92-Year-Old Man Uses Diet and Exercise To Restore Health After Stroke
This article was written by Alison Heath and published in Vitality, Toronto’s Monthly Wellness Journal.
Oskar always arrives early. His insistent ring on the doorbell sends me running down the stairs to welcome him. After flashing me a sheepish grin and mumbling some apologetic excuse about the TTC (Toronto’s transit system) being very fast today, he hands me a bag of breakfast muffins with a flourish, marches past, and heads up the stairs with a sense of purpose. Oskar Gramann, whom I affectionately refer to as the renowned artist, is in his ninety-second year! His amazing vitality comes from beating all the odds.
His zest for life is irrepressible. There’s no effort to contain his excitement as he enters the gallery and disdainfully sniffs the air.
“Where’s my coffee?” He sits at the table with a mock serious frown as I hand him the steaming cup of cranberry tea I’ve prepared. Oskar still likes to pretend he can drink all the coffee he desires. He drains the cup of tea and casts his eyes about the room surveying his art collection. Oskar’s visit to the gallery this morning is to inspect his stock of paintings and make the final arrangements for his participation in the upcoming art exhibit and sale at the McMichael’s Art Gallery. His restlessness increases. Finally he can’t wait any longer for me to finish my tea and he’s already pacing towards the front room of the gallery. I listen to the enthusiastic tap of his cane each time he spies a favorite painting. He greets them like long lost friends. Over his shoulder he calls back, “Tell me more of the plan for a fundraiser for The Heart and Stroke Foundation.”
What makes Oskar’s success story all the more unusual is that 24 years ago it looked like his life was almost over. He can still vividly recount the grip of cold and hollow fear when he awoke unable to speak, with his body paralyzed and hanging limply on one side. Yet it wasn’t the end for him. How miraculous is the human body’s ability to regenerate and find new pathways to rewire the brain. With fascination I’m drawn to examine how Oskar managed to bounce back and receive so much pleasure from these unexpected bonus years.
He admits the debilitating stroke he suffered in 1978 was a wake up call. Oskar has often described the realization that dawned as he struggled through the ensuing months of physiotherapy. He had spent his whole life compromising and living up to expectations. Somewhere along the way, he had forgotten the most basic inputs that make up a human body.
Marianne, Oskar’s bright and beautiful wife, lent graceful elegance and brought an enduring love to his life. His long and respected career as an architect would have satisfied most men. But something was always missing. He remembers the feeling of coasting through the motions of living, unable to capture a lasting feeling of fulfillment and joy.
The five inputs that make up the human body now became important: air, water, food, exercise, and love. With his life in tatters and having to relearn even the most basic movements, Oskar was free to finally explore his longing to create.
Watercolours, acrylics, pastels, and inks became his tools. His spirit responded with a fiery passion and he began to heal from the inside out. Oskar had stumbled on the deep recuperative powers of simply doing what he loved.
Nutritional Medicine Heals
Air quality was also easy to improve. Marianne filled the house with potted plants and kept their home fresh and clean with filtered air. He cut carbonated beverages from his diet, and his favorite drink became purified water. He divides his weight in half and drinks that number of ounces of water daily—but once assured me he is not against an occasional glass of wine.
Marianne and Oskar shop for their weekly grocery supplies. Every day she includes a large portion of raw fruits and sprouted vegetables and greens in their meals. There is an understanding of the important role food enzymes play in the digestion process. They both include organic whole food supplements in their diets. Oskar has aided his ability to assimilate the nutrients present in the foods he eats by adding top quality probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus.
He describes these probiotics as friendly bacteria that colonize in his intestinal tract. Their benefits include improved elimination and the production of natural antibiotics that help Oskar ward off infection. He spoke of edible microalgae as an important supplement. In his opinion, the wild grown Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is the most potent member of the blue-green algae family. His face always lights up when he speaks of the incredibly deep blue-green color of the algae as it swims about the lake in search of favorable feeding conditions. He says anything containing that much chlorophyll must be an excellent supplier of oxygen to his blood and brain.
Oskar explained how he gets his vitamins and minerals from organic whole foods—after all, he has witnessed the birth of market gardening, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, and understands the current level of soil depletion. He has seen the advent of frozen, processed, and prepared petroleum substances called foods. He’s read about the genetic engineering feats like developing tomatoes containing fish genes. Nostalgically Oskar reminisces about the vibrant taste and smell of the fresh garden produce in the 1920′s that he enjoyed as a teenager. “Food just doesn’t taste the same anymore,” he laments.
Once I asked what supplement was Oskar’s favorite. He eats 60 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily, and his energy and circulation increase when he eats Q10 combined with flax seed oil and other essential oils. “Look for a Q10 containing a starter nutrient like blue-green algae. The nutrient will be in great shape when it hits the digestive system. The flax seed oil plays an essential role in our body’s ability to absorb the Q10,” he advised.
Mental and Physical Exercise
After Oskar’s stroke, his lifelong friends rallied around with help and advice. He describes the pleasure he had as one close Peruvian friend showed him the gentle but strengthening exercises of Tai Chi, which Oskar practices on his balcony every day. He travels for luncheon appointments or concerts at the Glen Gould Studio via TTC. As a member of the humanist society, Oskar enjoys intellectual stimulus and debates. He never managed to conform to life’s rules and was a confirmed pacifist when fighting was the norm. He always refused to join any political parties and embraces his vast and multi-cultural network of friends.
“I’m a forward thinker and a modern man. My life is rich with friendships and the blissful joy of appreciating each breath in this most precious experience called life.” Oskar laughs. “At 92 I don’t need much money and can share my art with the people.”
“Enough daydreaming!” With an imperious tap of his cane, Oskar brings me back to the present task at hand. “Let’s review those fundraising plans.” Oskar doesn’t like to waste time lecturing me on his lifestyle changes. He’s too busy living life to the fullest.
Alison Heath has included wild grown full spectrum nutrition in her daily diet since 1987. During her many years of work in Information Technology, she devoted much of her time to the health sector, including homeopathic clinics and hospitals. She has held the position of president and CEO for InfoMedQue Inc., an Internet information service for the health sector in Quebec. She wrote a regular column titled “The Natural Path” that was created to provide medical practitioners who read M.D. News magazine with information on another approach toward health and well-being.