How Can We Live a Long Healthy Life?

Our life span is increasing quickly, our technology is developing exciting new medicines and treatments, but our health is worse than it’s ever been and getting worse quickly. What is wrong and how can we fix it?

There is a huge problem facing people in the United States and it is getting worse quickly! I am now determined to spend the remainder of my life doing whatever I can to help solve this problem. I’m hopeful after reading this some of you will join me in this endeavor. Following is what happened that brought me to this decision.

Fifteen years ago I woke up one morning and could not get out of bed. I kept trying and eventually rolled over and fell out of bed onto the floor. When my wife, Becky Sharon, found me lying on the floor trying to move she wanted to call an ambulance but I convinced her not to. I told her I would be fine soon. I was just having a dizzy spell and lost my balance. When I finally realized I could not stand up or “shake if off”, I agreed to let her and my son take me to a local hospital.

The first doctor I saw at the emergency room told me to take an aspirin per day and was ready to send me home. Lucky for me Becky was with me because she insisted on a second opinion; all I wanted to do was get out of there and go home. Unfortunately, the next doctor we saw was not that great either, however, he did tell me I was suffering from a stroke. I spent the day there getting tests. The second doctor could not find the cause of my stroke and even after a third opinion still no cause was discovered. 

Becky was determined to find a doctor that would find the cause of my stroke.  Luckily, a family friend gave us a referral to a great doctor who found the cause of the stroke.  It was caused by a perfect storm; a long airplane flight, a hole in my heart that did not close at adulthood as it should have and a blood clot that developed on the plane because of a genetic protein in my blood that made it clot too easily. The third doctor said we had to find out what caused the stroke ASAP or I could have another stroke with much worse results. 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.

I completed a few months of physical therapy and learned how to get around better but I could not walk without holding onto something. The hospital sent a walker home with me, 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 assistance, most likely a wheelchair or maybe 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 my brain function did not fully recover. Part of my brain died from the stroke and other events in my life. It was also determined that I had two smaller strokes earlier in my life I knew nothing about.

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 went back to work about three weeks after my stroke, which in retrospect was way too early.  I had to go to the meeting because it was my project and it was a huge deal for my company.  I assured everyone I could do it.  I flew to Miami early the morning of the meeting. When I got off the plane in Miami I could not remember where I was or why I was there. Later 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 was 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 one I stayed in many times before, but I could not figure out where the hotel was or how to get there. With some help from a friend at Burger King I eventually found the hotel and made the meeting.

My brain was healing but I had no idea of the extent of damage to it until I was in the middle of a situation and became confused. Often I would not remember where I was, what I was doing or where I needed to be. Many times I would have a conversation with a customer and not remember the conversation or what I was supposed to do the next day. I was not used to taking notes because before the stroke I had a great memory and never forgot anything. At times I would have problems finding my way to familiar places such as my office. Some of my memory problems improved but my sense of direction did not. It got to the point where I could not find the local grocery store we shopped in for years, just one mile from home, without GPS. I was very angry and frustrated most 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, and I hid it well from everyone.

A couple years after the stroke we moved to Naples and I got to know several highly recommended doctors there because I had to visit one every month to have my blood checked so I would not have another stroke. I eventually met Dr. Jacqueline Romero. She has been by far the best doctor I have ever had the privilege of knowing. During one of my first visits I was giving her some advice on marketing and she made the following statement I will never forget. “Scott, you are a very intelligent guy but something is wrong with you”. I was shocked but started asking her questions. I did not want to admit I still had problems with my brain.

My wife, Becky and Dr. Romero studied brain health, functional medicine, nutrition and several other forms of brain science which I found very interesting. Luckily I was fortunate enough to learn by also being a patient. They studied together and separately. They became certified in Dr. Daniel Amen’s brain health coaching course that focuses on brain functions and brain scanning and repairing. This certification led to all three of us going to one of Dr. Amen’s clinics in Atlanta where we all had our brains scanned.

My scan showed the part of my brain that was damaged from the stroke(s) and from several other events in my past. I had consumed many bad foods and drinks with lots of sugar and artificial sweeteners. 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. Also, I hate to admit it but I smoked at a very young age but quit at about age 15. Smoking causes stress on the brain and uses up reserve brain cells.  I did not understand that I had been depleting my brain cell reserves.  Stress on our brain compounds and at some point, someday, it starts depleting reserves instead of building them to deal with stress.  It does not matter if it is self-imposed or not.

When I saw the scan of my brain at Dr. Amen’s clinic I was shocked and extremely upset. So much of it was damaged or simply 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. Neurofeedback will unstick neurons in 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 a few 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 without GPS.

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. I continued to get better. My memory did restore, and I now know where to turn into the grocery store.  I also did more Neurofeedback in their Brain Health practice.   

I may be biased but I believe Dr. Romero and Becky are brilliant. Dr. Romero is a great functional medicine doctor who sincerely cares about all her patients and is always searching and teaching me what I need to do to live my optimal life. 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 functional medicine health coach, trained neurofeedback clinician, completed Dr. Amen’s course on his work and has studied with Dr. Romero on Functional Medicine. Her passion and ability to help so many people is so gratifying it has made me want to make a difference in people’s lives also.

One of my daughters has been traveling around the world for a year with a program called Remote year. She is traveling with a group of 33 other people, spending a month each in 12 different countries. One of her stops was in Vietnam and she asked me to join her there for 10 days. She asked 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 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 resolved 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, A few years before, I wrote a book about some of the unusual things I did in my life and I included several of my Vietnam experiences in it. Writing about some of my Vietnam experiences made me feel better about talking about it so I thought being there may make me feel even 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 (telling my story) to her group.

The things I saw in Vietnam made me realize how much trouble we are in here in the US. The things I mention may not accurately describe the whole country but it’s what I observed. I did not see any overweight people, old people or handicapped people. Everyone appeared happy, healthy and in good shape. In the cities people mostly rode motor bikes or bicycles and in the countryside, they walk. I spoke 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.  

All photos are © Barbara Cameron Pix

All the food I saw was freshly caught or slaughtered meat and fresh fruit and vegetables.  The people pick up their fresh 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 as we do here. At first I did not want to eat any of the food because in the cities much of it was cooked on the sidewalk, plus, I remembered how bad it was 51 years before. When I tried it I loved it. We even took cooking lessons on how to prepare some of the most popular dishes.

You will see by the following photographs the food did not look appetizing but it was great! The 10 days I was there I ate about 5 meals per day because I loved the food so much. However, I lost 5 pounds.

When I returned home 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. 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 wanted to do my part to solve this problem and help as many people as I could.

I also have to admit I have been a large contributor to this problem in the past 35 to 40 years. In my career I have helped many companies sell more of their unhealthy food and drinks. However, we can’t blame all these companies because they simply produce and sell what we as customers demand. For example, many years ago Taco Bell switched to a healthy menu and it really hurt them because it did not sell. They had to return to their popular but unhealthy food. Several other chains have tried the same thing with mostly the same results. All these chains can and will provide much healthier and good tasting food if we demand it. Even fried chicken can be healthier by simply using healthier fats.

Following are several major problems that should be resolved quickly:

Food Supply: The fresh food we grow today is not nearly as healthy as it used to be. A great example is corn. It has been so genetically modified it is not close to what it used to be. What makes it worse is corn and its byproducts are used in a huge amount of our processed foods. It was healthy at one time but is no longer. As an example, 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 28 nutrients are taken from the soil when corn is grown. When farmers fertilize the soil they use over and over again to grow the corn, 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 we find in a grocery or convenient store is unhealthy. I just read something today that stated cereal is mostly sugar and that’s what many parents feed their children. No wonder so many children are obese! Another problem is many foods, such as fruits, are picked before they ripen so they will last longer on the shelves. If they don’t ripen on the tree or vine before they are picked many of the healthy nutrients our bodies need will be missing.

Food labeling is such a mess it has become a huge joke! Most people have no idea what’s in the food they buy, even if they bother to read the labels. Although there is government control we have to understand the rules for what’s put on the labels in order to fully understand them. Many of the terms are simply marketing terms and very confusing.

Sugar: Sugar is a huge contributor 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 the weight gain problem sugar substitutes were developed. However recent studies have found these sugar substitutes to be harmful to our bodies.

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 many fats to be very healthy and needed by our bodies, especially from grass fed meat. Recently I have been hearing from some diet organizations such as the Keto diet that eating more fat may actually aid in loosing body fat.

Exercise: Today many adults and children do not get enough exercise. Many seem to be spending more time watching TV, playing games and reading messages on their cell phones or sitting behind a desk all day. We all need a minimum amount of exercise in order for our bodies to perform the way they should and stay healthy.

Alcohol Consumption: Drinking alcoholic beverages has become the primary way we socialize. Today most social events and meals include some form of alcohol. Research has found alcohol to be 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 to treat illnesses, many of these drugs are causing other serious health problems. Today the major motivation for developing a drug is much more for profit than for what it will do to help cure illnesses. Also, there is a growing financial pressure on doctors, if they want to earn an income, to stop the symptoms with drugs rather than cure the problem.

Just so this article is not all negative following are some good things to talk about:

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

Treatments: Science has been developing new effective treatments for many illnesses and finding cures for many. This is predicted to 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 easier.

I decided the best way I can start making a difference quickly is to become a certified personal trainer. I have lots of experience in that and it’s something I will enjoy. I will concentrate on people 65 and older because the need there is growing quickly. I will also continue working to be an example of brain health for Becky and Dr. Romero in Regain the Brain and The Plenary Mind Institute.

I am halfway through my NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) training and will soon be a certified personal trainer. I will start training people in some of the local gyms and build a group for certain group exercises and special care. I have a passion for working with the aging population, teaching them they are not stuck with the life they have now. I want to help them live their best life.

If we continue to live longer and growing more unhealthy at the same time, while life gets easier, what will our lives be like when we reach 100 years of age and older? Will it be worth living? I keep getting this image of Jabba The Hud! It does not have to be that way!!!

2 thoughts on “How Can We Live a Long Healthy Life?

  1. Kenneth Smith

    Lt Sharon ( as I will always know you as) I really enjoy reading your posts and comments I always look for them on LinkedIn you really have a way with words. We had our 19th reunion a couple weeks ago, about 45 were there with their wife’s and grandkids, it was really fun. 10 of us from D company and all of us were in D co at the same time all remember you. I don’t know if you knew it but all 19 th companies were awarded VAW valorous Unit Award for the months that you and I were there. Only those months. Anyway I feel that we deserved the award as it was a very trying and dangerous time. I hope to get to see you sometime if you ever get this way let’s meet up. Take care and be safe.

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Kenneth Smith

    Made a mistake it is the VUA valorous unit award. If you haven’t arready I can send you the instructions on getting the award. We are very proud of it.

    Sent from my iPhone

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