Hey PBJ’s…Laura here!! I would like you all to meet Dave. If his story does not make you grab a box of tissue, I have no idea what story will. To give you an idea of why I am so passionate about sharing Dave’s story, here is why….Majority of you know why I began my plant-based journey. If you do not, CLICK HERE. In short, it was because of a documentary called Forks over Knives. I watched my father die of heart disease at the young age of 64 (right in front of my eyes…crash cart, and all).
I then learned how a plant-based lifestyle could PREVENT and REVERSE heart disease.
Are you kidding me? Why was this NEW information to me?
For many of you, this could be NEW info to you as well, which is why I want to share Dave’s story with everyone I know. My heart is still broken after losing my father, and I truly do not want another son or daughter to experience losing their parent, in the manner I did.
Please READ and SHARE Dave’s story. That is all that I ask. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by, and taking time to read this post.
SHOCKING INTRODUCTION TO WHOLE FOODS PLANT-BASED NUTRITION
(by Dave W, in his own words)
“It was a normal Friday afternoon at work on the 28th day of March, 2014. In the typical 8 to 5 job, I was able to hit the gym at lunch time for a quick 20 minute workout. At the time I was working out about 4 or 5 days a week wanting to maintain my weight loss from 7 months prior.
Over a span of 10 weeks I had seen my weight go from 215 lbs to 175 lbs while my waist was reduced from 44″ down to 35″, hips from 43″ to 37″ and my thighs from 24″ to 22”. I had accomplished this by doing a carb cycling program which included eating pretty healthy while including daily exercise. This took place from June to August of 2013 and I continued to eat healthy staying away from fast foods and processed foods. I was now enjoying wearing a size 32 waist pant which I hadn’t seen since I was in high school some 35 years earlier.
So back to March 28th, 2014. I had just gotten out of our afternoon meeting which was pretty uneventful. It was around 2:15 in the afternoon and as I was headed to my office, which is in the back of the manufacturing plant I am employed at about 200 or 300 ft from the meeting room. While walking, I felt a strange sensation in my body. I best describe it as a tingly feeling throughout my body. I can’t say that I had ever felt this before. When I got to my office I sat down in my chair and kind of leaned back putting my hands behind my head trying to figure out what was going on. This actually made me light-headed so I leaned forward kind of resting my elbows on my knees. This felt better but I still couldn’t figure out what was going on. I wasn’t experiencing any pain anywhere, just the strange sensation in my body. I then started to perspire a little bit which was not common for me.
I decided to get on the phone and call our Human Resource Manager, Penny, and asked her if she had a minute to come back to my office. She obliged and in a few minutes she walked into my office.
She asked “what’s up?”
I told her “I’m not feeling too good.”
“Do you want me to drive you somewhere or call someone?” she asked.
I replied “yeah, call 911”.
“Yeah, something’s not right”.
So she quickly called 911 and we coordinated to have them drive back to the shipping area right by my office as to not cause a scene.
The paramedics arrived within 5 minutes and started asking me the general questions about what was going on. I briefed them about what I was experiencing, what my day had consisted of, what I had for lunch etc.
He starts checking my vitals and started performing I think what they call a 12 lead.
He then said “it appears you are having a heart attack”.
I then calmly said “that’s cool”.
In my mind that simply meant that there was some blockage somewhere so let’s go get it checked out.
He asked if I had a hospital preference and I stated St. Joe’s. (St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac Michigan)
As some of my fellow workers had gathered around my office, they encouraged me as they took me out on the stretcher to the EMS vehicle.
The transit consisted of myself and a paramedic in the back while the other paramedic drove. We took the expressway which made the trip about 20 minutes or so. I was amazed at the lack of respect the drivers on the freeway gave the EMS truck. He actually had to honk and force his way over to exit the freeway as cars drove right by us. In route, the gentleman that was attending to me was communicating with the ER doctors at the hospital with my vitals. Again, I was very comfortable and not experiencing any chest pains or numbness as I hear reported in the typical heart attack.
When we get to the ER, there was a team ready to go to work! Luckily it was casual day at work so I was just wearing jeans and a t-shirt. They quickly cut my t-shirt off and slapped some pads on me. There was an admissions person asking me to verify a few things and I told her that they had my old address. As I started giving her my current address, she said it could wait until afterwards as they had more important things to worry about.
They had taken all of my clothes off and my feet were sticking out of the blanket they had placed over me. One of the nurses asked me if I wanted some footies.
“Sure” I said.
“What color would you like” someone asked.
“What are my choices?” I replied.
“I think yellow would look good on him” I heard.
“Yellow it is” I said with a smile.
A nurse then said to me “you do realize you’re having a heart attack right?”
“Yeah, it’s all good” was my response.
She kind of laughed in disbelief at my response and said to a co-worker “did he just say it’s all good?”
They all got a chuckle out of that but to reiterate, I was not feeling any pain which lead me to remain very calm.
I asked them if they could hand me my phone which I saw sitting on the bed. So they handed it to me and what did I do? The same thing anyone would do. I get on Facebook and do a status of “at ER” and mentioned “just a little heart attack, it’s all good”.
They said they would be taking me to the cath lab to find out what was going on. As they moved my bed out of the ER room, they caught the corner into the wall which created a pretty good little jolt. She felt really bad but I was just laughing and told her it’s no big deal. So they transport me down a few halls and to a different floor and told me they weren’t quite ready for me in the cath lab and they would get me prepped just outside the lab. It only took a brief period of time and into the cath lab I went.
As soon as the doctor came over to me wearing his mask he looked at me and said “MR. WILLITS ARE YOU ALRIGHT? ARE YOU OKAY? COUGH, MAKE YOURSELF COUGH!”
I just felt my entire body going completely numb. I could hear what he was saying but could not muster up a cough. There was a loud ringing in my ears. The next thing I remember was my eyes opened as wide as saucers as I was looking around the room. I saw everyone still there, the doctor and his team. I then heard….. “clear”…..and remember thinking “crap, they’re going to shock me”. Sure enough, it felt like I was run over by a semi-truck.
I think it was less than 30 minutes later. I open my eyes in the recovery room and see my boys (18 and 24) and my sister. I look at them and say “what’s up?”
My 18 yr old said “you need 3 stents”.
“When am I going to get those?” I said.
“You already did. You flat-lined 3 times and they had to shock you 11 times. They didn’t think you were going to make it”.
Reality kind of hit at that point.
5 days later I get released from the hospital. My sister who was now down at Hippocrates in Florida on an educational journey, had sent me a text and mentioned that the doctors down there suggested that I check into a vegetarian or a Mediterranean diet. I Google it and come across a diagram that showed a graph which included both of those along with a plant-based diet. The plant-based diet was the most successful out of the 3 by quite some margin. I proceeded to Google more on plant-based diets. I came across a book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by a Dr. Esselstyn. It sounded like it would be worth reading so I got on Amazon and ordered it for next day delivery. I didn’t want to waste any time. I then saw a place where I could send an email for more information. It said it had to be heart related and to keep it short.
Title of e-mail to Dr. Esselstyn: Heart Attack Survivor 3-28-14
Email to Dr. E: “In my downtime from my massive heart attack, 3 flatlines, 11 shocks, 3 stents with a few more to follow in 2 weeks, I came across your info. How do I get started with the plant based diet so I can prevent this from ever occurring again?” (This was a copy and paste from that sent email.)
This was around 1 am April 3rd. I then proceeded to watch 2 or 3 hours’ worth of YouTube videos of Dr. Esselstyn.
Several hours later at 10:45 am to be exact, my phone rings. I look at it and see a call from Ohio. Who the heck is calling me from Ohio I muttered out loud. “Hello” I said. “Hi, this is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn” the voice says. In my head I’m like….shut up, no it’s not. But I knew the unmistakable voice from the videos I watched. I quickly grabbed my iPad and recorded the 27 minute conversation. I hung up the phone, drove across the street to the grocery store and bought every leafy green I saw. I had no idea of what it was once I got back home or what to do with it but since that day I have not ingested anything that can damage my endothelial cells. I have been 100% committed without compromise and will be for the rest of my very long very healthy life.
I now weigh 150 lbs and have a 32″ waist and where a size 30 waist pant. Full of energy all day long, have not been sick in the least bit, and not even a common cold even though I am around them.
- My cholesterol 5 months prior to the heart attack was 202 and now without any medication it is 123. When I was on medication it was down to 78!
- My LDL was 142 and is now 77.
- My HDL was 45 and is now 23.
If I hadn’t searched for a solution myself (thanks to my sister), I would not have been given this information. At no point did anyone at the hospital or any doctor provide ANY of this information to me. It was actually the opposite. When I would tell them what I was doing it raised great concern to be very careful with things like this. REALLY??
I am now affiliated with a phenomenal Plant Based Nutrition Support Group in Michigan and in less than a year we have over 550 members. We had the privilege of having Rip Esselstyn as our guest speaker in September and in January we have the honor of having my mentor, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn along with his wonderful wife Ann and Rip. We will also be having a movie night coming up featuring the amazing Forks Over Knives Documentary.
Thank you for encouraging people to share their stories and I hope that someone can use mine as an inspiration to make a change so they don’t have to experience what I did. My research shows that I had about a 5% chance of survival with what I experienced. My cardiologist told me the keys for me were observing right away that something was wrong and calling 911. Staying calm throughout the process as any anxiety would have escalated the situation sooner. And he also mentioned that had I had that additional 40 lbs, I probably would not have survived. My numbers have now made him a believer and I hope that he will at least mention to his patients that plant-based may be an option for them.
Dave Willits 54 yr. old survivor of a 3 flat-line 11 shock massive heart attack“
Hey, it is Laura here again: Told ya!! Tears are flowing. I am so proud of Dave for taking a leap of faith, and believing in this amazing lifestyle. I am proud of Dave for reaching outside the box for answers. I am proud of Dave for digging in and educating himself, and not giving up on wanting to be around for his family, and friends. Dave, I am one PROUD PBJ! So blessed our paths crossed.
Now, do not forget…SHARE Dave’s story STAT!! You could save a life.
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