Was it necessary?
Well, yes and no... let me explain...
Back in 2014 I was about 380 lbs, I was on a lot of prescription medications, high BP, cholesterol, PRE-diabetes... more stuff I forget. My doctors had me convinced I needed to lose weight...I did... so I worked really hard at it for most of the year.
I was living in the Green Bay, WI area and I started having chest pains and difficulty breathing. I saw my doctor and had an EKG...which looked abnormal (my doctor thought there might be blockages or something more serious) and made him refer me to a cardiologist. At my cardiology appointment the doctor looked me over and (without any testing) told me, "I have no idea who told you you have blockages. Your heart is fine. You're just fat and out of shape"... yeah that happened.
So, now properly humiliated and motivated (thinking I was a total hypochondriac) I started off on a new diet...Atkins! I did pretty good, then I moved to Appleton, WI got a new doctor and a new diet...the Mediterranean Diet (something my new doctor really liked) and lost about 40-45 lbs. HOWEVER, I was having more and more trouble breathing and eventually started getting chest pains. But I was losing weight! One thing I learned after going on a plant based diet/lifestyle is that you can lose weight in a number of ways. Some are healthy, some are not. Some diets will help you to look good on the outside, but not help you on the inside. Yes, I was losing weight on my high protein diets but I was still clogging my arteries! Wow.
I thought maybe I wasn't trying hard enough so I started exercising more, trying to walk faster, swim more... but the breathing and chest pains kept getting worse. BUT I KNEW THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH MY HEART, a doctor told me so...just my weight! HOWEVER...it got to the point I couldn't do stairs or walk down the hall without stopping and holding on until the pain went away. But I was sure it wasn't my heart.
I visited the doctor and they treated me for possible asthma, bronchitis...other pulmonary problems. My heart was fine! I tried to hide how bad it was from my family, but I think they knew. Then one day I had a show (I'm a professional guitar player and singer) at a library with my son (he plays drums) and I couldn't breathe... wheezing...dizzy, chest pains....he told me to go to the emergency room. Instead I made a doctors appointment... for the NEXT DAY... I did the gig (barely) and went to the doctor the next day...
Guess what? I had several blockages and needed bypass surgery ASAP! So I did. Cracked me open, used my leg veins to bypass five blockages. Put me out of work for a year and pretty much destroyed my life and messed up my family forever. But I wan't dead.
Now, did I need, really NEED heart surgery? ... again, yes and no...
Yes, because I did not die. I probably would have unless I made all the changes I LATER made right then and there. The problem: I was not ready to make those changes. I wish I had. Some people tried to tell me. But I was all in with the doctors. They do a great job of selling you on this procedure, explaining how there is NO OTHER OPTION.
If I had thought there were any other options...other than surgical options... the answer would have been no, I really would not have needed the surgery (or most of the prescription medications I ended up on for the next year or two) if I made changes like the ones outlined by Dr. Esselstyn in his book PREVENT AND REVERSE HEART DISEASE
My heart surgery was an expensive, horrific, terrifying experience that caused great strain on my family, friends, career and my personal relationships. It still messes with my health. My legs and chest still have problems (most likely they always will).
Heart bypass surgery can save your life...your lifestyle can save your life too. But you have to be ready for it. You may have a choice. Please check into all options before jumping off this cliff...it's not fun. I can't speak for anyone else, but knowing what I know now, I would rather give up some foods and just eat vegetables for the rest of my life if it will save me from another round of "chest cracking" heart surgery.