My love for cooking and pharmacy has led me recently on a less traveled path: custom-made supplements and cosmetics. As you may have already figured, I opened my kitchen to a whole lot of fun! Yet, few of you know how this came to happen. The story is among the least expected for one as far removed from pharmacy compounding as I was. Yeah, I passed my practical exam for my pharmacy license but I never looked back. I didn’t need to. Was I still able to do it? Of course, I was! Would I? Not in a million years! …Or, at least, that’s what I thought until the day I had enough.
Let me explain.
For over a year, I watched a dear friend of mine losing her ability to walk and then properly use her hands. Given her age and personal circumstances – of which I won’t provide details – her medical bills and health care available to her complicated to such extent that she had to face a complete lack of competent health care attention. I got frustrated witnessing the worsening of her condition and one day I spoke to the clinical personnel of the long-term care facility hosting her. I was concerned with her advanced state of malnutrition. In my opinion, she was severely vitamin deficient. I kindly asked them to make a note in her medical records and notify the ones in charge to order proper lab investigations (i.e. vitamin levels). They couldn’t care less! I reminded them at the next visit. It didn’t happen. I shared my concern with other friends and they reminded the health care personnel again and again. Nothing!
A university professor and renown scholar, my friend had to endure even more than such an extreme misfortune. She had to acknowledge the “superior treatment” received from lousy caregivers sharing rather loudly their master-level education in health care – individuals yet incapable of attending to her basic needs. Countless specialists examining my friend over more than a year signed off not being able to speak to her on-going illness. Nonetheless, my malnutrition concerns were never shared with them as caregivers seem to know better the right from the wrong and found this unnecessary. By this point in time, she lost her ability to walk, had tingling in her feet and hands, her tendons did not serve her as expected, she was mostly confused and depressed and vomited nearly every day. It was beyond painful to watch. It hurts just to remember!
The day I realized that my friend cannot any longer hold a spoon in her hand, I told myself: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! In my clinical opinion, she had severe vitamin malnourishment and – most importantly – she was showing clinical signs and symptoms of beriberi, a clinical condition caused by severe deficiency of vitamin B1 or thiamine. A simple series of vitamin shots and total parenteral nutrition would have improved her state dramatically – of course, provided that someone would care to do something.
Taking the situation in my own hands, I proceeded to “cooking” a sublingual solution of B vitamins in my own kitchen. For those knowing more about vitamins, this may not be surprising: vitamins taste bad, really bad. They are bitter like hell! I surely improved the taste as much as I was able to; yet, that was yet the worst tasting medicine ever. I know because I tested it first on myself, then on my husband. It was extremely bitter but my friend held it daily under her tongue for 30sec, nonetheless. After a month, she was able to hold the spoon again. THANK YOU, LORD! She was improving slowly and I was euphoric, to say the least. My vitamins were helping her!!
The bitter taste bugged me, however. It was heroic to stand that bitterness! How else can I give her the vitamins she needed?? That was when it occurred to me: what if I could make a nice hands cream for her to deliver the same vitamin through… the skin?
…and that’s how it all began!
A couple of weeks later the progress was even more visible. My friend could make precise use of each hand and even push herself – unsuccessfully yet! – off her wheelchair. That was FANTASTIC!! I mean, it was bad because she fell but in the whole picture of her story, it was fantastic! That meant that she regained strength and muscles did recover some function and that has happened in the reverse order of how the function loss occurred. If for only for her alone, the pain of going through my pharmacy compounding exam has been all worth it! Nearly two decades ago I did not imagine how long it would take to compound again. I also did not imagine that I will help… feed someone this way but I did and I couldn’t have been happier!
Over time, my grandmother – bless her heart! – has pushed me to learn how to needlepoint, crochet, knit, stitch, craft, paint etc. I know a bit of everything but none has ever given me much sense of accomplishment. My vitamin cream, however, was as much of an achievement as it can get: I jumped, laughed, cried, and laughed again as a kid winning his first game. It was so amazing that I wanted to do it again and I eventually did. The cream base I developed for my friend had an exceptional skin nourishing ability making room for an unexpected cosmetic benefit in this quite unforeseen context.
As we speak, my friend is recovering slowly and I pray that she will be able to walk again. In my heart, I know she will. I believe she will teach again and I do hope to sit in her class at least once because I have no doubt that she is an amazing teacher!
If you want to see more of what’s going on in my kitchen nowadays, check out Dr. Alice’s Shop. Explore my “Cosmetics” collection and feel free to give them a try! Their sale supports this website and its mission to provide free health care information for those in need. I also use them to fund my MSA speaking trips around the country. During this holiday season, for every donation of $100 or more toward the development of this website, a donor may choose to receive any one of the cosmetic products I created without any additional charge (S&H is free for the continental U.S. only). This is my way to say “thank you” and give back to our patrons.
Stay healthy until next time!
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