It takes some dedication to do this. To go from frozen meals, boxed cereals and boxed dinners to actually cooking vegetables, every day, is a thing. A big thing. A person could get discouraged, tired of the sink debris left behind from fruit smoothies. Or the stains that the delicious blueberries left behind, only removable with a Magic Eraser. Coming home to find that your cook-ahead plan has run out of steam is never fun, hungry while you wait for your brown rice to cook. All of these inconveniences are why the processed food industry, and restaurants, exist. But then something happens that firms your resolve. For me, it’s blood tests. Doctors and for that matter, their patients, stake everything on numbers. Percentages thrown out at you as a cancer patient, or any other chronic disease patient, on your odds for getting better, on the percentage of this, that or the other drug working alone or in tandem with another drug. It’s all about health care, and little about your actual health.
Except there are some numbers that never lie and do mean a lot. Those are your blood work numbers. Those numbers count. Those numbers tell you what is OK and what is going haywire. They will show whether you are getting better or cheating on your medical treatment. I’ve taken a few of these tests in the past 5 years:
I have an upcoming rheumatologist visit, and I wanted the full weight of science behind me before going in to tell him about my new lifestyle. Having a hard copy of numbers can mean a lot more than a simple “I feel better” or “I read this works on the Internet” in presenting a medical case history.
Some doctors may think patients wish themselves into wellness and the results of a better diet are merely placebo-induced, but this took more than wishing I’d feel better on my part. I actually changed my diet and wanted to see all the results.
I’ve been getting regular RA-based blood tests, but those are narrowly focused on inflammation. I wanted to see nutrition as well, so that naysayers who want to tell me I don’t get enough protein without eating meat could be shut down once and for all.
I told the nurse of my primary care physician what I was doing, so they ordered a CBC with differential and platelet count (for the RA), comprehensive metabolic panel and also measured kidney function, lipid panel for cholesterol, Vitamin D levels and ran a thyroid test.
Only two things came back out of range. Vitamin D was 2 points out of the normal range listed (mine was 28, low normal was ranked at 30 and I was told this was a common result for a Northwest resident). And my HDL cholesterol was 44, 2 points below what the test listed as normal range starting at 46. Other medical sources show that low normal registers at 40, so this one is debatable.
That was it.
Everything else was normal. Sed rate was 15, platelets at 366. LDL cholesterol was 68, total cholesterol 129. The good news just rolled on and on. “Any evidence of RA is not really registering on your general blood work at this point.” That is a direct quote from my primary care doctor’s office.
It has taken me five years to get to a point to declare remission that is not medically induced. I have not taken Methotrexate since February and have not been on Prednisone for more than a year. We shall see what the rheumatologist says.
Protein and calcium levels, totally normal. Remember, I do not eat meat or fish of any kind, drink milk or even take a multivitamin.
The disease has went quiet because of my diet.
In 2008, I was getting to a point where I could not button any clothing, tie my shoes or walk across the room without assistance because the pain was so bad. Before diagnosis, I was given Naproxen, Tramadol, Vicodin, and told to take over-the-counter Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I also was given a prescription for Xanax to help me sleep through pain. After diagnosis, I existed on Methotrexate and Prednisone, the combination giving me mostly-pain free days but there was usually a needling ache somewhere in my body. I gave up the Prednisone and switched back to Ibuprofen, thinking that was success. Since going plant-based, I no longer need Ibuprofen.
I’ve had cancer, histoplasmosis, broncolithiasis and RA. There was no one more special than me when it came to complex diagnoses and treatments and feeling like God had it seriously in for me. I’ve had white blood cell counts off the charts and platelets registering so high that I was told to start taking Prednisone “immediately” to prevent a stroke. I’ve had chemo-induced anemia and suffered through shots of Procrit and Neulasta to regain strength at the height of chemo, being told by my oncologist that treatment consisted of “bringing you as close to death as we can, then bringing you back.”
I’ve lived through all of that. I could only dream of ever having normal health ever in my life. I’m writing this as a way to celebrate my results and not take any of it for granted.
So is it really a hassle to fix vegetables every day?
After what I’ve been through?