After five informational sessions, only five had signed up. The church decided to pray and within a few days and after six more sessions, we had to suspend registration. The class had reached thirty-five and we were out of kits!
One woman came because her father had been a part of the very first CHIP program ever conducted, anywhere. Our little town of 5,000 had embraced Dr. Diehl twenty-five years ago, and this family had been changed forever. When seeing the dramatic improvement in the health and vitality of their dad, three of the four children became vegetarians almost overnight and had remained so. Now she wished to take the course herself as a “tune up” and to honor and “show off” her father, who remains very fit and active at 80 plus.
Another lady came to lose weight so that she would be accepted for knee replacement surgery. She was the area director for the Zen Buddhist Center, but the fitness course she taught had not been causing her to shed pounds as quickly as she needed. She was happy with the loss she experienced with CHIP and impressed with the wonderful food and gracious staff, especially when they came in one morning to re-show the video she had missed because of cataract surgery she had undergone that week.
A nurse came because her blood sugars were relentlessly going up and up despite increased doses of insulin and oral medication. She also appreciated the staff coming in an extra morning to re-show the video on diabetes that she had missed because of a death in her family. Her blood sugar dropped by more than 50% and she had to see her physician to cut back her insulin, after just five sessions.
A physician and his wife, a nurse who is qualified to deal with post heart attack, stent and coronary bypass surgical patients, came to the class out of curiosity and the desire to support one of his patients, for whom we arranged partial sponsorship. Both were amazed at how they lost weight and gained energy so quickly. She claimed to have learned more about heart disease prevention, recovery and reversal with CHIP than with her cardiac rehab course. She sang CHIP’s praises at her Rotary Club, of which she is past-president and offered to co-facilitate the next program. Her husband will promote the program to the Interior Health Authority (Government Health Coverage) and work with a committee to see if more partial sponsorships could be obtained for those patients who desperately need it. She made a special phone call to us while on business in Vancouver, 9 hours away, to tell us how excited she was. She had tried to buy a new pair of slacks because she could not hold her present ones up with a belt any longer! She found out she had dropped two full sizes and ended her text with an ecstatic, “Yeehah! I just LOVE how I feel!”
Another woman, who was extremely obese, chronically depressed, and had no motivation to lose weight or to exercise, was referred by her physician who specializes in mental health. She was a chronic smoker as well. She quit nicotine after 3 sessions, started exercising with a few hundred steps per day and cut out her meat entirely. She lost 13 pounds in the first 4 weeks, typically walks 5-8 km daily, now and has clocked up to 10 km. Recently she added an additional 4 km just going up and down a ladder to wash the walls of her house. Talk about motivation! Her self-esteem has shot up, she walks to all the sessions, she is happy, always smiling and each evening lingers to chat with the staff about the exciting changes that she notices on a daily basis.
One elderly, seemingly fit, lady came for reasons unknown to me. How could we improve her health? We found out she had been a vegetarian since age six when her parents divorced. The father kept the farm with the cows, the pigs and all the rifles for hunting wild game—along with two sons. The mother found a small place with a garden plot, kept the other son and this young lady. They survived on growing some tobacco for cash and lots of vegetables for food. They couldn’t afford to live “high on the hog” (and the beef, dairy and wild meat) like the other half of the family. The only meat she knew as a child was the occasional squirrel or rabbit they acquired when “the cat came back” from his hunting trips around their neighborhood! Sadly, her father and two older brothers, who dined on meat and shunned their vegetables died in their late fifties of heart attacks. She and her younger brother are enjoying great health and are full vitality well into there eighties. She wanted to attend the CHIP program to find out if she was on the right track with her life-long eating habits. What a gal!
The most dramatic change came in a middle-aged gentleman who, we discovered, had not been able to wear regular shoes in seven years. He had neuropathy; probably secondary to diabetes, weighed in at 300 pounds, had a life-saving coronary bypass surgery after a heart attack, hypertension, high lipids and extreme edema of his legs and feet despite being on one of the most potent diuretics. He had consulted many specialists here in Canada and two at the Mayo Clinic. The only advice any one could offer was a trial of special shoes worth $500. He refused that option and resorted to wearing Crocs and flip-flops. He used a modified golf cart to get around his property and tend his garden. He could not walk more than a few meters and could not remove his pressure stockings for more than 15 minutes. A physician had called him by phone immediately after seeing his blood work about 3 years ago, informing him that if he didn’t make extreme changes immediately, the next phone call would be to announce his “imminent entrance into terra firma” (death and burial). Wow! Talk about being direct! But trying to make lifestyle changes on his own proved impossible. We accepted his desperate request to join CHIP with his wife.
He started walking from Day 1 — a few hundred painful steps per day, progressing to 1,500 after five days. His edema had almost disappeared on CHIP’s low salt, vegetarian diet. In five weeks he was up to the 10,000 steps per day, his rubber Crocs had to be replaced by a pair one size down. Stockings now could be removed for two and a half hours at a time and the edema was gone. By graduation he had lost 15 pounds, was up to 16,000 steps a day and was able to wear regular leather shoes for the first time in seven years! He and his wife were ecstatic, teary-eyed and grateful as they embraced us with bear hugs.
His golf cart is used only briefly once a day now. He walks with joy around his property and in his garden. In fact, recently he clocked 16,000 steps on his pedometer when he climbed up into, and down from, a rented fork lift as he unloaded 28,000 board feet of lumber on his property.
When teased by his relatives, friends and neighbors about the “funny food” he now eats, he shows them his dramatic changes in edema, neuropathy, walking and mood. They are impressed. When asked if he plans to stay on the program, he laughs loudly as he exclaims, “I have no choice. If I go off this funny food I’ll be dead meat!”
His wife believes his life has been saved. They both admit that they have never been associated with a more wonderfully caring group of people — people who are “not pushy” about their lifestyle or their church but who take the time to answer all their questions as best as they can. They have become friends with three couples on our CHIP staff and they will teach me next spring how to raise my own “funny food” in raised garden beds, even though we live forty miles apart. What great friends they have become! We will pray for them and for all the others who have taken the course, that God will gently lead them to a life of health and peace — now and forever.