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Friday, June 8, 2012

Part 1: How I Lost 3 pounds in 2 days and got a complete reboot on my life

Kids, don't try this at home. 

If you think there will be some 'health-tip' here on how to actually lose 3 pounds in 2 days, just skip ahead to the soup recipe.  I am sorry to disappoint, but this isn't a weight-loss tip; it's a foray into my recent health crisis and lessons learned from it, but if you might like a glimpse into what's turned into a life-changing event for me, read on.

(I'll break this into parts for blog brevity and reader sanity....)

Part one:

Last Thursday, I was happily bush-hogging away our two pastures that had gone weedy.  It was a gorgeous day and I had a nice Rush mix (my favorite band) on my mp3 player, our back-for-the-summer dive-bombing barn swallows for company and was content as could be.  Several hours later when I put that tractor away and went to hook up another implement to our smaller tractor that I use for tasks like dragging our arena, as I bent over, I was struck with incredible chest pain.  I momentarily considered going ahead and getting my task done, but then thought, no, better go in the house and get some water, see if this is just bad indigestion or what.  As I turned to go to the house, the pain radiated up into my jaw, twice and became more severe.

Now, I'll confess to you that my very first thought was how absolutely unfair it would be for a strict nearly two-year vegan to have a heart attack, but the pain quickly dissolved that concern and commanded center-stage.

I was sitting in the house trying to decide just what the deal was, whether this could be indigestion, how serious to take the matter, as my son briefly asked if I was ok, and promptly left for work.  As I watched him leave, I thought, hmm....maybe I should ask him to stay.  Too late.

Being a stubborn person by nature, I figured I'd work it all out.  I called my husband and he wanted me to call the squad.  I finally decided (pain now worsening) to drive myself to the fire-station, several miles into our small town (I know, I know...don't say it), reasoning that they would somehow put me on an EKG, tell me it was heart-burn and send me home---what can I say---it made sense at the time.

That was the longest drive I think I have ever made...seemed like 25 miles into town and I was in excruciating pain and constantly thinking about how I should pull over if I thought I might collapse as for sure I was not going to take anyone else off the road.  I made it to the fire-house, but couldn't find any of the EMTs for a minute or one out by the one in the office area....I was calling "hello?"  "hello?"...finally found them in the t.v. lounge area..." are going to think I am crazy, but I'm having chest pains". 

Thus began what turned into a 3-day ordeal of TWO E.R. runs, by squad, an overnight hospital stay and a battery of tests that I am not looking forward to receiving the bills for.

EMT's got me loaded on the gurney in the back of a squad, started EKG readings, which were normal, started me on nitro and baby aspirin and decided to transport me.  I sent a quick text to my husband who had already left work (50 miles away) and was meeting me at the hospital.

The two EMTs that flanked me in the back of the squad as they transported me the some 20 minutes away to our nearest larger town were as kind as they could be.  Gus, the older EMT, later told me of his ordeal not long ago, when at age 51, he had to be life-flighted to Columbus for a heart-attack, partially induced by rapid and heavy consumption of wings that had been donated as a 'thank-you' to the county fire-stations by a local restaurant.  Hmmm...interesting, eh?  He had a stent put in and is now eating a much different diet.

He was reassuring me that I made the right choice to take chest pain seriously.

The younger EMT, to my left had started a saline drip I.V. and even though he looked to me to be about 12 years old and barely qualified to color inside the lines much less start an I.V.,  proved quite capable, and compassionate beyond his years.

As we were getting closer to town, and my pains were increasing with regularity (but would also turn off completely, leading Gus to speculate "sounds like an esophageal spasm almost"), I was struck with the possibility that I might not be going back home.  With pain that intense (I have NEVER had pain like this) and of unknown origin, well, thoughts come to mind. 

It was in the midst of one such thought (that I considered might actually be my LAST thought), that I paused for a moment, and took it all, the universe, my purpose...all hovered in front of me. 

I was struck with the irrefutable condensement of life's basic truth:  turns out, John Lennon was right....Love is all you need.

Or at least, it's all you care about when you think you only have a minute to care about anything at all.

I don't know how to write this without the words just sounding cliche, and I myself have been over these concepts so many times before, but I tell you, when it is smack dag IN-YOUR-FACE, well, it takes on a deeper meaning.

I truly FELT all the love of my life....could nearly touch it.  Radiating particularly from my devoted husband, who has given me more love than any one person could possibly absorb.  Also my children & family, my animals, oh-my-precious-beloved-animals, and my extraordinary dear wonderful friends....especially two of you who most certainly know who you are and what you mean to me.  I love you so very much.  It was all there...and for an instant, even in the midst of double-me-over-up-on-the-gurney-clutching-my chest, all-I-could-do-to-not-scream-pain, I felt the calm and beauty of it.

How do you write that without sounding airy and fairy and positively flower-child-esque?

We pulled into the E.R. unloading bay and my pains were even worse....even the 12-yr old EMT who was behind me....Gus had hopped out to unload but was having trouble releasing the supports on the gurney... said 'anytime now, Gus'.  Oh boy...that scared me. 

To be installment....E.R. Adventure, Number 1.


The Healing Soup

This is very close to my hearty-veggie soup and any number of other good soup recipes, but I fortified this one to help me heal.  I wanted nutrients and a lot of them.  I started with the best stock I could make...what ended up being a wonderful blend of asparagus stalk ends, onion peels, carrot butts and mushroom stems.  I will remember that combination as it was lovely.

I added about 2 C of tomato sauce that I had made from tomatoes left-over in the freezer from last year's harvest, and then just piled in the veggies.  Sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, onion, a bit of garlic, celery.  I started with the onions & garlic in a bit of the stock, let them get cooked through and then added more stock, and the veggies in order of time to cook.  After pretty well tender, I added the tomato sauce and left the soup to simmer for about 20 more mins.  Just 5 mins before eating, I added TONS of chopped kale and spinach which I thankfully had harvested from my garden early in the day before I went to the hospital. I wanted to just infuse my body with those powerful greens.  I let those wilt a bit in the heating soup before serving.  Probably, I would add to this some beans for more minerals and nutrients.  Kidney beans would be nice, but I've grown fond of the large butter beans and the northern beans as well. 

The Healing Soup, extra, ready to go in the freezer

Sue, healing, in Ohio


  1. left me hanging there. You wrote eloquently of what becomes the most important thing and the feeling of that love in the deepest sense in a moment of crisis....I have still not completely committed to this lifestyle (for whatever reason!) and yet I am afraid of a heart attack because I am far too heavy. This was a reality check. Thanks. Now tell me what happened next! :)

    1. Hello, Autumnseer, (if that isn't the coolest I.D....)
      Thank you so much for your comment. I am so happy you were able to 'get' that feeling of love from my words...I wasn't sure I was able to describe that. Hoping to finish up the 2nd installment today.

      Stick with me to the end of it all if you'll take a few installments. But I learned some POWERFUL lessons and nothing would please me more than if someone else took something away from the experience too.

      Take care,

  2. Really waiting for your next installement(s).

    I am thin, always was and plant based for more than 2 years, low fat for about a year: this helps a lot but I have never been really healthy and I fear these calamnities.

    Really want to know what you learned!

    Greetings from Silvia in Germany

    1. Hello, Sylvia, I nearly have the next two done. Congrats on your plant-based lifestyle. Will definitely share everything I've come to understand as we all try to be in the very best of health. I'll tell you this...I'm damn glad I have already made the changes I've made!
      More soon,