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One Doctor's Journey Back Home....a day in the life of a very happy guy.

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  • One Doctor's Journey Back Home....a day in the life of a very happy guy.

    Hello all….my name is Laz, as you might have guessed.

    I thought I would start a journal on here because I know that my story with my primal health and lifestyle is a unique one, and that it gives me a few things to say that often help people. On top of that, I now lead what one might call an extremely “primal lifestyle”, but for me has always just been traditional living, the way I was raised. It just took a long time to make it back home.

    I was raised in a town south of Newport, Vermont. My father ran a sawworks business and my mother was a nurse, working in Canada. We lived on 270 acres of heavily wooded North Woods. We didn’t have municipal power or water, instead a well and 3 off-grid power sources we saved onto batteries. We had animals, cut wood for all of our heat, had a veg garden that would blow anyone’s mind.
    I had the best childhood of anyone I know. I LOVED living that way. I got so much time with my parents,always running around the woods with my brother, getting to help out on everything….when you’re a kid you don’t know if you’re normal and you wouldn’t care. A lot of adults could do some more of that.

    I was home-schooled until I got to high school. Not for religious or forced reasons; my parents would have liked for me to go, but out of logistical ones. The nearest elementary school was a 30 mile drive into Newport, and my father was an excellent teacher. I began taking high school classes at the age of 12, getting my diploma at 16, SAT’s taken at 15. I had an early start….and yes, I hated high school just as much as most people did.

    I went to school originally at the University of Vermont, about a 2.5 hour drive from home. I was 2 years younger than most of them, but at that place it didn’t matter much….I studied CMB, as well called it, or cell-molecular biology. I was accepted into medical school at the University of Miami at age 20….and that is where I lost my way.

    I’d played football in college, starting my final two years at age 18 and 19. I’d gotten into paleo from a teammate of mine, a friend of mine that made it to the NFL briefly. In short, I was in pretty good shape when I left for Florida….

    A year into school at the U, I had turned vegan (like Mark) and put on 25 lbs. More than that, I was all “soft” now. I rarely lifted, spent way too much time studying, and ate nothing that came from an animal….it was the one part of growing up where I did that hadn’t left me; a massive respect for animals.

    When I graduated at age 24 and went into my residency rotations, it got even worse, in mind and body. I lived all over the country, usually for 3-6 months, at many VA hospitals, in So Cal for 3 months, everywhere. I was a soft body vegan, had a lot of digestive issues, and was lost as hell personally. I had no real girlfriend, no idea where I would go to practice, and my idea of a workout was a spinning class followed by a 2-liter of mountain dew.

    I had seen my parents fly to where I was throughout the last 2 years of school and my first two years of residency. I didn’t get much time off, and they took their trips to me as little vacations….until about 2.5 years ago, when I took at trip home….I mean HOME, to our piece of land up by the Canadian border.

    It felt like someone had slapped me in the face when I sat down for dinner again with the clan back together….dad was 55 and still looked 35, my brother was a firefighter in Boston and looked like, well, a firefighter in Boston. My mom was 47 and still got looks on the street by guys my age….and then there was tubby, vegan me.

    I spent 2 weeks there over Christmas (I never got that time off otherwise) that changed my life. We chopped wood with the same maul (a big axe) we did as teenagers there. It was all overwhelming…and when I left, I got two books from my brother: The Paleo Diet by Cordan, and yes, The Primal Blueprint.

    I had been taking laxatives to EAT at the time as a vegan (at 26, mind you), so my conversion wasn’t oo hard…and there was ZERO vegan food at home that trip….within 6 months, I had lost 15 pounds, but was overall starting to look and feel like ME again.

    More than that, I knew what I wanted now….when I finished my last rotation, I came up here to live in our old hunting lodge. I ended up buying the surrounding 300 acres, taking my up to 305 total, and began renovating the house. I got a job about 30 miles away. I commute, but it’s worth it.

    Currently I am an ophthalmologist working with diabetics every day, usually requiring injections to the eye or laser surgery to the retina. I work privately, making I am sure a lot less money than I could, but I am not a slave to my job like many of my colleagues are….today I decided I would be off until noon and go hiking, but it’s a rain out so here I am.

    Next I will write about what my goals are, and more about what my life is like now. It has been a wild trip making it back…
    "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."

  • #2
    Hey Laz!

    Woohoo, I get to be the first to say hello on your journal! Love your story - we homeschool three of our four, ditched urban-suburbia for the wilds of Appalachian Ohio almost eight years ago (are city folk learning by leaps and bounds), and I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for eight years. Your occupation is cool - I have a kid with CVI, and I am grateful for all those passionate eye docs of various specialties who got us to the point of diagnosis.

    You seem like an awesome, down-to-earth guy, and I will be following you here to see what you have to say!
    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


    • #3
      I enjoyed your story will be checking in.
      Started Primal June 2012 at 148.5lbs, and 5' 1", reached goal weight in 5 months.
      Lowest weight 93lbs - too thin. Now stable at around 100lbs much better weight for me at my age.
      Primal, minus eggs, dairy and a myriad of other allergens.


      • #4
        Hi Laz, I've enjoyed reading your posts, they are always well considered and thoughtful. BTW we are another homeschooling family, though we don't live out in the boonies, we live in a small town in a rural area and it was my son's idea to home school or to be precise, unschool.
        Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.


        • #5
          Awesome to start your blog! My work gets me in contact with physicians trying to find alteration business models / lifestyles and trying to get more physicians on social media, so I was always glad to see you here but now interested to hear about your lifestyle choices as well.
          “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
          Blogging at


          • #6
            Hi Laz - I am looking forward to following your journal. I've seen your posts on the forum and learned that you're an MD and that you keep rabbits. 300 acres is a nice chunk of land and I bet you'll have a freezer full of venison this winter. Glad to hear that you have found your way.

            Grok on, man.


            • #7
              Laz!! I'm glad you started a journal! So how long have you been primal now? Sorry if I missed it in your intro.

              My eye doctor is my favorite doctor. He so nice and very positive about my eyes (as long as I keep in control).


              • #8
                Count me as another who enjoys your posts. I look forward to reading more.
                "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


                Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


                • #9
                  24 July 2013

                  Yesterday was a rain out and ruined my hiking plans before work....went in at noon to see a few surgical consults, had 4 of 5 elect for surgery once I explained stuff to them. Friday will be our Shock and Awe day. They will come in, get a final set of retinal photos to prep for surgery, and then our education and "counseling" session.

                  My nutritionist is about 35 and looks like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. I am sure she could beat the shit out of 90% of the men I know....she will come in and basically tear into them like a Wolverine on a piglet. I usually give her ten minutes or so of this, then I come in.

                  Most of the people I deal with are the "medical eeyore" type that I'm sure many others know....everything hurts, every system is bad, no sleep, no real exercise (my toe here hurts when I walk), just balls of misery.

                  Now, I have learned that for some people, they are unhealthy because of poor education on what is actually good for them...others it is nonchalance...with most of my patient's it is what I call the "gallows syndrome".

                  For years, most of them were relatively healthy. They didn't care what they ate, usually through some derivation of "gotta die some day"....what no one told them is that they won't just keal over one day. They will go through 10-20 years of being very miserable and expensive to their families first. So one day they go to the doctor and learn that they are sick, very sick. They have NIDDM, HTN, full metabolic syndrome....

                  So what do they do?

                  They essentially seem to tell themselves, "well, this is it." They are now convinced they are going to die, so again, no effort will be put in to change it. A few months or years down this line, they come to me. By then they are usually starting to see the reality of their situation. Metabolic syndrome is a very cruel disease. It kills very slowly, is very costly, and there are NO pills to help it. Period. It ain't Lipitor that's going to pull my patients out of their abyss, it's spinach

                  I tend to be very blunt and very morbid with these people, because it is not as if they have never had "the talk" before....I say "Do you know what the 5 year survival rate is for a 45 year old diabetic of your severity, at your obesity level, with the kind of advanced neuropathy you have?" Generally this number is going to be 15% or lower. The reality is that the TWO YEAR rate for most of them is about 50%.

                  Then I pull out a second book, a binder I keep of successful patients. My nutritionist put many of them together, because she has been doing this much longer than it are pictures and stories of people that were in just as bad a health, with a pic of their recent ski trip ten years later or something similar attached. My message is the same, "You CAN do this, but make no mistake, it is not going to be easy or moderate or whatever else. It is going to be the hardest thing you have likely ever done."

                  I then start to go through the changes we need to make, and I finish with a few words: "I know what this looks like and I know it's not easy for you....but I do have only one rule....You can never say that we are being too hard on you. Because if we fail, there will be no retakes."

                  Then "I never got to tell you what MY 5-year survival rate is....for patients that stay on her plan, keep regular follow-ups, our survival rate is over 80%. I can't stop car crashes, but if I have anything to do with it your diabetes will not kill you."

                  It's amazing what a mix of statistics and hope can do for people. Be shockingly mathematical and blunt, and then show so many people that avoided all that mess. If there is a better approach I have not heard it.

                  First pt is at 9. Great way to have my morning coffee. Adios
                  Last edited by TheyCallMeLazarus; 07-24-2013, 05:48 AM.
                  "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."


                  • #10
                    Hey, I like your journal! It's great that you're educating your patients about how to get better, instead of just treating their symptoms!

                    My journal


                    • #11
                      As a patient, it was good that my earlier doctors scared me. I may not have liked it but it stuck with me. As I got older and stopped drinking and doing drugs, I actually cared enough to make some changes.

                      Now that my numbers are better my doctors don't come across as insensitive. I think they can tell by looking at me that I do care about my health. Especially when I tell them how I eat and exercise. Funny though, they never ask how I eat or if I exercise. So, I give you props on how you handle things with your pts!

                      Having type 1 is quite different from type 2... which, Laz, you already know this. If I had it as easy to take a pill, I would have it made. That's only because I already eat right and exercise. Sleep is a top priority of mine too.


                      • #12
                        This weekend is 3 nights on the Long Trail in VT. Carrying the following food:

                        Rabbits (5), the LAST pound of venison from last hunting season , 2 bone in Ribeyes, 2 fillets of smoked salmon, 1 pound bacon

                        Plus a ton of veg (mostly romaine from the garden or my tiny summer carrots)

                        Planning on sleeping in a roll hammock all weekend c the have to REALLY like someone to do that.

                        Back Monday. Grok on.
                        "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."


                        • #13
                          Thanks for sharing!
                          65lbs gone and counting!!

                          Fat 2 Fit - One Woman's Journey


                          • #14
                            Boy Lazarus I wish my older brother and sister had you for their doctor! They both are diabetic, overweight and god knows what else, I never know how hard I should be with them. As a younger sibling I don't carry as much clout as a doctor and they are both under a doctor's care. It makes me so mad that their doctor's don't tell that they absolutely have to change their diets. I've talked to them about paleo, even cooked for them and bought them books and they say they know it's better for them but they just can't give up x y & z. I guess they love their cookies, bread and pasta more than their limbs.
                            Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.


                            • #15
                              I like reading your posts too, so am happy to follow your journal. Love the description of your upbringing and the wake up moment you had while home visiting. I spent a few years living in a pretty rural area and would love to get back to something like that.