My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. -Maya Angelou
For a brief moment, last year, I temporarily moved back home with Dad. The first week, I noticed him acting strangely, as in withdrawn and unmotivated. He’s always been mellow and mild-tempered but this was out of the ordinary. Most days, after work, he sat in the dark watching television much like his father. However, I couldn’t ignore the coldness in the atmosphere.
Much colder than usual. Dad never believed in “wasting” electricity, water, gas, or any other utility. His perception of wasting is your idea of comfort. Instead, he urges all visitors and dwellers to “put on a coat.” So, there he sat bundled up in a big, black bubble coat like what you see folks on the east coast wear to combat frigid sub-zero temperatures watching Judge Milian.
When I first arrived, the entire house was dark, untidy, and cold. His wife sat up front in her office, while Dad occupied the back room. There was very little conversation between them besides her asking what he wanted for dinner. Every day, around 2 P.M was like Groundhog day.
Honeeeeeey, what do you want to eat? she’d holler!
Several moments of silence passed before his voice echoed through the ply wood paneling.
Uh, you can make those pork chops, he answered.
You want me to bake or fry them?
Fry, he replied.
Not once, but every time she asked. When he wasn’t eating fried home-cooked meals and fast food, he was drowning his iceberg lettuce salad with a cup of Thousand Island dressing. Most of us know that iceberg lettuce has little to no nutritional value whatsoever. And a cup of dressing? Dad, come on, I thought. He knew better than this. I wondered what the heck was going on.
Dad always watched his food choices and worked out 3 to 4 times a week. For years he even walked to work, well mainly because I borrowed his car.
An eerie feeling came over me that he was giving up.
I finally confronted him about his health. Don’t you have high blood pressure? I asked.
You weren’t diagnosed with high blood pressure years ago?
What, you mean in April of 1979? (When my parents got married)
We both laughed.
Wait a minute, April?! You and Mom didn’t get married before having me? That’s what you both always said. That’s what I put in my book.
A confused look swept across his face. No, it was April.
So, my entire life has been a lie. I’m not special. Thanks a lot Dad, if that’s your real name. Anyway, why are eating all this fried and fast food? I have never known you to eat this way.
It’s all good, he said.
No it’s not. You waited to turn 60 to let everything go. You’re going backwards. You should be doing the exact opposite of what you’re doing now.
Dad stared for a moment, then curled up his forearm. I’m buff, he declared.
You really aren’t.
I walked away knowing Dad was treading a dangerous path. As much as I wanted to solely blame him, his wife was equally to blame. She’d already suffered a heart attack years ago and taking medication. She knew firsthand how dangerous Dad’s diet was but continued to encourage bad eating.
A few months later, Dad came home from the doctor with a white prescription bag.
What’s that? I asked.
My doctor prescribed me Lipitor.
Excuse me, why?
I know my reaction seemed a little naïve, but my immediate family doesn’t practice western medicine unless a limb is broken. It’s not focused on rooting the problem or optimal healing. They fill you up with medication (poison) that creates side effects, which require more medication. Around 25 percent conventional medication is derived from plants, but only uses a small percentage of the actual herb in its ingredients—the rest is toxic fillers.
Why can’t they just prescribe the real thing? Because healthcare is a billion dollar industry. Sick people are making America rich. In 2003, when my Uncle was in the hospital for cancer, he called me over to his bedside and opened his hand.
Do you know how much these pills cost? he asked.
$100 per pill, he smirked. And I take these muthaf@c&as, three times a day. They’re making almost $1000 a day off my ass being here.”
Dad pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket. His LDL was 252. I grabbed my laptop to research what those numbers meant. Dad was one fried pork chop away from a heart attack or stroke. Not to mention the gray ring around his pupil.
A buildup of cholesterol in the body limits the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. A complete blockage in your blood vessels results in a stroke or heart attack.
I never seen him look so lost. All day, I searched for a healthy alternative. There are so many herbal supplements out there that I had to weigh the benefits against customer reviews and side effect warnings. I felt what Dad felt—lost. I can only imagine what goes through the mind of someone given a more tragic diagnosis. Where do you begin searching for answers? With no sound guidance, people usually follow the western medicine approach, which can lead to grave results.
I asked Dad if he’d take an herbal alternative, if I bought one. Through the dark, his head moved up and down. I expressed purchased Kyolic for high cholesterol. When it arrived, I gave him instructions on how to take it. Still, something inside of me felt like it wasn’t the best choice.
It’s the same feeling I had about Dad’s “Vitamin C.” For years, Dad had me get white Vitamin C crystals from the health food store. The price seemed to be getting a little steep, so I Googled other places that might have it cheaper at greater quantity. I came across a guy online that said not to ever buy those crystals again. He explained that Vitamin C crystals is nothing but ascorbic acid. He went on to say “Buying ascorbic acid is like going to the dealership and purchasing a car but coming home with just the steering wheel.” A better option is purchasing whole food Vitamin C not
Whole Foods the store.
A whole food is an unprocessed, unrefined plant derivative free from additives or artificial substances. He suggested Acerola “Cherry” Powder and some other alternatives. So, I swapped out Dad’s Vitamin C. The price increase didn’t bother us because we knew the benefits of getting the real thing.
I called Mom and explained Dad’s crisis. Mom is our family’s herbal practitioner. She’s helped improve many people’s lives with her knowledge of herbal remedies and 10 years of work in the medical field. She said to get Niacin and CoQ10 with Vitamin E.
Niacin destroys bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. It shouldn’t be taken longer than the problem exists or without a diagnosis. Also, Niacin makes you itch and feel flush for a short time, but it passes. It’s trippy. Don’t be alarmed; it’s just a natural response to blood circulation. Dad didn’t itch the first 30-days. His arteries were so clogged, the Niacin needed time to work.
The CoQ10 with Vitamin E is good for overall heart function. Vitamin E and Omegas prevents clotting in the blood, which is a leading factor in strokes. They also assist in digestion of the CoQ10.
We abandoned the Kyolic for Mom’s plan instead.
Dad began his herbal regimen within 2 days of his diagnosis. In addition, I purchased MaryRuth Organics Liquid Morning Multivitamins, which increased Dad’s energy levels. Later, he purchased the Liquid Nighttime MultiMinerals and brags about sleeping like a baby the moment he takes it.
Along with consistent exercise and eating healthy, in 3 months Dad’s LDL’s dropped to 192. And, I’m sure he’s loving his new waistline after a 10 pound weight loss.
Dad and I have traveled a long road together. I’m 38 years old, and I still need him. I need both my parents. Do whatever you can to keep those you love around as long as possible.
Live. Bless. Prosper.