Our life span is increasing quickly. Let’s make those years healthier and happier.

Several recent important events have convinced me to change what I’ve been doing for the past 30 years. I’ve discovered a huge problem facing people in the United States and most of the world and I want to spend the remainder of my time doing what I can to solve that problem. I’m hoping many of you reading this will join me in this endeavor. I’m not trying to sell you anything but simply explain the problems you are very likely already aware of. I couldn’t reduce “My Story” to a simple “Elevator Speech” so I decided to tell it in this article and keep it as short as I can.

About fifteen years ago I woke up one morning and could not get out of bed. I kept trying and eventually was able to roll over and fall out of bed onto the floor. When my wife, Becky Sharon, found me lying on the floor trying to move she was worried and wanted to call an ambulance but I convinced her not to. I kept telling her I would be fine soon. I was just having a dizzy spell and lost my balance. When I realized I could not “shake if off” I agreed to let her and my son take me to a hospital in Northern Kentucky near where we lived.

Even though I could not walk the first doctor I saw told me to go home and take one aspirin per day. Lucky for me Becky was with me because she insisted on another doctor looking at me; all I wanted to do was get out of there and go home. Unfortunately, the next doctor I saw was not that great but he did tell me I was suffering from a stroke. I spent the day there in intensive care getting tests.

Becky called the owner of my parent company and he suggested she get me out of that hospital and into the University Hospital in Cincinnati. I was transferred that evening and he set me up with one of the top doctors in the country. That doctor told me we had to find out what caused the stroke ASAP or I could have another with much worse consequences. He had some tests done and I was put on a blood thinner that night. Thank God I had Becky with me or who knows what would have happened.

Soon after that I started taking physical therapy and learned how to get around better, but I could not walk without holding onto something, for me it was mostly the walls. Becky got me home one of those rolling canes with two wheels on the front but I refused to use it. I wanted it out of the house. My doctors told me it was very likely I would never walk again without some type of assistance such as a wheelchair, cane or crutches. I refused to accept that. I did not want to live like that for the remainder of my life so I worked and pushed myself really hard. I eventually learned to walk again and even progressed to the point where I could run. Physically, I recovered 100% in less than a year. However, I did not know it at the time but I did not fully recover mentally because I had a large section of my brain missing from the stroke and several other events in my life.

As an example of my mental condition, several months after my stroke I had a meeting scheduled in Miami with The Coca-Cola Company and Burger King to work out the details of a very large project I had been working on before the stroke. I had to go to the meeting because no one else at my company (LSI Images) knew enough about it to attend. I assured everyone I could do it so I flew to Miami early the morning of the meeting. When I got off the plane I did not know where I was or why I was there. I asked someone and they told me I was in the Miami airport.

I remained in the airport several hours trying to figure out why I was there. I eventually found something in my briefcase with Becky’s name and number on it so I called her. She told me why I went there and then it all came back to me. I immediately called someone at Burger King and was told the meeting was over but everyone was going to meet later in a hotel for dinner and they wanted me there. The hotel was the same one I had stayed in many times but I had a huge problem finding it.  

Not long after that we moved to Naples, Florida. Some of my mental problems improved but my sense of direction and a few other things kept getting worse. It got to the point where I could not find the local grocery store we shopped in for a couple years, just one mile from home, without using GPS. I was angry and frustrated much of the time. It seemed every time I drove somewhere I got lost.  Becky and my family knew something was wrong but I would not admit it to myself or them.

I got to know many doctors when we moved to Naples because I had to visit one every month to have my blood checked. I was frustrated with all of them because they could not help me, so I changed doctors often. It seemed all they wanted to do was give me prescriptions that did not help. Then one day I met my current doctor, Dr. Jacqueline Romero. She was by far the best doctor I found in Naples and I had experienced many. During one of my first visits I was giving her some advice on marketing and she made the following statement that I will never forget. “Scott, you are a very intelligent guy but something is wrong with you”. I was shocked but started asking questions. I did not want to admit I had problems with my brain.

Becky and Dr. Romero were studying brain health, functional medicine, nutrition and several other forms of brain science which I also found very interesting and was learning from. Among several other things they took Dr. Daniel Amen’s course on brain functions and brain scanning. In April of 2017 all three of us went to one of Dr. Amen’s clinics in Atlanta and had our brains scanned.

My scan showed the part of my brain that was damaged from the stroke and from several other events in my past. I had consumed many bad foods and drinks with lots of sugar and artificial sweeteners. I also had a large amount of physical damage. I started boxing when I was ten and did a lot of it, all without protective headgear. I was knocked out the first time when I was twelve years old. I had several concussions from playing football in school. I had two serious falls while running and hit my head very hard. I also had damage from Agent Orange and PTSD from Vietnam.

When I saw the scan of my brain at Dr. Amen’s clinic I was shocked and became extremely upset. So much of it was damaged or missing! However, Becky said I got the largest smile on my face she had ever seen when they told me my brain could be grown back with certain treatments and nutrients. To me that was a lifesaver!   

The protocol Dr. Amen’s team gave me was to have 40 one hour sessions in a hyperbaric chamber and 20 sessions of neurofeedback. The hyperbaric chamber promotes the growth of new capillaries (small blood vessels) so the neurons in my brain could grow back. The Neurofeedback rewires the brain so it will function properly again.

The hyperbaric chamber treatments were very expensive in Naples so in June of 2017 I went to Cincinnati where the sessions were much less expensive. I lived most of my life in the Cincinnati area and I knew how to get everywhere there. When I arrived I could not find my son’s or daughter’s house without using GPS, even though I had been to both many times.

I took two sessions per day or ten per week for two weeks. Nothing happened the first week but I wasn’t worried because I expected it to be a very gradual process. After my 15th session I had a very dramatic experience. I felt as if I just woke up from a 15 year nap. A flood of memories rushed back, even memories from as far back as my Vietnam experience and my childhood. It was so emotional I just sat there and cried with happiness for several minutes. When that session was over I ran out to my car and drove around the remainder of the day to many of my favorite places and all the places I had lived. I had no trouble at all finding my way around.

I completed the remainder of those sessions in Cincinnati and came home. Becky and Dr. Romero purchased a hyperbaric chamber for use in their practice and I did the remaining 20 sessions in it. They also added neurofeedback to their practice so I completed that with them. I still get in the hyperbaric chamber for a few sessions occasionally just to keep a reserve supply of neurons. Becky also gives me neurofeedback sessions occasionally mainly because it helps clear up my vision when it gets a little fuzzy.

I have learned that Dr. Romero and Becky are brilliant. Dr. Romero sincerely cares about all her patients and does everything she can for them. I am amazed at all the things Becky has done and the people she has helped.  She received a Master’s degree in mental health counseling and will soon have her Doctorate. She is now a trained Hypnotherapist and does RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy). She’s a certified health coach, nutritionist, trained on how to do neurofeedback, completed Dr. Amen’s course on his work and has trained with Dr. Romero on Functional Medicine. She has helped so many people and that is so gratifying it has made me want to do the same thing.

One of my daughters has been traveling around the world for a year in what is called Remote year. She is with a group of 33 other people and they spend a month working in each of 12 different countries. One of her stops was in Vietnam and she asked me to join her there for 10 days. She wanted me to visit the country and speak to her group about the differences between Vietnam today and what it was like when I was there in the war in 1968.

Vietnam was the last place in this world I wanted to be. When I was there in 1968 during the war it was horrible. I lost many close friends there and I never wanted to go back. I did not want to hurt my daughter’s feelings so I came up with several excuses why I could not go. She solved every issue I came up with so I finally agreed to go. I never even wanted to talk about my Vietnam experiences let alone be there. However, I recently wrote a book (Great Adventures From My Life) about some of the unusual things I did in my life and I put several Vietnam experiences in it. Writing that book made me feel better about talking about my Vietnam experience so I though being there may make me feel a lot better.  

I flew into Hanoi in February of this year (2019). I was a little nervous but the trip was very easy. The country was not anything like what I was expecting. The people were all happy, courteous and friendly. The food was great and I had some of the best coffee I’ve had in my life. I did something with my daughter and her group every day. We traveled around the country most of the ten days I was there. I gave a ninety minute presentation (told my story) to her group and they loved it. Several wanted to talk about it more after the presentation.

Following are the things I saw in Vietnam that made me realize how much trouble we are in here in the US. These may not be facts that accurately describe the whole country but it’s what I observed. In all my travels I did not see any overweight people. They all seemed to be happy, healthy and in good shape. I did not see wheelchairs or crutches and I rarely saw an elderly person. In the cities the people were mostly on motor bikes or bicycles. In the countryside they were mostly working. I was actually asking myself “What do they do with their old people?” However, I was speaking to the grandson of a lady I thought was in her 50”s or maybe her 60’s. She was in a tree picking fruit and he told me she was in her 90’s.  I was shocked.

Another thing I noticed was all their food was fresh. It was either fresh caught or freshly slaughtered meat and fresh fruit and vegetables.  The people would pick up their food from a market daily. I saw very little refrigeration. I did not see any grocery stores or convenient stores where they sold processed food. At first I did not want to eat any of the food because much of it was cooked on the sidewalk in the cities but when I tried it I loved it. We even took some cooking lessons on how to prepare some of the most popular dishes.

When I returned home and arrived at the Ft. Myers airport I looked around and what I saw made me very sad. I saw many old people in very bad shape. There were wheelchairs, crutches and canes everywhere. Many of the people were overweight, some were hugely overweight. Many had large stomachs and were hunched over. Also, I could tell that many had brains that did not work properly. I kept thinking “What have we done to ourselves in this country?” That’s when I decided I want to do my part to solve this problem and help as many people as I can.

I realized that during the past 35 or 40 years I have been a large contributor to this problem. I have helped many companies sell more of their unhealthy food and drinks. However, I don’t blame all these companies because they have to produce and sell what their customers want. As an example many years ago Taco Bell came out with a healthy menu and it did not sell. They had to return to their popular but unhealthy food and eventually their sales came back. Several other large chains have tried the same thing with mostly the same results. All these chains can provide much healthier and good tasting food if their customers demand it. Even fried chicken can be much healthier than it is by simply using healthier fats to fry it in.

Following are some of the major problems that have to be resolved quickly:

Food Supply: The fresh food we grow today is not nearly as healthy as it was. As an example, corn has been so genetically modified it is not close to what it used to be and it is used in a huge number of our processed foods. It was healthy at one time but no longer. The primary reason is; about 50-60 years ago when I was a child on the farm we grew corn to feed our pigs, dairy and beef cattle. We also grew some in our garden for the family. Back then our yield per acre of corn was from 30 to 50 bushels. Today the average yield per acre is 170 bushels. Experts say that 28 nutrients are taken from the soil when corn is grown. When farmers fertilize the soil they use over and over again they only add back three of the ingredients that make it grow faster and larger. When the other 25 nutrients are depleted many of the healthy nutrients in the corn are missing. This is only one of many examples.

The Food Supply Industry: Most of the processed food you find in a grocery or convenient store is very unhealthy. As an example I just read something today that said the most popular cereals are mostly sugar and that’s what parents feed their children. No wonder so many now are obese!

Food labeling is such a mess it is a huge joke! Most people have no idea what’s in the food they buy, even if they read the label. Although there is some government control you have to understand the rules for what’s put on the labels. Many of the terms are simply marketing terms. Someone told me a few days ago if you print on the package that a food is healthy or has the good effect of some medicines it will be considered a drug by the government and falls under the drug labeling and distribution rules.

Sugar: Sugar is one of the largest contributors to our poor health and it is put in an incredible number of processed foods in one form or another. It’s even in such foods as French fries. To combat this, sugar substitutes were developed. However recent studies have found these sugar substitutes to be unhealthier than real sugar.

Fat: Our government and many other organizations have told us for years that fat is bad so we have gone through a long fat free or low fat diet craze. However, recent research has found most fats to be very healthy and needed by our bodies, especially from grass fed meat. Eating more healthy fat can actually aid in loosing body fat.

Exercise: Many adults and children no longer get enough exercise. They are spending more time watching TV, playing games and reading messages on their cell phones or sitting behind a desk all day. We need a certain amount of exercise to stay healthy.

Alcohol Consumption: Drinking alcoholic beverages has become the major way we socialize and consumption is growing. Today most social events and meals have to include some form of alcohol. Research has found alcohol to be very harmful, especially to the brain.

Drugs: “Big Pharma” has become a huge health problem in the United States. Even though they are developing more and more super drugs that are helpful in treating illnesses they are causing some serious health problems. Today the major motivation for developing a drug is much more about profit than for what it will do to help cure illnesses. Also, we are now facing a huge problem with our health system. Issuing prescriptions has become the major way doctors have generate income. They can’t afford to spend enough time with their patients to find out what they really need.

Since I don’t want this article to be all negative I want to list some of the good things that are going on:

Longevity: Because of developing science we are now adding 3 months to our average life span each year. By the year 2030 that number is predicted to go up to adding a year every year.     

Treatments: Science has been developing new effective treatments for many illnesses and finding cures for many. This will continue at a faster rate.

Science: Science is developing many new and useful products at an ever increasing rate that will make our lives easier. New technology is being developed at an exponentially faster rate. These technologies are decreasing the amount of work we all have to do and making our lives better.

I had to decide what I could do for the remainder of my life to help people solve these problems. I have decided the best way I can do that quickly is to become a certified personal trainer. I want to do that and some other things but concentrate on people 65 and older. I will also help Becky and Dr. Romero with their brain health practice, Regain the Brain and The Plenary Mind Institute.

I am now halfway through my NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine) training and will soon be certified by them. After that I will start training people in some of the local gyms and build a group for certain group exercises and special care events.

2 thoughts on “Our life span is increasing quickly. Let’s make those years healthier and happier.

  1. Kenneth Smith

    Lt Sharon, this is the best article I have ever read. It brought tears to my eyes seeing the problem you had and the miracle that you found the right help to get you through this trying time. God bless your wife Becky for having the patience to keep pushing you to get the right help. I and all my kids have read your book of your growing up in Kentucky we all enjoyed it I hope that one day you can sign it for me. Also it would be so nice for me and the guys in D company and A company if you could come to our 19th Engineer reunion next month, and bring Becky you won’t be disappointed as we have a family type gathering. Hope to get to see you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for your wonderful comment Ken. I will always remember you as the world’s best Jeep driver in Vietnam. Your quick thinking, bravery, and skill saved my life and I’m sure several others. As you remember 9 of my 12 OCS classmates lost their lives over there. I don’t think that would have happened to them if they had people like you on the radio, machine gun and driving for them. I’m sitting here now remembering some of the things that happened to us and how we got out of jams.

    Like

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