goodnight, sour prince


I got some sobering news today on the state of my health: extensive bloodwork showed several things that suggest I am involved in a dance that I can’t do for much longer. Maybe one is not supposed to talk about such things publically, given that health insurance companies remain evil, but as a quick perusal of these pages prove, I’m not winning a Senate seat either.

Put bluntly, my cholesterol numbers are bad, and I’m pre-diabetic. And apparently those things together are a real disaster in the making if you’re not careful; they call it ischemic heart disease, but you can call it a run-of-the-mill bullshit heart attack.

I mention this because, well, you should all get tested to see if there’s anything lurking in your biodynamic, and also because I believe there’s a certain sunlight-disinfection in saying things like this publically. You can deny anything you want, you can live as if you don’t have a stake in the game, but the one thing you can never say is that you weren’t warned.

It’s also just another puncture in my bubble of entitlement and exceptionalism – after all, I may have been miserable and suffering from gout and getting strep throat every three months, but all of MY tests for anything WORRISOME always came back NEGATIVE. I was going to eat Sour Gummi Worms FOREVER, because I was this ageless man-child who got to do whatever the fuck he wanted.



Any time you can kneecap those self-defining myths about yourself, you have the opportunity for growth, because the alternative is unacceptable. Besides, I told Tessa that we will die like Admiral Nimitz and his wife: commit suicide together when we’re good and ready. And I can’t disappoint her, she gets really pissed off.

So now it’s no more desserts; I have to throw away my gum; I run harder and faster; I go back on the Niacin, Vitamin D and Omega 3s; and I hope I don’t have the kind of genetic horseshit that means going on a statin and carrying around packets of goddamn Splenda.

Plenty of people have it much worse than I ever will. Many of you have been dealing with things that makes this seem like a bad haircut. One of my fraternity brothers, Dan Wheeless, a great friend of many in our extended community, just passed away from an epileptic seizure this weekend. There’s nothing interesting about these afflictions, but the day you find out about them hits you upside the head just the same.


11 thoughts on “goodnight, sour prince

  1. Tim Q.

    If you haven’t already, watch Forks Over Knives. Based on Dr. Esselstyn’s book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”. His son Rip’s book is also good. It’s “The Engine 2 Diet”. He’s a fireman and tri athlete. Also, had a friend recommend “The Blood Sugar Solution” by Mark Hyman. So sorry to hear about Dan’ s sudden death.

  2. litlnemo

    I’m sorry to hear this. I’m going through something similar… high blood pressure after years of it being low-normal. The latest medicine for it has the lovely side effect of possibly raising my blood sugar. My blood sugar has never been a problem, ever, but now I’m worrying about it. Because I sure don’t want that life-shortener on top of the stress in my life for the last two years.
    (And the problem with the high blood pressure is that part of it may be caused by another medication, which is intended to treat two different things. If I stop taking that, I have to take two different medications to treat the issues, and at least one of those also raises blood pressure. You can’t win.)

  3. Heather

    Dont diminish being pre-diabetic or any of that other stuff, just because some of us have it worse. As a card carrying member of the medical industrial complex, I can honestly say that learning to take care of my body has been one of the great challenges of my life. But there is something really esteemable about doing all those things we don’t want to do and then feeling better on the other side. The Vitamix on my counter has become my friend and I put all my supplements in a vintage breadbox so I don’t feel like an old person with all my meds strewn about (bought it special just for that).Annoyingly, I make green drinks with kale and take cod liver oil. And, I make myself exercise everyday. All of this I do imperfectly. But, I feel so much better.

  4. Dona

    I second the Esselstyn recommendations. It means vegan diet, which means you won’t need statins. Maple syrup is much more delicious than splenda. Take it from Bill Clinton, Roger, my friends Ross and Mary, and me, it’s worth it.
    Also, Chester Nimitz was my grandmother’s first cousin.

  5. Annie

    Holy shit!! So glad you found all this out before anything serious happened! We cannot do without Ian Williams’s heart.

  6. Claverack Weekender

    You know Dr. Esselstyn lives in Claverack part time and is a really nice and interesting guy. You should try to meet him. His book is fascinating: inoperable heart patients completely recover based on diet alone and live decades longer. He does recommend statins as well for advanced cases. Also try “Eat for Health” by Joel Fuhrman.

  7. Kathy

    I’m sorry for your medical news. Is it better to know than be a ticking time bomb? I would think so.
    One of my favorite blogs (besides yours) is by Ken Levine and he takes questions from the comments and answers them in later posts. I would love to hear your take on Soderbergh’s State of Cinema keynote.

  8. Hamp

    A couple of years ago Chris found out that his cholesterol numbers were very bad. The dr wanted him to start taking statin drugs. Chris decided to try modifying his diet first. So he gave up meat pretty much entirely (not vegan – he still eats eggs and occasional dairy), though eats fish/shellfish once every couple of weeks or so. Six months later his cholesterol numbers were back in the good level. Try giving up meat first, unless your dr insists you need to start on the drugs now. It’s worth a try.

  9. Emily

    If you have the interest and inclination, read Wheat Belly by William Davis. He’s a cardiologist who couldn’t figure out why he was so freakin’ fat, and it turns out it was wheat. The book is a lot of anecdotal case studies of his patients + basic explanations of the medical science behind what happens to your body when you consume wheat. Because he’s a cardiologist, there is a lot of information linking wheat to its effects on cholesterol, blood sugar, and how it exacerbates other medical issues, even in people who don’t have classic “gluten intolerance” and “wheat sensitivity”. The last section (like many diet books) is an extensive diet plan and recipes, though it’s mostly just a whole-foods diet, which is pretty much the easiest first step you can take with any health problem. And it’s discounted on Amazon right now!

  10. Anne

    Wheat belly. I think that’s me.
    Ian, I’m sorry about your health issues but as others have said, better to know and take whatever measures you can to improve the odds.
    Got my own type 2 diabetes ticket about 5 weeks ago and have been low-carbing ever since. I can’t believe how much better I feel when I’m not eating a lot of wheat products and sugar.
    A few summers ago I did gluten-free for about 6 weeks and, again, felt great and lost weight. As usual, I didn’t stick with the regiment long enough for permanent changes. But it’s a very good plan.
    A diabetic-type diet can be pretty diverse and is a healthy way of eating. My grocery cart has never looked so impressively healthy as it has these past 5 weeks. I learned to love dark greens (kale! collards! turnip greens!) sauteed in a little olive oil with chopped garlic until they’re a yummy wilted mess (a dash of vinegar helps jazz them up and cut the bitterness). Having certain foods be simply off-limits forever seems to be easier for me to deal with than the old concept of “dieting” which always felt temporary and fraught with martyrdom. I absolutely adore fish, and that is now part of my weekly meal plan at least twice if not more … and the oils in fishes like salmon and swordfish are the good ones.
    I’m not perfect — I had a meltdown one night last week that involved peanut butter (the natural kind; permitted) and strawberry preserves eaten together with a tablespoon. Egads. I felt like the worst junkie in the world. But on the whole I’m doing OK for someone without a shred of willpower. Like you, I want to live a long life so I can be with my family.
    Keep us posted, OK? I will absolutely not find anything about your food program boring in the slightest. We are legion… Americans who have been poisoned by processed flour and sugar. Now we have to emerge on the other side where it’s a lot healthier for everyone. Rah, rah. ;-)


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