Updated January 3, 2018
As a kid growing up in Wisconsin, I ate the standard American diet, with more fruits & veggies, because my grandparents had an enormous garden. Still, the fruits were served with sugar, and the veggies were creamed with butter. I was usually constipated and always carried a little more weight than I liked, although I wasn’t obese.
At age 11 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and placed on Levothyroxin. That kept my weight stable — until I turned 33. At that age, for no reason I knew of, I started to put on a lot of pounds, well over the usual 20 pound swing I’d had for most of my adult life. I was quickly overwhelmed and had no idea how I was going to lose the mounting weight. I tried Weight Watchers with very little success, and on/off low carb diets that I couldn’t seem to stick to. This went on for 10 years, landing me at an all-time high weight of 232 pounds on my 5’6″ frame. I found a low carb support forum where the admin told me I’d have to quit alcohol if I were to have a chance at lasting success. I was drinking every day at that point. In 2008 I rededicated myself to low carb eating, and I quit drinking. Over the next 18 months I lost 85 pounds. My cholesterol was very high, but the “good cholesterol” was also high, so I didn’t worry about it. I just figured I’d eat that way for life to maintain my weight. I was very disciplined. I looked and felt great. Then, in 2010, I got very sick.
It started with knuckle swelling, then fingers that wouldn’t straighten, and swollen, red, rashy ankles. I was referred to a rheumatologist when my kidney numbers looked a little high, and I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I just didn’t feel like RA was the right diagnosis.
On Christmas Eve my lungs filled with fluid overnight. I couldn’t walk 10 feet without stopping to pant for a breath. In the ER they told me my hemoglobin was 3.9 (they give blood at 8 or less), and that I was in total renal failure. The diagnosis was a rare autoimmune disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis. It’s a type of vasculitis that attacks the lungs and kidneys. I received 4.5 units of blood, dialysis, plasmapheresis, high dose steroids, and a chemo drug called Cytoxin. Fortunately, my 17 days in ICU cleared my lungs, got my blood count up, and there was the faintest glimmer that my kidneys were beginning to try to function again. I was released to outpatient dialysis 3 times a week and continued Prednisone and Cytoxin. Naturally, I went back to eating my low carb diet. While in dialysis, they encouraged the high protein and somehow, my kidneys were very slowly recovering to about half function.
In 2013 a friend recommended the movies “Vegucated” and “Forks Over Knives”. The first movie disturbed me profoundly, and I decided I would give up meat after I used up the organic meats I had just purchased. After watching “Forks Over Knives”, and without hesitation, I gave all the meat away. I have sworn off all meat, dairy, fish, and eggs ever since.
I hear people talk about how this lifestyle is hard. Eating starches and plants isn’t hard; dialysis is hard.
I’m so proud, happy, and grateful for this change! My cholesterol is under 160, my kidney function is holding and even improving. No more immunosuppressants or steroids. The only medication I was still taking was for my thyroid! My immune system is working as it should, and I’ve dropped a few more pounds, rounding out to 100 pounds lost. The best part for me, is that as I work through the inevitable quirks, annoyances, and changes that aging can bring, I now have this amazing foundation to stand on as I work through the rest. Dr. McDougall’s plan has been instrumental in helping me to add more starches for sufficient calories while keeping protein levels down. I never rule out the astounding healing that is possible when our bodies get the good stuff! What a godsend this is, for everyone who will just reach out and grab it!!