For Darrell, a heart attack led him to recovery at the Eat to Live Retreat
January 20, 2020 by Dr. Fuhrman Staff
Darrell was a retired physician who knew his unhealthy diet was killing him, but promised himself he’s eat right “someday.” But after suffering a heart attack and facing major surgery, he remembered reading about Dr. Fuhrman’s protocol for reversing heart disease with nutritional excellence. He booked a stay at the Eat to Live Retreat – and the experience changed his life. For more information about booking your stay at the ETL Retreat, call 949-432-6295.
“My long love for the standard American diet has now changed. I still love food, just plant food.”
We were sitting down for dinner, celebrating all our August birthdays. I had been working in the heat all afternoon, and had not been drinking water. All of a sudden, I felt bad; nothing specific, just bad. But as we started to eat, I felt worse, experiencing substernal chest pain radiating up into my neck and jaw. It was the classic symptoms of a heart attack. I went to lie down, and drank lots of cool water, hoping it would resolve. After five minutes of resting, I had to admit to myself this was not going away. I got up and interrupted the meal. “Call 911,” I said. “I’m having a heart attack.”
For months, if not years, I knew my eating style was going to catch up to me. I was turning 61 years old, and that’s a long time to be eating anything and everything I desired. I loved food. My weight had crept up to 256 pounds, my knees hurt, my back was swaying forward, and I had a beach ball gut. I had been telling my wife, “I have to stop eating this way, I feel like I’m eating myself to death.” Additionally, my blood pressure had been creeping up over the years – 160’s/90’s. So, almost every day, I told myself, “tomorrow, I’m going to start eating right.” As a retired physician, it was not a matter of knowledge. I knew what to do, but my love of food was stronger than my knowledge.
After being diagnosed with a heart attack in the emergency room, I was sent for an angiogram. The resultant images were sobering: I had around 90% blockage in multiple coronary arteries. And there 17 blockages – too many for stents. My cardiologist recommended surgery: coronary artery bypass grafting. As I lay in the coronary care unit of our local hospital, I was terrified. I’ve known many folks who’ve been through the surgery, and it seemed they were never the same afterward. After all, the chest is sawed open to expose the heart for sewing in new vessels harvested from the legs. And while they survived, they never seemed healthy. Almost to a person, they all still seemed to progressively decline and eventually die of heart disease.
I had read some of Dr. Fuhrman’s books, including Eat to Live, and so knew of the data showing reversal of heart disease, not just amelioration of symptoms. My cardiologist was adamant that surgery was the best option for me. My hospitalist also encouraged surgery, especially when I discussed the alternative I was considering. Members of my family also pressured me to have surgery. So the pressure was mounting.
Nearing my decision, Dr. Fuhrman called me at the behest of my doctor sister-in-law. Dr. Fuhrman talked me down off the “surgery ledge.” He shared with me his clinical experience with patients even more sick than I was. He had seen hundreds of patients get well without surgery. His calming voice was just what I needed to clear my mind and make a decision.
He invited me to his Eat to Live Retreat out in San Diego, California, where people could come to relax and eat fine, nutrient-dense, plant-based meals prepared by chefs. He would be there most of the time to watch me during my recovery. The retreat offered exercise classes, yoga, massage therapy, and psychotherapy.
While talking with Dr. Fuhrman on the phone, it dawned on me that the money I would spend for the retreat in San Diego would be about the same, if not less than my copay for the CABG, hospitalization, and rehab. At that point it was a no brainer. I was flying to California.
I was still quite afraid when I first arrived. But Dr. Fuhrman examined me, took my medical history, and got me going with the program immediately. During my stay, I interacted with the chefs often, learning what and how to cook. Their meals were amazing. After a couple of weeks eating this way, I had already made the changes necessary to live a long, healthy life. My taste buds had changed, my weight was plunging, and my blood pressure had normalized. The need for medications was greatly diminished. Every day I would wake up to beautiful sunshine and pleasant weather, eat delightful meals, lounge by the infinity swimming pool, and go for long leisurely walks in the nature preserve next-door. My exercise tolerance was increasing noticeably.
The retreat was such a great place to stay while getting over the initial shock of having a heart attack. Everyone there had health issues, from cancer to diabetes to autoimmune disease. The support we gave each other was both comforting and enjoyable.
Has change been easy? Actually, yes. When someone you love turns on you and tries to kill you, it changes your relationship with them. My long love for the standard American diet has now changed. I still love food, just plant food. And my meals are as luxurious as ever, thanks to what Dr. Fuhrman and the chefs at Eat to Live Retreat taught me.
I’ve been home for 4 months now and my weight loss has continued. I lost 66 pounds in the last five months; I went from 256 to 190 pounds, and I am still losing weight each week. More importantly, I not only do not need heart surgery, but I need no medication anymore and I feel the best I have felt in the last 40 years. I was lucky – but I am also proud of myself for making the right decision and sticking with it.
*There is no guarantee of specific results.Results can vary. All material provided on the DrFuhrman.com website is provided for informational or educational purposes only.
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