The First Book: We Want to Live! the Primal Diet
Finally, Mary and I are alone with Jeff. We ease into light conversation for a while. I mention that I am a nutritional counselor. I say a little about my nutritional point of view. I ask her if she would like to care for Jeff at home. She gives me a look of astonishment and absurdity. She tells me she wouldnt even consider taking Jeff out of the hospital. She vacuums the mucus oozing into Jeffs throat so he can breathe without choking.
The mucus is good. Through it, his body dumps dead cells and debris from the brain quickly. More will go to his bowels and dump there, I say.
How do you know all of that stuff?
Remember when I said I was disabled from a car accident and couldnt pay child support? I had cancer. I didnt want anyone to know. I was disabled from the therapies. A kind, wonderful and intelligent man named Bruno tutored me for three and a half years in nutrition. Ive spent most of the last seventeen years researching and experimenting with diets and health.
She frowns and looks at me curiously.
Ill tell you about it later. Did all of the doctors tell you that Jeffs going to die?
Mary nods, They said if he hadnt responded by Wednesday, hed die any time soon.
I know you think Im a California nut cake, but Im asking you to put that judgment aside for Jeffs sake. Let me try nutrition.
I know you mean well, Aajonus. She stops to take a deep breath, drained, then teases, But hes not exactly able to eat.
We can feed him under his tongue, I say handing her a canning jar. In it are equal portions of unsalted raw butter and unheated honey mixed together.
I explain its properties and I conclude by saying, His salivary enzymes will dissolve it. Some will be absorbed directly into his blood through his mouth. The rest will drain down, soothe his throat and eventually, his stomach. In the blood, the nutrients from the butter/honey mix will go to his brain to protect living tissue and carry away the bruised and dead for elimination. I would like to put a teaspoon under his tongue at least every forty minutes.
A little hope sprouts and gives her strength. Okay. If you think itll help.
I am astounded. And relieved. Happy tears fill my eyes. I hold back though. Mary might think Im weak. I must appear in complete control to defend Jeff.
I put some honey/butter mix under Jeffs tongue. I ask Mary if I may tell her about some of my nutritional work so she will know my perspective on nutrition versus medical methods.
It beats just sitting here, Mary says.
One day I arrived home at 9:30 p.m. from one of those exciting evenings in traffic school.
Mary chuckles, Still speeding?
U-turn. I couldnt seem to comprehend that a residential-apartment-complex neighborhood was not a residential area. Anyway, it was a Tuesday in January, 1973. I was twenty-six at the time.
I walked through the courtyard toward my Hollywood apartment. There were no lights on in the apartment. I wondered where Monica was. I took my keys out of my flared-bottom jeans. I inserted one in the lock. My neighbor, Lien, heard me and came bursting out of her apartment. She was panting, not from hurry but horror.
Aajonus! I took Monica to County General Hospital about two hours ago. She was having terrible stomach cramps. She came crawling over to my door, screaming. I, we, just panicked. I took her to Emergency.
She didnt say anything about her stomach four hours ago. What is it?
They said it would take a while to do all the tests. But they thought it was appendicitis.
I felt panicked. But I concealed it.
Monica was still in Emergency when I arrived. I was relieved that she was not on an operating table. She laid on a gurney looking drugged and in pain. The doctor stood analyzing the lab reports.
Monica, I teased, imitating Bell Lagosi portraying Count Dracula, let me take care of you at home, my dear. Your body probably wont like the chemicals theyll pump into--
They havent found out what it is for sure, she said, cutting me off.
The doctor stepped toward us and said, If youre not a relative, please leave. Monica, you have peritonitis, which means that your intestines are infected, and possibly perforated and bleeding. Its serious.
Excuse me? I said. I feel badly about it now but I had little patience with doctors scare tactics after my experiences. I mirrored his arrogant, patronizing attitude, and asked him, Have you every had peritonitis?
No, he said as if my question were absurd.
I have. Would that make me more knowledgeable?
Ive treated forty cases of peritonitis and if she leaves shell die, he asserted.
How many of those forty patients died? I asked.
The doctor stammered but quickly recovered, Twenty-four.
I motioned for Monica to listen.
So at worst Monica has a 60% chance of dying in here, is that right?
The doctor nodded.
Thats something they wont normally tell you, I said to Monica.
Without treatment she has no chance, he countered.
How many cases do you know in which someone had peritonitis and treated it with wholistic methods?
None, he said firmly.
Then how would you know that she would die without medical treatment? I asked, putting him in checkmate.
Common sense, he retorted.
Do only doctors have this common sense?
These are ridiculous questions. If you knew the seriousness of this infection, you would be embarrassed.
Excuse me? Which of the two of us had peritonitis? I asked.
Im not answering any more of your questions. He turned to Monica, Are you going to listen to this character and put your life in danger? Or do you have some sense?
Monica, hes trying to play you like an untuned piano inside a yoyo.
Mary laughs, Did you really say that?!
Yes. Monica laughed but the doctor didnt. Then I said to Monica:
According to R.B. Pearsons research and statistics listed in his book Mans Correct Diet, you have a 93% chance of living if you let me care for you nutritionally. Come on, honey, lets go home. I turned back to the doctor and said, Im sorry. I know you mean well but your logic is off.
Urgently, he raised his voice, Dont you get it? If the infection isnt stopped shell die.
Monicas drug-intoxicated state had the side effect of lowering her blood pressure and heightening paranoia. She was terrified. She looked back and forth between the doctor and me.
Sweetheart, listen to his reasoning. Hes going to treat you with antibiotics to kill the infection. That will also kill your intestinal flora. That will destroy your ability to digest food and synthesize your own proteins and B vitamins. If you cant properly digest the nutrients you need, you wont detoxify and heal properly.
Im warning you, if you dont stay here and stop the infection youll die for certain, the doctor countered.
I wanted to suture his mouth. And Im sure he wanted to suture mine. The fear on Monicas face advertised that the doctors unsubstantiated scare tactics had won the debate. I was saddened. I was angry. But I decided that I should argue no further. I had been introduced to an ideal concept called unconditional love a few years ago. It meant respecting Monicas decision even if her life were at risk. It was her life and her will be done.
Twenty-four hours later, I stood looking down at her. On her arms and thighs were badly bruised dome-shaped swellings the size of quartered tennis balls.
Monica, please take a look at the blackness around your sunken eyes, and your sallow complexion. They treat you not knowing how youll react to chemicals, I cried out.
Drugged, she looked in a hand mirror and laughed, Dont be silly. Its okay. Im okay, really. I love you too.
I couldnt bear looking at her in that state and keep my mouth shut. I drove home.
The next morning she had two more bruised swellings on her arms. Dr. Pine, the young intern assigned to her, looked over her chart.
Doctor, I said gently, Monica needs live nutrients including various strains of lactobacillus to aid her digestion. Im going to take her home where I can feed her properly.
He shook his head and gave me a look that said, Oh, youre one of those misguided health fanatics. Then he said aloud, Eating will exacerbate the infection. Ill give her a prescription for all the vitamins and minerals to be added to her I.V. Dont worry, were taking good care of Monica.
Why does she have these lumps and bruises all over her body? I pleaded, and then added, They arent healing. Theyre getting worse by the hour.
She was allergic to penicillin and three other antibiotics, he said.
It took you seven shots to discover one she was not allergic to?
You just said not to worry, you are taking good care of her?
Now everything is under control.
She has a hundred times more ailments to heal than when she came in here. Why are you saying you have everything under control?
Everything is okay now. Ill put the vitamins in her I.V. and shell be fine, he said testily.
Shes betting her life on your expertise. Will you bet your expertise on her life?
Well do the best we can for her. We cant promise anything, he said.
Doctor, please, you just said you had everything under control now. Why wont you put your expertise on her life? Ill put my wholistic logic on her life. Ill even put my life on her life. Why wont you?
Were not miracle workers. Will you excuse me, I have many patients in this hospital who need my help, he said unnerved and briskly walked out.
I tried to convince Monica to leave but she was too intoxicated and drowsy.
In the evening of Monicas fifth day in the hospital, I stood over her. Her entire body was sallow with areas of black and blue. She had a milky stare that I had seen in animals just before they died. I realized I had to act.
Monica, I pleaded, you have to get hold of yourself. You have to sober up so you can examine yourself.
She was so drugged she didnt care.
You have to refuse your sedatives and painkillers so you can make a clear decision about whether you are being helped or damaged. The nurse is due to give you your 8 oclock shot. Refuse it, please. Just until the doctors get here in the morning. Please, baby, please.
She smiled. I placed in her hand a jar full of liquefied raw foods.
This will aid and soothe your intestines, I said.
What is it? she whispered.
I blended one raw fertile egg, one tomato, 1/4 stick unsalted raw butter and two heaping tablespoons of unheated honey. It also regulates fever.
It doesnt sound very tasty, she whispered.
Will you give it a chance?
She sipped it. Then, I guess because it was the first food she had in days, she gulped it. My immediate thought was to stop her. But her gulping was instinctual.
I put the empty jar back in a bag. When I looked up again she was asleep. I stared at her frightful appearance. I remembered how beautiful her blushing color and pretty skin had been.
An hour passed and the raw tomato/butter formula had sobered her enough. She argued with the nurses against taking any more medication that night. And she won.
The next morning, I said to Monica, Sweetheart, look at yourself. I pulled the covers down to her ankles and pulled up her gown.
She looked at herself in horror, Oh, my God, Im going to die.
Not if you let me take care of you. I wondered how I knew that.
Im scared, Aajonus.
Im afraid, too. Yet, Im certain that excellent health and raw (live) foods are as connected as falling and gravity. The doctor said if you ate anything it would make you worse. Your abdomen didnt swell up and bruise from the raw food mixture. It has given you strength. God, I love you Monica. Dont die on me, please. Please let me help you?
I explained the three different food formulas I devised to get her well.
Did you marry her? Mary asks.
No. We were together five years.
Havent you found anyone you wanted to marry?
It took me seventeen years to stop dreaming about you. How could I have stayed married while dreaming of you? Its an awkward moment for both of us. I continue the story.
Monica agreed to go home. I gave her another jar of the tomato and butter mixture to drink. I went to the nurses and asked them to remove Monicas I.V. and catheter. They refused.
While I tried to figure out how to remove Monicas catheter, three security guards, two nurses and three large male orderlies hurried into the room, stopped abruptly and stood watching me. If I had caught it on film it would have looked like one of those old black-and-white Buster Keaton films with that sudden stop-and-go motion. I covered Monica. Immediately following came three doctors with the same comical go-and-stop motion. One of them was the intern, Dr. Pine.
With the humor inspired by the moment I turned to Monica, Theyre having a going away party for you. Isnt that sweet?
She cant leave here. I wont release her, said Dr. Pine.
The gall these guys have is amazing, I thought. I laughed, a short breathy laugh that was enough to insult him. That was not my intention but it happened.
I turned to Monica again, Do you want his permission to go? I knew I was irritating the doctor. I had mixed feelings about it. I was still angry at doctors, in general.
She cant leave this hospital unless I release her. And I wont. He turned to a nurse, Call her mother right away.
Dr. Pine. Youve been really kind, and thank you. Im leaving here now. So, if you dont remove this tube for me, Aajonus will, Monica said so diplomatically and maturely she seemed like a wise old empress.
Her manner affected everyone. They all turned to Dr. Pine. He seemed alarmed that his authority was being challenged.
I wont release you. I wont be responsible for whatever happens if you leave this hospital, he said.
I accept what you say. Now will you, or a nurse help me remove this, please? Monica firmly implored.
Again everyone looked at Dr. Pine. He stood there staunchly.
Help me, Aajonus, she ordered.
I pulled down Monicas covers. I looked around at everyone, This is not a show. I started to pull up Monicas gown but Dr. Pine stopped me, Wait. A nurse will remove it. Lets talk about this. This is a life and death infection. Do you think some voodoo will save her?
Whoa, I said. You thought throwing vitamins and minerals into her I.V. would help. It didnt. We will cure her with foods. Thats all I have to say. If at some time in the future you are interested in what I feed Monica, Ill gladly tell you. Thank you.
Just then a nurse returned and blurted out, Her mother says she is not to leave this hospital.
Her mothers voice rang through my head. I dreaded her intervention.
Do I look underage, Dr. Pine? Monica said growing angry.
Her mothers order had the opposite effect of what I had feared.
Monica, Dr. Pine paused, Please, take a few prescriptions Ill write for you.
Monica and I simultaneously raised our surprised eyebrows at each other; the fascist air had thinned.
Give me whatever you want me to take, she said.
You must take an antibiotic to kill the infection or you wont have a chance. Ill give you a painkiller to take as you need. Call me here everyday between nine and two and Ill do whatever I can to help.
The tension was still so high that the phone ringing startled all of us. Monica looked at me. We knew who it was.
Hi, Mom. Im just about to leave the hospital. Call me at home in about an hour, okay? Im walking out the door, call me at home, Monica said.
She looked up at me. She curled and twisted her smiling mouth, warning me. She tried to hand me the phone. Exaggeratedly, I shook my head and waved no. Monica laughed the way she did when I had been unintentionally acting silly.
Itll be easier on all of us later if you can make some sense to her now, Monica said still laughing.
I was amazed at how much energy she had gained from the last tomato and butter drink. Reluctantly, I took the phone, Hi, Ruth. Monicas divorced mother insisted I call her Ruth. It seemed to remove the generation gap. I liked that and we liked each other.
Its you forcing Monica to leave the hospital, isnt it?
Ive only fastened a chain from my car to her ankle.
This is not funny.
Ruth. Youve seen Monicas condition since shes been in here. Im certain shell do better at home.
The nurse said shed die if she leaves the hospital. Ruths blood pressure was rising.
What would they say if she died in the hospital? The treatment was a success, we stopped the infection. Were sorry Monicas dead, and heres the bill.
Dr. Pine gave me a look.
Ruth argued parroting the doctors every word although her concern was genuine.
I understand that perspective but it doesnt make it right just because a doctor says it. You think lawyers are a big rip-off, right? Well, doctors are well-educated like attorneys, I countered knowing it was a cheap shot.
Dr. Pine and the nurse glared at me.
If my daughter dies, Ruth paused. Ill kill you.
Its just something you say in a fit of passion, Mary says.
It sent a chill through me because she meant it.
The nurses voice announces through the intercom above Jeffs bed, The doctor is on the phone about Jeffs X-rays.
I am delighted. I get up, feel Jeffs forehead and put some honey/butter mix under his tongue. I tell Mary a quick conclusion to the story. Monica left the hospital in a wheelchair and was bedridden. I convinced her to flush the antibiotics down the toilet. Her mother threatened to skewer me on a clothesline. I fed Monica the mixtures. Within five days, Monica was on her feet and blending the food mixtures herself. In six weeks she was back in ballet classes. That was seventy-two weeks sooner than the doctors said she would if she survived in the hospital. I was so astounded by her rapid recovery that I vowed to eat only raw foods.
Mary seems impressed and hopeful.
The fear that I might let her down suddenly hits me. Even so, I must advance into battle or lose Jeff. Jeff needs to be off medication. He needs to be conscious to eat and recover, I say.
Mary looks pensive and doesnt answer. I leave her to think about it.