Take Back Your Own Health

Down but not out!
"We probably can't save your life, but even if we do, you'll need a kidney transplant, a dialysis tube connected to your chest and pharmaceutical meds for the rest of your life. If all goes better than expected, you'll get to lead a severely compromised life." Sickeningly bloated by 75 pounds of excess fluid, I peered up from my uncomfortable hospital bed at the team of somber kidney specialists, smiled and said "that doesn't work for me at all. What I'd like is for your assistance in helping me heal instead." 

Their response was a perplexed "what are you talking about? Your kidney's completely shot, dead, finito (they didn't really say finito). You're way beyond the point of no return. Look at these charts! We've never seen anyone survive this long with kidneys as damaged as yours!"

What I said next turned their perplexion to anger. "Look, here's how I see things. No way am I going to accept the life you guys have laid out for me. No thank you." Seeking a clearer way to describe how I wanted our new partnership to go, all I could come up with was a little metaphor (oh and how I love metaphors). "Think of me as a homeowner with a clogged drain and you guys are the plumbers who have the tools to unclog it. After it's unclogged, I'll take it from there. I just need to buy some time to figure out what caused this malfunction in the first place, get to the root cause."

The below is a definition of my ailment from The American Diabetes Association 
When our bodies digest the protein we eat, the process creates waste products. In the kidneys, millions of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) with even tinier holes in them act as filters. As blood flows through the blood vessels, small molecules such as waste products squeeze through the holes. These waste products become part of the urine. Useful substances, such as protein and red blood cells, are too big to pass through the holes in the filter and stay in the blood (in my case, the holes in the filter became so enlarged I started spilling those much needed protein molecules through urination).
When kidney disease is diagnosed early, (during microalbuminuria), several treatments may keep kidney disease from getting worse (notice they do not say "if diagnosed early, it can be reversed or healed," but instead just a vague statement that treatment may keep it "from getting worse.")
In time, the stress of overwork causes the kidneys to lose their filtering ability. Waste products then start to build up in the blood. Finally, the kidneys fail. This failure, ESRD, is very serious. A person with ESRD needs to have a kidney transplant or to have the blood filtered by machine dialysis (this was my situation upon entering the hospital).
So simple & reasonable it's easy to ignore.
Faced with this horrific diagnosis, something inside me screamed "there's nothing wrong with your kidneys. Something else is going on inside that is causing this. Find that and you will heal." It wasn't a voice really, but more of an instinctual knowing that I chose to listen to.

They shook their heads pitifully I suppose and said "you can't heal from this. That's off the table, impossible. We've never seen kidneys as scarred and damaged as yours. Stop this delusional nonsense and come back to reality or you will die!"

I figured they said that to everyone so if you live, they look like heroes and if you die, well, it's not on them. I shot back, "but you all said I was probably going to die anyway so what do I really have to lose now?" (semantics, I know and boy, did that piss them off) I continued, "let's be logical for a minute. My kidneys were fine up until six months ago so there has to be a reason they suddenly stopped working, like some kind of internal circuit disconnection. I'd like you all as my plumbing specialists to put me on dialysis now so we can drain a bunch of that nasty, trapped fluid out of me. I'll bet you that my kidneys will start working again once the pressure is taken off of them and give us time to find the real issue here so we won't have to do something as drastic as removing them. That option should be a very last resort, not the first. Let's go all the way and heal them so I can get back to running and surfing a few weeks from now. Who's with me?!"

What doctors are trained to believe.
My little speech to inspire the morale of the troops was met with blank stares and a few eye-rolls, not at all what I had in mind. "You're an idiot if you think we're going to let you control things here. And stop saying "heal!" How many times do we have to tell you damaged kidneys cannot be healed? We will start you on dialysis, but you're going to also need a lot of different drugs to keep you alive. Why have you told the nurses that you won't take them?" I responded pragmatically "well, it's simple really. Prednisone, Cozaar and the other drugs you prescribed have never been actually proven to have any benefit whatsoever, but are known to cause very bad toxic side-effects, correct?"

They hemmed and hawwed, then sort of agreed. "Yes, they can be toxic under certain circumstances, but in your situation, the benefits far outweigh the risks because there appears to be evidence that some people with kidney ailments show some improvement with these drugs." When I asked what kind of improvement some of these people experienced, they responded "slight reduction of symptoms." Could they be any more vague? In fact, Cozaar was banned in some European countries because thousands of people died from its side-effects. "So, if my kidneys are not functioning right now, how can I pass the toxins from the drugs out of my system? The further poisoning from these toxic time-bombs would virtually guarantee my kidneys would fail for good, right?"

Because I'm a doctor, that's why!
Completely exasperated and annoyed, they defensively sucker-punched me in the kidneys with a doozy. "If you're so smart, how did you end up laying here in the first place?" Ouch, yet good question. What the hell had happened for me to find myself in a hospital for the first time in my life looking like a slightly smaller version of Jabba the Hut?

Well, in April of 2008, I suddenly began to put on weight and I mean a LOT of weight! I went from a fit 145 lbs to over 220 lbs in little over three months which crippled me mentally, emotionally and physically. No more yoga, running, surfing or even walking for that matter. I could barely move due to this inexplicable toxic fluid buildup. It got so bad I couldn't even get out of bed without assistance and the basics that we should be able to take for granted, like going number one and two, became a grueling and painful chore.

I sought out all manner of holistic practitioners, energy workers and acupuncturists, yet nothing could stop the fluid buildup. Towards the end of the summer, despite sitting in a hot far infrared sauna for up to five hours a day, I was still putting on weight. I was depressed and completely at a loss. How could my body, which I thought I had taken such great care of for so many years, suddenly betray me like this? I looked in the mirror and what pathetically peered back was unrecognizable to me. This had to be some sort of joke or twisted nightmare that I would wake up from, but it wasn't. I had to deal with this reality fast, or like the doctors would later say "you're going to die" and I knew it.

In early August of 2008, the holistic doctor and my last outside hope finally threw in the towel, gravely telling me "your tests show that your heart is also failing now. I know you don't like western medicine, but you have to go to the hospital now because you are dying and on the verge of cardiac arrest. Your body can't take anymore and is shutting down. I'm sorry, there's nothing more I can do for you." Feeling completely defeated and resigned to my fate, I grudgingly checked myself into UCLA hospital. 

Any questions?
Once I got there though, my whole approach shifted and I was struck by a simple, yet profound thought: "no one knows our bodies better than we do and if we listened when it speaks to us, we could recover from virtually anything." I was simply too tired to continue looking outside of myself for answers that were not going to come. In that moment of acknowledgement, the built-up stress, fear and desperation were replaced by a relaxing sense of quiet calm. It became critical that I transform the way I thought about this and instead look upon it as a way to become better through this challenging experience.

The first thing I had to do was change my perspective on the hospitalization itself. In my mind, hospitals were hopeless places where people go to die so that had to change pronto. Instead, I told myself I was actually at a five-star resort spa and that even the nasty meals they served were gourmet all the way! This lightened me up considerably and I started to smile and joke with the nurses constantly as I just knew this was the beginning of the healing process. I even asked the nurses every morning if there was anything I could do to help them, which they thought was a strange offer coming from someone in my predicament. One nurse later shared that the entire staff couldn't understand why I was being so upbeat. "We thought you had lost your mind!" Maybe I had, but it appeared to work.

I then began making what the doctors termed "wild and delusional" predictions regarding my future recovery. The difference to me was that I completely believed what I said and knew they were going to happen. It was not just an idle positive-thinking trick. The first was that my supposedly dead kidneys were going to start working again in three days. On that third day, the surprised doctors came with the news that "we don't know how this is possible, but your kidneys appear to have come back to life!" Despite them raining on my healing parade with their own dour prediction that this was just one of those inexplicable, but very temporary spontaneous remissions, I made an even bigger one.
They think we're all sheep and treat us as such.

But before I get to that, it was incredibly heartening to me when the nurses actually started to take me up on my offer to help them. One nurse whispered to me as she was drawing my blood, "the docs can't figure out how you're getting better, but you seem to know a lot about health they don't. Can you give me some advice for my husband who has high blood pressure?" "Glad to!" Another nurse asked me what she should do about her son with diabetes. And yet another, what dietary changes she should make to reduce her high cholesterol levels. 

The more I recovered, the more questions from the nurses came! Here I was laid up in a hospital bed, given little hope, yet now enthusiastically doling out much-needed health advice to my caretakers! This was an important part of my healing in that it let me know we all have the capacity to help others no matter what obstacles we may be facing at any given time and if I needed any further motivation to heal, this was definitely it - a renewed purpose!

"Thanks for the...Hey, are these funeral flowers?"
A sense of humor  can go a long way!
Now to my last prediction. Over the first seven days of my nine day "resort spa" stay, with the help of the dialysis machine and now slowly working kidneys, I shed about twenty-five of the seventy-five pounds of fluid I had gained. However, the perennially pessimistic docs cautioned that I should not get my hopes up and that they would still have to replace my kidneys since "it was impossible for kidneys to recover from this degree of damage" no matter what they were now seeing. This was completely ludicrous to me so I countered with something they would see as even more ludicrous. "In two weeks, I will be back in the gym working out hard, running, doing yoga, lose all the weight, get my muscles back and my kidneys and heart will get better and better until they are fully healed!"

They shot back "look, you're lucky to be alive. If you attempt that kind of grueling workout regimen, your kidneys will burst or you'll have a heart attack and die. Face it, you simply can't do those kinds of things anymore so stop your crazy talk." On the day of my release, they pleaded with me one final time. "Please start taking your medication. This is not a joke. If you don't, things are going to get very serious again in a hurry. And don't even think about going to the gym or exercising for at least six months!" I smiled, said nothing and went home.

Two weeks later, I returned for a follow-up visit and to get the results of blood-work I had given the previous week. When the doc opened the door to the waiting room and called my name, he initially didn't recognize me. He did a double-take, then blurted "Henry,  is that you? What the...how did you...? You look like you were never sick!" My prediction had indeed come true. After getting the results which confirmed my kidneys were healing, the doc was ecstatic, saying he'd never seen anyone recover this dramatically. 

He went on and on about how depressing his work can be when the majority of patients only get worse or die and that it was gratifying to finally help someone get better for a change. He capped off his enthusiasm by saying "see, didn't I tell you how important your medications were going to be to your success? You're lucky that you finally came to your senses." That's when I dropped the bomb. "I never took the prescribed meds."

His face abruptly turned crimson and the smug "I told you so" smile completely faded. "What do you mean you didn't take the prescriptions? You knew how important I told you it was to take them!" "But you just said the tests and blood work show my kidneys have continued to heal without them. You wanna know what I've been doing to help them heal?" He shot back angrily "who do you think you are? I don't want to hear any more about your crazy health theories or natural cures. There's never been even one case of anyone being cured from your type of renal failure, so trust me, you're not healed. It's just a temporary remission, that's all. You'd better get on the same page before it's too late or mark my words, things are gonna go downhill really fast for you. You won't last without the drugs!" When I shared I was going to continue holistic nutrition and meditative practices in lieu of meds due to the success I was having, he basically threw me out of the office for not complying with his wishes and I never went back.

We decide whether you live or die, not you!
Therein lies the real failure of the very corporatized medical system. Rather than celebrate a successful healing, this seasoned specialist and his team were only concerned about me not following accepted protocols, knowing full well that had I followed their protocols, my kidneys would not have healed and I may not have survived. The greater question though is exactly whose protocols do these very-well respected specialists follow? In my situation, it was obviously the pharmaceutical giants who dole out cash, bribes, lavish vacations and bonuses like candy to licensed docs in return for aggressively pushing their particular brand of poison onto unsuspecting patients; not to mention the countless million dollar donations to med schools and hospitals to keep them in check. In fact, a large portion of the country's top medical schools' curriculum is shamefully influenced by the pharmaceutical industry cartel. 

Can't trust 'em!
Even the FDA's top level positions are an incestuous revolving door of drug industry executives and lobbyists, who set drug policy advantageous to the very corporations they are supposed to be policing. In truth, the FDA is nothing more than the enforcing arm of these dangerous drug corporations to smash anyone who dared interfere with their increasing profits. And their profits have been increasing exponentially, in contrast to the people, who have continued getting exponentially sicker and sicker. No stretch of imagination or thought needed to know why that is.

In fact, during one of my dialysis treatments while hospitalized, the busy technician I became friendly with shared his concern that doctors were over-diagnosing patients. "My company has had to hire a lot more dialysis techs since there's been such an explosion in kidney transplants from renal failure and diabetes diagnoses. I mean, it's good for my business to be so busy, but I don't think some of these people needed to have their kidneys taken out. It seems like we're just part of an assembly line and that bothers me. I wish you the best man, really."

Do they knowingly harm patients for career survival?
The problem for licensed medical practitioners is that they are limited as to how they are allowed to work with patients who are diagnosed with ailments such as AIDS, leukemia, cancer, ADHD, diabetes, heart disease, etc. All of these require the prescribing of drugs, not to cure, but to hopefully control symptoms associated with these ailments. With cancer, they really step up the torture by mandating chemotherapy and radiation, along with a slew of drugs. One could cynically say that if the chemo and radiation poisoning don't kill the patient, the drugs and barbaric surgeries certainly will.

A very telling survey of top oncologists: “Over 75% of the oncologists polled said that if they had cancer they would never use the same chemotherapy they prescribe for their patients on themselves because of the ineffectiveness of chemotherapy and its unacceptable degree of toxicity.” - Los Angeles Times report. 

If this is the case, why subject their patients to something they themselves would be unwilling to undergo? Because sadly, that's just the way it is. 

Uncomfortable truths are often called conspiracy theories.
During my illness, I sought help from a licensed doc who hung a holistic banner on his door in Santa Monica. I mentioned I felt my issues were caused by mold inhalation as that was something I had researched on the internet. He agreed that could be possible but that as a licensed doc, he still had to follow mandated treatment protocols for renal failure, which didn't factor in mold causation, but included the very same drugs my hospital docs tried to push onto me later. 

Privately, he offered a few contacts of non-licensed practitioners who seemed to help many of his patients recover from illnesses that were considered incurable as mine was. He made me promise that I would never tell anyone that he referred me to them. Beyond that, he said he'd lose his license and practice if he used the same treatment protocols as his medically unlicensed friends, especially since many people seemed to be getting cured and that's a big no-no in the medical industry. Yes, he was hand-cuffed and knew it, but paid such a steep price to receive his medical license that he couldn't bear to throw it all away after the years of med school he had committed himself to. Golden handcuffs indeed, but ones soaked in blood.

Another friend of mine who is an eminent oncologist shared the same feeling of helplessness. She said she had studied many holistic protocols outside of the western system and was convinced they had merit and worked to cure people of cancer, but she was not allowed to use any of them on her patients. Her only way around the system was when a patient asked if Doctor Burzynski's antineoplaston therapy, green juice fasts or drinking colloidal silver would benefit them, she'd answer "I can't advise you on those in my capacity as your oncologist, but they probably couldn't hurt to give them a try." 

I know much of the above sounds absolutely depressing and it should. Who are we to turn to and trust if the system is so stacked against us and doesn't give a hoot about our well-being in the first place? Well, this has occurred, in part, because America has devolved into a country of passive lemmings who have willingly given up the responsibility to care for their own physical, mental and spiritual being onto others for the sake of convenience and dare I say, laziness. This is exactly why the country is currently suffering on all of the most important levels. 

Be your own leader!
When we allow others to unquestioningly tell us what is best for us you can bet it's not really best for us, but best for them instead. This is why so much of American life has become so dominated by corporations and government, who have merged into one and the same. That is the price we pay when we give in to that convenience. Independence and freedom become eroded little by little until none is left at all. 

Think about that for a moment. We live in a country founded on the principle of giving us individual independence, with the freedom to take care of ourselves how we saw fit, yet modern Americans have been brought up believing that is far too much responsibility for them to handle so they end up doing nothing but complaining that someone, the government, should take care of their needs instead. And how they complain even louder when this collective passivity comes back around and smacks them upside the head over and over again!

Here's my humble suggestion regarding your health (yes, it's going to be similar to my previous articles on money and finances). The key is simply to take back control over your mind, body and spirit. Be responsible for you in every way reasonably possible because at the end of the day, a healthy and fully conscious individual has little need to engage that dangerous roulette wheel of a health system in the first place.

Free your mind & the rest will follow!
However, I am not saying we should completely shun that system altogether. It does possess some great technologies to address certain physical traumas like burns, reattaching amputated limbs, broken bones, etc. It's in the treatment of disease where the system critically breaks down and typically makes the outcome far worse. In my case, the dialysis machine was a Godsend to start me on the path to completely curing my failed kidneys, though had I given in to the unnecessary kidney transplant, followed by a lifetime of dialysis and toxic drugs, I may not be here writing this today. Without getting into a lengthy description of what I did to heal, I'll spare the details and give a general overview in the hopes that it may help empower others in dealing with health challenges that they may now or in the future come face to face with.

After my hospital release, I allowed only thoughts of a complete healing to pass through my mind and encode my cells with. I reasoned that the body, down to the cellular level, takes and fulfills commands given by our mind so this was a critical and important factor.  Since my hunch was that mold may have been the cause, the next step was to completely detox my system so it would have a clean slate from which to start the healing process from. As I was not an expert on doing this type of full detox, I sought out and after a bit of a search, found a nutritionist who was on the same page to assist me. 

The whole detoxing and nutrition-based healing process took approximately eight months to fully complete. Afterwards, what amazed me was not only were my kidneys healed, but many other chronic and nagging injuries went away as well! Physiologically, my body had become younger, my mind and focus much sharper. I realized this was the natural state of human beings as long as we truly take charge and are willing to care for ourselves in a way that promotes vibrant health. Yes, this means being very conscious about what we feed our mind, body and spirit at all times. It may sound like a cliché and that there just has to be something much more complex than that, but there isn't! The simpler and clearer we make things, the better the quality of our lives become. 

The truth is always simple and in regards to health, here are a few that promote youthfulness:
1.   Drink plenty of pure water everyday.
2.   Choose organically grown produce and animal product that has been pasture-raised and free of GMO's.
3.   Eat fermented foods like kimchi, natto and sauerkraut.
4.   Drink kombucha and kefir to promote healthy gut bacteria.
5.   Juice leafy greens a few times a week to saturate your cells with nutrients and flush out toxins.
6.   Get at least an hour a day of sunshine per day if possible.
7.   Meditate and exercise regularly.
8.   Get plenty of rest as that is the time your body heals itself.
9.   Grow your own fruits and veggies or shop at farmers markets instead of grocery stores.

What to eliminate:
1.   Avoid fast food and all you can eat restaurants as they contain large amounts of toxic MSG.
2.   Curb alcohol consumption.
3.   Wean yourself off of pharmaceutical drugs and over the counter cold, allergy medicines and painkillers.
4.   Don't wear sunscreens as most cause skin cancer rather than prevent it.
5.   Avoid sodium laurel sulfate shampoos, fluoride toothpaste, chemical laundry detergents & beauty items. 
6.   Don't consume sodas or junk foods containing aspartame as they destroy immune and brain functions.
7.   Say "no" to all GMO foods all the time.
8.   Stay away from toxic people and choose your friends wisely.
9.   Do not sleep with a cell phone within thirty feet of you as the radioactivity given off by them disrupts brainwave activity, preventing deep sleep. It's also known to cause insomnia which can lead to depression and disease.
10.  If you smoke, do the best you can to stop.

 Real medicine looks like this!
Don't concern yourself with attempting to incorporate all of the above at once as that can become a daunting and intimidating task prone to failure. Instead, go at a pace you are comfortable with, adding the good choices and eliminating the bad one by one until they become a natural part of your life. 

Remember, our lives become an amazing journey when we make the decision to consciously walk an enlightened path. All we must do is take one step at a time and not be in a rush to complete it. I believe that certainly goes a long way in helping one lead a very happy, healthy and prosperous life. That is my greatest wish for us all! Until next time, be well.