I have never been to a doctor.
When I was little, my dad would proudly tell his friends this, gesturing at me to back him up. “Have you, honey? Have you ever been to a doctor?” Shyly, I’d shake my head “no” and stare up at his big, tall friends with wide eyes.
No, I had never been to a doctor and I still haven’t.
Nobody used to ever believe it, and few do today either. “What, don’t you ever get sick?!” Of course I get sick, just like anyone else. I’ll get a cold once or twice a year, and even some variation of the flu that’ll have me in bed for a few days, sipping chicken soup and burning through episodes of Friends like it’s the only thing I can do. But that’s about it; I’ll dutifully swallow the supplements that promise to get me better and then I rest it out.
Frank W. Jeffries IV is a family practice chiropractor in the Upper Peninsula of Northern Michigan. He focuses on alternative healthcare, employing nutrition and lifestyle advice along with supplemental vitamins to care for his loyal patients. He believes in a holistic, drug-free approach to health, while utilizing his skills to treat both the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Frank W. Jeffries IV is my dad, and he’s the reason I’ve never been to a doctor.
I was raised in an environment in which modern medicine was simply never the automatic go-to. Coming down with a cold? Pound the ADP. Having some digestive issues? Take some Zypan. On further inspection, these vitamins are simply that: highly concentrated forms of nutrition that help the body along as needed.
Growing up, my parents shopped at a small food co-op in the town where I was raised, back before Whole Foods was all the rage and you could buy gluten-free bread and pasta at nearly any supermarket. Even in the nineties, they vehemently rejected processed foods, added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and all the other things that have slowly but surely evinced as detrimental to one’s health. However, at the time, it was different from the way every one else did things. No one, including myself, understood why they so favored Organic Valley whole milk over the perfectly fine 2% or skim offered over at Econo.
In fact, I hated it. I yearned for a Lunchable instead of the home-cooked food that my Tupperware container held. My mom packed honey sticks in my lunch box when all I wanted was some Gushers, and I was ALWAYS ready to trade my kettle-cooked chips for a Cool Ranch Dorito. I remember it being a game to some of my friends—where they got the typical, much-loved items like mac-'n-cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it was always a question of what mysterious healthy snack would come out of Iris’ lunch box. Joyva Sesame Crunch Candy! Fruit leathers! Newman’s Own Fig Newtons! I loved going to friends’ homes, where SpaghettiOs or hotdogs for dinner was totally normal, and I wasn’t expected to finish a full plate of steak, rice and veggies.
And yet this was the way we lived, and I never got any illness worse than a cold or flu. I never got the measles or chickenpox or any other of those childhood illnesses that we often just assume everyone has had at one time or another; I took my supplements and got adjusted by my dad whenever he so felt it was necessary and ate the whole organic foods provided to me; I never went to a doctor.
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine”, and after nineteen years of living and breathing on this planet, I firmly believe this to be true. It’s a lifestyle my family lives by and that today, as a college student fumbling with the pros and cons of a Trader Joe’s microwave dinner versus a more time-consuming but nutritious Trader Joe’s vegetable and chicken dinner in a hectic university world that I, too, try to abide by. I can't say that a pumpkin soft-drop cookie or two or some home-made apple cobbler never sways me, but it's about the set of basic principles that guides the way one lives.
Call it chance or luck if you will, but I truly believe that the habits instilled by my parents have kept me out of the doctor’s office. As much as I complained and grumbled, I now appreciate their rules more than any other decision my parents have made for me. They taught me how to live each day healthily, so that I can go forth and do anything and everything I might set my mind to without facing health-related setbacks. What you choose to put in your body makes a difference, to how you grow, develop and feel. You are what you put in you, and it’s never too late to change bad habits or adopt a new life style.
Somehow along the way, those healthy habits must have (kind of) stuck with me—because I’d choose peanut butter over cake any day. Ice cream, though, may be a different story.