Yesterday a dear blog friend informed me that his beloved wife of 59 years passed away last week after developing a nasty lung infection. Oh, I am very very sorry…and since I cannot give you a real-life hug, I am sending you the biggest blog hug that I can fabricate.
Today’s post is based on a long, fascinating message he wrote to me in April 2007 (less than a month after I embarked upon my blogging journey) and an e-mail he wrote to me yesterday. He is my first blog friend, my first blog mentor…as well as one of my most faithful readers. He has both encouraged and challenged me in many ways.
And I hope you will continue to do so, my dear dear friend.
My friend’s wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in 1993. By 1998 her neurologist declared that there was nothing left to be done, and my friend should prepare for the inevitable: death. This, he writes, was his wake-up call. Until then, he had been the “typical citizen, relying on our physicians to take care of our health problems, but upon hearing there was nothing they could do for [name omitted], I decided if anyone was going to help her it had to be me. But what to do and how to do it?” He set a goal for himself, which was to search the world for known, safe alternative substances that might offer the possibility of slowing down or arresting her decline, maybe buying her some time so that the ongoing extensive medical research might produce in that time more effective drugs than were then available.
My friend spent the following six months online. He learned the medical jargon and read everything he could about AD. He found out on his own what was going on in research labs all over the world. He reached out to everyone he knew for tips. And slowly but surely he compiled a list of mainly alternative treatments, checking each item carefully with his wife’s new, more open-minded neurologist.
He tested promising plant extracts on himself before administering them to his wife. Even so, though, he proceeded with extreme caution, giving her doses of each alternative in small, gradual increments, while closely monitoring her with appropriate blood tests. He also took notes of any improvements and recorded her responses to ensure that no adverse side effects occurred.
A very important note: he believes, and so do I!, that people with AD (or myeloma or any other type of “disease,” for that matter) should not attempt to do what he did unless they have the full support and backup of their attending physician.
After he began administering curcumin and fish oil to his wife, her decline stopped. She even showed a few signs of cognitive improvement, which, he writes, is real progress in a disease where there is almost never progress.
His message ends with some excellent advice:
1) Never give up hope.
2) Seek and you shall find.
3) Today everyone has in the Internet an empowerment tool that can change their life and health, if they will only learn how to effectively use that tool. Knowledge brings power.
4) Each of us should take charge of our health, even as we expect our doctors to take charge of our illness. But doctors don’t get paid for keeping us well, so we must do the job.
5) Yet in our illnesses we can help the doctor help us the most when we learn as much as we can absorb about the illness and the treatment.
6) Sharing with others what we have learned about dealing with an illness or even just how to stay healthy can produce benefits to the giver as well as the receiver.