Remembering Amy

January 4, 2017

 

Remembering Amy

 

I write this with a certain amount of anxiety since it represents my frustration at my failure to help my wife resolve her health issues, and stay alive.  I sought an ‘education/career’ in Transformational Nutrition primarily in an effort to improve my own and my wife’s health, as well as to help other people in their healing journey’s.  While I have been successfully working at improving my own health I failed to help my wife and she died shortly after I started studying Transformational Nutrition and before I became certified in it.  Since it is part of my ‘story’ I feel obligated/compelled to write about it and express my ‘feelings’ about it.

 

Amy had a good heart.  She loved animals and she loved people.  She did whatever she could to help wild animals and volunteered at animal shelters to help dogs and cats, many of which she adopted.  She was a member and officer in the American Legion Auxiliary and the Amaranth Society where she worked tirelessly on many projects 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Including collecting truckloads of stuff to ship to our soldiers overseas.

 

 

 

I was married to Amy for over 20 years when she died this past January.  In her last years her health was on a downward spiral due to digestive issues the cause of which was clear to me, but I couldn’t convince Amy (or the ‘medical establishment’)  to make the dietary changes that I was convinced could have reversed the damage done to her by dialysis, facilitated her healing and saved her life.

 

Shortly after we met Amy mentioned that she suffered from ‘digestive issues’  and I suggested she might be sensitive to gluten. (This was over 20 years ago before it was ‘fashionable’)  She stopped eating bread for about a week before decided that it didn’t make a difference and went back to her old ways.  If she became nauseous after eating a blueberry muffin, she would ‘joke'(?) that she must be allergic to blueberries.

 

I don’t know if Amy was diabetic before we met, but some time after we were married I became aware that she was being treated for diabetes, with typical blood sugar reading in the 300 range.  Strangely a number of years before she died, after coming out of a previous ‘coma’, she was suddenly no longer diabetic, but rather she often had very low blood sugar (despite a high carb diet?). On occasion when she had her blood sugar tested during a doctors visit her blood glucose would be in the 30’s, which she was comfortable with, but which caused much anxiety to the doctors who urged her to eat something or drink some orange juice to bring it up. Somehow she had figured out how to reverse her own diabetes.   Over time her blood sugar was gradually increasing and I warned her that with her high consumption of sugar and flour it was only a matter of time before she became diabetic again, but she died before we found out if that would happen.

 

 At some point she developed a MRSA infection in her foot after ‘toenail surgery’ for an ingrown toenail.  It was antibiotic resistant and progressively got worse.  She was losing bone after bone in her foot as it progressed until she finally decided to have her foot amputated.   It never occurred to her, or to me at the time, that her high sugar/carb diet was feeding the MRSA infection and that going on a low carb/ketogenic diet might have ‘starved’ the infection and might have allowed her to fight it better and may have saved her foot despite it’s ‘antibiotic resistance’, and reduced the need for a series of high doses of many different antibiotics that proved to be ineffective. After losing her foot she appeared to make a full recovery.  Here is Amy directing traffic at the 4th of July parade in 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some time later the high use of antibiotics used to ‘treat’ the (MRSR) infection was blamed for weakening her kidneys and was an excuse for the doctors to argue she needed to be on dialysis.  In retrospect it was clear that her problems were due to digestive issues and food sensitivities that were never addressed and that she was never in need of dialysis.  

 

  While her Creatinine was ‘slightly elevated’ as a result of all that she had been through with the MRSR infection and related fevers and a series of powerful antibiotics she was subjected to she didn’t think she needed dialysis (neither did I) but she was pressured/tricked into agreeing to a  ‘short series of dialysis treatments’ for ‘a few months’, in theory ‘to help remove any residual antibiotics from her system’.  Of course after ‘a few months’ she was informed she would need to remain on dialysis permanently.  From the beginning she always felt worse and ‘drained’ after dialysis.  If the dialysis was correcting an accumulation of toxins that was accumulating because her kidneys weren’t functioning properly she should have felt better after a ‘treatment’ rather than worse but she always felt worse after a treatment.  The doctors assured her that she would ‘get used to it’, but she never did,  until she suffered a severe heart attack while on the way home from a dialysis session.  It was determined that she was being ‘poisoned’ by NaturaLyte, a solution being used during ‘the dialysis process’.  While she survived that heart attack she was severely weakened by it and never fully recovered. 

 

Although she was on dialysis for years before she died she was sure she didn’t need it.  In the early years she would often take a week or two off from dialysis when we went on vacation and insisted she was none the worse for it. 

 

 About a year and a half before she died, and at the time I ‘retired’, she was in the hospital going in and out of coma’s.  She would come out of a coma, be fine for a few days on a ‘liquid diet’, but as soon as she was put on ‘solid food’ (pancakes for breakfast) she would become deathly ill again and end up back in an induced coma.  I suggested to the doctor that she be tested for gluten sensitivity, but my requests fell on deaf ears.  Finally I discussed it with the dietician that took her meal orders, and the next time she came out of a coma Amy was put on a gluten free diet  (without testing) and immediately began to heal and was soon able to return home, although by this time severely weakened, she began to slowly regain her health.

 

Unfortunately she discovered gluten-free blueberry muffins and when she returned home she replaced a high gluten diet with a high gluten-free diet (full of gluten-free breads and pastries and rice pudding) and soon developed chronic diarrhea for which she started taking antidiarrheal pills.  She eventually got a prescription for them and when that wasn’t enough the doctor upped the prescription, but that still wasn’t enough and she was buying more in the drug store on top of her prescription.  She now knew for sure she was hypersensitive to gluten (alpha gliaden found in wheat, (rye and barley?)) since even the slightest accidental exposure to wheat would make her violently ill, but she refused to make the connection between her ‘gluten-free’ diet and her chronic diarrhea.  I occasionally wondered how I could convince her to give up all grain, and sugar, in her diet, but it seems the concept was foreign to her. While she regretted having to give up wheat products she now could not deny the sudden and intense pain that it caused her, but she refused to make the connection between her gluten-free diet and her diarrhea.  It seemed she would ‘rather die’ than give up her gluten-free diet, which is what finally did happen.

 

Part of this was what has been referred to as ‘Grain Brain’, as explained by Dr David Perlmutter in his book of the same name.  I tried to explain this to Amy, but she didn’t like the term and liked it less when I suggested she might be suffering from it, so I stopped talking to her about it, while thinking how well the definition applied to her.  It was clear to me that giving up grain would help her feel better physically and mentally (as explained by Dr Perlmutter in his book Grain Brain and by Dr Peter Osborne in his book No Grain, No Pain) and by facilitating the healing of her digestive system, might have ultimately saved her life.  While I hoped she would regain her health and that the diet she insisted on would work for her, I couldn’t help but connect her gluten-free diet with her worsening diarrhea but I couldn’t get her to make the connection.  It still came as a surprise (shock?) to me when she died.

 

From the time I retired in mid 2014 and Amy came home from the hospital until a few weeks before her death in January 2016 she resigned herself to going to dialysis regularly three times per week.  About two weeks before her death she suddenly decided to stop going to dialysis.  I didn’t know if she was ‘trying to end it all’ or if she was convinced she didn’t need dialysis.  During the week she was ‘off’ dialysis she had come shopping with me as she usually did.  During that week we also stopped to visit her father, for the last time, and for the first time in years she decided to walk into his house with a walker instead of a wheelchair.  She was clearly getting stronger and I had every reason to suspect her heart was getting stronger as well as the rest of her.  About a week after she stopped going to dialysis the dialysis center sent an ambulance and the police to take her to the hospital for evaluation.   In retrospect this was unnecessary.  She seemed as strong and healthy in mind and body after a week without dialysis as she was while on it.  If they wanted her to go to the hospital, or the doctors office, for evaluation or bloodwork, we would have willingly gone and  I could have easily driven her.  I suspect the ‘charges’ imposed for the ambulance is what inspired the use of the police to ‘initiate/enforce’ the ambulance transport.  When she was taken away by ambulance I was convinced they would keep her overnight to administer dialysis, but I got a phone call an hour later from her to come and pick her up. They decided she wasn’t ‘in urgent need’ of dialysis, and agreed to send her home if she promised to return to dialysis the following Thursday. (This happened on Tuesday).  This seemed strange to me; if she didn’t need the dialysis after a week without it, why would she need it two days later?  I was beginning to wonder whether she actually needed the dialysis at all, but she had been pressured to agree to return to dialysis on Thursday.  When I picked her up from the hospital she was extremely upset.  She raced out of the emergency room in her wheel chair going to the drivers door of my car and insisting she wanted to drive, but considering how upset she was I didn’t think it was a good idea.  She insisted she wanted to stop at the drug store for more anti-diarrhea medicine, and cigarettes (which she hadn’t smoked in years) and lamented that we didn’t have any marijuana at home for her to smoke.  Thursday she reluctantly went back for dialysis and when she came off the machine she was clearly ‘drained’ and exhausted.   Saturday it snowed and she used that as an excuse not to go, claiming the roads were too treacherous.  Considering how drained she was by her last session, and how well she had done the week without it I didn’t argue with her. The following Tuesday she was getting ready to go to dialysis; she got up at 3:00 AM and had just taken a shower when she began having trouble breathing.  Soon after calling for an ambulance she passed out, while still breathing, but she remained unconscious while being transported to Pocono Hospital where she was pronounced dead.  Her death was attributed to ‘heart failure’. (She already had two stents in her heart implanted during separate ‘incidents’ since her initial heart attack after starting dialysis.  On one occasion when she went to the hospital complaining of ‘chest pain’ the doctor came to me after the ‘procedure’ and told me:  ‘There were no blockages in her heart but we decided to put a stent in anyway’).  Some would say she died from going off dialysis, but it’s clear to me that she died from being ‘forced’ back onto it.  I can only wonder on a psychological level if she ‘lost heart’ when forced back onto dialysis.  On a physical level I suspect her digestive system was so compromised that she was not absorbing the nutrients she needed to heal her heart (beriberi? A vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency that can cause heart failure, aggravated by diarrhea and dialysis)

 

It was clear to me that she would not have died when and how she did if she hadn’t been ‘forced’ back onto dialysis.  She was extremely agitated by her forced trip to the emergency room for ‘evaluation’.  After what appeared to be a ‘harrowing’ ambulance ride, her diarrhea seemed to worsen after she arrived at the hospital.  It was not necessary for an ambulance to be sent with the police.  It seems the stress imposed by the police enforced trip to the emergency room was intended to create enough stress to either kill her or force her back onto dialysis (in fact it did both) to prevent her or others from believing that ‘anyone’ on dialysis for years could just stop it     The thought occurred to me that when she was released from the hospital without being dialyzed after a week without it, I should have supported her decision that she did not need it two days later, but she had already agreed to go back to dialysis and I didn’t press the issue, although I was considering how to address the issue with her (and her doctors) that if her blood work remained within relatively normal parameters without dialysis she might be able to stop dialysis, or be ‘weaned off’ of it, but she died before I was able to figure out how to address the issue.  At the time I was afraid that if I supported her decision not to go to dialysis I might have been ‘arrested’ for ‘interfering’ with her medical treatment, or ‘blamed’ for ‘instigating’ a decision not to be dialyzed.  Besides, I thought that after being on dialysis for so many years another few weeks, or months, wouldn’t hurt her.  I was wrong.

 

With or without dialysis it is clear to me that her diarrhea and stomach issues were responsible for her inability to absorb the necessary nutrients she needed to heal her weakened heart and stay alive.  She was strong willed and I couldn’t convince her to give up grain and switch to what I considered a healthy diet.  I made homemade sauerkraut but rather than eat it she bought sauerkraut at the supermarket for New Year and then boiled it before eating it (to ‘reduce the sodium’).  I found one grocery store in the area that sold raw milk which I though might be beneficial for her, but the ‘warning’ that state law required to be put on raw milk in the state of Pennsylvania scared her from drinking it:

“Raw milk advisory, raw milk is known to contain harmful bacteria and may cause food borne illness.  These bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk, however they are particularly dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.”

i think this warning is ill advised and only serves to ‘scare’ those people from using it that could most benefit from it, but that’s only ‘my opinion’.

The milk industry is now fighting to prevent soy milk or almond milk from being called milk (because they are cutting into it’s market share) but they fail to recognize that the ‘product’ they are selling as milk is not a healthy alternative due to the unnatural diet of corn/grain fed to cows (including genetically modified grains soaked in toxic herbicides, the residue of which has been found in the milk and meat of these cows) instead of their ‘natural’ diet of grass, (and the antibiotics and hormones given to the cows?).  It is also so thoroughly processed that the enzymes and bacteria that make the milk healthy are destroyed in the process of homogenization and pasteurization so that it is no longer the healthy food the ‘milk industry’ is trying to present it to be. This is the reason milk has ‘evolved’ into what is becoming recognized as a ‘common allergen’. (Probably the real reason more people are switching from milk to milk alternatives)   The simple solution that should satisfy everyone (except the milk industry) would be to relabel almond and soy milk as ‘almond and soy milk alternatives’. Another alternative is going back to healthy, fresh, unprocessed raw milk as it was delivered direct to peoples doors less than a century ago.

 

Halloween was one of Amy’s favorite holidays.  Here is a picture of her celebrating her last Halloween giving out candy to trick or treater’s.  She proudly advised the parents that the dum-dum lollypops she was giving out were ‘hypoallergenic’. (She didn’t seem to think the sugar and food coloring was a problem)  While she was dressed as a witch she felt like a queen on a throne.  This was a good day for Amy.

 

 

 

 

 

It is often asked:  Why do we know what to do, but still don’t do it?  In Amy’s case it appears she didn’t know what to do and thought she was eating a ‘healthy’ diet.  Again I attribute this largely to ‘grain brain’, which made her irritable, stressed and irrational causing psychological pain as well as physical pain in various forms.  If only I could have convinced her to give up grain (and sugar) and move to a more ketogenic diet I felt that her health would improve and she would begin thinking more clearly and feeling better, but I could not ‘force her’ or ‘convince her’ to change her diet and, in my opinion, my inability to do so was partly  responsible for her death.

 

In the months before Amy’s death I occasionally thought that the only way I could improve her health was to ‘force’ or ‘trick’ her into changing her diet, either by having her admitted to a facility where her diet could be ‘controlled’ (as it was while she was in the hospital) or take her on a ‘vacation’ where an abundance of (only) ‘healthy’ food was available to her, but I didn’t have the ability to ‘control’ her diet, or to convince her to make the changes (to eliminate grain and introduce healthier choices) that I though were necessary.  I felt it was just a matter of time until I convinced her that her constant diarrhea was a result of the high sugar and gluten-free grains in her diet.  Unfortunately her time was cut short.  

 

Amy’s death was most personal to me but not unique. Over the years I have seen others, from relatives to neighbors to coworkers, who suffered similarly with digestive issues that eventually led to their death.  In some cases I felt that they ‘resented’ me (and other healthy people?) for being healthy while they ‘suffered’, thinking it ‘wasn’t fair’  (This could also be attributed to ‘grain brain’) but unfortunately I was not in a position to help them.  I recently suggested to my brothers ex-wife that her severe rheumatoid arthritis, for which she is on ‘strong medications’, might be resolved by going gluten/dairy free (as suggested by JJ Virgin), but she ‘assured’ me that her diet had nothing to do with her arthritis, and that going gluten free would be ‘too restrictive’, suggesting to me that the majority of her diet probably consisted of grain and dairy.

 

 If ‘they’ refuse to consider my advice I don’t know what else I can do to help them, other than work to ‘change/fix’ the food supply itself, or advocate for offering free testing for ‘allergens’  to all, as part of our ‘mandated health care’, a la Quest Diagnostics  (Increasing the volume should reduce the cost?) with ‘educational information’ provided regarding the long term consequences of having certain antibody ‘markers’ elevated.   While I became certified in Transformational Nutrition 3 months after Amy died I do not claim to be an expert and I certainly am not a ‘medical professional’, although it is clear to me that most medical professionals have been indoctrinated into practices that do not facilitate healing but rather prescribe expensive pharmaceuticals and ‘procedures’ that treat symptoms while the condition deteriorates, doing more harm than good.  There are some medical professionals (such as Dr Perlmutter, Dr Steven Masley, Dr Josh AxeDr Peter Osborne at Origins Health Care in Sugarland Texas, and Dr Mark Hyman at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland Ohio to name a few) as well as some nonmedical professionals (such as JJ Virgin, Jonny Bowden, and Vani Hari to name a few) that do practice the ‘healing arts’ and that I have learned from.  In many cases these are people who began using ‘traditional methods’, for themselves (and others) only to discover they didn’t work and were then obliged to discover for themselves and others what actually did work to improve health.  All I can do is share their advise/experience/wisdom and/or direct people to them for further guidance.

 

The first step in ‘healing’, whether from something ‘minor’ like allergies, asthma and arthritis, or something ‘major’ like diabetes, heart disease or kidney failure, is to recognize the possibility that the condition can be resolved and total health restored.  Then the journey begins to discover the root cause(s) of the ‘condition(s)’ and the action steps that can be taken to resolve the imbalance(s).  (This is best explained in Ayurvedic medicine).  If you are not in ‘perfect health’ and suffering from any ‘annoying’/painful condition which is only getting worse you owe it to yourself to explore the ‘possibility’ that there is something you can do (besides take pharmaceutical drugs to ‘mask the symptoms’) that can address the root cause of the symptoms and make them go away.  Those who are pioneering this area of knowledge all recognize that optimal nutrition is an integral part of maintaining or regaining optimal health.  This is eloquently explained by Michael Pollan in his book Food Rules, as well as his other books.

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