A Valentine Love Story


For many, Valentine’s Day is filled with candlelit dinners, flowers and romance. Yet, unfortunately, for many others, it's just another day filled with disappointment due to a loved one’s confusing perils of addiction. 

Addiction is not solitary; it painfully affects everyone, especially those closest to the person caught in the web of its entanglements. 

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Peggy, the lovely wife of Ronnie Valentine, who I recently interviewed on Disease Proof. If you recall, Ronnie was not only caught up in food and alcohol addiction, but smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. I asked Peggy if she’d be willing to share her perspective of what it was like being married to someone drowning in addiction, (with Ronnie’s blessing), and she wholeheartedly agreed to it. Welcome to Disease Proof, Peggy.




                      picture of young couple

What was your life like being married to someone trapped in addiction?

When Ronnie and I married in 1985, he was disciplined, athletic, healthy, and balanced. His addiction to cigarettes, alcohol and food developed slowly over time, as did my coping mechanisms. I definitely progressed in a downward spiral, in my own way, right along with him. 

As a couple, our once normal, loving partnership turned to one of caregiver and sick, disabled person.  Having to pick up additional responsibilities to cover for Ronnie’s physical incapacities and emotional absence due to behaviors that were chosen by him, I continued in a repetitive cycle of anger, pity, hope, and forgiveness, which was detrimental to my own health and well being. 


How did Ronnie’s addictions affect your children and other relationships?

Addiction in our case, as I think for most people suffering from it, affected every relationship within our family, plus our social relationships, in a negative way. Our children experienced the absence of their father. His desire to be in their lives was limited as the addictions were the driving force in his life. I remember telling the kids about a year before Ronnie discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site that I felt strongly their father would not be around much longer. We were living with a person who was voluntarily and slowly killing himself. I knew that his will to live had long departed. Although we never talked about it, I knew that Ronnie was putting affairs in order so that I could carry on in his absence. And because his preference was to socialize with those who liked to participate in the same things, our social life also became out-of-balance as isolation took place of relationships.


married coupleHow did it affect your finances?

Ronnie was taking medications that were costing over $600/month in out-of-pocket expenses! Our finances were crippled, because more than $2500 every month was being thrown out the window to fund his addictions and medications. Today I’m proud to say that we spend absolutely nothing on prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, cigarettes, alcohol, eating out, junk food, or any other vice. 


How did you cope with the ongoing stress? 

I wish I could say that I was the pillar of strength and support, but that would be an inaccurate assessment. However, I do believe for those married that we ultimately want our marriages to succeed. The need to WANT to trust our partner is strong. I knew that this was the foundation to our relationship. If the trust was gone, we were through.

I experienced a naïve type of hope that wanted to find something good to hang on to, which became my coping mechanism. However, eventually over the years, my instinct and good sense confirmed to me that this problem wasn’t going to get any better or go away. As a last resort, I went to my God on Ronnie’s behalf and begged for mercy. I began to pray a lot.

Only God can change a heart. All the diets, disciplined efforts, exercise programs, treatment centers, hypnosis, or any other methods are destined to fail if the heart of the person has not decided to live. I think many people have to hit bottom in order to look up, and Ronnie was no exception. After his second trip to the hospital for treatment of serious heart disease in three years, we were both at rock bottom.


What was the turning point for you?

Upon returning home after having three stents put into his arteries [two years after quadruple bypass surgery], I watched Ronnie search for a new way to live. He discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site and began to communicate with him about his health. As Ronnie gained information, he began to change. Although that first year was hard, (Ronnie had been smoking four packs of cigarettes a day and stopped cold turkey), his decision to live never faltered. It was an instant decision on his part. Seeing his will to live again was a turning point for me as I could look forward to a future with the man that I loved the most in the world. My assumption of being a widow was no longer valid! God had come through in His mercy.


          before and after pics of male

What has it been like to see Ronnie change right before your eyes?

There has been a lot of attention, and rightfully so, spent on gaining knowledge about vitamins, minerals, what and when to eat, how foods affect the body, human anatomy, exercise, and managing stress; almost a hobby and passion for Ronnie. I am very proud of his dedication to learn this information and his willingness to share it with anyone ready to listen.

A new trust has been restored to our relationship. We are now on the same page for the first time in years.  Our children have been released of the constant burden of worry, not only for their father, but for me as well.

Sometimes I still forget that I don’t have to do everything by myself anymore. I now have a healthy and fit husband who can help bring in groceries, mow the lawn, and move heavy boxes and furniture with ease; all of which he couldn’t do when he was sick and incapacitated.  I no longer see our money flying out the door with nothing to show for it. Our life is so much better and easier, and an open book to family and friends with nothing to hide.


Is there anything that you would like to share with those who are committed to a loved one through the devastation of addiction?

Ronnie was hurting, but he was a dynamic and extraordinary individual waiting to jump out and live again.  I think it’s important not to put a lot of unnecessary blame on someone caught in addiction, and in the process, bypass our own shortcomings. 

If you are reading this and are a parent or grandparent, be watchful of your children and grandchildren. Their physical and emotional well-beings are impressionable, and their nutritional habits are being formed by you. Some of the answers to addiction may lie here, and I suspect that if taught early, good habits and health would carry throughout a lifetime.



Happy Valentines Day Ronnie and Peggy Valentine! May you have many wonderful years together!



Image credits: roses, theresampetoskey@Flickr; silhouette, emergingcity.com





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Comments (17) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Mieke Benton - February 12, 2010 12:45 PM

Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle - February 12, 2010 3:41 PM

My favorite article ever on Disease Proof! Thanks Peggy for sharing this honest and intimate profile! Gut wrenching and heart warming at the same time. I will send this on to family and friends.
Happy and healthy Valentines Day to you both.

Ann Wooledge - February 12, 2010 5:01 PM

Thank you so very much for this well-written, articulate story that I think is so very important. Dr. Fuhrman is one of a kind and has shown that nutrition is KEY, but as Peggy so eloquently said, prayer is also essential. I just had this discussion with a client - it's a balance of spiritual, mental and physical - balance. I believe God uses natural means to heal and wants us to become educated and convinced that good nutrition will bring healing. I also appreciate that Peggy made the statement about our responsibility to teach our children and that both good habits and bad are "caught" early. Thank you Peggy & Ronnie for sharing this very personal story.

Sally - February 12, 2010 5:28 PM

Now this is a great love story!Thanks for sharing!
This past month my husband gave up his nightly beer/wine habit and has really embraced (finally)ETL foods!We have been cooking and preparing foods together now!It has really been fun! He told me he didn't want to be a burden on me when he got older and had deteriorating health( like his parents).BTW
he is 42 and I'm 55 but I've taken very good care of my health...he however has not...til now :-)

Tresia - February 12, 2010 6:04 PM

What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing, I am sure many people will be touched. Continued success for the future.

Tresia - February 12, 2010 6:11 PM

What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing, I am sure many people will be touched. Continued success for the future.

Cindy - February 12, 2010 6:45 PM

What a beautiful story, and a ray of hope for those of us in similar situations. Thank you!

Gerry Lautner - February 12, 2010 8:43 PM

Thanks for sharing your story Peggy, your honesty is refreshing.

In many ways it is similar to mine. For mine is a love story too.

I too was dying early, two heart attacks, following severe, long standing lower back degeneration (10 years, and this manifested before the other sypmtoms just as Dr Fuhrman says in ETL), and type 2 diabetes, and multiple trips to DO's, MD's, Chiropractors, etc. and adherance to Am Diabetic Association, Am Heart Association diets, but I just got worse.

Finally, after the first heart attack, a major one, I started really working the internet, where I learned many things, and made some changes, but I didn't find Dr. Fuhrmans site until several months later after the second, milder, heart attack which sent me to deeper, concerted prayer. I had been made a truly spiritual person since mid life, and had prayed before, but not enough.

The Lord had also been showing me that I was what the Bible calls a glutton, though no modern preacher had ever had the honesty to tell me so.

Peggy uses the term addictive, and that is accurate, but it's gluttony in Biblical terms, or sensuality, meaning driven by the outward or physical senses, rather than inward spiritual ones, that characterizes addiction of any type. It is the activation of the pleasure centers in the brain associated with the outward or physical senses, and a preoccupation with this, rather than the inward spiritual senses that God Himself activates in those who truly seek Him, which characterizes this problem. This is what God was teaching me, and it was after I began to see this, and to embrace it as truth, and asked more sincerly for help, that I found Dr Fuhrman's site.

When I began to read there, I knew instantly, having a science background, that what I was reading was true, and that there were things there revealed, on his site, and in Eat to Live, that I had missed in my own study. Many are the parallels in scripture between correct and incorrect physical and spiritual eating and healing, and "physicians of no value" that "heal the wound of my people slightly", to quote just one.

So, I thanked God, and began to change things, with His help. That was almost 3 years ago to the day, and I'm almost 60 now. I know that I would be dead now, because I had no money and didn't call 911 when the heart attacks came, for I had been praying that God would take me quickly for several years as my back had just gotten worse and worse and I could no longer work, and refused to seek government or public help. I had made my own mess and saw no reason to live at others expense, especially since where I was going would be infinitly better, "where all my tears would be wiped away", personally by Him, and where "there would be no more sorrow, or pain". So I was quite ready to go, but He had other plans, as I had yet some things to be learned.

Today, I can work again; the back pain now being minimal can be controlled by Dr Fuhrman's correct, anti-inflamatory diet and some turmeric and Boswellia, the type 2 diabetes is well controlled as long as I keep my weight below 165, and 160 is better. But this is a constant battle, for lusts never go away, according to the Word, and I have found it so in experience. They can be controlled and even defeated in a sense, but they never completely go away in this life.

I'm 6 feet one and weighed 228 before I lost the 63lb to get to 165. Ten pounds of gain to 175 is like turning a switch on for the diabetic symptoms as the frequent urination at night, especially, starts again.

The longer I do what I should, the better the results. I have had absolutely no heart symptoms since making the changes, and run, walk, work heavily outdoors in my job (landscaping) and swim and bike. It is a miracle, and the heart symptoms reversed the fastest. No chest discomfort after about 3 months on ETL.

I like very much, really most of all, what Peggy has to say about God's part in changing a heart, because to my mind, thats the key.

If He doesn't do that, and as Peggy says, only He can, then what is the point anyway?

Yes, my story is a love story too, about loving the most beautiful and excellent being that ever lived and breathed, and died, rose again, Jesus Christ, God's own son.

For no matter how long I live physically, it is but a whisper in time compared to eternity, and we'll all be there sooner than we realize.

And then, it won't be how long you lived, but how you lived, and Who you lived for.

That will be the question that dwarfs all others.

To God be the Glory.

austinpnp - February 12, 2010 8:51 PM

I'm an R.N. I've watched my grown son, now 28 yrs. old, grow into a morbidly obese person in spite of my healthful eating habits and knowledge that I passed onto him. I know that now it's up to him to change, not me. It's hard to see him at over 300 pounds and eating foods that are not fit for life. I can't nag him because he knows what's right. So, now what? Just watch him become a Type 2 diabetic on diaylsis?

Betty - February 12, 2010 9:08 PM

What a wonderful story with a happy ending. My life, sadly, is much the same as yours but my husband who started out at 155 lbs is now over 350, smokes, had bypass surgery, a valve replaced, 3 stents and a maglignant kidney removed, has no desire to change and at 67 has accepted what is facing us. We will be married 41 years in 3 days and I am thankful but do wonder how many more years there might be.

Heartfelt love and best wishes to you.

Natalie - February 12, 2010 9:55 PM

Amazing story and most people don't realize that cigs, food and alcohol are nothing more than an addiction.... breaking the chain is the key to freedom! Allen Carr's book is great for ditching smokes, I have 12 days clean :-)

suzan - February 12, 2010 10:15 PM

nice article ...very informative and beneficial for health

Horsecrazy - February 12, 2010 10:34 PM

What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. I am so happy for both of you!! I hope others will read this and know there truly is hope and health where the only medication is excellent nutrition.

Barbara - February 13, 2010 8:29 AM

What a wonderful story. Thank you so much. I will share this with anyone who will listen.

Donna Reish - February 13, 2010 11:45 AM

Great article, Emily! So many aspects to think about. Thanks for sharing it!

Robin Jeep - February 13, 2010 12:43 PM

What a beautiful and heartwarming story, thank you!

Robin Jeep

Ronnie Gamble - February 15, 2010 3:40 PM

I am so touched by such a BEAUTIFUL story. For most of my 52 yrs.I have hid behind food addiction.But stories like these and faith in my beloved creator,along with a special beautiful soulmate that brings joy and loving reason to my sanity,is helping me stay on course to a HEALTHY, meaningful life,one truly worth living.

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