Weird title, eh? Don’t worry, all will be explained. Eventually. But first, some background.
So I have a dad. We call him the Tyrant. We are not being ironic.
He’s a tough dad, as dad’s go. He’s not much taller than me and has a Guyanese accent that my mom and I don’t hear, but just thick enough to make people think he possibly may have just cussed at them. He used to rebuild engines, play racquetball, jog miles at a time and clean his gun — all on a Sunday. He also watches more TV than is healthy, but can’t remember any of the actors’ names. I got invited to prom my sophomore year by a friend, and my father scared him so bad that I came home early. He also met Jethro for the first time while he was headed to work; Dad was wearing a flak jacket and carrying a pistol. Jethro was sufficiently rattled.
He’s my dad. He’s okay.
He is also the recipient of a quintuple bypass. Yeppers, quintuple. That’s five, for those of who for whom is it too early to think. He has never been overweight a day in his life, used to run daily and was even part of the team that the military used to test out their overhaul of the PT program standards in the eighties. (Any of you Army dudes that hate PT or think it’s too rough? Yeah, that’s my dad’s fault.) But none of that matters in the face of genetics and unhealthy eating habits.
See, Daddy (YES, I sometimes still call him that. Deal with it.) liked peanuts. And chocolate. And nasty things like gizzards and fried plantain. These things, over time, add up. And when you’re predisposed to heart disease, even if you are the perfect weight and have muscles and stamina and such, you can have some problems. My dad had high cholesterol for years, but wasn’t prescribed any medication. He changed his diet, mostly, and then went about his business. Only fat people have heart problems, right?
It was the summer of 2002 and I’d just moved back from Arizona. My dad had been using his inhaler a lot and had a little chest pain but his asthma tended to act up when he did innocuous things, like watch Sanford and Sons and laugh too hard, so we didn’t think much of it. Problem is, his chest pain turned out to be asthma-induced angina. He was scheduled for an angioplasty, until they took a good look at his arteries and found out five of them were clogged, some up to 90%. It was June and without surgery, he probably wouldn’t have made it until Thanksgiving. He was air-lifted to Austin for emergency surgery.
Yeah. That’s a f*cked up phone call to get when your biggest concern is how you’re going to balance summer classes with copious amounts of drinking. (Don’t worry, this gets more perky as the post goes on.)
His surgery was…not fun. (More perky, just not yet.) I won’t get into all of it because it’s my blog and I don’t WANNA, but yeah. It sucked. However, the awesome part is that they rewired the sh*t out of Dad, so he had five brand new arteries, staples in his chest and a pretty cheery attitude once he was let go.
Meanwhile, my mom and I, who’d stayed with him in the hospital, were f*cking wrecks.
Now, I am not trying to diminish my dad’s experience in any way shape or form. He had wires and tubes in him and been poked and prodded and had a butt-ton of healing to do. He almost died, as much as that pains me to say it. Physically, he was a mess. But, emotionally, we were giving him a run for his money. So it was understandable when, as we were leaving the hospital, Dad was in a GREAT mood but Mom and I were NOT. See, the hospital was an hour away and it was POURING rain. Add to that the fact we were in a large and busy city and my mom doesn’t drive well in traffic. At rush hour. In driving rain. With a husband who nearly died sitting cheerfully in the backseat, high on vicodin and life; and a daughter in the front who really just needed a beer and a damn cigarette.
I thought we would all die on the way home; whether by accident or at one of our own hands, I was not sure.
Things got much better. I spent the summer home and bonded with my dad over the first season of American Idol. Mom learned to modify their diet and use crazy substitutions to find a way to make things taste good AND still be good for them. Dad healed up exceedingly well, so much so that his doctor uses him as an example to his other patients on how you can recover from surgery as long as you make lifestyle changes.
Thing is, they have had MAJOR lifestyle changes. And it’s rough. Dad still isn’t always sure of what to eat and has to be fairly strict with himself to keep his resolve up. He developed diabetes after surgery and controls it with diet, but he has to check his blood sugar every day and watch for spikes or dips that become dangerous. And Mom has learned a whole new way of cooking. And because her recipes are often really tasty, even for a chunk-a-lunk like me who always bakes with real butter (my cholesterol is fine, thank you), I’ve decided to run some of her recipes here on the blog.
Now, she is in no way a dietician, so this is not intended to function as dietary advice. It’s just a way show you something nummy made with Splenda and fake egg that doesn’t make you want to stab someone for a cheeseburger.
As you’ve by now guessed, it’s called, “Cooking with Carol: Recipes for Captain HeartAttack.” (Carol is my mom. Captain HeartAttack is what I christened Dad. Classy, eh?)
I’ll post a recipe of hers later today, and we hope you enjoy!
And if you don’t, SHUT IT. This is my momma we are talking about.