I was born in 1944, the youngest of nine children. I lost my mother to a heart attack when I was 15. She had suffered a heart attack earlier when I was five. She lost weight on the advice of her doctor, but died when she was only 56. Since that time five siblings have also passed away, three of them in their 50’s due to heart problems, and two with cancer and diabetes in their early to mid-60’s. My wife, Linda, and our children gave a sigh of relief when I was still kicking on my 57th birthday! There are three siblings still living. My brother Ralph is 81. Hugh is 76. I am 71. We three have been more conscious of our health and exercised more than the others.
I have been exercising regularly since by days in the Marines. When I wasn’t exercising, I put on weight quite easily. I have been seeing a cardiologist since I was 50 years old. One day, I got light headed while playing racquetball with a co-worker, and Linda and I decided I needed to see a doctor. They took an MRI and found that I had an enlarged heart wall and muscle. So I stopped playing any sports that required me to start and stop, such as basketball, racquetball, and softball.
A few years ago, a couple of men who worked in the same BYU office as my wife Linda started eating a more plant-based. They suggested some reading, so Linda read some books and got some recipes. We went on a plant-based diet for 10 days. It was very difficult to prepare the food and get used to it, but my cholesterol went down 100 points in that short time. We then tried to incorporate the diet in a modified form into our lifestyle.
In the middle of June 2013, I woke up and felt sort of weird. I checked and discovered my pulse was near 80. I drank some water and went back to bed. I still could not sleep, so we decided to go to the hospital. I had a racing heart, and they kept me in the ER for a few hours and stabilized me. After more tests, they recommended installing a pacemaker. I wasn’t too excited about that, but after talking with the doctors I decided to go through with the procedure. All went well, and the pacemaker has been a blessing as it lets me know when I need to not push myself too hard.
Then in the spring of 2014, Linda and I found out about Jane Birch and her book Discovering the Word Of Wisdom. I was excited to read this book. It confirmed some of the feelings I had about eating fruits and vegetables in season and meat sparingly. With a stronger desire to eat healthier, we tried to implement whole food, plant-based eating into our diet and into our lives more fully. As we’ve done that, I have found new energy and wellbeing in my every day activities. We have had breaks from it, but we are eating much healthier, and we can feel the difference.
As it turns out, this difference saved my life! Let me tell you what happened.
One Saturday last May (2015) I began experiencing lightheadedness. I ended up at the ER where they took some tests and finally decided to do shock treatment (cardio version). They put me under for about 10 minutes. They kept me around for another hour or two and then released me.
On Sunday the next morning, after my shower I said something to my wife, but the words came out all garbled. Linda asked me what I said, and as I repeated it, I also recognized I was speaking with a slur. She asked me to sit down, and I did. She asked me to smile, and I did. Then she said, “Get dressed. I am taking you to the hospital.”
We got the hospital in about seven minutes (I have never seen Linda drive so fast or roll through stop signs or red lights before!). We walked into emergency, and Linda told them I had had a stroke. The clerk looked at us as if to say, “Sure.” I think she doubted Linda because I was walking fine. She asked me to sit down, and I did. She asked me a question, and I slurred the answer and pointed to Linda to answer the questions. Then the hospital worker started to realized that I really had had a stroke!
Within about 30 seconds I was sent over to the nurse who recognized me from the day before. He processed the paperwork, and I was on my way into the emergency room. They discovered that the shock treatment they had done the day before had sent a clot straight to my brain, causing the stroke. They quickly went into action to try to save me.
Afterwards, the doctor told me that Linda was my guardian angel because this was not a minor stroke but a major one, and her fast actions had saved my life.
The most amazing thing was how quickly I recovered. A stroke can cause permanent paralysis, but to the surprise of everyone, including the nurses and doctors, I didn’t have any pain or paralyses, except for my face, and that was almost totally gone by the time I left the hospital. By Tuesday I was so recovered that they were ready to send me home without any restrictions. My only restriction was to take it easy getting back into my exercise routine. By Wednesday I was running errands and literally back to normal. This after a major stroke!
When the doctors found out that I exercised each day and was eating a mostly whole food, plant-based diet, they stated that that was one of the reasons why my body was able to fight off the stroke and recover so fast. Although we were not eating a perfect whole food, plant-based diet, we know this change of eating, along with my daily exercise, allowed me to recover from the stroke almost completely within a day.
I share this way of life with everyone I meet and see could use it. Jane Birch tells me I’m one of her best customers because I’ve bought so many copies of her book! Many people have been so happy to receive Jane’s book and have been grateful to find such a great way to enhance health. Some are not ready and have been skeptical, but those that are ready have been grateful.
I know this Word of Wisdom based eating is the best for my body. I feel better when I eat this way. I am grateful that this diet protected me from what could have very likely resulted in permanent disability, if not death. I know the Lord’s promises are sure. We are blessed when we follow His words.
Grant A. Rowley is 71 years old and lives in Orem, Utah. He and his wife have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They have also embraced a lovely Japanese “daughter” and her husband and 4 children into the family. Grant graduated from BYU in 1975 with a BS in Business and has worked at the United States Post Office for the past 30 years. Grant and his family have enjoyed traveling in recent years. Traveling or not, Grant exercises every day except Sunday!