A 14-Day Healing Journey at the Gerson Clinic in Tijuana: Week One
You are invited to follow the journey of my family at the Gerson Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico over the next two weeks. We have come here to assist my brother in healing his life-long, chronic migraines. This disease has affected my father and myself as well, as you may have read about in My Story. I will be posting a recap of each day here – the first week from my mother’s perspective while she was my brother’s “companion” & the second week from my perspective, while I was his “companion.”
A brief explanation of what led us to the Gerson Clinic …
Jake started getting headaches when he was four years old for reasons which were not apparent to any of us then. He was repeatedly exposed to various physiological as well as psychological testing in 1991,1992, 1995, 1996,1997, 1998, 2003, 2004 to the present from uncountable different medical groups and MDs. He was born into a family with a history of migraines where myself, our father, grandmother and great-grandmother had migraines. This has been a devastating disease for Jake as well as his family for a very long time. He has been on the brink of being completely disabled due to the severity of his chronic migraines. He has expressed willingness to try the Gerson Therapy as a final attempt to heal.
The premise of the Gerson Therapy is that degenerative diseases, such as cancer, migraines, diabetes, tuberculosis, and fibromylagia overburden and wear down the body’s immune, mineral, enzyme, and hormonal systems. Concurrently, the liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system – become toxic and unable to properly filter and eliminate toxins and waste. This leads to chronic illness fueled by toxicity and malnourishment. GT is centered on an organic vegetarian diet, supplemented with up to 13 fresh juices. Meals are simple, such as oatmeal and fruit, a variety of raw, stewed, and roasted vegetables and fruits, and “Hippocrates soup”. Meat is eliminated, as well as added salt. The diet is rich in potassium and strictly organic. The therapy also involves the use of coffee enemas, which aid the body in detoxifying. A non-toxic lifestyle is paramount, with a focus not only on physical healing, but also emotional healing. This therapy was developed by Dr. Max Gerson in the 1920s to cure his own debilitating migraines. Since then, the Gerson Therapy has been used to cure many diseases that the mainstream medical establishment considers “incurable”.
Day 1. Saturday, April 2nd, 2016
Drove here to the Gerson clinic and arrived at 9am. Route we were to take was under construction so we became quickly lost! Phone GPS didn’t work but used TomTom that hadn’t been updated in about 10 years! Routed us through questionable parts of TJ – very hilly, speed bumps & potholes – right turn, left, u turn, right, left… Finally arrived and couldn’t find the entrance initially!
Met Felix – patient coordinator- super nice guy who welcomed us in.
Felix took us to our room then breakfast – a rather runny oatmeal (Jake was understandably worried about what the food experience here would be) with fruit to add and some rye toast and honey. Nice dining room with seating at a long table for 12 looking out onto a pool. Food is buffet style. We were given fresh juices – orange for us apple for Jake, since orange is a migraine trigger for him. Jake is unable to eat the rye toast as it has some flour in it. Gluten is a migraine trigger for him.
Then an interview and exam by the doctor.
Doc seems to understand. He gave Jake a protocol of 10 juices, 3 coffee enemas (ces) and a lot of supplements – enzymes and vitamins – to take at very specific times. Jake now has a nice pill box with all the times marked that gets filled each morning.
Up to the room to get settled in. Nice room with twin beds – overlooking a lovely patio with chairs, benches, and a swing.
Papa stayed for lunch – served in the dining room at 1pm. Delicious !! What a great surprise.
Hippocrates soup was wonderful. Yellow squash with corn, broccoli, and some delicious yellow potatoes. Also asparagus – and a salad with choices of dressings – and some shredded cabbage. So good that I ate two potatoes and seconds of squash. Jake had seconds of the soup and potato.
And watermelon for dessert.
All this great food… plus the juices have to help a body.
At lunch we met a mother who is here with her daughter who has cancer and a 13-month-old son. She is a nurse! There’s another husband here with his wife – who has a very aggressive breast cancer. These girls are beautiful and in their 30’s facing these terrible diseases. There’s also a fellow who is here with his wife who has been battling breast cancer for years with chemo. This is their last chance. And there’s Claude – young man with dreadlocks who is here with his friend of 30 years, Lawrence.
So although Jake isn’t as dire as these folks, he has suffered all his life and that is serious too. I have great hope for this therapy. It makes so much sense. He has been poisoning his system for years with drugs that don’t cure the headaches – only make his life tolerable – not good.
5pm – Nurse Magda just came in to teach him about his very first coffee / tea enema! Going up now to see how he did.
Then dinner at 6pm. Dinner has spaghetti squash with tomato sauce – very good. Also soup, potatoes broccoli & salad. Bread pudding for dessert which got mixed review. Jake & I passed since he can’t have gluten and I don’t like bread pudding. Had a good conversation with Claude who is very encouraging to Jake. At dinner the whole table talked about insurance and the criminal state of American medicine that won’t allow this. These are really nice thoughtful funny people with so much openness and grace in the face of cancer.
Day 2. Sunday, April 3rd
A bit hard to get to sleep – new place – Jake said he did not sleep well and has a pretty bad head/ neck ache. Doing 7am CE now.
Didn’t help much. Stayed in the room – Jake didn’t have breakfast today except juice and banana.
Lunch was okay. Listened to the Gerson book and played Sim City.
Dinner okay but now it’s 7:30pm and his migraine is pretty bad. He got his first pain triad and it made him feel terrible and vomit within 20 min. Took an Imitrex injection.
Resting with cool washcloth. Garbage truck and crazy noisy dumpster rolling at 1:30am.
Day 3. Monday, April 4th
Jake woke up with a headache. Saw Dr. Cervantes to review blood work taken earlier today – really good – everything was normal. Dr. Cervantes gave an order for no more pain triad and to do clay packs for his headache/migraine/neckache.
Tried a clay pack later on his neck and head and it took a level 5 pain down to a level 2 & then to no headache. Listened to Gerson therapy book on Audible. Took a walk at 3PM to the beach with a handful of the patients and companions. Nice – sunny and warm. Got some nice pics.
Went to a little yoga class with Jake that was offered here at the clinic – minimal but sweet teacher and good for all.
The sound of the juicer is nice to hear from the screen door of the kitchen. The staff of the kitchen is wonderful and friendly. They find you wherever you are to give you your juice. The smells from the kitchen are always good too.
Day 4. Tuesday, April 5th
One of the couples left this morning – she has a really aggressive breast cancer and they recommend double mastectomy and chemo in addition to GT. Hope she does well. They live close to us in the states, so they may come visit. She wants to learn to paint.
Jake had slight headache on waking, better after CE. Had his consult with the doctor and a liver shot. The doc says he will have headaches as part of the healing – and he can do as many clay packs as he needs – no limit.
There’s a new couple from Canada. They are originally from Poland. She was diagnosed a month ago with pancreatic cancer that is inoperable. They are lovely.
It’s a cool, partly sunny day and I’m sitting in the courtyard. Pretty peaceful except for what seems to be daily car alarms that can go on so long you don’t even notice when they stop!
Had lunch and now back in our room resting till 3 PM – after the 3:00 juice we will head on a walk with the gang to Walmart – and then to the beach.
The cooking demo scheduled for 2:30 today has been moved to tomorrow as one of the kitchen staff demonstrators is out today.
Felix gave us 3 DVDs to watch. Will look at them tonight.
Jake has a headache that didn’t respond to the clay pack so he took a DHE shot at around 5pm.
I walked to the beach with a few friends and I got a beer and Claude got a pizza. Cool place right by the water.
Back at the clinic outside while Jake does his CE. It’s perfectly lovely sitting on the porch swing at this time of day. The sun hits it just st right. There’s a hummingbird nest in the tree right by me. Eggs haven’t yet hatched; mama still sitting.
Plan to play a bit of gin rummy later with my Gerson friends.
Jake is better – he went to dinner at 6 then sat outside at the table and played cards- pittypat- like gin but with pairs. Fun. Jake smoked about 3 hands with unconventional plays.
Day 5. Wednesday, April 6th
Jake woke up feeling good – no headache.
At 7am I went to the tv room where there’s yoga mats – while Jake does his CE- introduced Claude to a bit of yoga and he is a natural. Then up to the room and down to breakfast. I actually like the oatmeal now – and Jake does too. He puts a banana and some honey on his. I have prunes and honey on mine.
He then had vitals taken and a shot of liver enzymes.
We walked after that to Walmart where he found some jeans that fit well for $12.
Back home to the clinic, sat outside at Lawrence & Claude’s nice patio for a chat – Jake showed them motorcycle pics and they had a jolly time talking bikes. Both of them had bikes in the past and love them.
Claude has 8 acres on the big island near the eastern shore- in the process of building his retirement home. He & Lawrence have known each other over 30 years – they both worked for the federal government in the DOT. Lawrence did work in air traffic control.
Jake is having good conversations with different people. Invaluable to hear their stories and tell yours. Helps with perspective for sure.
It’s somewhat cloudy and cool – sweatshirt weather. Nice to be outside on the swing by the hummingbird nest.
Afternoon – Jake feeling down – neck ache and just not encouraged about everything.
Hungry but tired of the food. There are onions in a lot of the veggie dishes, which is a trigger for him, so he just will eat potatoes and salad for lunch and dinner. I will talk with the doctor tomorrow to see if they can prepare some veggies without onion.
Jake has done absolutely everything so well up to now with such a great attitude. I need to help him get through the hard spots.
Day 6. Thursday, April 7th
Jake is discouraged. He is hungry and really low. I was not thinking today would be a good day for the first castor oil enema (COE) but Jake wanted to go ahead. Drank it with coffee at 7AM.
Then did a normal CE – very down. I went down to breakfast and was going to bring up a bowl of oatmeal for him when he appeared – he thinks that the oatmeal is made with flour to make it a gruel so he came back up with only a banana. I stopped in to talk with Dr. Cervantes and he ordered quinoa and has the kitchen making meals with no onions.
We’ll see if that helps.
Jake is still really discouraged with the process. So much deep frustration. Really difficult and painful to watch him suffer. He has an intense pain in his neck – occipital nerve on the right side.
The kitchen brought him quinoa and he ate some and also allowed them to apply a clay pack to his head and neck. Supposed to stay on for 3 hrs.
He was a bit better after that. He is so sweet at his core but can get overcome by anger and frustration.
There’s a lot to be frustrated about here for him – noises, the shower goes from hot to cold often, and the food is hard for him. The whole experience is hard.
Part of him is wanting to do everything and part wants to give up.
I am proud of him though and I see the good part fighting. This is a hard day. It’s raining and Internet is down. A day to value the learning it provides. He despite all his emotion and pain is still doing everything required. Just wish I could be more help and say the right things to encourage him.
He came down for lunch much improved – and stayed for the juicing demo although his arm/shoulder began to hurt – the seating was jammed close- he was fine all afternoon and had a nice dinner with conversation.
He is so strong. There’s a big kitchen lady who speaks no English but always smiles at Jake, puts a fist in the air and says “Fuerte!!!” Strong. Fight. Always makes Jake smile.
Went wandering with friends from the clinic at 3PM to the beach cafe where they have pizza & beer. Sat outside – it was grey & a little cool. 4 beers, salad & pizza- $16.00
Went out again at 5PM with Claude to get his “pre-dinner” – a mariscos place across from the xoxo (7-11). He had fish tacos and I had an avocado taco. Then stopped at the little Irish pub for a beer before heading back for dinner at 6PM. Jake is in good spirits.
Day 7. Friday, April 8th
Again overcast and rainy today. Jake was okay this morning – I always retreat to the TV room by the pool to give him his CE time. Claude is here doing the same thing.
Hope today to get to Walmart in search of the thermoses they use here. The clinic supplies thermoses of coffee concentrate, chamomile tea, hot water, and mint tea. It is a nice way to prepare everything ahead of time and keep it warm and ready to go.
Hard to believe it’s my last day here.
Jake has a pretty bad pain in his left kidney area – bad at breakfast; better about 11AM – I talked to Dr. Cervantes – nothing much of importance just said COE would be every other day and he could do a castor oil pack with heat. He will do it later. We talked with Barbara from the Gerson Institute and Jake was visibly tense – had been tense earlier… I don’t know why. He told me he hates talking about his headaches as they have been his whole life. Visibly upset. This is deep pain. It is not good to get upset when he feels this way, just quietly love him and give him space. He became relaxed at noon and is now doing the noon CE. I did suggest the breathing in breathing out technique but he said he does it all the time but that his frustration is too great for it to help. I do understand I just wish I could help. Patience and love.
Jake was okay at dinner. I went out with the group for a beer. We all went to the Irish pub by the car wash – the companions had beers and the patients enjoyed being out but toed the line. What a nice bunch of people. I will really miss them. Got back at 8:45PM – Jake has a headache but doesn’t want clay pack. Gave him a neck/ cranial massage for over an hour, putting all the best healing touch I could. Bless his heart, he said it helped.