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Some thoughts on the passing of Don Riso

September 5, 2012

I’ve written here before about how I’m in the process of training to be an Enneagram teacher. My training started two years ago, with a three-day course at the Enneagram Institute in Stone Ridge, NY. There I got to meet Don Riso, half of the Riso-Hudson team that wrote the fabulous book The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

I was very interested to meet Don and talk to him, not just to discuss the Enneagram, but because we had another very big thing in common.

We both had heavy metal poisoning.

Don had been quite public about the fact that he suffered from arsenic poisoning. It started in 2007 when he was traveling in China and ate some contaminated fish. As is common with large, one-off heavy metal exposures, the arsenic attacked his peripheral nervous system and he suffered from neuropathy that turned to paralysis. He was hospitalized and almost died. What saved him was round-the-clock chelation treatment, and he made it through, even regaining some of his mobility.

When I met him, what struck me most was his serenity in the face of this horrible ordeal. Me? I’m angry at mercury. It’s my enemy and I want to fight back. Don was in a much more peaceful place. He talked about what it was like to almost die. How he surrendered to the process and just accepted it, and even had moments of joy while his life was hanging by a thread.

During that training, Don taught us for part of the time, and though he was having a hard time getting around, it was clear that his mind was clear as a bell. I really enjoyed spending time with him, hearing his quiet and gentle observations that were sharp as a tack.

I saw him as someone I could learn from on so many levels–yes as a teacher, but also as a person. We are both Enneagram Type Fours, both writers. Talking to him over lunch about writing, I felt like I was getting a free master class on how to really go about being a non-fiction writer in the smartest and most fabulous way possible. I was looking forward to coming back to Stone Ridge this October for Part II of my training and talking to him about it some more.

It really bothered me, what one student randomly said during that class. He was looking at Don struggling to get out of his chair, and he said, Well, I guess he won’t be with us for much longer.

I held my tongue, but I wanted to snap back that he should shut the hell up, because a) saying something like that was extremely rude, and b) he didn’t know a damn thing about heavy metal poisoning, it didn’t kill people, it just left them injured and in pain for decades.

But I guess I was understandably in denial about the gravity of Don’s condition. He passed away last week, dying in the end of metastasized cancer.

Here’s what Andy Cutler has to say about Arsenic in Hair Test Interpretation:

Arsenic is a well known carcinogen. Having had cancer or being at risk for it is a good reason to check for it and other heavy metals. (Pg 92)

I know that a lot of people will look at Don dying of cancer at the age of 66 as one of those random tragedies that happen all the time for no reason.

I take it a bit more personally.

I devote quite a bit of my time to fighting the good fight against heavy metal poisoning, and goddamn it, my teacher, one of the writers I admire most in the world got taken from me by arsenic.

This gentle and sensitive man died because he ate the wrong piece of fish.

What the hell are we doing in this world? Really? Letting corporations run wild, filling up the ocean with toxins of all kinds, burning through every ounce of coal on this Earth to make more, more, more electricity, releasing all kinds of toxins into the air that settle on the sea and make their way into all of us in the end.

I mean is it really necessary? Does every man, woman and child on the planet need to have an iPad, a smartphone and high-speed internet access every nanosecond of their lives? Is all of that worth it, when the price we have to pay is autism, cancer, misery and people like Don Riso dying before I got a chance to hear everything he had to teach me?

Yes, I’m angry.

You bet I’m angry. From what I hear about his death, I don’t even think Don was angry when he died. He was smarter than me, he accepted that this is just how things are.

Most of the time, I accept it too. I know that people die in their millions in every era for senseless reasons at the hands of those in power. This is just how it goes now, at the beginning of the 21st century. This is how the weak are sacrificed these days.

Oh, but I don’t want it to be like this. Can we turn back the clock, take all the evils in the world and stuff them back in Pandora’s box? If I throw away my smartphone, can I have Don Riso back?

New Blog Worth Checking Out–Saving Savannah

July 27, 2012

I’m always on the lookout for new chelation stories to add to my list. So I was very glad to come across the new blog by Rebecca Claire called Saving Savannah. Rebecca started the blog to tell the story of her daughter’s recovery from autism using Frequent Dose Chelation.

But unlike other chelation blogs, this isn’t a live round-by-round account of a parent’s struggle to recover their child. It’s more like a retrospective–Rebecca’s daughter recovered years ago; she’s a neurotypical 6th grader now.

With the distance and perspective that only time can give, Rebecca tells the story of her daughter’s autism and recovery in beautifully written installments. I highly recommend that you start with the post Autism Is Like an Amusement Park Ride and read the posts sequentially by clicking on ‘next’ to get the full story. It really is remarkable.

Rebecca is one of the authors of the book Fight Autism and Win, a guide to treating autism using Frequent Dose Chelation. Maybe you’re like me, and you read the book and wondered, But who is Rebecca Claire and why is she writing this book? Well, this blog is the perfect complement to the book and will answer all your questions about what Rebecca had to go through to get to that place of hard-won wisdom and expertise.

Read and enjoy!

A visit with Dr. D’Adamo

July 11, 2012

I don’t like to waste my money and time on doctors. I hate that feeling I get in a doctor’s office, when they’re explaining something to me and I’m thinking, “Really, three hundred bucks and that’s all you’ve got? I know ten times more about this from a quick google search I did last night.” So when I do show up at a doctor’s office in a fasting state, ready to drop a pile of cash, it’s because I’m hoping to learn something new and interesting.

Turns out Dr. Peter D’Adamo, author of Eat Right for Your Type was a pretty interesting guy.

I posted last time about the fact that I’m a non-secretor. I’d never heard before that an aspect of your blood type could compromise your ability to fight candida, and increase your likelihood of getting dental cavities. Reading that there was a connection between these two very significant issues for me–the dental cavities that started my mercury journey and the fungal rash that lingers after its end–really rang a bell for me. Would D’Adamo be able to explain why I can’t shake this fungal rash? Or would he shrug and offer another prescription antifungal that would screw up my liver and make me miserable?

My visit to his office began with a very interesting series of diagnostic measurements. My fingerprints were examined, the length of my legs were compared to the length of my torso, a strip of paper was placed on my tongue and I was asked how it tasted (my answer was “nasty!”) All of these measurements and more were plugged into the computer to come up with my individual dietary plan that is a lot more refined than the basic blood type A diet. If you would like to duplicate this process at home, a simplified version of the test appears in D’Adamo’s book The GenoType Diet.

After my individual diet plan and recipe book were printed up, I got to ask Dr. D’Adamo my three big questions. How exactly did being a non-secretor cause my fungal rash? Would I have to stay on Nystatin for the rest of my life? Would I ever be able to eat sugar?

Question 1 brought on a tidal wave of seriously scientific terms that I had never heard of before and couldn’t begin to absorb. I told him to slow right down, and to spell this one: myeloperoxidase deficiency. As a non-secretor, I just don’t make enough of this enzyme and can’t control fungal infections as easily as secretors do.

As for question 2, would I have to stay on Nystatin forever? No, of course not. I just needed to take a supplement that would increase my myeloperoxidase instead. I have to say, I really liked that answer. I don’t like to have to take a drug, even one as mild as Nystatin. Taking a supplement that addresses the root cause of a problem rather than putting out the fire after it has started is a much more comfortable option for me.

We discussed some other supplements I could try to boost my immune function and help heal my digestive tract, but always with the goal in mind to let my body heal and find its balance eventually with diet alone. D’Adamo’s approach is to always let the body find its natural healthy balance, not to fine-tune an unhealthy system to try to erase symptoms.

This all brought me up to question 3–if I was going to be on this diet for the long haul, what were D’Adamo’s views on cheating? Would I ever get to eat a bite of birthday cake, or would that erase all of my good work?

“Cheating is encouraged,” D’Adamo said. “We find that people who follow the diet 80% of the time do better than those who follow it 100% of the time.”


But of course the proof is in the pudding–will this dietary shift and these supplements clear up my fungal rash and let me quit Nystatin?

Apparently this whole thing takes six months to a year to really work–so stay tuned. I’ll be checking in and letting you know…

I’m a non-secretor!

July 1, 2012

My teeth were such a mess when I was a kid. My baby teeth were brown and rotten by the time they fell out. And then as a teenager, I had eleven mercury filling placed in the space of a month. Until recently, I never really questioned the sorry state of my teeth very closely. I just blamed it on the fact that I was addicted to sweets and couldn’t be bothered brushing my teeth regularly.

But in the last few months, I learned some very interesting new facts about people whose teeth are prone to cavities…

It all started when I went to the doctor for my annual physical in the Spring. She drew my blood, I learned about my abysmal ferritin levels which you can read about here, and I asked her if she could shed some light on my last lingering mercury symptom–a fungal rash called tinea versicolor that appears on my skin intermittently and gets very pronounced if I eat sugar.

Being a holistic doctor, she had lots of good suggestions–wearing breathable fabrics, washing my clothes daily etc–but I was disappointed to hear nothing new. Not only had I heard all of these suggestions before, these were all practices I carried out to a T in my everyday life and still this damn fungus lingered.

“There is one thing you could look at,” she said. “People who have no luck with all this stuff, sometimes they get a result when they try the blood type diet. Do you know your blood type?”

I didn’t and so she added it to my list of blood tests and I went home and Googled “blood type diet”. Soon I started to read some very interesting books by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, the naturopathic doctor who has written extensively about the blood type diet.

So it turns out that my blood type is A+. D’Adamo says that people with blood type A should eat a mostly vegetarian diet with very little red meat and a strong emphasis on whole fruits and vegetables, beans and healthy grains. I looked at the diet sheets and saw a pretty near approximation of the diet I cobbled together myself through trial and error while I was sick with mercury poisoning. (Just as a contrast, people with blood type O are supposed to be eating tons of red meat and poultry and hardly any grains at all–a diet I’ve been told numerous times to try to curb my yeast issues, but never ever considered trying, it felt so wrong for me–now I know why.)

I started incorporating some more of the type A dietary suggestions into my diet as I read these books, and instantly felt a noticeable change–I felt less hungry. I wasn’t tempted to overeat because the foods I was eating felt satisfying. They also were helping to heal the lining of my gut.

One of the big issues that D’Adamo talks about in his books is the little-known fact that different sets of foods are known to irritate the digestive system of each of the four blood types. As a type A, for example, I’m supposed to stay away from potatoes, because a particular chemical in them reacts negatively with my blood type–harsh news for an Irish spud-eater like myself, I’m still coming to terms with it 🙂

As I read more of D’Adamo’s material on blood type, I kept coming across this distinction he made between what he called ‘secretors’ and ‘non-secretors’. There was a test, apparently, that could tell you if you were secreting your blood type antigen into your bodily fluids (a good thing that would help you stave off bacteria and other nasties) or if you were a non-secretor who genetically lacked that first line of defense.

Reading about non-secretors here and here, I got a sinking feeling in my gut. This beleaguered minority were more prone to dental cavities because their saliva lacked the antigens that helped kill oral bacteria. And they had a devil of a time fighting off candida and other fungal infections that secretors killed off effortlessly.

“I know I’m one of those,” I said to myself as I ordered the secretor status test. “I just have to be.”

At the same time, I was really hoping that I wasn’t. Being a non-secretor isn’t something you can change. You can’t cleanse it out of you. There isn’t a supplement or drug you can take for a year that’ll flip you from being a non-secretor to a secretor. It’s a genetic flaw. It’s for life.

And of course I have that flaw. I’m a non-secretor.

It really bummed me out when I got the result of that test. Up to now, I’ve really believed in my bones that everything wrong with my health is fixable. It’s a pretty reasonable of me to believe this, given my track record of fixing a really large number of seriously intense symptoms with chelation. I’ve been getting stronger, better, healthier, faster, with every hurdle I’ve overcome and now, splat, it’s not a hurdle, it’s a genetic brick wall I’ve run into.

Can you tell I don’t like this non-secretor thing even a little bit?

Yeah, it sucks.

Tune in next week for more whining, plus the outcome of my visit with Dr. D’Adamo at his clinic in Williamsburg, Brooklyn…

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New Mercury Blog to Follow

June 13, 2012

I love following the progress of all the mercury toxic folks out there who are blogging about chelation. This morning I cleared out some time so I could catch up on everyone’s recent posts. While I was reading, I clicked a link, and had the pleasant surprise of discovering  a whole new blog about chelation I hadn’t heard about before:

Mercury No More is a blog written by a guy called Joe and he is 10 rounds into Cutler-style Frequent Dose Chelation. I won’t give his story away and will just let you go over there and find out what’s up with him.

Joe is also documenting his journey on YouTube. You can check out his latest videos by visiting his YouTube page.

Coming Soon: “The Mercury Diaries”

May 24, 2012

Happiness! It’s not every day that I get to write a blog post like this one 🙂

Today I am so excited to announce that my micro-publishing house Capsule Press will be coming out with a new title in the Fall of 2012. This book is called The Mercury Diaries and is written by a wonderful Englishman called Daniel Forsyth.

I first came across Danny when we were both hanging out on the Frequent Dose Chelation Yahoo group–he posted online under the username Sunshine. We were both in the early days of our chelation journeys, and when I went online looking for a sliver of hope or inspiration, his posts were often the ones that delivered.

The posts that I think I’ll never forget are the ones he wrote about getting his color vision back after a lifetime of profound color blindness. After a round, he’d get online and tell us about regaining his color sight–not all at once, but one color at a time. “Yellow is Back!” he’d announce. No matter how awful mercury was making me feel that day, all I’d have to do was think about this man I’d never met walking around London, staring in awed wonder at yellow street signs and I’d know that everything was going to be okay.

Fast forward a couple of years, we’d both gotten our health back, and Danny was sending me big chunks of his writing–his chelation story–and it just kept getting longer and funnier and more fascinating every time I looked at it.

“Every time I try to edit it down, I can’t help adding stuff, yeah?” he’d tell me sheepishly on the phone.

An experienced writer, I could clearly see what was happening. This wasn’t a case of a man consciously sitting in front of a computer and choosing to write a book. This was a book rising up and pouring itself out of a man.

It was an amazing story to read.

The book is a gutsy, no-holds-barred account of his horrible health crash. A successful London broker, Danny’s life was a million miles away from healing herbs and cleansing fasts. But when conventional medicine failed him, with his health spiraling rapidly down the drain, he threw himself into the world of alternative healing and tried everything he came across until he found answers.

Danny’s trip into the wild and wacky world of natural healing is an eye-opening and educational adventure. He leaves no stone unturned and finally identifies mercury as the culprit. He embarks on amalgam removal and chelation–a familiar story to many of us–but in this case it’s told to us by a straight-talking London broker with a comical turn of phrase. Picture Dr. Mercola crossed with Austin Powers and you’ll understand why I’m saying that this is a book that cannot be missed.

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My Annual Health Update

May 17, 2012

It’s been a year since Getting the Mercury Out was published. Hard to believe it–time passes so quickly. Over the past year, my favorite thing has been hearing from my readers, learning their mercury stories and answering their questions.

The top question from readers has been, How do you feel now?

Tied for second most frequently asked question are these two: Is your allergy to gluten really gone–really, really? and Do you still need to chelate?

Since so many people are curious about me, I’ve decided to write this update on how I’m doing. A kind of two-year-post-chelation check-in.

So question number one: how do I feel these days?

Well folks, I feel pretty fantastic. I wrote at the end of Getting the Mercury Out about how I got my strength back, and I was able to do things that I couldn’t imagine tackling while I was sick.

In the year since I wrote that, I’ve gotten even stronger. I have a deep and reliable reserve of physical stamina–not just enough to go about my ordinary day, but extra energy for a regular workout routine. I feel active and healthy–the days of adrenal fatigue when I felt utterly drained by physical activity are long gone.

My mind is doing very well too, thank you. When I think back to those horror-filled days of mercury fear and confusion, it’s like a dim and distant nightmare. It’s almost like it happened to someone else. These days, I can rely on my brain to think and my memory to function. My emotions are consistently calm now, I just have ordinary reactions to ordinary events. No more crazy drama, no more hysterical tears. It’s like my personality went through the car wash and now I’m a brighter and shinier version of myself.

Next question: What about the gluten?

I’ve been cautious about phasing gluten back into my diet. My allergic reaction to it was so strong, it was hard to believe that I could ever be cured. But so far it looks like my allergy to gluten is gone. A couple of weeks ago I was travelling and ate gluten every day for a week–nothing happened. When I got home, I kinda forgot I was supposed to be gluten free and just kept on eating it–still no symptoms.

I know that old allergies can sometimes crop up again, but so far–fingers crossed–it looks like chelation cured this one 🙂

Speaking of chelation–do I still chelate?

I have done some rounds of chelation since I wrote the book–some DMSA, and more notably some ALA which I wrote about here–that turned out to be surprisingly pleasant. But I have gotten lazy about it, and since I don’t feel sick anymore, I’m not very motivated to keep chelating. I’m sure that at some point I’ll take up chelation again, but for right now, since I don’t have any pressing mercury symptoms, I don’t chelate.

Do I still consider myself heavy metal toxic?

Not really. I feel that period of my life slipping away into the mists of memory. I used to spend the majority of my time thinking about my health, now I don’t need or want to. I have moved into a phase where I’m happy to maintain good lifestyle habits, but these things are not at the forefront of my mind. I eat healthy foods, I exercise, I still take some supplements, but fewer and fewer as time goes by. I guess I see my self as recovered–an ex-mercury sufferer.

Do I have any mercury symptoms at all?

Yes! I have one–count it, one!–mercury symptom left. If I eat sugar in any significant quantity, I get a non-itchy fungal rash on my skin. I’ve gotten some clues recently about why this symptom has persisted so stubbornly when I’m so vigorously healthy in every other way–but I’ll get into that in a whole other post. Short answer–no symptoms, just an avoidable rash.

So what’s next?

I’ve gotten better–so much so that I’m beginning to forget what’s it’s like to be sick. I’ve written and published my book, told the world my story. I’ve blogged about what it was like to be sick, and I’ve blogged about what it’s like to be better. What does that mean? Am I done now? Have I written all there is to write about mercury?

Not a chance.

If you’ve been following here, you know that I’m working on not just one novel, but a trilogy starring mercury poisoned characters of all stripes. Who knows when these books will be published, but I’m working as fast as I can, and I promise you will get to read them one day.

I’m excited about those novels, but there’s another project I’m even more thrilled to tell you about. Right now I am in the process of getting a new mercury chelation memoir ready for publication by Capsule Press!

This book is written by Daniel Forsyth–whom many of you know as “Sunshine” from the mercury forums. He has written a fabulous book about his chelation journey and I really can’t wait to share it with you all–it really is fantastic.

I’ve run on long enough here–tune in next week for the full report on what Danny’s book is going to be like. I know you’re all going to love it!

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And Now For Something Completely Different…

May 10, 2012

This week I want to tell you about something that is very dear to my heart–the Enneagram. It’s a personality typing system that has nothing whatsoever to do with mercury poisoning. But I’ve just come home from a weeklong course that’s part of my training to become an Enneagram Certified Teacher. The Enneagram is where my head’s at so that’s what I’m going to talk about.

The Enneagram is a system that helps you understand yourself–and the people around you–by looking at the core motivations that drive the personality. For example I am a Type Four–The Individualist. The sweet spot for a Four is introspection, examining inner feelings and experiences to find the truth. So it’s not surprising that I’m a memoirist. I had a good chuckle when I saw at the course that one of the keywords that describe Fours is ‘autobiographical.’

When I first came across the Enneagram, I read Don Riso and Russ Hudson’s book The Wisdom of the Enneagram. It kind of blew me away what a profound grip these guys had on what makes people tick and what’s really going on in their hearts and minds. Having this kind of tool, knowing people’s types, is so helpful in so many arenas–teaching, parenting, and of course in the business world.

People compare the Enneagram to the Myers-Briggs personality system, but having looked into both (I’m an INFJ) it’s clear to me that the Enneagram is a much more sophisticated and profound system. Instead of just categorizing people as a single type and giving a static description of what that type is like, the Enneagram starts you off with a ‘basic type’, adds a ‘wing type’ which is a little sprinkle of the characteristics of one of the types beside you on the circle (I have a little bit of Type Five the Investigator in me, something that came in very handy when I was researching mercury poisoning).

Add to this the fact that each type can operate at one of nine levels of development and that when things are going well or when they are under stress, each type can take on two other sets of characteristics–determined by the lines connecting the types in the Enneagram symbol–and you see that this is a very complex and rich way of looking at the human psyche. After an intense week of deep study, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface.

When I wrote my memoir, as a Type Four, I couldn’t help focusing on the emotional aspect of mercury poisoning. I could see that I was doing this and I wondered if other types would relate. I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from everyone, it’s clear that it struck a chord. But I am curious about you readers out there. Do you know your Enneagram type? What is it?

If you don’t know which type you are, you can take this quick online test to find out. And if you want to go deeper, I highly recommend Riso and Hudson’s The Wisdom of the Enneagram. It was one of the books that changed my life.

The Worthless Worm: A Guest Post by Nora Olsen

May 3, 2012

Readers who have read my book Getting the Mercury Out are quite familiar with this week’s guest poster–Nora Olsen aka “my girlfriend.” She featured a lot in my story because mercury poisoning doesn’t effect your body and mind in a vacuum. It takes its toll on your ability to connect–your loving relationships. Nora and I had a hard time when I was sick, but we held our ground and pulled through. Here’s an insight she had recently on mercury poisoning from a partner’s perspective…

The Worthless Worm

When Aine was sick with mercury poisoning, she used to talk about what a worthless crumb she was. She said that she was useless and had nothing to contribute to our household or relationship. I didn’t really get it. I figured she was just depressed. Now I think I understand.

About two months ago, I got sick. Not epically sick with mercury poisoning or anything interesting like that, just regular sick. I had the norovirus, sometimes called “cruise ship flu” because it’s so contagious that it can spread easily in semi-closed communities like cruise ships or first-grade classrooms.

The way I caught it was doing something called a Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. It involves a few hundred people jumping into an icy cold lake. The first time I did it was last year, and it was really fun. The actual jump into the water is rather invigorating. And it’s for a really good cause.

This year there was a brutal wind at the lake. Aine was there to cheer me on (she doesn’t like the cold or jumping into water so this is not the event for her) and she said she was freezing just standing there in her coat and scarf. For some reason there was a lot of standing around outside waiting to jump into the water, whereas last year it was nicely timed so that we could wait indoors and then sprint over to the dock. I’ve never been so cold in my life. The ground was slushy so that clumps of muddy snow stuck to my socks and made my feet extra frosty. The only thing that made it slightly bearable was bagpipes howling in my ears. It really does warm the blood. Once again, the jumping in the water part was fun, but next year I’ll just send them a check.

I’m not saying it was coldness that made me sick. I have heard about this germ theory. I believe I got sick from the school bus that transported the Plungers to and from the lake. But it caught me at a vulnerable moment. That night I broke my twenty-three year “No Puking” streak. It was days before I could eat. I hadn’t been so sick since I was a tiny child.

Aine was an angel. She cleaned everything up for me, bought me all kinds of different drinks, did my laundry, and ate her meals in a faraway corner of the house where I couldn’t smell them. She washed her hands incessantly and did not get sick. Aine commented that she could tell I was seriously ill because I was being so nice. Usually when I’m sick, I’m pretty cranky. (“The light is too bright! Hurry up and turn it off!” “Stop bothering me!”) This time it was all, “Could you possibly bring me some ginger ale? Thank you so much.” I was a model patient.

The reason I was so good was because I felt like a worm. I was so worthless. Aine could do all these unimaginable things like go from one place to another or sit up for a long time. I had nothing to contribute. Except vomit. It was horrifying to me that she had to do stuff for me. I felt like a monstrous burden. I never realized how much being “well” is ingrained into my sense of self-worth. Strangely, Aine didn’t think it was that big a deal to go buy me some Gatorade. The worthlessness can only be perceived by the sick person.

Being sick strips away the feeling of humanity. In his blog Rolling Around in My Head, Dave Hingsburger has talked about how having a cold is so much more disruptive and life-destroying than having a disability, something that doesn’t bother him at all. Yet he’s constantly hearing people say dumb stuff like, “I’d rather be dead than use a wheelchair.” Nobody says “I’d rather be dead than have a cold.” That’s because a cold or norovirus doesn’t last that long. But mercury poisoning lasts for years. Being sick for a week gave me a tiny window into how Aine might have felt.

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

April 26, 2012

I can’t get enough stories about people lifting themselves up by their bootstraps and taking control of their health and their destiny.

This week’s very enjoyable story in that vein was a movie I watched called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s a documentary by an Australian bloke called Joe Cross who wanted to tackle his twin issues of obesity and autoimmunity (which manifested as chronic urticaria or hives all over his body).

He embarked on a 60-day juice fast, and a simultaneous road trip across the USA, his juicer plugged into a battery in the trunk of his car. As you can see from the picture, he succeeded in losing the weight. He also cured his rare autoimmune condition.

Not a lot of suspense in the plot of this story–so what makes it so worth watching?

There were two things that made this movie stand out. The first was Joe’s personality. He’s a very entertaining and likeable guy. The jokes he makes at his own expense, the genuinely caring conversations about health he has with the people he encounters on his travels–all delivered in a fabulous Australian accent–make for a narrator you want to take this trip with.

The second thing that made this movie a winner was a brief conversation Joe had with a truck driver called Phil–a morbidly obese man–who coincidentally had the same rare autoimmune condition that Joe had. It was obvious that both men saw themselves reflected in each other, and after a few months, Phil the truckdriver gets in contact with Joe because he is ready to turn his life around and do whatever it takes to shed the weight and get his life back.

Phil is heavier than Joe ever was, he has hundreds of pounds to lose–can he do it? I won’t give the ending away. All I’ll say is that this movie reaffirmed for me the incredible power of leading by example. People can talk talk talk all day long about what you should do and what healthy lifestyle changes theoretically look like.

But nothing beats actually watching a real-live person take the bull by the horns and winning the fight against disease and misery. That’s really worth watching.