When I first heard my friend Mark’s story about his ex father-in-law (before Mark knew of my association with PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)), I knew I had to share it. Here’s what Mark told me:
There was a time where we weren’t going to see my in-laws as regularly, so I suggested to my wife that we go visit them once a month, so I started getting more acquainted with my in laws. Hence, I got more acquainted with my father-in-law, a very in your face African American man who was 320 pounds and 5’10. Very aggressive! You just felt on edge with him. When we’d go to the grocery store, he’d get a pile of Havarti and lunch meats and make a sandwich that was about three inches high and eat that for lunch. For breakfast he’d eat bacon and sausage, lots of eggs – huge amounts of food and very sedentary. Would sit in front of the television 24/7. [He sounds a bit like Elvis, I interject and laugh!]
I found him very fascinating because he used to be a chef and then he went from being a chef to running several kitchens, so he was very aware of cooking and quite a wonderful chef. That was the setting and so we went several years like that. Then he started having to do the shots. He developed Type II diabetes and I could tell it was a sad thing for him. I watched him having to go in [to the hospital]. He’d leave and come back. I heard from my mother-in-law that he was getting worse. She couldn’t get him to go for walks. So just on a whim, I went out to a book store and I bought “Dr. Neal Barnard‘s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without drugs”, so I got that and his birthday is around Father’s Day, so I presented it to him and seriously thought he’d go “Thanks!” and then throw it away.
However, the next month when we went for a visit, he looked like a new man! I asked him, “How are you doing Tom?” and he said, “I am doing great!” He immediately pulled out Dr. Barnard’s book and said, “This is my bible!” And it was filled with those colorful plastic Post-It notes and there were probably a hundred. I was floored! I asked, “You’ve read it?” and he said, “I’ve read it twice already. I’m going to read it a third time!” I was really touched! Then he said, “September 1st, 2007, I’m going to switch to a completely vegan diet and I need you to take me to where you get your natural foods and show me around, because I need to get everything that I need.” So I take him to the health food store. When we got there he grabs a guy in the health and beauty section and says to him, “Young man show me around the store!” So we went isle by isle through the entire store. After that he started making oatmeal for breakfast, different kinds of veggie burgers, bulgur, wheat…going straight to a vegan diet cold turkey! That’s awesome!
The next month, in October, he had his diabetes doctor’s report and he said that in one month he had lost 18 pounds and all his readings were improved. His pancreas were showing signs of waking up. His insulin levels were going down. When he went for his doctors check-up, he had two doctors, one for general and one for diabetes, the doctor said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I have never seen anything like this! If you keep this up I’m going to have to take you around to different medical centers because you’re going to be my poster child. I’ve never seen anything like it!”
The next month he had lost further weight, so in two months about 30 pounds. I asked, “So are you hungry?” He said, “No, I’m eating plenty of food. If you have any new ideas let me know!” In March or April of 2008 he was still going strong. He also started walking. I asked him, “What did it for you in the book?” He said, “The testimonials were a big part of it, but what came down to it was that I knew that I could either change my diet or die! So I decided to change my diet! With time he just kept improving. He didn’t have to do as many insulin shots and he also kept loosing weight. He had a big pot belly and that was starting to come in. He showed me his pants and how there was so much more room. So yes, he was doing very very well on his new diet! Did he ever get completely off his medications? It was towards the end of my marriage, so I only knew what happened about eight months into it, but it was definitely significantly less. The pancreas was definitely waking up.
I think this story would be good for someone else to know because this man used to mock me [for being a vegetarian before going vegan myself]. We’d have these big barbecues and he had a refrigerator with every meat imaginable. He would let me tend it because he’d say to me, “I knew you wouldn’t steal any of it!” This guy was into his meat on a large scale. Meat and dairy. He would make his own ice cream too. Full fat! That’s the worst part I could remember trying, as a vegetarian at the time. I was on my back for three hours from the lactate – felt like knives in my stomach! I agree, that would be me as well…and spend the next morning on the toilet in serious pain! [Very bad memories of my own ice cream consumption!] So at this point its almost dangerous for you to do it because you don’t have the enzymes to process it. Now my whole family supports everything that I do when we go out…and at work too. When we go out they’ll ask, “Is it Mark friendly?” They won’t say, “Is it vegan?”
Thank you, Mark for sharing this great story with me and my readers! You ROCK!
Here’s Dr. Neal Barnard on TEDxFremont on Tackling Diabetes with a Bold New Approach.