The old guy was really skinny. But not unhealthy skinny. Plenty of muscle rippled under his weather-leathered skin. John had no idea why his current assignment was to come talk to this guy. His editor had simply said, “Go talk to this guy.” He lived on a sailboat down at the 79th street marina. After asking at the dock master’s office, John made his way out to where Ouija was moored. This boat was pretty old, but looked well maintained. Lots of varnish undoubtedly was brushed onto all the woodwork on this craft each year. After hailing the traditional “permission to come aboard?” it was a few moments before Captain Russ stuck his head up from below.
“You bet, son. You must be from the paper. Come aboard and have a seat in the cockpit while I grab a cup of tea. You want anything?”
“Tea sounds good.” John sat next to the old-style wooden-spoked steering wheel and tried to guess what each of the myriad coils of line hanging everywhere was used for. He wondered if the range of colors from bright yellow, to red, green blue , purple, and every braided combination and thickness really helped to identify them all. As the boat rocked on the gentle swell, the dock lines creaked.
“Green tea OK?” the captain called from the galley.
“Sure. No sugar.”
“You’re damn right no sugar!” was the Captain’s growled reply. “We don’t even stock that poison on board.” John could hear the water pump thump a second or two as the teapot filled and he smelled the faintest waft of propane from the stove.
“Right. I guess nobody argues that it’s not poison anymore.” John now had an idea why he’d been sent here.”Say, Cap’n, didn’t you have something to do with proving that?”
The spry old guy climbed from the cabin below with 2 steaming cups, handed John one, and took his time settling onto the slick waterproof cushion, the kind that squeak a little when you sit on them.
“Not really. I wasn’t a scientist, or a physician or anything. I just helped spread the word.” He dipped his teabag a few times, waiting to see where this was going.
Until now, John wasn’t sure either. But he had a hunch this guy was one of a handful of bloggers from 30 years ago who were raising the alarm about processed food and sugar years before the warning labels and eventual strict controls came along in 2018.
“Don’t be so modest, Captain! If I remember right, you put your money where your mouth is and tested these theories on your own body, right?” It was dark in the cockpit, but John could see the gleam in Cap’n Russ’ eyes as he leaned back and recollected.
“Well, they were sure different times. Back then, EVERYONE was addicted to sugar. Hardly anyone realized the danger. There were these canned drinks called sodas that contained a hundred times the amount of sugar as what’s set as the legal limit now. And what’s horrible is, they let kid’s have ‘em. Hell, mom’s actually bought them FOR their kids. The schools had vending machines full of them. I used to drink one called Dr.Pepper. I remember it was so carbonated it really tickled your nose.” The captain itched his nose sympathetic to the memory.
“Yeah, as I research this, pieces of that picture seem pretty surreal. What made you leave the ‘opium den’, so to speak.”
The captain chuckled, “Opium den. That’s a good way to put it. The sugar and the saturated fat had a hold on nearly everyone. I got lucky though. Me and a few million other canaries in the coal mine got sick from it early enough to do something about it.”
“Lucky?” John had to balance his tea for a minute as the wake from the passing powerboat rolled Ouija a few times.
“Sure. The rest of the sugar addicted world was sick too, but didn’t know it. They thought dying at 70 or 80 was normal. Except for a few heretics, nobody had a clue. Nobody connected all the ways everyone died, failures of heart, brain, immune system, and any other organ, to the garbage we were eating.”
“But you did?” John was amazed at how long it took some old geezers to get to the point.
“Well, when I was told I had an irreversible metabolic disorder called “diabetes” back in ’09 I quickly learned that it was kind of like an early old age. Diabetics actually died from the same kind of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and other body malfunctions as anyone else, just sooner. There was a connection back then between sugar and diabetes, but not the right one. People thought a genetic error just made us sensitive to it. Sugar wasn’t viewed yet as the culprit. I originally quit it just to buy time and keep my blood sugar out of the red zone until a cure like a beta cell transplants came along. It was another couple of years before I realized that quitting sugar and most processed food in addition to swapping out a high stress lifestyles was the cure.” The captain paused to sip his tea.
“But what was all this I read in the archives about some kind of hormone that people had to carry around in pumps or needles and inject themselves with?” The thought gave John a queasy shiver.
“Oh my God, son, it was like something out of the Twilight Zone. Insulin. The best that science and medicine could come up with back then was a f*cking shot in the stomach! Most of the research and money went into new devices to deliver it. People walked around with devices clipped to their belt and tubes inserted into god knows where. It didn’t even treat the disease, just one symptom. And the worst thing was that many used it as an excuse to keep drinking soda and pizza. The stupidity of human kind...” The captain shook his head and muttered something unintelligible, Pop-eye style. John steered him back again.
“So Cap’n, what led you to see the truth as we know it now, that most disease is related to toxins from diet and stress?”
“I just thought that the whole insulin thing was batsh*t insane. I researched. I looked toward eastern medicine. Seems obvious now. It was all right under our noses. It’s a shame it took so many years before the establishment got it.” The old man frowned, obviously re-tasting something bitter. Then he got up, and extended his hand. “I’m afraid I have to say good night. Need my beauty sleep you know.” The happy twinkle had returned to his eye.
“Ok, Captain. I hope it’s OK to follow up if I need more for the story. John shook the calloused hand, trying not to wince at the strength of the grip.
“You bet. Come back when there’s breeze, and we’ll take the old girl out for a spin.”
“I will.” And John knew he would, too.
Refusing The Needle: A Diabetic’s Natural Journey To Kick-Ass Health by Russell Stamets
ebook available for all devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/145608
and for kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007P6L5C4