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How and why I stopped taking all the prescription drugs
Preface to Part 2
This is a truthful account of what I have been doing following my bypass surgery. Many of you are probably gong to think I am crazy, and maybe I am. The purpose of this story is just to truthfully tell you what I am actually doing. Nothing here is meant to be a recommendation, or even a suggestion that you should do the same or something similar. If you even remotely consider following my path, what I do recommend is that you be very careful and consult with your physician or health practitioner before making any changes to your diet or to any medications you may now be using. Although truthful, this is just a good story – take it as such.
I concluded Part 1 with a list of the prescription medications I ended up taking after my bypass surgery. Following is the copy of that list, in case you wish to refer to it without having to browse to Part 1:
So, let's go on with the story.
Quitting doing prescription drugs
More or less back to "normal", in the spring of 2003, I began reading about heart problems and related subjects, including medications and nutrition.
One of the first things that caught my attention was Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the high energy power source inside your cells, critical for heart and brain health – and the fact that statin drugs deplete CoQ10. I asked my cardiologist about this and she said that if I could afford it, I should take it. At that time, it was much more expensive than it is presently and was not the easiest thing to find – I never saw it in a pharmacy, just in a few health stores. I have been taking it since late 2003 and went through various versions (brands, formulas, prices) until I settled on the one I use now (more on that later).
Next, I asked the doctor about replacing the statins with fish oil. She was not overly enthusiastic about this, but I let her know that I would be making the switch. That's when the Lipitor I had left went in the garbage can and I have not seen any of it since.
In mid 2004, I had to go to Colombia, to visit my (then age 87) mother, who was hospitalized with spine problems – she has since (sort of) recovered and is now 91. That trip was only for a month, but other things not related to my mother's health triggered a series of trips back and forth. I came back from the last one in September 2006.
During one of those trips, I took my last tablet of Isordil and never replaced it. I occasionally experience chest pain, but seldom, and it goes away as fast as if I had taken an Isordil tablet.
When I ran out of Omeprazole, I did not replace it. If I need the relief it provided, I get a 14 day package of Prilosec, which is the same thing, but is now obtainable without a prescription. To date, I have used the Prilosec treatment only twice.
I kept on taking the Coreg until late 2005, then decided to stop it: it wasn't cheap and I had read several negative writings about that type of medication. My doctor had told me from the beginning that you should never stop taking a beta blocker suddenly; you must wean yourself from it, that is, gradually decrease the dose until you stop it completely. This was corroborated by the literature that came with it, so I did just that. In Colombia. I bought my last bottle; I skipped one day, then two, then three and so on, until I took the last tablet in February 2006, and that was that.
Changing the lifestyle
During the six months following the surgery, I had very few restrictions on my diet, since I was recovering from a big trauma. But, on the first appointment with Doctor Garret after that six months (we are now in the fall of 2002), I was greeted with something like "Today we are going to discuss your future. Let's start by talking about how you are going to become a vegetarian". My reply: "That's not gonna happen". It felt like I was being asked to stop breathing. But the interview did not go downhill and it ended with my agreement that I would practice a lot of moderation, something completely new to me. I would be seeing her every three months until further notice.
The plan included things like cutting down on the red meat and eating fish instead; have one or two glasses of wine with my dinner instead of one or two bottles; eating more fruits and vegetables, less cream and butter; cut way down on, or eliminate sugar; do some exercise; absolutely no smoking.
There is a little scene about that meeting that I will never forget: about the smoking, I love cigars and had a nice collection of premium ones, even some Cubans, brought to me here and there by friends visiting from Colombia and Europe. I asked Doctor Garrett about the cigars and the fact that one does not inhale the smoke from those. She explained that the inhaling was not what she was concerned about in my case, it was my atherosclerosis, and nicotine is not the best for that, even if you don't inhale the smoke – the nicotine does not have to be absorbed through the lungs to contribute to hardening of the arteries. Anyway, I was insistent on not just dumping my nice cigar collection and suggested smoking only one a week. "Well, you shouldn't even do that, but if you promise to just do one a week, go ahead – but don't exceed that, it's just going to hurt you". Remember, at this point if was the latter part of 2002. Back for another check in the spring of 2003, when Dr. Garrett asked "and how are we doing with your one cigar a week program, are you sticking to it?" I said "yes, everything is going according to plan, I am now on the third week of June 2006". Dr. Garret does have a good sense of humor, but she didn't laugh that time – and I was actually just exaggerating.
For exercise, besides running occasionally – I don't like this too much, I find it boring – I chose bicycling to which I became dedicated. I immediately purchased a bike and started going out on it daily: I used it instead of the car to go to work; I also took rides at least five times a week, rides that lasted between 1 ½ and 3 hours. I did that until 2004, when I started traveling to Colombia. I ended up buying three bikes (in San Francisco the stolen bicycle business is popular and well organized). A few days before my first trip, the third and last one was stolen.
Presently, my exercise routine consists mainly of early morning walks, two-and-a-half to three miles each time. I do this five to seven times a week. When it's sunny, I wear shorts and nothing from the waist up – a good way to get my natural Vitamin D.
I do not want to rely on prescription drugs to have a normal existence without worrying about experiencing their side effects, maybe some other health catastrophe, cardiac or otherwise. Here is the part of my present lifestyle to address that – what I am doing to improve it and perhaps reverse some of the damage I did in the past. The following list of items I use/eat is in no particular order:
I also take several high quality vitamins and supplements. I started out buying these in various health stores or pharmacies. The first one I started using, after getting my doctor's approval was the above-mentioned CoQ10, of which I tried at least 15 versions, with prices and descriptions all over the place. But I wanted to find a single source that I could trust and finally settled on the best I know of, the Life Extension Foundation (LEF). Following is the list of the items I currently use:
So, there you have it: no more drugs, just healthy eating and good supplements. I have never felt better since undergoing the bypass surgery – it will be seven years this coming March 2009. I guess time will tell.
I have made all the items I use – the grass fed meat, the wild fish, the supplements – mentioned above, available right on this site, among other products. If you wish to explore this, just click here to browse to the list of items.
If you wish to know more about this or want to ask questions about it, you are welcome to contact me. I will reply.
I will be updating this story, if and when I make any significant changes or additions to my regimen, for those who want to follow my progress. You will be notified or any updates if you are on our email list. If you wish to join the list or update your record with us, please use this simple form.