Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm back (post-surgery)

It's been a long time since I've posted here, but I'm back! I've had a lot to say so I've delayed posting until I had enough time to really get it all out.

I had surgery on my spine 6 weeks ago after a long battle with a ruptured disc that ended in a complete rupture. I was bed-ridden for the month of July in a lot pain, and have been recovering from surgery since the beginning of August. I'm just now getting back to work and my daily routine. The good news is the surgery was successful, the pain is gone and I'm recovering quickly. I see it as an opportunity given to me to get healthy from the inside out. I was in great shape, but there is always more to do. I need to concentrate on my core now.

How did the veganism go during this period of pain and recovery?

Definitely not perfect. Not even close. But, I did my best and I have no regrets. It was a very trying time for me mentally, physically and spiritually. It still is. It wasn't easy for me to leave my exercise routine and the martial arts, leaving my job, have my muscles atrophy, have my mind worrying about healing and the possibilities of not healing. On top of that, I was taking 7 Vicodin (pain killers) a day just to be able to get out of bed long enough to walk a bit, eat. and do simple household tasks. That medicine messes with your body chemistry affecting hunger, sleep, stress, mood and who-knows-what-else.

My appetite was dwindling fast. I got scared.

I was happy to be hungry, when it happened, rarely, because I wanted to be as strong as possible going into surgery. I was drinking my smoothies in the morning still. And at times I was craving meat. Nothing else was satisfying me or sounding good. And I had to eat. I think it was because I couldn't handle the volume of vegetables and vegetarian foods to give me adequate nutrition. Meat was a way to "cheat" and get the nutrients I needed in a concentrated fashion. And my mind and body were constantly sending me signals of what it wanted. That's not to say it's impossible to do it another way, but it's the way I chose to do it. I had meat a few times a week, sometimes more, and some cheese, in the month leading up to my surgery. And I've done the same since the surgery for the same reasons.

It's safe to say I panicked. I was scared of surgery. I was scared of not being strong enough to fully recover from my surgery. I was afraid if I didn't have the proper nutrition my body would not heal correctly. Or that I might have complications under anesthesia. And with my goal of teaching and learning martial arts for life, it was, and is, a scary prospect that my body may have been damaged and jeopardized my physical abilities. So, in my panic, I went back to what was familiar to me, and did what I had to do to make it work for me.

I still feel the same way I did when I started this blog. I'm against factory farming and I don't want to support it. I know animal consumption is generally unhealthy in large amounts. My injury and surgery have been somewhat of a test for my new diet, and I had too much at stake to risk it. However, it was always in my thoughts. I did my best to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits as I knew those things I needed to be strong also.

6 weeks post surgery, I'm gradually returning to my vegan diet. I still have meat a couple times a week. However, I'm not sure now if I will go 100% vegan. After reading The China Study, it seems reasonable to ingest some meat to be sure my body gets all it needs. I could see eating meat as 1-5% of my diet. And of course I would seek meat not factory-farmed. I haven't made up my mind completely though. I may decide to go back to 100% vegan. I just want to know that I get all I need, and I have to be realistic.

At the very least, even while not being vegan, my diet has changed immensely from where I was a year ago. I eat way more vegetables and fruits and a much wider variety of them. I didn't even know what kale was, and now I eat it almost every day- and usually raw. I'm way more open to new foods. I cook vegan at home 100% the time. I eat way less meat - I used to eat it daily in large amounts. I almost always order the vegetarian option anywhere I go - from a taco truck to Pho to whatever. I don't think I ever ordered a vegetarian meal in a restaurant until last year.

Overall, I'm proud of how far I've come and the changes I've made. I'm extremely happy to be well and to be recovering quickly. I know my diet has changed for the betterment of myself and the planet.


  1. I too am glad to hear that you're doing well post-surgery. You do indeed have much to be proud of, and I appreciate your candor and honesty via this blog. Thanks also for the info/videos re Bill Clinton. I think it's great to see him on board with a heart-healthy diet, and no doubt this will influence others.

    I've gone through many of the same changes in the past year as you (minus the surgery), having read "Omnivore's Dilemma" "Eating Animals" "The China Study" "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" and others, as well as viewing the topical documentaries. As a result, my diet has evolved into essentially a vegan one (if I could just find an acceptable substitute for half & half in my coffee). I feel more in alignment with my true self for health, environmental, and animal welfare reasons; and have incidentally dropped ten pounds as well, as I look forward to my annual physical this week, where I expect the doctor to keel over from the drop in my total cholesterol.

    My sincere best wishes to you always, as you progress in your recovery and beyond. And thank you for sharing this blog with us.

  2. Wow, you've had a rough time! I'm glad to see you back, and very very very happy to hear you've come through your surgery okay and that you're recovering well. Wishing you strength and healing!