The following is a story written by a sister, mother and father, in order to share Jake’s story of his struggle and his family’s struggle. It embodies a common situation resulting from a severe degenerative condition we now know is preventable and able to be healed. You might ask where is Jake’s voice in this? Throughout his struggle, Jake only looked ahead, never behind and focused on some semblance of happiness. He has never found it easy to talk about what was happening to him or in this case what happened to him. We feel he hears the words describing his experience as the unrelenting pain and emotion it was rather than as the events you or I might hear. It speaks to who he is by surviving this hell, and now he is creating his new story in the wonderful colors of his artistic talents. Allow this to be his voice. The Herdell Migraine Institute was Jake’s idea after healing his migraines at the Gerson Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. He said he wants to save other people from what he has had to endure.
My brother, Jake, represented the quintessential “worst-case” migraine scenario – a person who has suffered since childhood, a young man whom top migraine specialists across the country had given up on.
Jake started getting headaches when he was four years old for reasons which were not apparent to my parents at the time. By the time he was six the headaches and migraines had affected his happy attitude and playful nature. 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 doctors. He was born into a family with a history of migraines where myself, our father, grandmother and great-grandmother had migraines. We did not understand this disease and demonstrably, neither did the neurologists and migraine specialists we consulted with.
As a youth, Jake was suffering silently but visibly. As his family, we did not grasp the depth of his sickness, nor did we encounter a solution. Like most kids, Jake found time to enjoy activities. He loved skateboarding and surfing. But his days were complicated with migraines – intense throbbing pain on one side of his neck and head, nausea coupled with violent vomiting, an inability to eat, and the psychological trauma that ensues as a result of being sick all the time. Couple this with trying to attend school where teachers could not understand a child with his head down on the desk or being unable to engage in school work or activities or missing school every other day … for years … and you have a child whose life is being ruined … and a family trying to understand. My parents went with Jake to visit doctor after doctor, typically coming home with a bag of new medications to try.
As Jake’s father, I have been present for the progression of a healthy & playful four-year-old to a writhing-in-pain four-year-old to a depressed and unable to function young adult whose struggle with pain and a desire to be productive, happy and pain-free were in opposition. If you are a parent you will understand that you are only as happy as your least happy child. We were driven to help Jake find a solution to his increasingly worse-by-the-day headaches and migraines and used every bit of knowledge at our disposal to help. By the time Jake was six, his headaches were overshadowing his life and this was the beginning of our search for a solution.
Here is a list of this path:
- 1991-08-24 Parks Pediatric Neurology Consultation
- 1991-12-03 Meyer Center Comprehensive Evaluation
- 1991-12-30 Meyer Center Multidisciplinary Evaluation
- 1991-1995 Child Neurology Assoc Reports
- 1992-03-19 Parks Physician’s Report
- 1995-01-16 Rivera Physician’s Report
- 1996-03-18 Texas Children’s Hospital Summary & Suggestions
- 1996-04 Iowa Tests
- 1996-12-20 Tarnow Psycho-Education Evaluation
- 1997 Final Discussion with School of the Woods for Modifications
- 1997-02-07 Tarnow Psychological Evaluation
- 1997-02-14 Tarnow Treatment Plan
- 1997-03-07 Tarnow Speech and Language Evaluation
- 1997-10-15 Lee Report of Audiometric Evaluation
- 1998-09-17 Battin Clinic Neuropsychological Evaluation
- 2003-08-13 Kosins Consultation
- 2003-09-18 Provocation Neutralization Testing
- 2004-01-26 UCLA Consultation
- 2005-01-21 Provocation Neutralization Testing
- 2005-03-10 Kudrow Consultation
- 2005-04-11 Swanson Consultation
- 2007-01-08 Scripps Consultation
- 2007-02-20 UCLA Consultation
- 2007-06-07 Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute Consultation
- 2009-08-24 Scripps Consultations
Here are snapshots of Jake’s medications which were constantly evolving as different medications were introduced, invariably failed and were replaced (click on the links below).
- 2005-03-20 Medication Record
- Daily Headache Medication Instructions 2006-10-04
- 2011-07-11 Medication List
A few years ago Jake said he would discontinue taking preventive medications as they were not helping him. He would only use abortive medications since the preventives had so many side effects. The preventives were all developed for other diseases like schizophrenia, psychosis, seizures, and depression and were found to have some effect on migraines. For a while we thought he was improving because as the preventive’s effects wore off he improved. Looking back I now realize this was a significant clue the preventives, as well as all of the medications were part of the problem. But the abortives were escalating the disease too. Looking back even further, Jake’s headaches got worse after the abortive, Imitrex, was introduced in his youth. Yes, abortives did tame his headaches kind of, for a while, off and on, but from this moment on the headaches transitioned into more intense and prolonged struggles requiring additional abortives to use in alternation in order to maintain efficacy.
Jake had monthly follow up appointments with a leading in neurologist in a leading neurology center in California until approximately 2012. At one of his appointments, the last in this case, the doctor informed Jake he was going to deaden one of the nerves in his neck with an injection to see if this would lessen Jake’s high frequency of headaches and migraines. Jake consented and also agreed to the doctor’s request to allow a colleague in the room to watch the procedure. I always accompanied Jake on these visits as I was trying to be his advocate and run interference in a medical system which challenged both he and I. As the doctor started the procedure I watched Jake grimace, close his eyes, breath deeply and then look me in the eye, a tear coming from his eyes saying how much this hurt him. With the doctors casually talking over him in their technical world lost to the human being suffering under their experimentation. Jake had to lie down and regain his vitality at the end of this. Still hurts me.
After this episode Jake would not see this doctor again. There was another neurologist in the same group who accepted Jake and he resumed his monthly visits. This was the price of maintaining his prescription medications which at this time consisted of many different preventives and abortives. The abortives were special. They were injections and consisted of Imitrex and Dihydroergotamine. He would use them as needed but he was not supposed to use them but a few times a week. But when your level of headache frequency and headache magnitude is where Jake’s were, he would use them daily, and over and over and in combination to break thru a migraine. This caused him to use more and more of the abortives as well as to cause the migraines to be more intractable. I remember at one of the last appointments with this increasingly hostile doctor as he entered the examining room with Jake sitting on the table, without a word said to Jake, he went to him and lifted each of Jake’s arms one at a time and examined them. It was at that moment I realized he felt Jake was a drug user and he was checking Jake for needle tracks. The conversation which ensued was about the consequences to the doctor’s reputation when Jake had a heart attack from the over use of the abortives.
It’s understandable that after 20+ years of chronic illness, Jake had become very disillusioned with the idea of continuing to try new treatments. His latest doctor, who has migraines as well, became nothing more than a legal drug dealer, offering him never-ending prescriptions of acute and preventative medications, abortives, and Botox injections.
This has been a devastating disease for Jake throughout his entire life. He has been robbed from a normal childhood and teenage years, and has spent his entire adult life juggling the reality that he is deeply ill. In March 2016, our father introduced Jake to the Gerson Therapy (GT). Our father had been on GT for about three months and felt he must present Jake with what he believed was a final and true solution to healing his migraines. Jake was skeptical of yet another treatment option yet he expressed interest and a willingness to try it. Due to Jake’s long-term medication use and intense migraine frequency, Dr. Miven Donato, a Certified Gerson practitioner, recommended Jake start the therapy under doctor supervision at the Gerson Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. Within a few weeks, Jake had been accepted into the clinic and arrangements were made for his travel. My mother accompanied him as his companion during the 1st week and I accompanied him during the 2nd week. Jake had a breakthrough at day seven while at the clinic, under the guidance of Dr. Pedro Cervantes – his daily migraines went away….after 26 years of trying every known pharmaceutical intervention, his headaches went away in a few days. His constant head pain went down and he found he no longer needed daily medication. All in all, the Gerson Clinic experience was exactly the introduction that Jake needed to start his healing journey.
Josette, Jake, and Dr. Pedro Cervantes at the Gerson Clinic
Since his time at the Gerson Clinic, Jake has continued on Gerson Therapy and had excellent follow-up appointments with Dr. Cervantes, who treated him at the Gerson Clinic. Jake said this experience has been great, and he wishes the therapy was more well-known. The biggest challenge of the therapy has been keeping up with making the food, juices, and doing the coffee enemas. His current therapy protocol is considered a “modified non-malignant protocol”. He typically has 6-8 juices and 2-3 coffee enemas per day. He is continuing to experience less headaches and migraines – about 1-2 migraines a month, typically caused by missing a juice or meal. He still wakes up with headaches at times, which is a common symptom during the therapy, signifying toxic buildup through the night. Jake remarked recently that he has been able to manage his pain level (headache/migraine/neck pain) about 75% of the time with coffee enemas.
Thus far, this story has focused on the history of Jake’s migraines. But the migraines are not Jake’s identity. It is even more important to share who Jake is as an individual, what his interests, talents, and gifts are. Our family has welcomed a new person into our lives – the Jake that we knew was beneath the surface of the pain of migraine– the brother and son that we longed to know. Since embarking on Gerson Therapy, Jake has come back to life. He is pursuing his love of motorcycle racing and creating custom artwork. He has quickly taken his gift of teaching to the classroom and is scheduled to teach a sold-out art class on alcohol inks and art resin. His instructional art videos are bouncing around the internet with tens of thousands of interested viewers. This is just the beginning of his life – at 31 years old – and I am so excited to see what doors open up for him.
In 2006, after days and days of endless sickness, at this point years really, with his migraines, Jake said to me during one of my daily visits of cheer, “Dad, you know I have little reason to wake up in the morning”. This from my clear-eyed and rational son, suffering every day with pain and indisputable logic. The lowest moment of my life as he made perfect sense and all our efforts over the years had simply gotten us to this point of increasingly helpless sickness and disillusionment. Hold on is all you can do. And then in 2016, 10 years later, we find the solution to migraine and so much more in front of us but not understood by anybody around us.
I asked Jake what advice he would share with a migraineur, who has lost hope and given up. He said, “Try the Gerson Therapy for a month and see if it helps. After 2-3 months, you will have a significant difference in your health. You don’t really have anything to lose.”
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