Embedded in my psyche is the indelible pain of watching my grandmother deteriorate in a pungent hospice room. I was around 8 years old at the time. I brought a small photo album to her and she weakly glanced over. Then she feebly smiled before her eyes glazed away from the image of me in my “Cinderella” dress I had worn at kindergarten graduation.
After a stroke and years of liver corrosion brought on by incessant drinking, she died a few weeks later. My world came crashing down. It was my first close encounter with death aside from my grandfather passing away when I was about 3 or 4. Little did I know at the time, it would be one more personal motivation to live healthier, to do better, and to make her investment of time and love worthwhile.
Years later, into my 20s, I was beginning to spiral out of control in certain aspects of my health and life. Audry’s blog was one of the resources I encountered when I was searching for solace. Her personable affect, her genuine concern, and her story of seeing her loved ones brave health challenges–they all inspired me to reach back out to her for this interview. It’s a bittersweet one.
I haven’t cried over something in the Along the Way series before, but I guess it’s about time I did. That, too, is healing: for you, for me, for anybody.
Just so you know, the title A Nutritional Makeover makes me INCREDIBLY hungry.
Why did you choose that name for your blog? Do you remember other ideas that came to mind when you were branding your blog?
I’ve always loved makeovers… of anything really.
Naturally, along the way of educating other women, I was giving them a nutritional makeover. I had created so many different handouts on topics related to transforming health and nutrition which inspired me to write a book.
The book is entitled A Nutritional Makeover, which is still in the works. I wanted to have recipes and health tips available online to go along with the book. So that is how and why I started my blog and chose that name for it.
My whole idea is a work in progress, as life throws obstacles and redirection sometime, but my goal is to keep spreading the word in the meantime!
Yeah, we all have to start somewhere!
On your blog, you rehashed the story about your mother’s choice to pursue alternative medicine as a result of getting cancer.
What was going on in your life and career prior to the onset of her illness? Is she doing better, by the way?
My mother was diagnosed in 1999 with breast cancer. Shortly before, she had gotten a job as a principal of an elementary school, but proceeded with having the cancer removed from her breast and beginning chemotherapy–all while still working and pretending as though she were healthy. This ,of course, only lasted a few months before she collapsed. That is when she began researching alternatives to chemotherapy after deciding that she didn’t like the path she was on. Having no control over her body was not something she wanted.
My mother started doing what she believed to be healthy: juicing, eating organics and cutting out any food that was not prepared at home. That was where she began, but it was not enough. After chemotherapy was complete, another diagnosis came back that the cancer had spread to her hips. At that time, she was feeling better and decided to dismiss the doctor’s diagnosis. She said she would rather die trying to heal herself than live through chemo again.
About a year after this had begun, my mother got a job in another state as a school principal and she moved. She continued to care for foster children (she had a big heart for kids); and, because of that and her full time job, she had no time to care for herself. She was seeing an acupuncturist and taking herbs, which probably helped, but she was not eating as well as she should have been since she had little time to prepare food. She had hired a live-in nanny to help with the children so she could focus on herself. For a few years, she read, researched, studied and absorbed this amazing knowledge that she couldn’t seem to apply to herself. One of her major problems was that she had no control over her meal portions and was overweight. Her health was deteriorating fast. She was confined to her bed and limited to getting around in a wheel chair.
One day I was on the phone with her. She was telling me that her body was swelling and she was having trouble breathing, although she downplayed it. My husband and I convinced her to go to the hospital where she found out she had tumors in her bladder and urethra. She couldn’t urinate either, which was backing up into her body and causing congestive heart failure. I went to the hospital immediately along with all my brothers and sisters. The doctor gave her a couple months to live and said it would be better to just take out her catheter, her life support mechanism that helped to release the waste in her body. We were appalled that the doctor would suggest such a thing and so we agreed that I would be the one who would take care of her. With her knowledge and my energy, we decided to stick with doing things naturally but she was released on hospice. On a rare occasion such as my mother’s, a patient will survive the program. We told the staff at the hospice we would no longer need their services and they were not happy, to say the least.
My mother continued to see medical doctors just to do labs so she could treat herself naturally, she of course did not tell her doctors what she was doing and all the prescriptions went to the trash. The only medication she needed was morphine. She couldn’t get rid of the pain in her bones because they had deteriorated from the cancer. The natural treatments, the diet, and the herbs were stopping the progression of the caner as we saw on test results and body scans. Yet it still wasn’t enough. During the “extra” years of my mother’s life, she was at 160 pounds. Although she walked with a cane, she was dancing in church. We did our best, but, unfortunately, she did pass away because her trachea had collapsed and the hospital was eager to free up her bed and one night, they took out her breathing tubes, pumped her full of morphine and let her go.
That’s what motivated me to pursue alternative medicine and therapies. Now, my main priority in life is to prevent any major illnesses form taking over the health of my family and anyone who will listen.
As I read your responses, I felt my heart sink when I learned that your mother passed because the story on your about page gave me hope that she was alive and thriving. All in all, I’m glad that your mother’s legacy has made such a positive impact on your life.
Today, you’re more than a nutritionist, seeing how you indicated your passions for fitness, herbs, women’s health, and childbearing.
In working with women (your mother included), what have been the biggest triumphs that you have seen them take away? And what advice would you give to the men who come to you?
Educating women on how to take care of their families has been the most rewarding accomplishment. I have worked with a chiropractor, dentist, a few mid-wives, and even with a medical doctor as a nutrition consultant. Those who had the most success were those who followed their plans. One of the main things I hear from women who have changed their eating habits is how much more energized and alive they feel. I have gotten pretty good at creating individualized health plans and, since I have become an acupuncture student, it has opened even more doors.
My focus is on women for one-on-one nutritional consultations. Usually, their husbands either unknowingly or willingly begin to feel the positive changes and get on board, which makes it easier for both of them. Now, the only time I work with men is when they’re referred through my husband, a relative or a friend. In that case, I will create a plan and pass it on. I have noticed that with men, if his intimate partner is not on board, the effort will fail. Wives tend to do the cooking and that is why my focus is on the women from the start.
I never considered that factor, but I have seen the strife that comes between couples when their health habits are misaligned.
I am guessing that you are privy to all the corruption going on in the food industry too. What 3 insights do you have to share with those who might not be aware of what’s going on behind the scenes of their dinner plate?
Above all, why is your work important and, particularly, how can busy professionals apply your insights?
There is quite a lot of corruption going on in the food industry for sure, and it’s not a “conspiracy theory”–it is a fact and it is real. It’s not necessarily a handful of men rubbing their hands together preying on the deaths of innocent people to cut the population and gain control. It’s more like a handful of men rubbing their hands together at all the profits to be made on processed garbage that makes people sick and prescriptions. The same corporations that own food companies also own pharmaceutical companies.
I recommend the Wellness Mama blog to others who are interested in learning more about taking care of themselves and their families naturally.
If you would like to be a part of the Along the Way series, you may send me an inquiry too!