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  • Joel Erickson

Bad Luck?



I was so blessed to be surrounded by my family who never left my side - and many friends that visited throughout the day. Thanks to my friend of 35 years, Fred Vanderwerf, I have this lovely selfie to remember the day.

Friday, November 16th was the longest night of my life. (PSA: to get in front of the line at the ER – let them know you have had chest and arm pain for a few days!). I arrived in the ER around 11:45 pm, by 1am I was in the cath lab having one stent to repair a 100% blocked left anterior descending artery. By 2am I was in my room with my family.


I survived!


Saturday morning I met my cardiologist – and we started going through my medical history.


Do you smoke? No.

Do you exercise? Yes.

Do you have heart disease in your family? No.

How old are you? 46.

What is your normal diet? Lots of vegetables, white meat, rarely any red meat, limited dairy.

The questions kept coming, and my cardiologist looked like he was just not getting the answers he was expecting to hear from me. Now, I was overweight by at least 50 pounds, and my cholesterol (176) and triglycerides (329) were elevated (ok, we were at the Spoon and Stable that night – eating a meal far from vegan).


I finally asked him, “What caused this heart attack?”.

He said, (which I can still hear him saying) “Bad luck”.


Wow, really? Bad luck! I could not accept that bad luck as the cause for me nearly dying.


I went on to ask, “what’s next”?


His answer:

  • 5 new medications

  • a few weeks off work to recover

  • 12 weeks of cardio rehab

  • follow a Mediterranean diet


Fast forward a few days….we are now back home and Jill and I began watching Mediterranean Diet documentaries, reading books, searching for the best olive oil and dreaming of a vacation to Italy to drink wine and olive oil. Thanksgiving came and Jill made a turkey with apple cider gravy (supposedly a healthier recipe for heart patients) – we were 100% in on the Mediterranean lifestyle. In retrospect, it seemed like a very easy thing to do. Essentially it meant we could continue eating the way we had been eating. Nothing needed to really change. What we weren’t paying attention to was the fact that there was little to no scientific research or evidence that this kind of diet can actually help or specifically reverse heart disease.


Then came New Years Eve.

Jill and I were settling in to watch a movie.

5 years earlier, we had watched Forks Over Knives, tried eating vegan for a couple of years, but soon were back to eating the standard American diet.


But on this New Years Eve night in 2016, we were compelled to watch it again.


Check out the lovely "tomb stones" - EKG's are not supposed to look like that.

As we watched, I saw ME.

It was talking about ME.

The clogged arteries,

The heart attack.

The food.

It was ME.





At the end of the movie – we looked at each other and knew exactly what we needed to do to take back my health and reverse the "bad luck" that had put me in the hospital.


That night, Jill and I began a Whole Foods, Plant Based diet.


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Minneapolis, MN, USA
St. Paul, MN, USA

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