Thursday, August 18, 2011

Surviving Brian and High Cholesterol

Recently my husband, Brian, was diagnosed with high cholesterol—so high, in fact, that the doctor said that he has the cholesterol of a man twice his age. The news was upsetting to me but not surprising; Brian’s eating habits are horrendous and he’s a smoker. Under the circumstances, I’m just glad cholesterol is the worst we’re dealing with. I’m shocked that Brian allowed his blood to be drawn in the first place. My big tough guy readily admits that he is terrified of needles, though I’m fairly certain that the ink covering his arms and back was not injected with silly straws. I’m even more shocked that he fessed up about his condition to his overbearing nurse-maid (that would be me). Being a typical wife, I have now assumed the role of preventing my husband’s heart from exploding into gravy-coated bacon bits. And, being a typical husband, he has resisted my concerned needling with the veracity of a toddler avoiding nap time.

The obvious first step is to stomp out his smoking addiction. It’s no secret that cigarettes are unhealthy for numerous reasons, and they most definitely are contributing to his cholesterol levels and potential heart problems. When we first began dating Brian smoked two packs a day. Everyday. Yes, your math is correct, that is 40 cigarettes in a 24 hour span of time. I’m not sure how it is even physically possible, but early in our relationship he was never without a cigarette hanging from his lips, even waking several times a night to take a few dreamy drags. It wasn’t long before he dropped down to a mere pack a day, but it has been an endless battle ever since to whittle it down any more than that.

I’ve never been a smoker, and I can’t claim to understand the difficulty of quitting such a severe addiction. I do know that my husband, who has been able to control his alcoholism for more than four years now, says that kicking the cancer sticks is ten times harder than losing the booze. I also know that his past attempts at quitting have resulted in him wood- chucking through a box of toothpicks a day, transforming into a moody ass-hat, and packing on an extra 20 pounds of spare tire around his mid-section. So we decided to work on the smoking aspect later.

Maybe we just need to overhaul his diet. Brian has always been able to eat massive quantities of junk food without gaining a pound. But as he ages his body isn’t processing it as well as it used to, as evidenced by the pot belly beginning to poke out from his shirt and a cholesterol level that rivals the national debt. This change in diet coincided perfectly with my desire to lose weight, so I eagerly went to the grocery store and stocked up on enough fish, fruits, and vegetables to explore a wide variety of exciting new dishes. Fun right?

As I prepared dinner (salmon with brown rice and broccoli florets) the first night of our diet, Brian stood near the kitchen, watching me with dread in his eye.

“Am I eating that stuff too?”

“Yep! It’s very healthy!”

“Well you aren’t making enough salmon filets to feed both of us.”

“I have more. How many do you want?”

“I don’t know, put in five or six for me.”

After I explained that consuming 36 oz of salmon would contradict his diet at best and lead to some scary digestive issues at worst, he rolled his eyes and went back into the living room. It was not uncommon for him to inhale eight hotdogs or half a dozen scrambled eggs in a sitting along with a box of macaroni and cheese and some potato chips, so I compromised by preparing three salmon fillets for him. This was going to have to be a gradual process.

I fed the children pizza and sent them to bed in time for us to enjoy our dinner in peace. Brian eyed his plate and agreed that it didn’t look too terrible, but after a couple bites he took his plate into the kitchen and returned with a large lump of butter on his rice and broccoli. As I tried to scold him for greasing up his otherwise healthy meal he triumphantly pointed to the “Heart Healthy” tub of margarine that I had purchased and stuck his tongue out at me before devouring his massive plate in less than five minutes.

Within an hour he was splayed out on the couch clutching his stomach and complaining of hunger pains.

“I don’t think you’re saving my life, I think you’re trying to speed things up by starving me to death!”

I informed him that there was melon salad in the fridge if he felt that he needed some dessert. He huffed into the kitchen and a few moments later I heard the familiar sound of aerosol spray. “Ugh, Brian! Please tell me that’s not what I think it is!” Brian returned with a large bowl of fruit piled sky high with whipped cream “Don’t say a word or I’ll go back in for the chocolate syrup. You know I’ll do it!” I relented and grumbled under my breath while he grinned like a bratty kid, licking his spoon clean.

Later in the evening as we cuddled up watching a movie, Brian slinked off to the kitchen again and came back in crunching quietly.


“What? They’re Sunchips!” he mumbled through his full mouth “They’re good for you! I didn’t get the Doritos, see, I’m doing good!”

Moments later a belch erupted from my oh-so-refined spouse that shook the couch and startled the dog. I gasped and smacked him on his arm.

“You drank a Pepsi didn’t you??”

“I had to, my stomach was getting upset from all this healthy crap you’re making me eat.”

After an exasperating first day of battling my husband’s impending doom, I was near tears by the time I explained to him that although there are times that I’d like to strangle him with my bare hands, more often than not I would prefer that he not die. I reminded him how much the children and I love and depend on him and how important it is for him to stay healthy, both for himself and for us. Brian sheepishly nodded, hugged me, and promised to try harder to get healthy.

And he stayed true to his word. In the days that followed Brian kept his portion sizes moderate and ate healthier choices, with a few treats here and there of course. He even managed to stretch his pack a Marlboros to last him two days instead of one, a great first step of the many that I hope to come.

Brian has proven his inner strength to me countless times before and I have faith that he will continue to make me proud. He knows deep in his butter-filled heart that he needs to make changes to keep himself alive and healthy so that he can watch his children grow up and so that he can continue to battle me until a ripe old age. I know that I can’t force these changes on him—his life is his own to journey to navigate—but I will be there alongside him to hold his hand for the ride and cheer on his successes.  

To see more hilarious comics by J-Sto, please visit

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  1. Hi!!! I'm stopping by and following from Thursday Cafe Blog Hop. I hope you'll check out my blog Frazzled Mama at http://frazzled-mama.oom and follow me back.

    Hope you have a great day.

  2. Wow you just described us. I am a healthy fattie, dh is a unhealthy skinny. I have learned good substitutions is way better for him. He now eats rice cakes new ranch or salt and pepper vs sun chips. They are awesome with beer. If I add sour cream to mashed cauliflowers, he will eat it vs mashed potatoes and so forth. Its a long battle and the same with the quit smoking. I am trying so hard to kick the habit. I just bought these new $20 electric cigarets at the gas station. I will let you know how they are :)

    You are such a good wife and you guys are too cute. Awesome post :)


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