I've discovered that most of the time, my life with a chronic disease can be
much like everyone else's. I am 41 years old. I am a father, husband, uncle,
nephew, and son. I am an ex-cop. And, to either the bemusement or bewilderment
of my friends and family, I am a former professional wrestler-the raucous,
fake, TV kind. I am a writer and the token male member on my office's women's
I am many things to many people. Most of all, I am a man with advanced heart
disease, aggravated by type 2 diabetes. When I was 38, I had quadruple bypass
surgery. One of my arteries was 99% blocked, the others a mere 90%.
Eating heart-healthy foods may be easier than you think. You don't need to measure or weigh everything or consult calorie books and food labels before every meal. You can fit a healthy diet into a busy lifestyle.
It can be as simple as 1-2-3. Just focus on these three areas, says Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE, a dietitian and assistant clinical professor at the school of nursing at the University of California at San Francisco:
Eat more fiber.
Switch to healthier fats.
Eat less sodium...
After the surgery, I had a stent [a tiny mesh-like tube used to prop open
clogged arteries] inserted. A week passed before I felt "normal." Then
I was back into a routine-insulin pump management and medications. It's my
diabetes that has sped me along this path to heart disease, and I can't afford
not to manage it properly.
Before having the stent placed, I was taking nitroglycerine to relieve some
minor but noticeable angina. Recently, I haven't touched it. I take that as a
fantastic sign, but my cardiologist is always a bit more cautious. However, I
am quite optimistic about my next follow-up appointment.
Life, with or without a chronic disease, cannot be a constant pity party.
Attitude and good mental health are keys to good physical health. The
responsibility for taking care of myself lies within me. I can diet, exercise,
manage my diabetes. I can faithfully take my cholesterol medications.
Lately, my biggest concern is finding my son's lunch box and my daughter's
tennis shoes so we're not late for school. I can live a normal life. Together
we can go to the beach, the mountains, camping. With my friends and extended
family, I can celebrate the births of their children or grandchildren. I can
watch my daughter perform ballet and my son compete in karate. I can hold their
hands and wipe tears. With or without a chronic disease, this is
"normal." This is life.
Originally published in the January/February2006 issue of WebMD the