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Hi All, I've hung out on these forums for a little while now. Long enough that I'm pretty sure I have begun to understand some of its finer content - and important things like why Dean gives Michael a hard time. I'd like to share a little about my story. At 24 years old I was being monitored for cardiovascular problems. My family physician had detected a heart murmur on my annual checkup and I was showing some really strange blood pressure readings (regularly ~155/45). An echocardiogram revealed that I had a bicuspid aortic valve that was leaking quite significantly. This lead to the replacement of my aortic valve via open-heart surgery at 24. Unfortunately post-op I developed acute endocarditis, which become chronic endocarditis. I lived the next 27 months of my life in and out of hospitals visiting IV clinics for antibiotics 3x daily to find this heart infection. I had PICC lines installed, and was administered just about every kind of high-potency anti-biotic you can imagine, and for 27 months straight. I was hospitalized a total of 5 times and was probably close to death at a few points. Closer than I'd like to believe. Needless to say, antibiotics weren't working. So I required open heart surgery for a second time. I was 26 years olds at this point. Trans-esophegeal echocardiograms confirmed a large vegetation on my aortic valve and aorta. This is basically a mass of bacteria, platelets, white blood cells, etc. I had my aortic valve replaced again, along with my aorta. Additionally, arteries were reattached in different locations, so that future heart surgery doesn't have to be invasive - the current gear in my heart is believed to last 10-20 years - hopefully. I've talked to Dr. Essylstyn twice on the phone and he feels next time I need surgery, it will be done through trans-aortic valve implantation. He also said 'no one makes a habit out of sternotomies, they suck.' He's right. They are awful. The second surgery went well. And here is something that Dean and his ethical vegan spirit will like. I was profoundly impacted by this experience for many reasons. One of which was the fact that a cow had to die for me to live. Bovine tissue is used to construct the valve replaced in my heart. When I woke up from the second surgery and had no desire to consume animals ever again. I never had a bite of meat again. I almost immediately went vegan despite having never read a thing about it. (Technically speaking I've consumed animal products maybe once-twice a year when in a pinch, but that's really not significant to the story) I went to my local bookstore and picked up one of the first health books I saw. Which happened to be the Blue Zones. I often wonder what would have happened if I randomly grabbed an Atkins or paleo book. I thank whatever higher power is out there that it was the Blue Zones. That quickly lead to the assimilation of the China Study, Finding Ultra, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, The Spectrum, The CR Way, and so on. Pre-heart surgery I was just under 220 pounds, somewhat muscular too and consuming about 400g of protein per day - that is not a typo. After the second procedure I was about 185 pounds. This morning I was 149 pounds. 5.5 years after starting a WFPB vegan, lightly CR'd diet. (See photo attached from today - BMI is 20.7). You can also tell I don't have the perfect CR body, but it's been through a lot. I have a little loose skin, some big scars, and some mild man boobs. But whatever. I'm alive, happy, and contributing a lot to this world each day. In discussion of how I got the bicuspid valve in the first place, my cardiologist has 3 possible explanations: a) I was born with it b) I was hospitalized as an infant with a fever of unknown origin, which may have rheumatic fever c) I was hospitalized as an infant with a fever of unknown origin, which may have endocarditis. Though I will never know for sure, and I suppose there is the possibility it was something else. Here is the amazing thing. I had developed an enlarged heart since it was working so hard to re-pump blood that was flowing backwards through my valve. My heart returned to normal size, something my cardiologist said does not happen. Maybe the surgery was a great success, maybe it was the CR lifestyle, or some combination of the two. I personally think that if I returned to my old ways, my heart would not have shrunk down. The other biomarkers of mine are great. Fasting glucose is 79. BP is 110/60. Total cholesterol is 129. Triglycerides are 29. And so on. Interestingly, the one I have that doesn't add up to CR levels is IGF-1. Which came back at about 280 when I had it tested about a year ago. Anyway - I just had a nice breakfast of wild rice, barley, mango, raisins, flax, cocoa, almond butter, and about 5 oz of arugula. It's awfully cold outside, so it's time to go for a brisk walk in a tank-top and shorts to get some CE with my dog. Thanks for listening folks!