In 2019, we almost lost our beloved Retail Operations Manager, Rob Walker, to a health issue. Rob made an amazing recovery, and we’re happy to say he’s back at the Co-op with his work family. The experience left him changed, though. Rob recently sat down with our Store Dietitian, Kathryn Dickens, to talk about his eye-opening struggle and how he’s drastically turned his health around using food as medicine, much to the surprise of his doctors. We originally posted this piece in our Holiday 2019 edition of Fresh Bites, our owner newsletter.
KATHRYN: Rob, you recently had to take some time away from work due to some personal health issues. As much as you are comfortable sharing, can you tell us a bit about what you were facing?
ROB: I was diagnosed with having gout, Charcot, arthritis and sepsis, with the most serious being the sepsis. At the time, I was taking diabetes medication twice a day and was informed that my situation was brought on by my diabetes being out of control. My A1c* was above 14 when I entered the hospital.
While in the hospital, I was informed by doctors that there was a high probability that I could lose my foot and potentially my leg.
KATHRYN: How scary! I know since your diagnoses you’ve made some pretty significant lifestyle changes. What were some of those and how did you approach making those changes in a way you knew would be sustainable?
ROB: While I was in the hospital, I began to think about how foods could either continue to harm my body or heal my body. So with each issue that I had, I began to research which foods would help me in the healing process. For example, I had a serious issue with inflammation in my leg and my research showed that turmeric was one of the food choices I could make to help with that.
During my hospital stay, I was on an extremely strict diet and knew I needed to continue to make healthier choices once I was discharged. I began to make my weekly shopping trip to the Co-op because I knew the Co-op had everything that I needed to heal myself by eating local, organic food. For me, it was easy to make those changes because it was not only a loss of limb possibility, but a life or death situation.
KATHRYN: In addition to adding more anti-inflammatory foods, tell us more about the specific foods you’ve added to your diet to aid in your recovery.
ROB: It’s not so much about foods I added to my diet as what I took away. I stopped buying pre-made, processed foods. I stopped being lazy and started cooking again so I could control the ingredients and nutrition.
KATHRYN: What results have you seen in the past few months in terms of improving your health through nutrition?
ROB: Using my doctors’ own words they have been amazed at my recovery. I recently went for my A1c check-up and my doctor was completely shocked by the results. He walked into my room saying, “I don’t know how you did this”, several times. He said it so many times that I began to get nervous thinking it was going to be bad news. I then asked him, “How I did what?” He then informed me that my A1c was 6.8. I had to stop and think for a minute but then I asked, “Isn’t normal 7.0?” He said, “Yes and you’re 6.8. I don’t know how you did this”. It was then I knew my prayers and implementation of my research of healthy foods paid off.
KATHRYN: Wow, those improvements in your A1c are truly amazing. Not an easy feat! What encouragement or advice would you give to someone
facing similar health challenges?
ROB: The very first thing that I would advise is to never underestimate prayer. Also to listen to the advice of your doctors, but remember that food was our original medicine. Remember, they were telling me that they may need to cut off my foot and my leg. I would not accept that report. I
fought not only for my limbs but for my life. That would be the final thing that I would say to someone: NEVER give up hope.
*Hemoglobin A1c: blood test showing average blood glucose over the course of approximately 3 months. For individuals with diabetes, an A1c under 7.0 greatly reduces the risk of complications from the disease.
Are you trying to improve your health with food? Our dietitian, Kathryn, can help! Call or email her to set up an appointment: KathrynD@goodfoods.coop | (859) 278-1813 ext. 232