For anyone new to this blog, my husband Mike died in 2013 of a heart attack in his sleep. Finding him the next morning is a horrific memory I will carry with me always.
He had heart problems, to be sure, but I didn’t really know the extent of it. I’m not sure whether he did either. He hated doctors and hospitals, and I often wonder if he had sought good regular care he might have had a longer life. I also often wonder if I had known more about his condition and what to do in terms of diet and supplementation whether it would have made any difference.
Sometime during the year before he died, one doctor he had seen recommended he give blood, because the quality of his blood was too thick. We waited for months for a blood drive to come to Kona, and when we got there, they told him his blood pressure was too high and they wouldn’t let him donate. I remember driving home with him in disappointment, but little did I know two months later he would be dead. We joked about leeches, but were too afraid to try anything ourselves. I really did not believe it was so dire.
After he died I sought help from a naturopath for myself, one I really like, and told him about that. He said that was too bad I hadn’t known him then, for he would have happily drawn his blood. I thought for a long time, and still do, that I could have been more forward thinking, more proactive, about finding an alternative to that blood drive. But I wasn’t. And he died.
We know now, even a short four years later, that the low fat diet we had been taught these past 30 years was a lie. It was revealed in the New York Times last fall that the sugar industry paid scientists to lie to us back in the 1960s – to tell us that fat was bad, and there was nothing wrong with sugar. The truth is, humans need good quality fats to be healthy, and it’s actually the sugar – sugar they added massively to so many “low fat” food-like products – that made the sugar barons rich, and us sick. Dietary fat, in fact, does not turn into fat on our bodies. But sugar does. So in that same 30 years the incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, a condition often called “diabesity”, which Mike suffered from, has grown to epidemic proportions. People put on diets that severely restrict sugar, including processed grain and flour products, and given real, whole foods, including healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil, improved significantly. Not only are we giving our bodies and cells required nutrients, those healthy fats help us feel satiated and so we crave sugar less. They are even turning what we thought we knew about cholesterol on its head.
I knew none of that when I was married to Mike. I tried, in good conscience, to reduce fats in his diet, like we all did. I grew angry when I discovered he had eaten a cheeseburger. But now I know it wasn’t necessarily the meat and cheese that was the problem, contrary to what many people still believe, but the bun that surrounded it, and the fries on the side. And the soda, of course, being the worst of all.
Could he have lived longer, and healthier, if I knew more? Could we have found ways to naturally improve his cardiac health? I know it wasn’t my fault, not at the core, anyway. Mike loved food and always struggled with that, and I could not control what he ate all the time. But I wonder all the time if I could have helped him more, and better, had I known. Had we known.
But then one of the thoughts that creeps in when I wonder all of that is whether he would have wanted to grow much older. Mike lived the lives of nine men, and in his youth, was an incredible athlete. He thrived and lived many adventures, but when he got older, during the years I knew him, he slowed down, and hated the figure that stared back at him in the mirror, with a receding hairline and gray beard. Some of us who knew him have discussed that though his life was cut sorrowfully short, at 59, that any older, any sicker, that happy guy might have just become miserable. In no way would I want him to have suffered in a hospital long term, or had to receive assisted care…he would have just hated it. The larger-than-life man he was was a terrible patient, believe me. So, maybe, as some people might say, it was just the way things were meant to turn out. I hate it, we who loved him hate it, but, maybe in the end, he got his wish, to avoid really having to grow old. I have in fact found some forgiveness, in these four years, because I knew this in my heart.
I still can’t help but think, though, the more I learn about health and nutrition, whether it might have changed anything. I will probably always wonder that. But I certainly can’t change it now. All I can do is continue on my path, and maybe someday, I’ll be able to help someone else find their true path to health. I will do it all in honor of Mike’s memory, because somewhere, I believe he wants me to fill that empty hole in my heart, that I didn’t do enough.