Why am I so pissed off?
Hello everyone. My name is Ashley. I am from Austin, TX. I have been vegan for a little over 4 years. And I am mad as hell about the state of healthcare, animal well fare and our depleting environment. (Special shout out to the movie “Dairy of a Mad Black Woman” for inspiring the theme of this page.) I have another blog that is called Monkey Toes and Flying Avocados where I blog about all the fluffy, happy things in my life. Sometimes I get off on a tangent, but for the most part it is pretty PG. This blog however will not follow suit. This blog is going to be a place where I can talk about my real feelings. The things that scare me. The things that make me feel sad or depressed. And the things that make me want to crawl out of my own skin with anger.
The thing that has inspired this blog over everything else is the fact that on June 24, 2017 my father was diagnosed with cancer. I am posting this “about me” page actually before I have even found out the nitty-gritty of it all. So far it seems to be stag 4 colon cancer. Some really nasty shit. He has also been a diabetic for the past 15 years. He had a really nasty bout with it back in 2002-2003 when he let things go a little too far before being properly diagnosed. He has been in poor health for some time now and things finally came to a head this past week.
I am so angry about it all. Of course I’m angry with the fact that I very well may lose my father to this horrible and yet avoidable disease. I’m angry about the lack of knowledge in our healthcare system when it comes to treating this disease as well as others (heart disease, diabetes, and so on). And yes, I did say “avoidable” because I believe 110%, that these types of disease are avoidable as well as curable.
Did I always think like this? No. I used to eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) everyday, for as long as I can remember. I grew up drinking cows milk, eating Kraft Mac and Cheese, hotdogs and chicken nuggets. My dad used to bring me a McDonald’s Happy Meal every Friday night for dinner throughout most of my little kid years. We always had Dr. Pepper or other sugary drinks in our fridge and Apple Jacks and PopTarts were for breakfast. Through my teens and young adult years came a flush of fast food. Taco Bell, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC and so on. Once I started working and making my own money these were staples in my diet. My first marriage brought me to Texas and introduced me to brisket, pork chops, and just about any other animal that you could throw on a grill. In my 20’s I weighed the most I had ever weighed in my life; I hit double digits in my pant size and just thought that was a normal because I was “getting older”.
Everything changed for me in 2013. I watched Forks Over Knives for the first time and proceeded to throw away half of pantry and fridge after it was over. I went vegetarian over night and vowed that I would never look back. At that time, I was changing my ways because of the health implications. About two months later I watch Vegucated and that was the light switch that got flipped for me to become 100% vegan. Going cold turkey was not easy but it also was the only way that I wanted to proceed. I could not un-watch or un-learn the things that just those two documentaries opened my eyes to. I didn’t want to get older, and in turn, get sicker. I couldn’t love my cats and not love all animals equally. After watching more and more get films, such as Cowspiracy, I knew that I made the right choice becoming vegan. I felt like I was living a more intentional life. Plus my health turned around. I lost weight and have maintained a healthy weight ever since. I just feel better. As a runner and an active person all around, I had more energy and less recovery time after activities.
Of course the next step was to convince as many people as I could that this was the best and most healthy way of living. In the process my parents gave up all sugary drinks and cut out red meat altogether. They were not vegan and did continue to eat dairy and chicken and fish, but they still felt better. They became more aware of the things they were eating. My mother also cut out all fried foods as well. My father stayed on track for some time and even got the ok to lower his daily meds for his diabetes. They could see it was working.
But my parents grew up in a different generation and over time they started to slip. Maybe not reading labels as diligently and having foods in the house that they knew were not healthy. Everything in moderation, right? My dad had to up his meds again and with that started to drift further and further away from eating the right things. Fried foods, processed foods and cheesy foods came back into the picture and into his mouth more and more.
After years of doing that his health started to decline even more. He also became more and more sedentary because he didn’t feel well. It was a vicious cycle. You don’t move because you don’t feel well, you don’t eat because you don’t feel well and what you do eat is causing you not to feel any better. And now here we are in present day. My father is only 75 years old. He is the youngest of two boys and despite the fact that both of his parents were also diabetics, they lived into their 80s.
My grandfather though did not have it easy in his last years of life. He suffered many issues from his diabetes. Numbness in his limbs as well as having a catheter for his bladder and his over all awareness was in a quick decline; he had a stroke as well. When he passed away, his blood sugar was over 400. My uncle (my dad’s older bother) has also had his own battle with colon cancer (and recovered) and he is a diabetic as well. I think the only thing that keeps him from the condition that my father finds himself in currently is that he has managed to stay active all the way into his late 70’s. Sadly my father looks like the older bother if you were to place them side by side.
Although this is only a brief summary, it paints a pretty vivid summary to why I am vegan and why am I so MAD about the current state of affairs with health care on a personal level.