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.
You can read Part 1 in this article, How My Plant-Based Diet Saved My Life and Part 2 in this one, After The 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...
Download his Color Picture 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.
Your story made me get serious about my high BP. The Dr threatened me with a fourth BP medicine. So I have eliminated all the things you listed and my BP is coming down. But I am looking for a nut free oil free mayo. Perhaps made with cauliflower. Can you share post stroke meals or recipes. It seems like everything has cashews nuts or avocado..
Thank you for the wake up call at the time I needed it.
So glad you made it through your scary journey and have improved in so many ways. Thx for sharing.
Chuck you look wonderful, wight wise, great smile, you look Happy!!!,
PS, love the new haircut too 🙂
I am so glad that you are okay. I am happy for you and your family! And thank you for continuing to be a leader, inspiration for so many of us all, and for creating such fantastic recipes!
How could a vegan regardless of being overweight had a heart attack when the diet is all plant based? Most likely your stroke was stressed induced.
the diet has to be much better than just 'vegan' to avert strokes and hear attacks. It has to be whole food, plant-based with no added oils, and no avocado, olives, coconuts and few if any nuts in order that the cap over the plaques in arteries is strengthened so it cannot rupture and cause clots. Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse heart disease diet will do it, proven.
No physical effects from the stroke? I had a stroke mid_December, caused by an undetected hole in my heart. I'm tld I had 3 previous strokes. This last one left me with extreme weakness on my dominant (right)) side, and an inability to write, etc.
Thank you so much for sharing ??
Thank you for sharing your journey and recovery. It's amazing about 100% WFPB can do. Tell me, is Dr. Craig McDougall going to see you now??
No, he is a professor at OHSU now.
Hi Chuck, your story demonstrates we often know what we should be doing but we aren't willing to make enough effort. Congratulations on turning your scary wake up call into motivation for doubling down on your lifestyle changes. May I ask a question? How did you determine you could safely decrease your bp medications? It's difficult to find doctors willing to discuss this goal much less endorse it. So very glad you are doing so well.
When my blood pressure one morning was 97/69 - with the meds - I knew I could decrease them. I eventually stopped both 25mg doses, and remained normal.
A good reminder to follow the Starch Solution. Thank you. 🙂 Glad you're well.
Thank you so much for sharing. So glad that you recovered so rapidly! Enjoy your recipes so much!
I’m very inspired by your blood pressure results! I’ve been on hypertension meds for over 20 years and REALLY want to get off them. Now with the information out there that being on Ace inhibitors or ARBs probably makes a person more susceptible to Covid 19 and more likely to have a poorer outcome, I’m doubly motivated! Over the past few weeks I’ve been cutting all the higher fat foods out of my diet. Goodbye to my beloved tahini and cashew based sauces and avocado! Goodbye to the lovely oil-free cashew cheeze that a local woman makes and sells! Tofu has been more difficult to cut out as my husband gets tired of bean dishes. I quit drinking my several glasses weekly wine. I’ve been monitoring my BP and have seen consistently low results: 98-115/62-72 and with my MD’s permission cut my BP pill in half. Hoping to keep going and get off them for good!
Thank you for sharing your story! Good messages to consider every day as I prep recipes, plan workouts, etc.
Thank you so much for being so open and honest in sharing. I enjoyed your 2 other articles and videos. For some reason, this touched me deeply and gave me the kick in the butt I need. You are a true hero ...keep on keepin’ on! Thank you and may you be safe and well and continue on the road less traveled! ❤️?❤️
Do you use less salt now
Nope - the same amount as always.