On June 29, 2009 my husband myself and 3 friends left Salt Lake on our motorcycles for 4 days headed to Red Lodge, Montana. Our first days destination would be Jackson Hole Wyoming. We had done this ride many times over the years. We arrived in Jackson around dinner checked in to our cabins and headed to town for a meal.
At dinner my husband Cliff disappeared for a bit, thought it was just a bathroom break but seemed longer than normal so I went looking for him to find him down a hallway feeling terrible! He had complained that day during the ride of cramping in his hands and feet but nothing too terrible. Now, he was feeling really bad and this was a person who never gets sick!
We somehow got through the dinner and decided to head back to our cabin. When we got to the cabin the normal thing to do would be to go hang outside have a couple of beers and crash but he felt so bad we went inside and tried to relax. Relaxing would not be possible Cliff felt so bad and was so agitated he just wanted to lay down and sleep and didn’t want me to go outside just stay with him which I did. As I lay on the bed next to him I knew something was wrong. He complained his left shoulder was really hurting. Somehow I got him to almost fall sleep but about 20 minutes later he sat straight up in the bed he was now freaking out, the pain had gone down his left arm across his chest and was so intense it consumed him.
By now our friends had gone to bed.I went to their cabin and woke them up and told them what was going on. They instantly came over and starting assessing his condition.My husband Cliff is a Fire Captain/Paramedic and our friends were the paramedics on Cliffs crew! I knew we were in good hands but had essentially no tools (as Cliff put it) to do anything. We took him to the hospital in Jackson Hole thank goodness it was a Sunday night and the place was dead! Ed & Tommy, Cliffs medics went into high gear, they pretty much controlled the emergency room tell the ER doc what to do and what was going on.
He was having a heart attack.
He was 56 and had never been sick a day in his life. After 3 doses of Nitro his pain was alleviated and within 2 hours we were in a helicopter headed to Idaho Falls Cardiac Unit. Within another 2 hours Cliff had 6 stents placed in several arteries around his heart. It was a very sobering experience for him because for 30 plus years as a paramedic Cliff had treated and cared for many patients with the same symptoms now it was him!
Cliff had enough medical knowledge to know his lifestyle as we knew it had to change. We experimented with our diet got rid of all processed food in our house, we literally gutted the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator of any items that were loaded with salt and sugars cut out all red meat and pork and found ourselves pretty much living on fish chicken and turkey.
We had always been vegetable eaters but started supplementing our diet with even more. Cliffs blood work was being done so regularly we could really monitor his cholesterol and see how our change in diet affected his cholesterol every 30 to 45 days. He was also online reading every bit of info he could about what happened and why. His triglycerides at the time of the heart attack were 1500. After the blood work came back with the first change in diet his triglycerides had dropped from 1500 to around 900 (still too high) he read some more. It was at this time we decided we needed to be more aggressive and decided to try being vegetarian, so we attempted a vegetarian lifestyle but for some reason felt hungry all the time! The blood work was done again, we saw result but his numbers were still not where they needed to be. Triglycerides were still around 700. We really didn’t know HOW we should be eating not yet anyway!!
One morning before work I was watching the TODAY show and I saw Rip on the show and of course him being a fireman and the title of the book caught my eye, so I watch it. I was so intrigued with what he had to say it instantly sounded like exactly what we were looking for but…the pessimist my husband is, I thought don’t say anything just yet (it needed to be his idea). To my surprise about a month or so later Rip was on 60 minutes. I thought I need Cliff to watch this, I think he’ll really like what he hears. Sure enough we watched the show, loved what we heard. Right after the show we headed to Barnes & Noble to buy the book. They were out so we mail ordered it. The book came a couple of days later, he sat down and read it cover to cover, practically in one day. He was so impressed with it had to say and felt it was worth a try so…he said there’s a 28 day sample menu in here, do you want to try this with me? Of course, I would try anything to bring the numbers down and make him better.
We also took this very serious and felt he had been given a second chance to get things right. We went to the store shopped for some of the suggested items in the book and eliminated everything out of our diet. Our philosophy is, if it had a mother or a face we didn’t eat it. We read the labels on absolutely everything, we don’t even partake in things like whey…NO ANIMAL, period.
We walk hike everyday at least 2 to 3 miles we had implemented an exercise program, for us we liked P90X still do, and threw in about 20 minutes of Yoga, everyday!! Day 14 of Engine 2, we are now running up the mountain we hiked almost every day Cliff yells to me HEY! Do you feel any different? I had wanted to ask him the same thing because I had been feeling GREAT for days but didn’t want to curse it, I turned around and said AS A MATTER OF FACT…I FEEL AMAZING!!
So much energy apparently both of us felt like this but the test was ultimately in the blood work. He went in at the end of the 28 days and to our amazement his triglycerides had dropped to 109!!!!!! For us the proof was in the numbers…you just cant make this stuff up. His numbers have stayed consistent ever since! One of the ways I relate it for example: My friends who try to quit smoking and say well I’m down to 3 cigarettes a day! Until you come off all animal (or cigarettes) you just don’t get the total benefit! We will never go back, NEVER!!
I’m sorry the story is so lengthy but its so important to us, we feel it saved his life. Even his cardiologist is impressed with the story and his discipline and I think we look better too!
Recently a show was filmed on BYU TV the cable version of BYU called the Food Nanny. It highlighted life in a fire station. You can find it on YouTube. The Food Nanny prepared a dish at the fire station and also prepared the same dish VEGAN style for Cliff. It has aired on TV for the last month. We were impressed they actually gave our lifestyle some acknowledgment. They haven’t completely come around but its getting better!
Sincerely,Cliff & Lynn
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