The reason that I do what I do is because I believe that clean and safe food should be affordable to all families.
This isn’t lifestyles of the rich and famous or some hippie thing. It is a fundamental human rights issue. Kroger gets it. Seventy percent of their shoppers are choosing organic or natural every time they enter the store. WalMart gets it: they are launching a private label organic line. Annie’s gets it, WhiteWave, Chipotle: just check out their share prices. They know that this shift in consumer demand is not a fad. It is not a trend.
Cancer, autism, life threatening food allergies, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s are not fads or trends either. These conditions don’t care if we are Republican or Democrat or where we sit on the socioeconomic ladder. When these conditions and diseases hit our families, our hearts hurt the same way.
And when they hit, more and more families are cleaning out their pantries. Doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center call it “the doorknob syndrome.” A patient has been diagnosed, is sitting in their office, hearing about the procedures and treatments that are going to be done, and as they turn to leave, with their hands on the doorknob, they turn back into the office, toward the doctor and ask: “Is there something I could be doing differently with my diet?”
The cancer doctors that have shared these stories with me call it “the doorknob syndrome” because of how often they have seen it. “We need to upstream this information," they also say. Yes, we do.
I recently received this email from a dad of three who lost his health and then got it back. This is why I do what I do, as it has everything to do with how our families hold together and our country.
It feels a bit strange for me to call you Robyn since we have never met, however I have seen quite a lot of you in my living room so there is a familiarity there. My name is Joe and I am 52 years old. I have been a medic for the USNR, NYC*EMS, and a Volunteer Ambulance Corps in Commack Long Island. I have also been a computer geek since High School and an advertising sales representative. I play the guitar, piano and Bass and write music. I am a man of faith and hope to have my Pastoral Credentials shortly.
Most importantly, I am a husband of 25 years to the most fantastic woman God ever blessed this earth with and together we have three fantastic kids. Our house even had a white picket fence on it at one point. Much of this picture changed drastically in 2009. My right knee was giving me problems. Not too much of a shock old high school football injury, which over the years I had had about seven prior surgeries on. I had been told that eventually I will need a new one, so when I was getting the pain I pretty much knew I had torn a cartilage again and needed a snip and sew. I was living in PA and my old knees surgeon was no longer practicing so I choose a new physician.
My new doctor, not knowing all the particulars of my knee, and the type of surgeon he is, didn’t jump right to the knife but had me go for some blood work and tests. These turned into more blood work and tests and then re-testing. I was frustrated! I’m out of work on short term disability, waiting for a half hour knee surgery that I have had three times before, because he is not happy with my blood work? It didn’t make sense. But I trusted him, and after the third set of blood tests I received a call from him. This call came directly from the Doctor, not his PA or a nurse, the doctor, this is generally not good. It turned out that one of my blood tests showed positive for Lupus. It turned out that I did not have Lupus, but after my knee surgery I was having a lot of shoulder pain, which everyone was attributing to my using the crutches and cane. I was assured that after I was off the crutches the pain would subside. But it actually became worse, it got to a point where I could not lift my hands over my head. I began to have lower back pain, pain in my hands a feet, my hips and was taking Ibuprophen and other NSAIDS like they were M&M’s.
This lead down a rather long road of further testing, steroid’s and three rheumatologists. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis, with Fibromyalgia. There is no cure for AS and although there are quite a few drugs to treat it none of them worked for me. My Rheumatologist has tried all of the following in conjunction with pain medications and prednisone (at my highest I was taking 22mg a day): 1. Methotrexate 2. Remacaid 3. Humira 4. Voltaren 5. Celebrex 6. Cimbalta 7. Embrel
It got to a point where one morning standing in my kitchen dressed and ready for work my wife Mary looked at me and asked; “If a child jumped out in front of the car would you be able to react fast enough to avoid hitting that child?”. It was then I realized that I was no longer safe and needed to stop working. My condition worsened, and I developed side effects to some of the medications that were almost worse than the disease itself. At my worst point this was my daily medication regimine: • Prednisone 22mg • Celebrex • Remicaid (once a month) • Cimbalta 60mg • Oxycodone 7.5-325 (4x a day) or Hydrocodon 7.5 750 (4 x per day) • Tradzodone 50mg or Zolpidem Tartrate 10mg or Cyclobenzaprine 5mg (to help me sleep) • Fentanyl 100 MCG/Hour time release • leflunomide 10mg • Folic Acid 400mcg • Vitamin D3 3000iu I was a walking zombie and in truth don’t remember a whole lot from that time frame.
Mary decided that we needed to make a change in our diet. All the drugs I was on were so caustic and taxing my liver that she was going to get rid of everything she could to make it easier for my system. Now Mary was a coupon queen. She was one of those people that would go to the store, buy a cart full of stuff and they would owe her money. She began by taking everything that was highly processed out of my diet. The effect was very noticeable, I was able to sleep and stopped taking the medications for sleep. She then went further and removing all high fructose corn syrup, and MSG and went almost completely organic. The net effect is I am off ALL but one of my medications. I still take prednisone but I am down to 9mg per day. We have since gone all non-processed and organic.
We drink grass fed non-hormone raw milk, get our eggs locally (I am even thinking about raising my own chickens). We purchase our beef a half a cow at a time and it is pasture raised grass fed.
Our prayer life and faith have also played a huge roll. I am virtually pain free, have not used a cane in over a year and am selling my powered wheel chair. We have lost over 80 pounds collectively while eating and drinking full fat healthy foods. When I visited my regular doctor and she noticed the weight loss she asked what I was doing so I told her eating whole fat milk, cream half and half and gone non-processed etc. She scheduled a cholesterol blood work. My cholesterol was not only well within the norms it was lower than the previous test!
Robyn, you are one of the people that Mary found when she started her research on how to better take care of me. You are making a huge difference, my family has their Dad back and I can actually function and hope to one day reenter the work force.
Never stop, never give in. You are spot on and making a difference! Have a blessed day!”