Meet FF Paul Jackson
In His Own Words
My name is Firefighter Paul Jackson. I was the epitome of a typical firefighter , a meat-loving, pie-eating, dairy-craving “meatatarian, ” and I was damn proud. That was until something happened. It was the winter of 2015 and I weighed well over 350lbs. I was not feeling well, not that I ever felt great. But, this day, however, was different. I was like a bear with a sore paw. I was irritable, lethargic, drained, but yet, restless. And did I mention, thirsty? I just could not get enough to drink.
At first I didn’t think too much of it, but as the day wore on, I spent my time consuming gallon after gallon of water, with no relief. As I returned home after shift my wife, Tina, immediately knew something was very wrong. She insisted I go to the doctor, but as a stubborn firefighter, I quipped that” I was fine.” She instinctively knew this was a situation that needed an intervention. After several attempts to take me to the doctor, she reached out to my Fire Captain, Shelli Varela (also a family friend).
The two women agreed that, regardless of my push back, it was time to get, not to the doctor, but to the Emergency Department . During one of my many washroom breaks at home, I had seen my reflection in the mirror and it startled me. I didn’t recognize this grey, gaunt, sickly person (with the sunken eyes), staring back at me. I told Tina, “Take me to the “Emergency Department. ” When a firefighter admits that it ’s time to go to the hospital, you KNOW you have a true emergency on your hands. However, as I limped to the living room, all I wanted to do was sleep. So I “pulled the punch” and told Tina that I’d go to the hospital after my nap.
Every truly transformational tale has a pivotal turning point, and this one is no different. Had Tina listened to me, I LITERALLY would not be typing this story right now. I will forever be grateful for her intuition and her instinct. It’s the sole reason I’m still alive today.
As I arrived at the hospital, it was all Tina could do to pour me into a wheelchair . When the triage nurse saw me and received the update, I was immediately ushered in. It turns out I had a blood sugar level (AC1) of 56.6. (normal is 4-7). In my rapidly declining state, I could sense the nurse’s concern, but I was too lethargic to even engage in my own care. I had never felt worse. I was done. I had all but given up.
I learned later, that the only other per son with a comparable blood sugar level didn’t walk out of the hospital. The diagnosis I was given – Type 2 Diabetes. I was assigned two nurses around the clock- hooked up with six running IV’s, and pumped full of insulin . My children were called to come see their Dad immediately, a call no father want s their kids to receive. After several days, I started to regain composure and began to comprehend the magnitude of what happened. I had a chance to look at my chart and I saw two words written on my file that would FOREVER change my life’s path. Those words were: FULL CODE. That was it. Wake up call. Message received.
On arrival, they expected me to die. As it turns out, some of the best gifts don ’t come wrapped in a bow. Sometimes they come wrapped in an untimely death, but accessorized in a “second chance.” I was bloody well taking that second chance. That was New Year’s Eve 2015, and once I was discharged I left with a prescr iption of four daily mega-inject ions and three pills. During this time , at vigil, was my Captain, Shelli Varela. Like all of our harrowing calls, we remained “crew” during this event as well. She vehemently suggested I watch the movie Forks Over Knives.
First to my wife, Tina, since as a “meatatarian ”she instinctively knew there would be resistance from me. She made me PROMISE to watch the documentary and – you never break a promise to your crew. So I watched it. And my life was forever changed. I immediately adopted the nutritional principles talked about in the film, then something started to happen.
I began to change. Week after week, and then month after month, my blood levels were improving and I was feeling better. Day after day, my walks went from a winded saunter barely around the block, to a daily 10-20 km (six-twelve miles) walk, SNOW OR SHINE. I adopted the Forks Over Knives and Engine 2 Diet, I am thrilled to say that 70 POUNDS later and now, MEDICATION FREE, I can solely account, not only my recover y, but my new found health. Who thought I’d ever identify as “healthy?!?”
To both Forks Over Knives and Engine 2Diet, thank you, guys. I owe you everything, literally.
Firefighter Paul Jackson