tell people I just had a stroke 7 weeks ago, they look at me like I'm crazy because you simply cannot tell.
I have no deficits from the stroke. None. No muscle weakness, no facial drooping, no speech slurring.
I may never know what caused my stroke.
But I do know that my plant-based diet saved my life and prevented this minor stroke from becoming a major, life-crippling stroke.
And for that, I am very thankful.
And, by making a few minor changes, along with good sleep, staying hydrated, a little stress management, and mild exercise, I know I am doing everything I can to reduce the risk of another one.
This also happens to be the exact same way we can reduce our risks of getting this nasty virus or at least, reducing its effect.
Stay safe everyone. Now is the perfect time to get healthy.