Sunday, July 28, 2013


Hubby is home. Still running a low grade temp (between 99 and 100), is puffy, has low potassium, and is slightly anemic, but he's home.

Dietary instructions? "Go home and have a big, bloody steak. You can use the iron and protein. Eat plenty of red meats."

His first meal home was a salad with the Esselstyn 3-2-1 Dressing and a bowl of Tinkayada pasta with homemade sauce, mushrooms, kidney beans, and plenty of spinach. Later on he had a nice ripe banana. Next time I make the dressing I'll use blackstrap molasses instead of the maple syrup and when we have the pasta leftovers tonight I'll toss in some more spinach and a ricotta cheese made with tofu (This recipe, minus the salt and oil, from Isa's first book.). Bloody meat, my fat ass!

Now comes the healing and recuperating. If I try any new recipes I'll post about them, but for now, only tried-and-true until he gets his appetite back. Thanks again for all your well-wishing and prayers.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hubby Update

Yesterday (7/22/2013) morning he had his by-pass surgery, with 4 arteries grafted. The surgeon said they were positioned in a great place, that they didn't need to put him on the heart-lung machine, avoiding the "post bypass surgery cognitive dysfunction" that Dr. McDougall spoke of about Bill Clinton. No pump, no heart stoppage, no problems. Also, because of this, his surgery was completed in 2 1/2 hours instead of the 4-6 hours we were originally quoted.

He was awake and looking around within a half hour of the completion of the surgery while in the CTICU. The nurses didn't want him ripping anything out so sedated him again.

When I called this morning I was told he was off the respirator since last evening and the breathing tube was removed this morning. Later today not only will they get him out of bed but will make him walk a few steps at the bedside. He can't go far because he's still connected to chest tubes, IV's and other assorted tubes and wires.

The doc said he'll be home in 5 to 7 days.

In the meantime, while all of this has been going on, one car developed transmission trouble, the other had a dead battery while parked on the roof deck of the hospital parking garage on the day it hit 102 (Heat index 110), and my son wound up in the emergency room with an asthma and anxiety attack 2 days later. Oh, and today we have flood warnings out, and 2 of the roads between here and the hospital always flood, so my husband already directed me the other day NOT to come visit him if thunderstorms were even predicted. It's already been raining all night, so those roads are probably flooded already. My son and I will use today to do the laundry, some shopping and cooking, have three meals for the first time since last Tuesday (Heck, ONE hot meal that wasn't leftovers!), and generally decompress. If it's not too hot later (Ha!) I may even make some muffins with the very brown bananas in the refrigerator. I have the phone number to a direct line to the nurse caring for him (ratio is one on one in the Cardiothoracic ICU) and can call any time, day or night and speak directly to her, and when hubby is strong enough, to him, too. The nurse at 5am said he may be strong enough to talk to me later, that his throat was too sore from the trache tube to talk when I called, but he did give a thumbs-up when he heard we may not be coming because of the storms. That did help relieve some of the guilt I was feeling about my decision. :)

So, off to do the first Richard Simmons video for a few days, a nice hot breakfast, a long hot shower, then off to the laundromat with 2 weeks of laundry. 

Thanks again for all those good vibrations and prayers.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Thanks, everyone. 

As it turns out, he has 9 blockages in 3 of the major arteries, one 100%, and a few smaller blockages in other ones. He was immediately admitted after the cath and the doc made arrangements to have him transferred to a larger area hospital this morning for further tests during the weekend while the Plavix gets out of his system, and is scheduled for his surgery Monday morning. The doc told me this is the worst case he's ever seen, the extensive blockages, which is why he wants this taken care of ASAP by the best guy around. One of my husband's uncles had similar blockages in his carotid arteries back in the 1970's, long before all these miracle meds and treatments were developed. Another uncle, with no prior history of cardiovascular  disease, dropped dead while riding the snowblower, and each of these guys had completely different lifestyles than we do, so there must be some genetic component to this. 

The surgeon doing the procedure is the Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery for Barnabas Health and a former head of a similar unit in Cleveland Clinic, so hopefully he believe in the Esselstyn way of eating, or at least heard of it, as opposed to every doctor here.

His first meal after the cardiac cath, while still having to lie flat on his back, was a turkey sandwich with chicken noodle soup. At dinner, his tray contained a chicken cutlet coated in congealed globs of some yellow sauce, 6 (I counted) green beans, mashed potatoes with the butter already congealing on top of the mound, tomato soup (again, with congealing grease goblets on the surface), and chocolate pudding. Both meals were served with a can of ginger ale soda and contained salt and extra butter with the silverware and condiments pack. (sigh) I'm glad I had my container of rice and veggies on me!

So, today I'll arrive at the hospital around 8am to catch the doctors and await the ambulance that's transporting him. My husband said he doesn't want us to go to the new hospital today because  1) the heat (It hit 102ยบ yesterday, heat index 112, and the same is forecast for today), 2) traffic is a bitch in that area of Newark, NJ, 3) He doesn't want MY heart over-stressed (My BP is up this week, no surprise), and 4) they'll probably keep him busy with those other tests as soon as he gets settled in. Whether we honor that request or not is still up in the air. Ditto tomorrow, when thunderstorms so severe have been warned of since Tuesday of such intensity that The Weather Channel has had a red warning box around the day in its 10 day forecast. We do know the roads between us and the hospital flood severely in any rain, so as much as it pains me I may have to listen to him and not visit. At least we'll have all day Sunday together, and you can bet your bippy that I'll go with a bag full of already-cooked potatoes, some already cooked veggies, and a few pieces of fruit to munch on, because I certainly don't trust any hospital cafeteria and know the only places to eat around there are fast food joints.

Scribbles, I was so surprised yesterday just going to the stores to get him some PJ's and slippers at how many people we ran into, that either they or their spouses had bypass surgery, one guy as young as age 42! I don't know how all of you (spouses) survived the stress! I know this is just the beginning of a long road ahead, and it's beginning to feel over-whelming already. And this heat!! Not even 5am and it's already 85! I'm stressed enough over just that because it affects my asthma and BP, causing me and my son (also asthmatic) chest discomfort! Now add my husband's situation on top of that?!?! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Dangers of Moderation - My Husband's Stress Test Results

For those who bothered to read my post regarding my husband's chest pains the other day, here's a follow-up.

He failed his stress test.

He got extremely short of breath within seconds, his blood pressure spiked and the nurses said he showed EKG changes which indicated cardiac damage and he needs a cardiac cath done ASAP, so it's scheduled for tomorrow. He has the same cardiologist as I had back in 2009 and he and one of the same nurses who assisted in my cardiac cath back then explained that there most likely is some blockage, that the cath will will show how badly and where. If it's in a not-too-bad place and less than 75% blocked the doc said he can first try lifestyle changes, meaning 100% adherence to the food plan of Drs. Esselstyn and McDougall and a strict, strenuous exercise program; but if the blockage is in another area or too solid, he may need an angioplasty, with or without a stent, or even bypass surgery as worst case scenario. The doc & nurse both said that the whole foods, plant-based, no SOS food plan for dinner, his biggest meal of the day, certainly helped and may have prevented this from happening sooner, but those cheese and pepperoni pizzas and cheese sandwiches and potato chips did their own share of the damage.

In either case, my husband is now committed to 100% (Dr., not Rip) Esselstyn/McDougall, and as soon as he's allowed to, a steady exercise program.

We plan next week on packing a box of all the cheat foods that are still in the house and finding a food pantry to donate them to. I'm sure those folks in need would love to have jars of natural peanut and cashew butter, boxes of macaroni and cheese, maybe even bags of potato chips (Unless our son refuses to give them up himself and hides them in his room). We may have a jar or 2 of marinara sauce that have a tiny bit of oil in them, so those will have to go, as will the semolina pastas we have left (only 2 boxes right now because I already stocked up on Tinkayada brown rice pasta when the store had a sale a few weeks ago). Of course, his "emergency" cans of SPAM will have to go. I've been tossing them out as they got outdated (and when they started to swell on the pantry shelf. No kidding!) so there are only 2 of those left, too. Those cans have been here since long before Hurricane Sandy so that tells you how long they've been around.

Of course, if they feed him after the cath tomorrow they'll give him a typical hospital tray of SAD food. After mine they gave me greasy breaded veal parmesan coated with at least a half inch thick layer of mozzarella cheese, as well as very salty broth and ice cream for dessert. I have a cooker of rice going right now and plan on bringing a container of it with veggies to eat for my own breakfast at the hospital tomorrow while he's having the test done. I brought brown rice krispies today but never had a chance to eat them. I'll bring another container for my husband to eat instead of the crap food they give him after the test. Our hospital dietary department has no idea what even "vegetarian" means, much less "whole foods plant based no sugar, oil or salt!"

I hear him stirring about in the kitchen so I guess his nap is over and it's time for lunch. I'll reheat that Awesome Almost All Orange soup for us. It was delicious, BTW. 

Keep your fingers crossed, candles lit and rosary beads humming tomorrow around 7:30am, okay? Thanks.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Awesome Almost All Orange Vegetable Soup

We're currently going through a little medical crisis at our house. About 10 days ago my husband had 2 episodes of chest heaviness. But it was 96 degrees out both times that day, and he was race walking home from the train when it first happened (I call it race walking because @ 6' 2" his legs are much longer than mine, and he always walks with a purpose and after work he wants to get home as fast as possible, so it's practically a trot), the the second time was later that same day carrying 2 heavy packages up the three (un-airconditioned) flights of stairs to our apartment. He also mentioned that for the past few days at work he would feel his back, upper chest and shoulders tightening, but blamed it on stress, since work has been crazy, the bosses cut benefits, increased production quotas by 50%,  so although they're already each doing the work of 2 people each thanks to layoffs, they now have to add in the amount of work expected of three people doing the same job. Oh, and did I mention the mandatory over-time recently? That's now up to 5 hours a week, so if you dare take a day off for any reason you have to stay an extra 2 hours after your usual shift to make up for the hour over-time missed.

Is it any wonder he was having all this muscle tightness and chest pressure??

And he didn't tell me about all this until 5 days after it all started, when he came home from work after another 10 hour day, 90 minute mass-transit commute in 95 degree heat while standing all the way then a quarter mile walk home from the train. And at first all he said was he feels he needs to see the doctor because he's totally drained, exhausted. By the time the whole story came out there was just 5 minutes before the doctor's office was closing for the day and since he refused to go to the emergency room they said they can squeeze him in the next day but not until 2:30 pm.

Since I'm way overdue to see the doc to get prescriptions renewed and lab work done, I asked if they can squeeze me in at the same time. We've been going to this practice for over 30 years and had no problem getting my appointment, too.

Next day comes, the intern and doc both examine him, find nothing wrong except a little higher than usual blood pressure, so the doc orders a slew of routine lab work for him and a nuclear stress test. He's having that done this Wednesday.

My exam is a quickie, with the longest activity waiting for the doc to write the orders for my labwork.

We left the office and headed straight to the local hospital's out-patient department to get blood drawn. We usually hit a chain lab, but they closed a half hour before. The out-patient lab was open for another hour, and even though we usually don't like that lab, my husband didn't want to wait to get his blood work done, especially since it was already 3:30 pm and neither of us had anything to eat all day, just in case the doc did order blood work.

When we got home and while dinner was cooking I gave hubby the same advice I was given after my bout with Takotsubo Syndrome that was brought on totally by stress back in 2009. Deep breathing, meditation, exercise, etc. He said the next day at work, when things started hitting the proverbial fan again, he just closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths, got up and went into the bathroom for a few minutes, and by the time he got back to his desk the manager's "crisis" had passed and my husband was able to continue with his work as if nothing happened.

My husband has been fine since. No chest heaviness, no muscle twinges. No soul-crushing stress at work that he couldn't handle.

Now that he had his first health scare in a long, long, time, and the first one to involve a major bodily system, he decided that at age 62 he's too old to fart around with his diet any more. Although he eats a healthy McDougall-legal meal for dinner every night, at work he would guzzle down some coffee, has recently started grabbing donuts a few times a week, would drink a few cans of cola with dinner most nights, and every day after dinner he would inhale a half bag of sour cream and onion potato chips and a sleeve (about a dozen cookies) of fig bars, sometmies using peanut butter as a dip or spread on them.

Let's see what his cholesterol levels when he sees the doc for all his test results next week! They were elevated back in 2008, the last time he had them drawn. But like many men, he felt indestructible, as if he was still a teenaged boy. He now realizes he's not. So no more potato chips, and he's limiting the fig bars to 4 cookies a night, and NO nut butters. Gone also now are the cheese sandwiches on potato rolls he would bring in for lunch every day. He still insists on those rolls, but now he has a sandwich made from Lachesis's Seitan O'Greatness (minus the oil) or homemade oil/tahini-free hummus.

And I had to play around with the menus to make sure I was sticking 100% to the McDougall/Esselstyn heart-healthy guidelines. I have to admit, especially when running around caring for the late aunt, when I had a flu, or now, in this heat, I got sloppy. We've had white flour pasta, jarred pasta sauce and white flour tortillas instead of grabbing whole grain, oil free versions. White flour bread and rolls. The occasional take-out meal from the Chinese food place, but even though we can get food meat, oil and salt free, they always send white rice. Heck, I would pinch a few of my son's french fries from the golden arches when he brought them home!

But it all stops now.

I saw the doc this morning and got my lab results, and they're not pretty. Trigs and cholesterol are both up. My liver enzymes are slightly elevated, too, but that may have more to do with the red yeast rice than anything else. Inflammation markers are up, but he said that was to be expected with my arthritis flare-ups and chronic sinusitis. But not all the labwork came back yet. In fact, the office manager had to call the hospital and beg to get these faxed over. My Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 and HgbA1C and ANA weren't included, and the woman the office manager spoke with on the phone says she can't find any record of them being done, so now they have to scurry around to find it and when we go back to see the doc next Monday for my husband's test results the doc and I will further discuss mine.

All the meals I've made since that doctor's visit early last week have been made according to Dr. Esselstyn's guidelines, and many came right from his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Today's dinner is one of them.

Awesome Almost All Orange Vegetable Soup is its name, and today is the first time I'm making it. Why haven't I made it before? Well, I was lazy. It has a lot of ingredients, a lot of chopping, a little pre-cooking of ingredients, and since fresh produce is pretty crappy around here, I didn't feel like going from store-to-store finding acorn squash that wasn't squishy or celery and carrots that weren't brown and limp. But we did this weekend, and it took 3 different stores to get all the necessary ingredients for this soup.

Yes, it's 97 degrees outside and I made soup. I made it soon after I got home form the doc, let it simmer for a while, then turned it off to let cool down. By the time my husband gets home it'll be perfect.

What changes did I make? Well, parsley instead of cilantro. I'm in the "cilantro is a vile, evil weed" category. And I only had one sweet potato. I never heard of Dr. Bronner's before so used my salt-free version of Bryanna's broth powder. I have a loaf of Ezekial bread on hand for the dunking.

I really can't smell it cooking because of the fans and air-conditioners on, but I did take a sip earlier and it tastes pretty good. It's certainly worth the trouble I went through to make it.

At least tomorrow is a much simpler meal planned, Mary McDougall's Cuban Potatoes, but minus the olives.

What a week! What a month! What a year! Heck, what a decade!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Post Punk Kitchen Theme Song

While searching for a recipe on my computer I came across this little ditty from a number of years ago:

Damn! I can't figure out how to upload an audio file to Blogger! Oh, well, at least I can find it with the title card of the old TV show on YouTube:

There's something about this song that never fails to cheer me up.

Too bad Isa can't find her copies of the shows to post them to the PPK web site or YouTube or something.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Coach Ami's Pantry Tour

Engine 2 Extra Coach Ami Mackey and her husband travel by RV a lot, and in this video she's giving a tour of the pantry/kitchen storage area. She remarks that the refrigerator is so tiny, but it looks to be the exact same size as the refrigerator and freezer in my apartment! She also has more pantry shelves than we have in our kitchen. That's what I get for living in an old urban area with pre-WWI apartment houses. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Natala's Quick Mexican Bake

This is Engine 2 Coach Natala's version of Rip's Quick Mexican Bake:

Find more videos like this on Engine 2 Extra

I do see some problems with it - that sucker is gonna spill ALL OVER the bottom of her oven! The mushrooms are going to release water and that pie plate, already over-flowing, won't be able to contain it all!

You can see the recipe I usually use in this post from a few months ago.