Hmmmm…Where to begin?
Hello my name is Amber. I am a woman in my 30’s, trying to re-invent my life, to save my life!
Let’s get down to basics…In July 2009, I found myself in a hospital bed in Los Angeles CA. At 30 years old, I had just been told I had Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart). Why were we all so happy when the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes? No one ever told us kids that it was actually a bad medical condition. His hospital bills must have been huge. Damn you Dr. Seuss for skewing my view of reality. **shakes fist**
This was the first time I had ever been in a hospital bed, heck this was the first time I had been sick with something that couldn’t be cured with an anti-biotic or a shot of whiskey. Usually if I was talking to a doctor it was because I had another broken bone, or sprained ankle, or other fabulous injury stemming from my great skill of clumsiness! If falling down was an Olympic event , I would have a trophy case full of gold!
This time it was different, I had to pay attention and do what the doctors told me to survive. You have to understand, when I entered the emergency room that faithful Thursday afternoon, I was weighed in at a whopping 370 lbs. My abdomen, legs and feet were so swollen that I could barely bend at the knee, and walking more than 10 feet was so hard to do that it was painful. I had been swelling and getting more sick for months, but being the stubborn creature that I am, I never thought that it was a serious thing. I just figured it was fat because I eat crap food, and drink at my local bar all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that these things weren’t true….I did eat crap, and I did drink too much…and it did make me fat, but this was different.
The #1 thing that was repeated to me, OVER and OVER…NO SALT! If I wanted to feel better I had to take salt out of my cooking and off my table. There were other things to do also, like eat healthier, exercise, and take my medications, but it always came back around to NO SALT.
After 6 sleepless days in the hospital, I was sent out on my own to try and follow the orders and save my life. My Ejection Fraction (EF, amount of blood the heart pumps out to the body) was 20% and I had to be careful not to over do it. I was on a mission, I was scared and I was going to do everything I could to try and fix this! Or so I thought….
It all started out good, I worked out with a trainer, at a pace that was safe for my heart. I started eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, limiting my fat and salt and sugar intake. I kept a daily record of everything I ate and was meticulous about my diet! Unfortunately this only lasted a few months…I started to feel better, and the better I felt the more I let myself have little treats. As we all know, little treats soon turn to big treats, then to splurge days, then to weekends, and before you know it your off the track and don’t know how it happened.
Over the course of the first year, I had improved my EF to 35%, lost 90 lbs, and started training for a 5k run….at that point I also didn’t realize that I got to comfortable with my progress and that I was feeling better and took advantage of it, so over the next 18 months I managed to blow my whole diet, go back to drinking too much, and eating all the wrong things.
Now living in Louisiana, I put back on 60lbs, drank daily, and never watched anything I ate…I was living on southern fried food, high salt snack foods, and whiskey. All the time getting sicker and sicker, and not wanting to admit it was as big a problem as it actually was. I didn’t always take my medications, having convinced myself it would be ok, but mainly because I was too lazy to go get my refills from the doctor. I knew what I had done to feel better before and eventually I would do it again. It was always, “tomorrow” or “Monday” that I would eat better and get exercise….well of course “tomorrow” never came…but the fried chicken and whiskey sure always showed up on time!
On January 1st 2012, I again found myself in a hospital bed, this time not only CHF, and cardiomyopathy were trying to kill me….I have managed to damage myself even more and added Atrial-fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) to the smorgasbord of issues I had to deal with.
Feeling scared and ashamed, and helpless, I again lay in a hospital bed for 6 days and was told NO SALT, NO SALT, NO SALT!!!!!!!! The cardiologist team I had looking over me, said now that if I do not cut the salt, and keep it out of my life that I would just be back in that bed, over and over…if not dead!
I definitely believe them, I have proof of this from my prior years of highs and now even lower lows…..
This is where we pick up the story, and mission….This blog is a place for me to relate my experiences to others, to track my progress, to share the amazing food and spices that I have found and created to make living on a low salt diet fun and flavorful….and in the process hopefully I can help not only myself, but anyone else who is having heart trouble, live better, and survive longer!
So hold on and enjoy the ride….with High Flavor, Healthy Heart…and you to can live Salt Free and Fabulous!!!!!