After my Mesa class, a young couple talked to me. Georgia had gastric bypass but had gained the 150 pounds back, with many health problems, and Kyle was also overweight. They were looking for answers. Georgia said,
“As you were telling your story about your little boy on so many drugs, including Prednisone, we couldn’t help but think how awful the alternative would have been.”
Her eyes filled with tears.
“My sister died at the age of 23 after continuing down that path, for years. When she was little, she was on tons of antibiotics and steroids. I don’t know if my sister died of asthma or of Prednisone. When she died, she weighed over 500 lbs., so bloated from steroids.”
I have said, many times, that my readers’ stories haunt me. They very literally haunt me. Often I fall asleep mulling over the stories I’ve heard. Beautiful, miraculous ones. Terrible, tragic ones.
I occasionally get emotional, when I speak, telling my son’s story. About how he was a Failure to Thrive baby, on one course of steroids after another, in hospitals, in breathing tents, a gas mask strapped to his face every four hours, constantly sick and on antibiotics.
He’d been born at almost 9 lbs., and by 15 months had fallen below the 5th percentile for weight. He was blue and listless and coughed non-stop, and he was constantly choking on green and yellow mucous.
The photo here is of Kincade’s 4th birthday, just two years after we eliminated dairy, processed meat, white flour, and white sugar. After we made greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds our new staples.
Last June, my 6’3” baby boy, Kincade, pitched a 5-inning near-shutout (12-1) against Skyline in a huge stadium with a thousand screaming fans, in the state tournament. He was named MVP of the team, he led the state of Utah in RBI’s, and he lived his destiny.
So I had all of this on my mind. I lectured in Boise, Tucson, and Mesa in less than 48 hours, and when I flew home, my baby boy picked me up at the airport. As I put my stuff in his car, I noticed the wadded-up McDonalds bag on the floor.
One thing I figured out a long time ago is that when I walk in the door from work, and haven’t seen my kids all day, even if the first thing I see is that they didn’t do their chores—I spend some time enjoying them and talking about what matters to them. Bring up whatever’s frustrating me, later. (Or never.)
Really big research studies have shown that solid marriages have five positive interactions for every negative ones. That makes sense, right? Stephen Covey made the concept famous of making deposits in the emotional bank accounts. You can’t make a withdrawal if you’ve got no money in the bank.
So Cade and I enjoy the ride home, and I learn all about his date the night before. We listen to his favorite songs. Kinda loud, but I tell him they’re awesome.
Shortly before we get home from the 45-minute drive, I tell him, “You know Cade, it’s weird that you don’t even know how many people have heard the story of what happened when you were a baby. I have told it to tens of thousands of people.
“How terribly sick you were. How many, many nights I thought you would die. How many times I prayed to God to just let you live through the night.”
I told him about Georgia’s sister, and how chilled I was in Mesa, to think about that other door. The door I DIDN’T walk through. The one where I would have just continued blindly feeding my baby chemicals to eat, instead of addressing what was causing his problem in the first place.
I tell my boy that I am so thankful I didn’t go that direction. That instead I dug deep for answers and made changes to save his life that seemed radical and hard, at the time.
I said, “Kincade, when you were a baby, I learned that you have a fragile immune system. I know this. I was there. You were too, but you don’t remember. You don’t come to my lectures, so you don’t know this:
“But sometimes after I explain how desperately ill and underweight you once were, and I get to the part about you being interviewed by TV stations and offered a baseball scholarship—a room full of hundreds of people break into applause!
He says, quietly, “I came to your lecture once, Mom. Remember? You had me stand up in the audience when you told the story.”
“Yes,” I say. “They are so excited that you didn’t turn out like Georgia’s sister. They are hopeful that their own scary health problems from eating junk food, can go away too.
“And I am telling you, kid, that after all you and I have done to give you the health you enjoy now, if you go to a lifestyle of eating food from a drive-thru? You will be sick. You will suffer. It’s pretty much a guarantee.”
“I have done everything I can to build and nurture your immune system. But the hormones in the burgers you eat at McDonald’s? They will mess you up. They will change your hormones.”
Cade interrupts me. He’s never liked things to get too heavy or deep! With a joke:
“Is THAT why I’m so emotional?!”
I say, “Very funny. No, seriously, it makes men more feminine, the garbage they feed chickens and cows and pigs.”
[Tell kids the effects of their bad food choices that MATTER to them. Pretty dang sure my 19-year old son doesn’t wanna be more like a girl. Issues related to their physical appearance, their social viability, and their athleticism, hit the spot from age 10-20!]
Cade says, “Aww, Mom. I eat fast food, like, twice a month! I eat a salad every day at work. I really do eat healthy. When you go out of town, I hardly eat any food at all!”
[That’s a whole other topic. How if I’m not there to feed him, he just goes hungry. What the….? I resist the urge to Go Squirrel and chase down THAT conversational bunny trail, towards another Lecture.]
That’s really the end of the conversation. I don’t feel the need to drive the point home any more. I resist the urge to move onto what ELSE was probably in that McD’s bag—french fries are on my mind.
For today, though, I have said enough.
There’s always another conversation to be had. I try to think carefully, with an adult child. How to talk about it so he won’t be offended or oppressed. How to talk about it so the door is open with him. For a later convo about his health and his nutrition.
And just in general: open doors are good.