If I get going on all the emotions that have gone through my head in the last ten days I’ll never stop writing and would very quickly turn myself into a puddle, so I’ll try to focus on food and health in this post. Steering clear of the emotions has been key to keeping my sanity lately, but it’s easy to keep a happy-go-lucky attitude with this man because he is so much fun. Underneath, however, I am an absolute mess and I know he’s scared too, since his heart attack.
We just don’t know what caused it, other than stress, since his cholesterol levels are excellent, even his healthy cholesterol high, and only one out of three of his arteries had problems. It’s nerve-wracking to think that it could happen again at any time and so that I can wake up every morning and get through the day I don’t dwell on that. The fear of losing him was almost debilitating the first few days and I am so glad to be out from under that fog and moving forward with him.
In order to do what we can to keep him healthy we are having to change everything about our lives. Stress and his workaholic nature are top of the list. It’s not okay for a 41 year-old man to have a heart attack. There’s no way around that fact or the fact that he was literally working himself into the ground over the last few months. His high stress job, which kept him at the office from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. this winter and a few hours on the weekend, too, didn’t help and that will have to change one way or another. The fact that he had the heart attack while sitting quietly at his desk at work is terrifying.
Dietary changes are just as important. The boys and I eat enormous amounts of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, but the one meal my husband would share with us was dinner, which wasn’t always the healthiest, despite our frequent vegetarian nights. I say all of this with a tremendous amount of guilt for the way I have been cooking over the last year, but also with the knowledge that this problem had to have been coming on for a long time. We never expected a heart attack, certainly not at his age, and though he was a little overweight, they didn’t even count it among his risk factors. He had one of nine possible risk factors and that was high blood pressure. It’s been a problem since he was 24 years of age.
But now we are on a mission to keep him strong and healthy. There was no heart damage as a result of the heart attack and his other two arteries are perfectly clear which makes no sense, really, but gives us a positive outlook for the future and the opportunity to actually grow old together as we’ve always planned. He and I have been researching, wondering how the heck one artery could be 95% blocked, the other two clear, and his cholesterol perfect. One theory that we have come up with that we will be inquiring about when he sees his follow-up cardiologist in a few weeks is Coronary Artery Spasm. Was it “blocked” with plaque build-up or closed in a spasm? We will try to find out what they know from the photos done during the heart catheterization. Though the idea of his heart attack being caused by a stress-induced spasm rather than arterial plaque build-up is frightening, since he leads a very stressful life, having an answer would be helpful. Part of his rehab. program includes stress management, so hopefully that will be enough to start him on a new life that is more relaxed and reasonably paced.
His eating habits had to change overnight. It has been an adjustment for him. It’s not a temporary method of eating that allows splurge days or leniency, it is daily and for life. It’s hard for him because he has a sensitive gag reflex that is stimulated by certain strong tastes or textures. He cannot eat a lot of things because he simply cannot get them down. Others just taste so awful to him that he refuses to eat them.
Having said that, I do blame myself for coddling him, spoiling him with his favorite foods on occasion, and by cooking high fat foods, which encouraged him in his unhealthy lifestyle. I know I can’t take all of the blame, but I contributed tremendously to it since starting the blog and deciding to start teaching myself again by playing with “real food”. It’s all different now from here on out. I can’t give up on food totally, and will cook “real food” on occasion for the boys and myself, but this will now be a heart healthy blog, for the most part.
One thing I have really been working on is getting this man to enjoy fish. He’s had fish about four times since the heart attack, more than he’s eaten in a few years, actually, since I would usually make him something else on the nights that I made fish, and he loved each dish. This one was a combination of two ideas that followers gave me when I asked on my Facebook pages for ideas. They were really good and became the first dish I have documented since we have switched to a cardiac diet. I was so glad I took note of what I put in them because they will be a regular around here from now on. The most amazing part to me is that I used grains in place of breadcrumbs, as I would normally use to make fish or crab cakes, and I didn’t notice a difference. With lots of lemon juice, you’d never know they have no added salt.
I do have lots of blog posts to make of recipes I created before our diet changed so will be mixing them in with new posts.
4 tilapia filets, broken into small pieces
2 tsp. red curry powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Juice of one lemon
2 T golden flax seed meal
Freshly ground pepper
2 T wheat germ
Lemon wedges for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients but the oil.
Brush or drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a hot cast iron skillet. Drop the fish cake batter by the spoonful into the pan.
Cook for one to two minutes on each side and continue until they are firm in the middle.
Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.