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A Stroke of Bad Luck

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  • notmilk2002 <notmilk@earthlink.net>
    A Stroke of Bad Luck Fifty years ago, a young medical student performed an autopsy on a 9-year-old girl with golden-blonde hair and a slender athletic body. As
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 13, 2002
      A Stroke of Bad Luck

      Fifty years ago, a young medical student performed
      an autopsy on a 9-year-old girl with golden-blonde
      hair and a slender athletic body.

      As the attending physician during her illness (he was
      a second-year medical student at the time), Charles
      Attwood was also required to perform a careful dissection
      of the internal organs upon his patient's death. A few
      years ago, he described to me, firsthand, the pain of holding
      her heart in his hands.

      What Dr. Attwood found in her coronary artery affected
      him greatly, and shaped his future medical career. Bright
      yellow thickening of the arterial wall indicated heart
      disease. Her artery was clogged with atherosclerotic
      placquing from cholesterol.

      On Wednesday morning, my dearest friend suffered
      a stroke. I spent part of the day with him in the
      emergency room at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey
      while a CAT scan and other tests were performed.

      The Tuesday night before his stroke, he ate the
      "steak-special" at Charlie Brown's Restaurant. This was
      the 24-ounce New York cut that came from a cow and
      was finely marbled with delicious saturated animal fat.
      The meal was so good, that he splurged a bit and had
      cheesecake for dessert. When indigestion and reflux
      threatened to rob him of a good night's sleep, he took
      that one reliable medicine which always works to buffer
      the acid in his stomach, vanilla ice cream.

      During dinner, his stomach immediately went to
      work digesting that steak. After dinner, the cheesecake
      neutralized the acid in his stomach, preventing that
      organ from performing the task it was designed to do.
      During his pained act of indigestion, the vanilla ice
      cream neutralized the stomach acid once more, and the
      contents of his stomach sac emptied into his large
      intestine where the remaining food containing three
      extra-large doses of saturated fat were absorbed into
      his bloodstream.

      I have heard Caldwell Esselstyn, a cardiologist at America's
      premiere heart hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, describe
      a pint of blood taken from a man who had previously ingested
      a similar saturated-fat lunch. An hour after the blood was
      drawn from the man's vein, a thick coating of fat had risen
      to the top of that pint, and had to be skimmed before the
      donor's life fluid could be infused into a recipient. Much
      like fatty cream rises to the top of a container of milk
      (before homogenization), so too did the saturated animal
      fat from the foods he ate coagulate into the arteries and
      brain of my friend, the man who suffered his stroke.

      He is a warrior, this friend. He lives by that three-pronged
      sword otherwise known as a fork. Live by the sword, die by
      that sword. The stroke subtracted from the efficiency of many
      of those normal daily functions that we take for granted.
      His speech is now slurred. His vision is impaired. His gait is
      not as lively today as it was on Monday. The doctors do expect
      a full recovery. The stroke was a signal from a body under
      siege. A body fashioned by the most intelligent of forces,
      designed to send a series of signals, first subtle and then
      powerful, when things go wrong. Indigestion, discomfort,
      strokes, heart attacks. Some signals are soft, and some are
      like the crashing of symbols at the conclusion of
      Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Each of life's warning
      signs are designed to alert the mind of the body to
      alter an inefficient or improper behavior.

      We as a society eat meat and dairy products because they
      taste so good. Because they are so-called comfort foods.
      Because the saturated animal fat creates wonderful taste
      sensations upon our taste buds. Two out of three of us
      who eat such food as our body's fuel will die of a
      cardiovascular event such as a stroke or heart attack.

      It is never too late to reverse heart disease. Day one
      begins with a recognition of gastronomy's cruelest
      joke. That which tastes the best, pizza, barbecued
      ribs, ice cream, hamburgers, does the most damage.
      The choice is to either live a life free of heart
      disease, and not spend ten to twenty years dying like
      the average American does, or give up those most
      delicious hard-to-digest foods, and live a longer,
      healthier, and more active, pain-free life in which the
      body and mind remain true to the initial design plan.

      My friend will improve. He may or may not return to
      that same diet which causes strokes to occur. The quality-
      of-life decision for him to continue eating delicious
      fat-filled foods may result in shortening his life. Some
      people say that a meal consisting of steak with ice cream
      for dessert is "to die for." In the end, it is up to him
      to come to terms with his future.

      Robert Cohen
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