And now, because I blog about everything…

Dad’s surgery.

Day 11.  Dad comes home tomorrow.  That’s day 6 post-op.  From having his skin cut open, his sternum cracked and his ribs spread, his lungs deactivated temporarily, a vein removed from his leg and quinsected for parts, that vein attached to heart vessels and attached again to heart muscle.  I am more than astounded.  And this procedure is common enough for him to have received an invitation to be a part of the “zipper club” in this area.

No doubt Dad still has a long recovery.  Fortunately for him, he was active before his heart attack, and he was neither a smoker nor overweight.  He’ll have to begin with a tiny little walking program and progress on to longer and longer distances.  For the last 18 months he had done 30 minutes on the treadmill every night, so he has a goal of returning to his former level.  He also has travel plans on his schedule; he had to cancel June’s and most of July’s activities (mom and dad are RVers – serious-9-months-and-thousands-of-miles-a-year-RVers).

I am so proud of how hard he’s trying (keep in mind it IS only day 11 since the heart attack), and I’m so proud of mom for holding up and managing and handling the drama and the effort.  Eric and I have been here and have taken our turns with whatever needs done, but the two of them have been troopers.

Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta has been wonderful, their church has been lovely to respect dad’s request for  no company in the hospital, and their friends and neighbors have been delightful in providing me with southern comfort foods.  My online school program has allowed me the mobility I’ve needed to be here (oh, yes, studied in the hospital and waiting rooms, even took my midterm today at the local library).  Brother has shuffled his trial schedule and has been available every day for support.

What’s troubling me?

In a word:  nutrition.

Yesterday, mom, dad, and I attended the cardiac rehab class at the hospital.  We got information on what it would be like for dad once he got home, the accommodations we need to make for his recovery, what his physical activity regimen would be, and the program of food choices he would need to make at home.  The class teacher showed up little vials of the fat content of various food, with dramatic oohs and aahs from the attendees.  Ribeye steak – full of fat – BAD.  Baked potato – almost none – good.  Bagels – almost none – good.  Pretzels – none – good.  Cheese – lots of fat – bad.  Nuts – lots of fat – bad.  Olives – lots of fat – bad.

I didn’t go to medical school.  I’m not a nutritionist.  I have only my own research and understanding of metabolic science to go on.  And I will not try to override anything dad’s medical team is telling him about his rehab plan.  I went grocery shopping today in anticipation of his coming home, and I tried to buy those things which bisect my choices for his health with his team’s choices.  Lean meats.  Vegetables.  Fruits.  All those grains?  Can’t do it.  I know mom (a diabetic) will buy those when I’m gone, and I won’t comment on it.

Here’s the deal.  If you’ve read the blog at all, you know the banner I wave is one of evidence-based living, scientific research, and reason and ration.  When I underwent my own health-recovery journey 10 years ago, I fervently tried to get an understanding of the metabolic process, nutrients in foods we eat, the factors influencing weight and health.  I tried to bypass interpretations of the science as much as I could, even reading the abstracts myself.  I don’t have a science degree, so I would do the best I could, then I’d refer to professional interpretation (read:  medical experts, not diet-book writers).

Along with virtually every scientist in the world, I understand and accept the theory of evolution.  I understand the micro-changes that have allowed us to get to this point in evolutionary history.  When you study that process, over the course of millions of years, and you see where agriculture came onto the scene, so to speak, and the results of introducing grain into our diet.  For millions of years, we thrived on meat-eating, almost primarily.  It is what gave us our big, beautiful brains, we know what protein does in our system, we know that fat, even saturated fat, is metabolically inert and doesn’t create an insulin response, we know what grains and sugar do to that insulin response, and we know the cascade effect of that chronic insulin response.

I know how I’m going to eat for the rest of my life, unless evidence and science show me differently.  I know how I would eat if I were recovering from a heart attack and heart surgery.  However, for my precious diabetic mother, and my precious fragile father, I can only relate my understanding of the process, what that eating style has done to my body and my lifestyle, and what I would do.  I won’t advise them to do the same.  I’m in law school, not medical school.

Don’t mean to be a Debbie-downer.  I’m elated that Dad has had the great fortune he has had with his recovery so far.  I will support and cheer and encourage as much as I possibly can.

Caribbean Cruise, 2009
same cruise - mom, dad, amy, and me

Thank you for all the well-wishes and kind words and deeds, and as always, thanks for reading!