JJ Cunningham
John Cunningham's story
John, Joy and John's mom, EmmaOn September 1, 1999 Brother Thomas Rodgers spoke at our ward in Terre Haute, Indiana. John and I had been following Dr. Dean Ornish’s “heart disease reversal diet” for two years, following chest pains John had experienced two years earlier. (John had undergone a quadruple bypass heart surgery 14 years earlier.). Tom told us that Dr. Ornish didn't go far enough. He said that John needed to stop eating all animal products including the no-fat cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, egg whites and honey, which we had been including in our diet. We believed the things he told us and immediately discontinued those animal products.

November 10, 1999 John became concerned about heaviness in his chest, which he had been experiencing, all afternoon. He took his blood pressure and found it to be 174/137 with a pulse of 90. We went to the emergency room where they discovered that he had been in atrial fibrillation, and that his heart rhythm was out of sync. They administered the blood thinner heparin, oxygen, and kept him on a monitor for five days. His rhythm Continued to be erratic, pausing for 4 seconds one time; his pulse rate was often in the 40’s and once 34. On November l6th, an angiogram was done, revealing that of his four bypasses, two were fine, two were totally blocked off, but new vessels had formed and were carrying the load. They also found that one of his kidney arteries was 60% blocked. The cardiologist said that the drugs, which helped John’s heart to beat faster, were slowing it down too much. His natural pacemaker tried to speed it up and caused it to go out of rhythm. He said that a pacemaker would most likely be required, and also that balloon surgery and a possible stint in the kidney artery might be needed.

John was sent home on November 17”, with instructions to come have a check up with the cardiologist on November 29, and in the meantime, to take it very easy.

We called Shirley Norseworthy, who called Tom Rodgers and told him about John’s possibly impending surgery. Tom came to visit us on December and stressed juicing as a means to help John heal. He explained the challenges of putting in a pacemaker, a foreign body that could require John to take additional drugs to prevent rejection of the pacemaker's materials and presence. He also warned of the risks of balloon surgery. Tom stayed for three days during which time we invited friends to our home to hear him talk about his personal experiences with his health crises, and how he resolved those crises through a totally vegan diet, including constant juicing.

We immediately started juicing: John three times a day most days.

On December 8th John saw the cardiologist who had him wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours to measure his blood pressure and pulse constantly over that period. On the morning of December 9th, John returned the monitor to the doctor's office. That night at midnight, following exertion, John blood pressure spiked to 208/184 with a pulse of 90. He took nitroglycerin, and aspirin, and relaxed in his chair. It took 1 hour and 45 minutes for the blood pressure to return to normal. The cardiologist saw John in his office the following Wednesday, December 15th. At that time the blood pressure was pretty normal and the doctor thought that the change in heart medication which, he had ordered while John was in the hospital, was beginning to have good results, but that he might still need the surgery, and to return December 22nd for the results of the Holter monitor. We also talked by phone with a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, who had seen John a year ago and who recognized the improvement John had shown as a result of being on Dr. Ornish’s diet for a year. The Mayo cardiologist thought that the Terre Haute doctor's treatment and suggested treatment were appropriate, but felt that there was no emergency and that he could delay having a pacemaker and kidney surgery for some weeks anyway while he considered it further.

John continued juicing all of this time. We talked at length about the things Tom Rodgers had taught us. John came to the conclusion that he would trust his body to heal and to forego having a pacemaker or kidney surgery for the time being.

On December 22nd, John again visited the cardiologist, prepared to tell him of his decision. The cardiologist said that, based on the printout from the Holter monitor, he could not recommend a pacemaker at this time, and that the results looked very good.

Today is December 29, 1999. John has a sense of well being, and continues to have more energy with the passing days. He takes his blood pressure several times a day out of curiosity, and is pleased to see it approaching more normal readings, with most in the 140’s over 70’s, and a couple of times, in the 120’s over 70’s. His pulse ranges from 65 to low 81.

The plan is to stay on a vegan diet and juicing forever, gradually increase exercise, and continue to thank Heavenly Father for connecting us with Tom Rodgers.

Joy Cunningham                                                       Dec. 29, 1999  [Posted May 18 2001, tlr]

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