Pharma Voodoo & Frankenfoods

Checked out an article posted on FB by my friend Cheryl — In a nutshell, it’s about the fact that a healthy diet can reverse all sorts of ailments. No shit.

The HuffPo article talks about a severely diabetic woman who literally turned her health around through a plant-based diet.

According to author John Robbins, the great whole foods guru:

The physicians she was seeing for her diabetes took a look at her numbers, were amazed, and wanted to know how she did it. “I told them I had adopted a completely plant-based diet. They didn’t seem surprised at all, and told me that plant-based diets were helping to reverse diabetes. When I asked why they had not suggested it, they told me because it isn’t practical.”

Aghast, she asked her doctor, “Do you think it’s practical to be 30 years old and lose a leg?”

She walked out of that doctor’s office and never went back. “Everything changed from that moment,” she recalls. “I slowly decreased all the other diabetes medicines I was on. I lowered my blood cholesterol without drugs. I lowered my blood pressure without drugs. I corrected my hormonal problems without drugs. Many diabetics go blind, but I reversed the nerve damage in my eyes. And that infection in my leg? It completely healed. The arthritis in my feet? It went away.”

Ironically, this sort-of ties into an absolute rage-fest I had last week.

I have no insurance here in Va., it’s pricey to drive the gas beast back to Philly, and I needed some refills on a variety of scripts. So, I made an appointment with the “family” doc – i.e. the practice all my in-laws go to – and plunked down an ungodly $130. For fifteen minutes of bullshit.

Which is why last week, attempting to meditate away the anger from such a colossal waste of time and money, I woke up and remembered that no high falutin’ fancy degreed white coat can possibly help me better’n I can help myself.

In an attempt to alleviate the pain and suffering from two mondo ailments – surgery-resistant endometriosis and chronic lyme disease, which has been kind enough to gift me with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia – my Philly M.D. gave me all sorts of scripts for pain, my heart and the anxiety that comes from a congenital heart defect and enduring the life I’ve lived recently.

I needed everything filled. So last week I sat in the cush office waiting for this unknown doc to rescue me. And she was nice enough, but dumb as a box of rocks. She either had no clue about anything, or was testing me. Either way, I sat there with my previously 120 over 80 blood pressure mounting, wondering how the hell anyone could be so dense.

She wondered aloud why I was on the particular heart meds I’m on.

“Do I tell her it’s because I did the research after a fucked-up EKG and, knowing myself, knew what would work?” I thought to myself. “Because it does, but she might be offended by the fact that I appear to know more than a doctor…”

So I stayed mum.

But as she continued talking, I realized she could care less about anything relating to me or my health. Just like every other white coat I’d been “lucky” enough to have insurance to see in my 30s.

See, I spent my 20s without the great American salvation – health insurance – but amazingly, I was healthier than I’ve ever been, and not just because I was young. With the exception of lyme, I’ve had the same ailments most of my life.

My magic potion? Go east. Waaay east.

Which is why, pissed off at this inanity of this woman and the fact that she could care less if I lived or died, I decided I’m done with the white coats.

Now, I’m not saying I will never darken the halls of western medicine again. If I break a hip, have a giant tumor on the side of my head that talks, or get stung by a bee – a potentially very deadly incident – I’ll head to the ER. Otherwise, I’m done.

See, when I moved to Philly I was a vegan. I saw my acupuncturist once a week. I hit up Chinatown every few weeks for traditional Chinese medicines. My car rarely got used. But then I took that gig in the corporate prison, and everything changed.

I got insurance, and used it, which meant I was constantly plied with tests and pushed to take pharmaceuticals to fix what ailed me. Yet ironically, it’s almost exclusively the fault of one of those white coats that I’m in such rough shape.

I’d been having strange illnesses and ailments for years when I finally told my doc I wanted to see a lyme specialist. A woman I worked with had it, and the research I’d done after talking to her gave me chills.

My doc became enraged, practically spitting through her words. “Have you spent time in the woods recently? No? Have you found a tick? No? I simply do not believe you have lyme disease. It is practically impossible to get, and if you haven’t had a tick or a rash, I think you’re seeing symptoms where none exist.”

“But I’d like to see a specialist, just in case.”

As my PCP, she was solely in charge of filling out referrals for me to see specialists. Without her acquiescence, I could do nothing, unless, of course, I wanted to pay out-of-pocket, something I could not afford to do.

“I really don’t think that’s necessary,” she spat.

“Well, you signed the referral for my husband to see him. I’d like to see him too.”

“Listen,” she said, taking the posture of a parent talking to a child. “We can do the lyme test right here. If we do, and it comes back negative, will you promise me you will drop this altogether? There is no such thing as chronic lyme, and because you have not had a tick or a rash, I really do not think this is the answer.”

“Okay, I’ll do the test,” I said, unsure if I was making the right decision. After all, the research I’d done indicated tests are rarely accurate. “But I’ve read that these tests aren’t very accurate.”

“That is absolutely not true,” she said, and walked to the door. “Go to the lab and they’ll draw your blood.”

I’d yet to learn that what I’d read was indeed true: there are two current tests for lyme disease, neither of which is even remotely reliable, according to the Lyme Disease Research Database:

“Two tests are currently used to detect lyme infection: the Western Blot analysis, which is used to identify particular antibodies, and the ELISA, a more general antibody test. However, both tests are notoriously inaccurate. Both test for antibodies, which complicates the detection of lyme bacteria.

“Patients can take a Lyme disease test one week and get a positive result, and take the same test two weeks later and result in a negative. The confusion is due to the nature of the Lyme bacteria, which is highly adaptive and bent on survival within a threatening environment.”

See, the white coats with the important degrees can’t even decide if chronic lyme exists, despite the fact that those who have it know damn well what’s going on. You literally feel it in your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and in the brain fog that keeps people like me from remembering the most basic words sometimes.

Can you imagine a test for cancer that was only accurate sometimes, and you couldn’t even get the same result twice? The world would explode in anger. The pink ribbon brigade would storm the capitol and demand better tests. But when it comes to lyme, the politics are already too far gone.

So by the time I found out I really did have lyme, I was sick all the time, lying on the floor with a nonstop raging fever, unable to perform the most basic tasks. Everything hurt, moving felt like I was weighed down by a dozen anvils.

So when my new doctor called to tell me the lyme test they’d performed “just in case,” despite my protestations that I’d already been tested, came back positive, I cried. How could I not? I knew when the shit hit the fan, when things started getting fucked up and going all wrong: 2000, the same year I spent an inordinate time sitting, laying, running and pissing all along the woods and grasses of upstate New York while training to run the Dublin marathon.

The worst part was knowing that I’d been duped by my PCP the year before. Had I known I did indeed have lyme, I never would’ve opted for surgery on the endo – it’s one of the things you must avoid because the cause of lyme, the spirochetes, go into hyper mode when certain things happen, i.e. surgery, extreme illness or stress.

So, after enduring the stupid doctor last week, I remembered I’ve been going about it all wrong.

I moved from San Francisco to Boston 13 years ago. So, I’ve been back on the east coast for over a dozen years, and somehow, in that time, I’ve forgotten everything I learned while an undergraduate, artist, waitress and bike messenger.

Point is, spending the bulk of my 20s in SF taught me a lot about right and wrong, especially in regard to my ailments, no matter what they may be. I’d completely sworn off white coats, instead heading once a week to probably the most skilled acupuncturist this side of China, and every other week to an equally brilliant, not to mention prescient, massage therapist. Between the needles, herbs and body work, I was a well-oiled machine, powering myself and my bike up and over any hill the city could throw at me, pounds of packages on my back, despite the heart defect, asthma and endo.

The good news is that H., the dog and I are already more than halfway there. I’ve got my traditional Chinese medicines, a bottle of spirochete-blasting New Chapter organics, and the next time I have $130 to my name I’m heading for acupuncture.

Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
Person, heal thyself ... and eat well in the process!

Our house “bible” is called Healing with Whole Foods. Our food, drink and even tobacco, alcohol, dog food and treats are 100 percent organic. Yeah, we’re dirt poor, which means we buy a lot less than most. But what’s the point of ingesting hormones, preservatives and frankenfoods if they’re just going to make you sick?

Whenever we drive to Charlottesville, we go early – before daybreak when traffic gets crazy. And each and every time, without fail, an eighteen-wheeler goes cruising past, feathers flying. I cringe each time the chicken truck flies by – hundreds of white, fluffy hens packed like sardines into battery cages, out in the cold night air, some sticking their little heads out the side, oblivious to the fact that they’re on their way to slaughter.

Like everything else in this country controlled by large businesses, our food industry is toxic, to the land and those it feeds.

A cashier asked me yesterday, as I was buying a half-gallon of Horizon milk, if organic tastes better. I had to think about what to say – how much prosthelytizing I wanted to do.

“It absolutely does,” I said. “But, what’s more important is that it doesn’t have hormones. Regular milk cows get growth hormones, which get into the milk.” She looked at me blankly.

How much could I explain in those few seconds? Would she ever understand the link between 10-year-olds growing breasts and those fluffy, front-heavy hens flying by on the highway?

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