Jim Rohn said, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”
It all started with almond milk. I had been to my doctor and told her I was feeling punk. After explaining a few of my symptoms, she suggested I cut down on my dairy consumption to see if that would make a difference. At that point, I was willing to give anything a shot, so over the next few weeks, I transitioned from cow’s milk to the nut variety. My symptoms settled a bit.
Around the same time, weaning off most of the medications I was taking seemed like a good plan. I was on 14 different prescriptions at the time, and I honestly was not sure how many of them were helping me. In fact, I thought that the side effects from a few might be making me sicker than I had been, to begin with. With my doctor’s guidance, I started to phase them out. Over time I went from being on 14 different prescriptions down to one. I was headed in the right direction.
Then, about this time last year, I got a severe kidney infection and was sidelined for a while in the hospital. Further complications meant that I needed surgery, and for a while, I was as sick as Snow White before the prince showed up. A specialist that I saw during that time said that if I ever got another infection of that magnitude, he was going to put me on a very powerful new medication permanently. I didn’t want that. It was time to make some changes.
A while ago, I also gave up drinking Coke. I had always known it wasn’t good for me, but I was literally addicted. The sugar and the caffeine had a weird way of calming me down, and although I am ashamed to admit it, there was a time when I was drinking about three liters a day. After my last stay in the hospital, I majorly increased my water intake. I was inching closer to where I wanted to be.
While I was recovering from my kidney thing, a physical therapist suggested that I do what I could to get some exercise. After exploring my limited options, I decided that I could start walking laps on my parallel bars. Simple and straightforward. And the effort certainly made me sweat. At the end of last summer, I met my goal of walking 10,100 laps, the equivalent of a 26.2-mile marathon. I challenged myself to do the same thing this summer. Almost 1200 laps down so far.
In a weird twist of fate, my service dog had some health complications in the fall. Everything she went through made me realize how much I love her and the overwhelmingly positive dimension that she has added to my life. Going on that journey with her made me reevaluate some of my life choices, and I ultimately decided, for me personally, it didn’t make sense to eat meat anymore. I started a vegetarian diet in the middle of April, and I’ve had so much fun exploring new foods and flavors. Eating has been much more enjoyable for me in the last few months.
This morning I went to see another one of my doctors. He was checking on my sleep apnea. I have a pretty severe case, and I hate sleeping with that mask and machine more than bath water hates baby oil. I asked him if there was anything I could do to improve this particular condition, and he gently encouraged me to lose some weight. In our discussion about how to best go about that, he let me know that dairy products had the highest density of calories than any other food. It made me think back to the almond milk and how this whole journey started.
Sometime in the next few weeks, I am going to start a 30-day vegan diet. All I am really going to be giving up is my beloved cheese, and I have been scouring the internet for the last few weeks for dairy free alternatives. There seem to be a few I just might be able to live with. I am also curious to see if a diet completely free of animal products will make a positive difference in terms of the pain and stiffness in my body caused by my cerebral palsy. It seems worth looking into. Thirty days is not forever, and if I love it I can keep going. If it works, I will eventually be able to sleep mask free.
I have no idea if a vegan diet will be successful for me. But I am taking the chance and making the change.
The concept has worked pretty well for me so far…