The year was 2006 I was 55 years old, my doctor told me my body is incapable of processing red meat. He told me if I continue to eat it I would be dead within 9 years, not a good round number. Never did it occur to me that I was in that very small group of humans incapable of eating what I had always thought of as the staple of life. I had just had my first heart attack.
That huge slab of grilled beef with a loaded baked potato was a nearly daily routine for me. I worked hard building up an immense appetite, never overweight but I ate a lot. Then it happened my first heart attack, no it wasn’t the “Hollywood” type falling back kicking of the feet skyward and holding my chest, few are like that. Mine was a more subtle Boa Constrictor around my chest, I described it to the Doctor as “I just can’t get comfortable.” A stent was installed, I watched the entire procedure on the screens above my head as the boroscope wound around through my blood system from my inner thigh. That all went as well as I could expect, my kids and wife were more worried about it than I was. But isn’t that the way of it? We seem to be more comfortable in these situations than the onlookers our job as patents is to put them at ease. This was my 55th birthday, I’m in the hospital a lot on that day.
Afterward, comes the follow-up appointments, several with the Cardiologist, Dietary people, and of course Rehabilitation. During the follow-up with the Doctor, he said something to me that struck a major chord. “You” he began “are one of those people in the world that should eat very little red meat, and at most no more than 8 ounces every 4 months.” He finished with “If you don’t pay attention to this you will not make it another 9 years, that’s the statistic for people with your condition.”
I walked out of that meeting a changed man, Pork, Beef, Lamb, and Wild Game are no longer on my menu. I started out eating an 8-ounce hamburger once every 12 weeks, you know what, I didn’t miss that huge slab, or the roasted Pork ribs, I did notice something else.
After about one month the fog lifted from my head, I never noticed it was there until I quit eating meat, for the most part. It’s quite hard to explain, I’ve told people this and unless they stop there is no way they find this out. My wife cut way back when I did, she said the same thing, we don’t know if it’s the chemicals fed to the animals or something else but it was profound. My body started to function better, that bloated feeling went away, the smelliest gas was gone, as was the belching. All of those are indications of my bodies lack of being able to process meat. One other outcome, meat has the taste of being rotten to me, I won’t eat a slab of meat at all since then.
Two years later I was in a heart procedure waiting room, this procedure is called a “Nuclear Test,” it’s every bit as bad as it sounds. What it basically does is make the patient feel as if he/she is running up a steep hill as fast as they possibly can. Sweating, high heart rate, and heavy breathing mimicking extreme exertion. It’s for people who are unable to take a treadmill stress test, I can’t for two reasons, first I can’t walk, second my heart goes 180 degrees out of phase about 1/2 way through it, they toss me on a gurney and admit to the hospital for observation. Sitting next to me was a Lady about my age at the time, 57, we were talking about different health-related topics when she told me her doctor told her she had a body like mine that is not capable of processing meat. After asking her what she felt when she stopped eating it her reply was “I refuse to give up my beef,” to which I replied, “You’re going to die within the next 10 years.”
“That’s what the Doctor told me, but I won’t stop eating meat,” she replied. I didn’t say anything else, it would sound like preaching and I’ve tried to help people that didn’t want help before, I’d rather hit my self in the head with a log than go through that again.
Fastrack to two weeks ago, I fell off the wagon, not booze I’ll never drink again either but that’s a different song and dance. A lot of families went to Fresno, one of the grandsons came home from Portland, Oregon, and a big bar-b-que was in the works. A different grandson was visiting me and we had a Hamburger the night before, at the party I ate a beef sausage, the next day a pizza, the next another hot dog, it continued for 5 days. I knew better, outside of Spaghetti made from scratch by my wife I hadn’t had red meat of any amount in about 6 months. The Doctors words revisited me, the following Saturday I was in the Emergency Room, (last Saturday, June 8, 2019.) I avoided a heart attack because I knew what to do, rhythmic breathing, a nitro-glycerin tablet, an aspirin, antacid and lots of water. The worst was yet to come, my follow up visit.
My plan was to dance into the exam room and act all innocent, well good old Mrs. Lebec sang like a canary.
My Doctor of 20 years is a great doctor, I prefer female physicians. “What have you been eating?” Dr. Than asked me.
“Normal diet,” was my reply to my wife’s rolling eyes and coughing as I gave her the “dummy up” look. Yeh I know better, she didn’t forget a thing right down to how much butter was on my toast last Wednesday. I was surrounded by the truth and I couldn’t hardly bear it, meekly admitting “yeh, she’s right.” Hanging my head as we men have a tendency to do.
“You messed up your diet,” Dr. Than told me “Get back on it,” she ordered me, “You know better than that.”
The bad part is I do know better than that, the directive I was given 13 years ago came back in spades, “You know how lucky you are not having another heart event, you can not process red meat,” she reminded me as the peanut gallery smirked.
You might give it a try if you’re gassy, bloated, and can’t always think clearly, I’ve only met one other person whose body is not meat conducive, I don’t know what her health is like today, there are more people with this same condition that has no name. Try quitting, If you stop for a month and feel that fog lift, it may be beneficial for you to at least cutback, but once you do don’t shock your heart and body by falling off the wagon throwing caution to the wind.
I was not being self-reliant, I was self-aware but ignored it, and now I must accept personal responsibility, I won’t do that again.
Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance.