This is a continuation of the story of my recent heart attacks and my adventures into growing knowledge out of the experience. With a 60-year-old body, I am now aware of its delicate contingency — its finite nature — and I want to honor it with an understanding of its operation and not take it so much for granted. I take it as a lesson from God.
Today I met with a cardiac thoracic surgeon, a woman, who had been recommended to me by Dr. C.— my cardiologist, who had conducted my angiogram, a name for the cartography of my inner blood vessels. The angiogram of last week showed the stark evidence of a betrayal of kindness to my own body, caused by long lack of interest into the facts of my own existence. She was the individual who could provide a bypass surgery, where veins could be cut out of my own legs, and sliced and diced (her words) to create pipes to take blood directly in and out of the heart. With three of my arteries narrowed to not much greater than one millimeter, these three old threads would need to stay as backup pipes to act as surrogate arteries. The dwindled three arteries would stay in place still valiantly doing what they could to contribute, but they would not get the blame of killing the enterprise.
Apparently I have been gifted with extraordinarily small arteries, smaller than usual, which adds to the risk of receiving either a bypass or a stent. There are risks with both. There is a greater risk of stroke with bypass surgeries, and also a significant risk associated with dividing the bone chamber of ribs and sternum. A bone infection in a bypass operation had a 50 percent chance of being fatal — a flip of the coin to oblivion.
Also, my surgeon said that my wispy blood vessels would make it essential for her to succeed on the first attempt. There could be no second attempt on the bypass.
She wanted to make an immediate time to do the surgery next week.
I balked. The reality of things is that such a surgery could take six weeks to recover from, even if all went flawlessly — and I felt that I had not explored the stent process enough, in light of the shrimpy blood vessels I owned. I had also not put in place the financial machinery to take care of such a period. I have the preliminary paperwork, but I have to get a lot of signatures to ensure that such a period is covered financially without incoming support. I think that this is a big hole for everyone, and hadn’t thought much about this before. I also considered a possible bad result — a funeral. I hadn’t considered those matters for those left behind.
I turned my attention to two other possible alternatives, quite realistic and evidence-based, but not yet mainstream. Alternative One is the work pioneered by Cornell University’s nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell and the Cleveland Clinic’s former top surgeon, Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn, who pointed to a way to reverse heart disease and degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes type II by eating a plant-based diet. Using their work I immediately began to follow a path of avoiding dairy and meat and eating vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips and greens. Don’t laugh, there is enough protein in potatoes to meet human needs. Boardman’s crops are going to be famous. The arteries in this approach can be refurbished in about 32 months.
For Alternative Two, I also dug into the work of Linus Pauling, the discoverer and populist of Vitamin C. He had demonstrated to many his hypothesis that plaques (that cause heart attacks) are caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C — which human beings can’t synthesize like most animals. By using pure Vitamin C and the amino acid lysine, Pauling discovered that he could reverse cardiovascular disease, much like sailors would eliminate scurvy (a related disease) by sucking on limes on ocean voyages. (Thus the term limey.) His reversal of cardiovascular disease they claimed could be done in maybe a month. We will see. For those who want to Google Pauling’s paper they can search for “A Unified Theory of Human Cardiovascular Disease Leading the Way to the Abolition of This Disease as a Cause for Human Mortality” (Matthias Rath, M.D., and Linus Pauling Ph.D.)
So right now I am following with these two alternative paths — as well as further continuing to determine the safest surgical route. It seems to me that the alternative approaches can be conducted simultaneously.
Most of my readers, no doubt, have robust arteries, where I sadly do not. I wish all of you good health and the blessings of Jesus Christ. Next week I will talk about something entirely different.
Colin Brown is the pastor of Boardman’s Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Locust Road.