Caught up in MIFF and anti-slime, Evo had neglected his life for too long, particularly his health. Slumped over benches on lab stools in awkward postures for hours at a time left his back a mess. And vacant eating habits extracted a metabolic toll. Inhaling food from vending machines between experiments just didn’t cut it.
Yielding to the warning signs, Evo scheduled an appointment, but not with a conventional doctor. After working in medicine so long, and seeing how they operated, he choose a progressive healthcare provider instead. Drugs and surgery seemed unwarranted, at least in his case. A friend had suggested a naturopathic doctor, who specialized in nutrition and chiropractic. She came highly recommended.
Evo perked right up as Dr. Nan Churell entered the examination room. She downplayed her beauty, as doctors do, but Evo sized her up favorably. Most striking was her wavy, silver-streaked hair, tied up in back, resembling images from ages past. But the thick eyeglasses and white lab coat spelled professionalism. She was all business, but Evo could see behind the mask.
“Good morning Dr. Lucio.”
“Good morning Dr. Churell!”
“So what brings you here today?”
“A couple bumps and bruises here and there. My back is killing me, upper and lower. Then there’s carpal tunnel, left and right, and some indigestion. Besides that, I’m delighted to meet you.”
“I’ve heard some things about you, too,” Nan replied affably.
Despite the Mona Lisa smile, Nan proceeded in earnest with the exam: testing vital signs; ruling out organic problems; questioning Evo on diet and exercise; looking for subluxations, joint flexibility and posture; taking hair and toe nail clippings for mineral analysis; checking skin for blemishes, fat content, hydration, etc. She also tested for memory retention and reaction time. Several blood samples were taken for lab work up.
Dr. Churell was a naturopath. Her practice could best be described as integrative, since she employed modalities from several different disciplines. She borrowed from Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, plus nutritional science. Her recent book on clinical dietetics helped correlate symptoms, blood tests and DNA analysis with nutrient deficiencies. These diagnostic tools were not typically used in conventional medicine.
She adjusted Evo in several places, and massaged knots out of his back, leaving him purring with pleasure on her exam table.
“Nice touch,” he said, with eyes rolling back in his head.
“Getting your money’s worth,” she responded, nonchalantly.
Sitting up straight to button his shirt, Evo ventured, “You ever date your patients?”.
“I’m not accustomed to dating,” Nan replied, while labeling the warm, blood-filled test tubes. Devotion to her work made it difficult to pursue personal relationships. Furthermore, she was thoroughly disappointed in men, like many women her age. Nonetheless, this was a healthy, vibrant woman, and Evo could sense the signals. He felt her longing.
“What’s the latest vitamin fad, Doc?”
Without hesitation she replied: “Nutrition is a respected and growing science. But it’s not an easy pursuit. Humans are much harder to study than bacteria. Studies on nutrition take months and years to complete and are very costly. Despite limited funding and the bold disregard from the medical community, nutrition science has come a long way.” She placed Evo’s blood samples into a rack to send for lab analysis.
“It sounds absurd, but physicians know little about nutrition, despite tremendous strides in the field. Because of entrenched corporate interests and reliance on drugs, you don’t hear much about nutrition research. Only the negative studies make it in medical journals, or on mass media.”
“Maybe an herbal balm would soothe my weariness.”
“We have our quacks and you have yours, dear doctor. At least nutritionists aim at the root of the problem. Modern medicine is symptom-focused and profit-driven. It’s a mess.”
Evo had come to similar conclusions, having worked in a hospital so many years. He just never articulated it so well.
“It’s not about one industry. It’s our whole culture. I mean, why put toxic fluoride in toothpaste, when nutrition is the key to dental health?” Evo studied his hands, hoping not to give himself away. He had heard other fanatics bash fluoride, vaccines and such.
“Anyway, I try to promote healthier options.” She shifted back to her examination and worked on his back with something resembling an electronic rolling pin.
“You need to come in regularly to work out those knots and kinks, work on your posture, and improve the ergonomics at work. We need to get your blood pressure normalized. We’ll also personalize a meal plan and supplement regimen.”
“I’m in,” Evo said, but then dug a bit deeper: “Do you believe in conspiracy theories?”
“Conspiracy realities, maybe. People will do most anything for money. You should know that by now, Dr. Lucio. Industries that peddle pharmaceuticals, munitions, tobacco, sugar, corn, and wheat have ruined our country’s state of health, but then hide the evidence. Drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, junk food, plastics, petrochemicals…all business as usual. We are teetering on the edge of destruction, while they spend millions to keep it under wraps.”
“The profit motive corrupts us all.” Evo conceded.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she said. “There are good doctors. Some incorporate nutrition and prevention into their practice, and are not so quick to dole out drugs. Patients are starting to demand it.”
“Corruption is everywhere,” Evo countered. “Alternative medicine can be just as bogus. You don’t know how or where supplements are manufactured. Much of it is tainted, synthetic, in the wrong form, or even missing. There’s little regulation, so who knows what you’re getting? I’ve heard some horror stories.”
“There are reputable companies, and some not so good. You get what you pay for,” Nan insisted. “American products–including drugs–are made in countries with low standards, and many companies cut corners. Nevertheless, you should not skimp on nutrition.”
“That leaves out the poor, who need these nutrients most.”
“True, true. It’s ironic, and sad. Those who need supplementation are the least likely to receive it. The well-to-do purchase high quality vitamins because they are enlightened and can afford them. Supplements may make them smarter and more productive, so it’s a circular thing. Providing high-quality supplements for everyone, especially children and child-bearing women, is where universal health care would really come in handy. Hands down, it’s the cheapest and most effective health insurance money can buy, and would help lift up our poor and aging population.”
Evo couldn’t argue. He had witnessed the mess that agribusiness, conventional medicine and insurance companies created.
“Vitamins yes, but the herbal stuff scares me,” Evo argued.
“Many enlightened people are into herbs, and I respect them. There are herbalists out there who are very good at their craft. Again, it’s about quality, and good science.”
“I’ve met a witch or two who practiced the art,” Evo recalled, from the rabble of crazy women he’d met.
“I employ foundational nutrition in my practice. Most of it comes from wholesome, fresh food. However, supplementation is important, as most of us don’t eat a perfect diet. These days, food is mass-produced on poor soil and processed to death. There are also special nutrients we just don’t get from our diets, like vitamin D, omega-3s, iodine, and the like.
“It starts with a high-quality multivitamin, not the cheap drugstore crap. A good one fortifies the body’s antioxidant systems, activates enzymes and covers deficiencies. A good multi can improve the quality of life, as many studies show. And it’s cheap; much cheaper than the cost of ignoring nutrition.”
Dr. Churell knew her stuff. She saw the big picture, and was passionate about her work. Evo saw her as an evolved and spirited woman, and her devotion to science resonated with him.
“My therapist told me that active, ambitious women are the best lovers. What’s your take?”
After an uncomfortable pause, Nan asked: “Do you wish to improve your health, or play games?”
“I have a nice sandbox.”
“You mean your lab?”
“Not quite, but I’ll take you there. Ever been in a real lab?”
“Nutrition labs are just as legit, and I’ve had enough of you for one day.” Nan gently nudged Evo towards the door. “See you in three days.” On his way out, she handed him vials with a week’s supply of multivitamins, fish oil, magnesium and vitamin D.
That evening, as he entered his apartment, Evo noticed a message on his answering machine. It was from Nan:
“There’s an organic flower farm in New Jersey that delivers. Their website is http://www.TERRA_ROSES.com. And, by the way, your therapist was on to something.”
Partly for the sake of his aching body, Evo committed to regular appointments with Dr. Churell. As two respected scientists with a distrust for medicine, they had much in common. Despite his jerkiness, Nan knew Evo was on the ball. And, no doubt, he was pleased with her in every which way. So, one thing led to another.
Their first date was set in Central Park, the crown jewel of New York City. Nan and Evo met at the East Park Gate on 74th Street on a Saturday morning.
“Good morning, Doc!” Evo took her hands and kissed her on the cheek.
“Good morning, Doctor,” Nan responded, kissing his other cheek. She had let her hair and dress down, wearing only a tank top, shorts, sandals, a floppy hat and monster sunglasses. Her natural beauty was on display. The park glittered with gorgeous women, but Evo hardly noticed.
A phenomenon was about to transform the Great Lawn. Thousands of devotees had gathered to see the Dalai Lama, our modern day Buddha. Evo had never seen such a crowd, sweeping over the lawn like a mist of souls. His heart opened with anticipation.
Nan had recently turned him on to the great one and his book The Art of Happiness. It affected him deeply. The Dalai Lama was a living symbol of joy and compassion. Happiness, he taught, comes from caring, forgiving, and accepting what’s present in the moment, rather than fighting, negating and defending yourself from intrusions. These truths resonated in Evo’s soul.
The couple made their way toward the stage, weaving between blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets. They managed to get close enough to see his eminence’s face, and took a seat on the grass together, sheltered from the sun by a grove of cherry trees. The Dalai Lama–like a sitting Buddha–infected all those around him with peace and love. Evo was entranced by the great master. His breath slowed and deepened. He nestled close to Nan and said:
“So, the two of you plan to teach me about love.”
“There is no way to love, dear doctor. Love is the way. Love comes to those who love. This is the heart of Buddhism.”
“My whole life has been about work,” Evo said, shaking his head in torment. “I was following my heart, but realize how unhappy I’ve been. If I weren’t so empty inside, I’d still be in the lab stroking my ego, trying to prove my worthiness to the world.” He turned away, embarrassed.
“Listen to your words, Evo,” Nan responded. “What are you really hiding from?”
He thought for a moment and shrugged. She placed a hand on his arm and spoke softly:
“Intimacy, my dear. Relationships are not easy. Rather than doing the hard work, we run away. We hide in ivory towers to avoid the pain. We better ourselves to make people love us, becoming professionals, gaining power and money, driving fancy cars and accruing things to attract others. But love is the greatest power. Bring people closer by loving them, not convincing them to love you.”
Evo’s mind opened wide as she continued to hit home. How did she know him so well? Nan continued:
“People need connection, despite their fears and limitations; indeed, because of them. We need to jump into the pile of humanity and learn our lessons the hard way. We need to go through the pains of getting it right, with a focus on helping others. Most never escape the shame of unworthiness, or the shield of righteousness. It haunts them to their grave, and gets harder as we age.”
“Women connect more easily,” Evo observed.
“Yes, women are innately more social and nurturing, but we have our own illusions. Once the children leave home, many of us are left clueless. When beauty fades, we feel impotent. But a woman who loves unconditionally is a saint among thieves.”
“You’re right. All I’ve ever done is steal love from good women. I rely on them to provide connection and a social life.”
“And women rely on manpower to provide for their nest and elevate their status. They are users too. We learned these things as cave people. It’s part of being human.”
“The first thing is to forgive the imperfections, I guess.”
“Compassion and forgiveness start at home,” Nan responded.
With the sun beating down, Nan and Evo found some relief under a large oak. Nan opened a basket full of organic whole-grain breads, berries, nuts and seeds, and Italian mineral water. They could barely see the Dalai Lama, but felt his presence. He began to chant in deep, rasping sounds as the crowd fell silent in meditation.
By mid-day the heat had become unbearable, and the crowd began to disperse. The two doctors took a cab downtown to attend a New Age Conference at the Hotel New Yorker on west 34th, which Nan had frequented annually for nearly a decade. They were hoping to find relief in the air-conditioned hotel lobby, but got caught behind a line of tattooed, body-pierced and studded weirdoes outside the hotel.
Bracketed between the lunatic fringe, Evo wondered what he was getting into.
Finally they were allowed to enter. First, they hovered over a gasping air-conditioner in the lobby, trying to cool down a bit. They then took the stairs to the conference center on the 2nd floor of this stately, but aging hotel.
Inside the main hall, Evo’s fears were quickly realized. He had entered a freak show. Down one aisle after another–hypnotists, herbalists, shamans, card & palm readers, clairvoyants–all pushing exotic products and services. Barley, wheat grass, and blue green algae were the new superfoods. Magic crystals, miracle potions and exotic herbs were offered by fortunetellers and hands-on healers. So many different Tarot card decks. Who knew?
The narrow aisles were crammed with weird people. A Chinese masseuse would not let people pass without molesting them. Across the aisle, a chiropractor used an elaborate wooden device for giving back massages, with a long line waiting their turn.
Feeling claustrophobic, Evo dodged and darted through the maze of crackpots and snake oil salesmen. Occasionally, he stumbled upon a booth that caught his interest. There were a few compelling holistic practices, such as yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic and nutrition. Evo also appreciated the exotic costumes. The music was new age and meditative, the kind you fall asleep to in yoga class. The smells were pleasant and inviting.
By far the most alluring was a drum therapy practitioner, who mesmerized you with his piercing blue eyes, and the deep, resonant sounds from his gong. His pull was powerful, even for a nonbeliever. Evo looked away, to avoid his Siren-like spell.
It was entirely too non-scientific for Evo’s taste. His instinct was to move rapidly through the exhibits, despite the strain of making headway. He wanted to follow Nan, but she strolled too leisurely, stopping at booths for promotions, free samples, and conversation. She was too engaged to notice Evo’s skittishness. Nan kept her mind open, which served her well. To her credit, the booths she patronized seemed more credible or useful than others.
Though skeptical at first, Evo found a thing or two of interest. A few intriguing therapies and gadgets were on display. He gave some things a try. He bought probiotics from one vendor and sea salt from another. He pocketed some aromatherapy samples, knowing that smells could evoke feelings and memories. Indeed, many mainstream modalities once started on the fringe.
One highlight for Evo was watching the Tai Chi masters with their ballet-like movements. Meanwhile a Chinese masseuse gratuitously relieved a kink in his right shoulder. He watched acupuncturists insert pins into people. And how could he forget the belly dancers moving so graciously to traditional Indian music, making hypnotic sounds with their finger cymbals. Yoga classes were under way behind closed doors in some of the side rooms.
Frankly, much of the conference was virtual voodoo in Evo’s eyes. Certain traditions and practices completely escaped him. Magic crystals, magnets, communicating with the dead, astrology and fortune telling seemed completely out in left field. Evo was clueless about oriental medicine, and could not fathom Native American healing wisdom. The mysterious teachings of Rudolph Steiner were even further beyond him, though they seemed profound. Evo knew there was wisdom beyond science. Some people were attuned to matters of the spirit, but it was clearly out of his comfort zone.
After maneuvering through most of the aisles and exhibit halls, Evo and Nan reconvened near the food court.
“Look at all the tasty fare!” Nan said enthusiastically.
“If you say so,” Evo replied. “Did you see Svengali with the gong? That guy was incredible! More spirit than human.”
“Much healing is spiritual,” Nan offered. “Many alternative therapies have a place in medicine.” Her approach addressed the mind, body and spirit, borrowing from many disciplines. “Science works at the cutting edge between order and chaos. Tolerating the fringe is a necessary part of inquiry.”
“Don’t you find some of this stuff scary?” Evo had no use for reincarnation, contacting the dead, telling the future, and the like.
“Orthodox medicine is much scarier. Drugs and surgery kill hundreds of thousands yearly, much of it unnecessarily. Sure, there are nut jobs and phonies at this convention. But most are sincere, harmless, and gifted. Some of it is ancient wisdom, and some exploratory. Who knows where it will lead?”
One thing was certain, Evo was feeling unusually vibrant and alive. Clearly, it had to do with the lifestyle changes that Nan initiated, from vitamins, minerals, oils, or some combination thereof. With a renewed curiosity, he began sampling foods on display, being particularly enamored with macrobiotic cuisine. It tasted fresher and more complex than anything he was used to.
Evo’s spirit was rising, as the doors of perception were opening to a broader view of health and wellness. Some of these novel and ancient practices could serve medicine well. Maybe the future of health care depended on it. That’s what Nan was all about.
More than anything, Evo accepted the importance of nutrition. At one lecture, Evo learned how a lack of trace minerals in the diet contributed to chronic disease. A veterinarian was presenting his studies on mineral deficiencies in cattle, while promoting a liquid mineral product from fossilized plants.
“These plants grew millions of years ago, when the earth was replete with minerals,” said the vet, who looked more like a cowboy than a doctor. “But life-giving minerals have washed out to sea, and our soils are depleted. Plants are starving for minerals. Animals get their minerals from plants, and so do we.”
Nan was taking liquid colloidal minerals, and prescribed them in her practice. Their nutritional value in humans was unproven, but she saw good results from using them. They seemed to promote vitality and fertility, and were useful against chronic fatigue. Yet, it was Nan’s foundational approach of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and oils that left her clients beaming with health.
This nonscientific, kitchen-sink approach made Evo uneasy. Scientists are trained to analyze each ingredient separately, while controlling all other variables. Each factor is studied alone to justify its use. In contrast, Nan believed that nutrients work in harmony, and should be studied that way. Evo listened to each instrument, while Nan heard the symphony. Clearly, their scientific approaches were different.
Besides supplements, Nan ate vegetarian or organic whenever possible, along with wild fish, free-range eggs and grass-fed meat and dairy. Her smooth skin, lustrous hair, shapely body and glowing aura, even in middle age, attested to her lifestyle choices. No makeup, hair coloring, nips or tucks were needed. Nan was also fit and active. She was well put together, giving credence to her methods.
Her concoctions were also starting to work on Evo. She employed high-quality supplements to complement a healthy diet, not the cheap, synthetic, drugstore vitamins that skimp on quality. Her mission was also to change her clients’ eating habits, which meant taking time to prepare food, eating a variety of fresh, wholesome superfoods, and supplementing where needed.
With more than his share of new age madness, Evo left Nan and made his way back to Long Island. His train departed from Penn Station, across the street from the hotel. But first he escorted Nan to the subway heading to the Upper West Side. They hardly noticed the subway noise and squalor in their romantic state.
“I’ll call you,” he said, as an uptown A train approached. They kept eye contact, as Nan’s train powered forward.
Evo was moved deeply by the events of the day. He took to the Dalai Lama like a duck to water. And Nan was dynamite. He was beginning to benefit from her wisdom. Good nutrition had undoubtedly improved his outlook and stamina. By bringing health and compassion into his life, Evo felt more in tune with the world.
He was part of a greater family now, which was comforting. Through compassion, he had uncovered his nurturing side. It was the passage beyond ego and shame. It was the gift that kept giving. Compassion was the bridge.