Greeley said ‘Go West’ — I decided to ‘Go North’

It is often thought that “the grass is always greener on the other side of the (pick one: fence, hill, road, wall, or whatever).” It’s a thought so much stated that the time-worn bromide is among “the 50 most important proverbs” as listed online by phrasemix.com.

After completing one year of in-center dialysis at the end of this past January, I found myself contemplating whether a fresh medical evaluation might be in the best interest of assessing my mortality. In other words, what are the possibilities looking ahead? And what is available ongoing that I as an end stage renal disease patient can control?

Being a retired journalist, it is appropriate that a phrase often credited to the American author and newspaper editor Horace Greeley crossed my mind: “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” Of course, I am no longer anywhere near being a young man, and I have no intention of subscribing to that popular concept of the mid-1800s known as the Manifest Destiny, a widely held belief in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America.

What has become prevalent nowadays, though, is what many patients face in dealing with a current chronic disease, and perhaps with an impending surgical procedure. Often, after they get the original prognosis, they seek a second opinion. Or maybe a third. And often what falls on patients’ ears at each stop are the same old lines of embarkment. This is the treatment you need; this is the protocol for what needs to be done. And in many cases, it needs to be done right away.

For those who have reached the final stage of kidney disease, the options for treatment in the Western civilization are pretty much set in stone – go on dialysis for the rest of your life, … or receive a kidney transplant. Neither are all that inviting, although those are the methods available in this country for prolonging your existence.

Also, among my several thoughts were those gleaned from Indiana author Mark Montieth, a familiar sports writer and television/radio personality. I have known of Montieth for some years but only met him face-to-face once. A few years back, Mark had the gumption to defy traditional Western civilization treatment in coping with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer which began with a tumor on his tonsils and spread to his lymph nodes. According to his story – which is documented on his markmontieth.com website – the cancer was the result of a virus, HPV 16.

Montieth’s parents and older brother have owned a natural food store, Georgetown Market, on Indy’s northwest side since 1973. What Mark had heard from one doctor after another was needed in treating his disease didn’t set quite right with his upbringing.

In one portion of his online account, Montieth writes: “I know of and believe in the world of natural ‘medicine,’ and have always believed instinctively the body usually can heal itself with the proper nutrients. I also believe traditional medicine is mostly a corporate, profit-motivated enterprise, filled with some great minds and good-hearted people but also no shortage of brainwashed money-grubbers who care more about their bank accounts than their patients. It requires massive overhead to keep all those high-tech cancer centers operating, and the only way for them to do it is with the income from chemo and radiation treatments. A ‘cure’ might shut them all down and put thousands of people out of work.”

What Montieth ultimately did was sidestep traditional medicine, deciding to follow as natural a path as possible. That included some local holistic treatment sessions and consultations from outside the United States (and outside Indiana). In the long run, this stubborn and determined warrior beat his cancer, and offers a compelling account of his journey.

I certainly don’t have the background in natural healing that Montieth has. However, I did encounter – through research while writing a recent book titled Dialing in on DI-AL-Y-SIS – an interesting Australian fellow by the name of Duncan Capicchiano. For more than a dozen years, this certified naturopath has promoted a program known as The Kidney Disease Solution. The program, according to his website beatkidneydisease.com, is a complete and holistic approach to regaining kidney function and for living a normal healthy life.

I literally bought into his program and have been using many of the specifically created to fit the 80/20 ratio of alkalizing/acidifying ingredients by volume required during the restorative phase of The Kidney Disease Solution treatment. I am convinced the material in his 130-page cookbook and kitchen companion guide was instrumental in helping me attain consistent monthly lab results and satisfactory daily weight readings.    

After weighing in on a mixture of the English proverb, the Horace Greeley suggestion, and the Mark Montieth testimonial on beating cancer, my thoughts finally crystallized into a decision on what to do about obtaining a fresh evaluation on my mortality. While not necessarily expecting greener pastures, nor hankering to “Go West,” I did decide to transition to a different treatment facility on the south side of Indianapolis.That entailed being accepted by a newly certified Fresenius Dialysis Care operation and “Going North” about a mile to near the corner of Southport Road and South Madison Avenue. My first session was on Valentine’s Day (February 14), and my new starting time aligns with the roosters at 6 o’clock in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I do acknowledge being somewhat comfortable in recognizing that the past half dozen months or so have been rather consistent when assessing lab work. And I have been “feeling fine,” too. However, my sales background tells me that status quo is not good enough. A successful sales organization relishes a gain in production; otherwise, there is the perspective of falling behind.

So far, on perhaps the greener side at the Fresenius center are the individual patient TV sets that include some sports channels. And hopefully looming ahead is a fresh evaluation of my current and likely future on or off dialysis.  As legendary baseball pitcher Satchel Paige once said: “Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.”