Have you heard this one?
After my bypass surgery in 2011, at the age of 40, I can spot the “walking dead” a mile away. I can see all the signs that took me so long to recognize myself. Red faces, swollen necks, short breaths, pot bellys, cleft ear lobes and denial.
My normal routine is walking past a local bar, on my way to Bikram Yoga. One of these “walking dead” is a gentleman that works in my building. We spoke from time to time, post my surgery, and he always turned the conversation to how well he was feeling. Yet every time I saw him he looked terrible. This particular time he was at the bar and came out to comment on my yoga mat. “Are you a full on hippie now? Wasn’t it enough being a vayyyygan…?”
Fast forward three months, his secretary notified me that he just underwent quadruple bypass surgery. I decided to pay him a visit from Karma.
I was excited at the opportunity to speak with him and deep down, dare I say this; happy it happened? Not in a vindictive way, more excited at the potential for him to validate my own transformation and find his own path to well-being.
I brought him a copy of The China Study and Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease… and my wife’s business card. She has her plant-based diet certification from Dr. T. Colin Campbell (author of the China Study) and consults regularly.
I was kinda like an ambulance chaser. I imagined myself rooming the ICU in search of heart disease sufferers.
There exists a very small window of opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Approaching someone six days after bypass surgery is one of those moments, talk about a captive audience, he wasn’t going anywhere!
I think it is a moment missed by most doctors. It occurs at the time when you are most vulnerable but also when you are the most open to new ideas. I spent six days in the hospital after my surgery and not once was I approached about changing my nutrition. No one spoke to me about the causes of neither my disease nor my ability to reverse it. As a matter of fact, each meal consisted of milk, meat & eggs; the same food that clogged my arteries. No one spoke to me about reversing the disease.
Back to my visit.
As I was preparing to say goodbye the heart surgeon walked in and was about to go over the discharge procedure. I mentioned I was the welcome wagon for the “zipper club” and showed him my scar as a sort of identification tag. He briefly diverted his gaze for a quick smile but was staring at the China Study book I had brought in. I was about to comment but I thought twice about drawing more of his attention to it. I wasn’t confident his opinion would be positive. It has been my experience that doctors don’t give much credence to nutrition as a means to fix problems. I believe it is a direct result of dealing with patients. Compliance is incredibly low even prescribing one pill a day, much less changing every piece of food a patient eats. Anyway, surgeons fix things; they are not in the business of prevention.
So I made my exit from the patient and surgeon. As I walked down the hall a priest came out of an adjacent room, he had just given last rites and I could see the family was in distress.
It was not until later that day that I realized the irony of the situation.
Wait for it…drum roll…
The Surgeon will fix your immediate problem.
The Priest will send you to heaven.
The Plant-Based Guy can save you.