I started this Blog because God has sparked within me a desire to bring the message of health, hope and healing to all those who need it, but especially to those that have been touched by physical infirmities. At least some level of healing is available to all who ask, seek and believe!

Join me as I take a step of faith out of the boat and into the murky waters to begin my own journey of health and healing. We will be taking a closer look at how to find healing in our modern-day world and what God has to say about the process as well. Some of the posts will be on practical ways to achieve healing in our bodies; others will be inspirational and are meant to bring you hope. I think most of you will find that a lot of the information here challenges what you think you know about good health.

May Jehovah Rapha--God, Our Healer--open your hearts, minds and eyes as you explore this website. And may you never forget...to Always Hope.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I apologize for the delay in updates again. I know many of you are very anxious to hear "the rest of the story." I have just gotten back home from an extended stay at Shand's Hospital in Gainesville, FL where I was newly diagnosed with chronic gastritis and duodenitis. Upon endoscopy with biopsies, I also have findings specific to eosinophilic esophagitis and mast cells in my small bowel. I have lost 35 lbs in two months and have been going into anaphylactic shock just upon waking up without eating or drinking anything. I was on complete bowel rest during the week I was in the hospital, with a dextrose drip being my only food. I have only been able to tolerate organic chicken broth for the last two weeks. I was put on Zyrtec, Zantac and Singulair, proton pump inhibitors and steroids. A mast cell stabilizer will be next. I have been put on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)--an eating plan that has been used with great success over many years in order to heal people's guts. Disappointingly, I was told my gut would be healed in as little as "three days" by Dr. Sponaugle upon getting his specialized treatment at FDWI. Clearly, that did not happen.

While these conditions may be newly diagnosed, I was having symptoms of all these things during my time at FDWI. But the thing is, nothing is really diagnosed at FDWI besides Lyme, mold and occasionally, mycoplasma. Sure, everyone comes in with different issues which have been diagnosed by other doctors, but at FDWI, all of these things are just reduced to toxic brains and as a result, everyone gets the very same treatment--Vitamin C and amino acid IVs. The only variations I saw of this was a little more or little less of something like b vitamins or magnesium. I did see one girl get antibiotic treatment for mycoplasma after many weeks of the Vitamin C and aminos failed. She ended up having bad side effects in her tendons and left the clinic. 

The gut is NOT treated at FDWI. Even though it is considered the "second brain" and sends its own signals to the brain, it isn't even talked about there. While I was there, many patients absconded over to Lifeworks Wellness where doctors Springer and Minkhoff offer most everything Sponaugle does--and then some--with much better care and organization and at a MUCH better price. They at least acknowledge the HUGE role the gut plays in chronic illnesses and treat the patient accordingly. 

Most people with chronic issues and illness have leaky gut, yeast and dysbiosis of the small bowel. This isn't often a result, but a CAUSE of chronic illness. But healing the gut is not quick; it sure doesn't take "three days." The SCD diet, for instance, can take up to two years or more to work. Two years is not the type of treatment that Dr. Sponaugle deals in. His treatment is six weeks. He wants you in and out in that time and wants to take the next patient's money. If you don't respond to the treatment, then you didn't do something he told you to and it's your fault. This is at least how he seems to justify the MANY FDWI failures in his mind (please don't believe the ninety-something percent success rate that may have been quoted to you; there is nothing they can give you to back this up). That, and I truly believe that he just compartmentalizes because he is in denial that his treatments aren't as effective as he would like them to be. If the masses found that out, however, he would be ruined and thus, he's created a massive marketing scheme to perpetuate a mythical cure.

Don't get me wrong: there are multiple sides to Dr. Rick Sponaugle and like any mad scientist, he has Jeykell and Hyde tendencies for sure. For instance, he professes to be a Christian and has lots of artwork and scriptures on his wall that would suggest that. He has helped to build a church overseas (a picture and story of which he prominently displays in his lobby), and he does show moments of generosity to his patients: he gave my mother and me our first round of supplements for free. Yes, we had both just paid almost 10k each (that amount only covered IVs and what was supposed to be one appointment with Sponaugle per week, but even that didnt happen because he had a fit and took off for over ten days, seeing no patients during this time), but these brief moments of charity were overshadowed by his completely erratic behavior: yelling at patients, calling patients whiners, mocking other believers there by calling them "Chreeshtains" and using air quotes while doing it, badgering patients who complained that the treatment wasn't working for them, violating HIPAA laws right and left, firing staff members for their incompetence when he was the one changing the rules on them practically every day, berating and demeaning his nurses in front of patients and anyone else who was around (one time he got on my nurse Dennis so badly that Dennis chewed a bloody hole in his bottom lip), acting recklessly with medical treatments without doing his due diligence (the hospital where he was doing patients' rapid detox took away his privileges while I was at FDWI), and just on and on. 

The bottom line is, I am no better, and in fact worse, since the treatment at FDWI. I am also about 35K poorer. This has been the experience of every other person I still keep in contact with that I met at FDWI, with the exception of one woman who did feel like the treatment detoxed her from all the antibiotics she had taken over the years for Chronic Lyme. I am hoping these people will write their own accounts so I can post them here. 

There are pictures of many people on the FDWI site that Dr. Sponaugle claims to have healed, including my own mother, but this is just because they get you to sign a release for your photographs the very first time you see anyone and they are quite persistent about it too. As an attorney, I wasn't going to sign anything until I saw results and was sure I wanted to recommend the treatment, but my mom went ahead and signed and handed it in before I could tell her not to. Other patients have called me asking how to get their names and pictures off the FDWI website. My experience there has been the experience of many. I would be very wary of all the positive posts you may be seeing out there. I am not at liberty to discuss much about this but I can tell you that Dr. Sponaugle is extremely literate when it comes to Internet advertising and using it to his advantage. There are all sorts of ways to push good reviews on sites that may not have been written by actual customers. There are also ways to push up sites that you want seen by potential customers and push down sites that might contain harmful information about you or your business.  

So please, if you just cant wait for the updates, I would tell you do not buy into the hype. You can make yourself a lot worse by going to this clinic and you're going to spend a lot of money. If you want to try Vitamin C IVs, I am sure there is another holistic doctor closer to you that does them. They may not be as strong, but quite frankly, you don't need them to be. As far as amino acid IVs, you should NOT do these if you have any metal amalgams in your mouth, possible heavy metal toxicity, or any number of specific gene mutations that may affect specific areas of your methylation cycle. For more information on the dangers of amino acid IVs with glutathione in them, join Frequent Dose Chelation on Yahoo and research Dr. Andy Cutler. For more information about gene mutations and the methylation cycle, see the work of Dr. Amy Yasko and join the CFSYasko group on Yahoo. 

I cannot recommend this treatment because it didn't work, is dangerous, and I found the doctor to be very erratic and reckless. In my future posts, I will talk about how he prescribed my mother thyroid hormone because he believed she was Type II Hypothyroid, even though her TSH was at a .1 (.5 being the very lowest it should have been). This was after we explained that our family has a history of autoimmune disease, and specifically Grave's Disease, which would mean that she could have easily been HYPERthyroid, not Type II HYPOthyroid. Instead of doing any due diligence and sending my mom to an endocrinologist, he prescribed the thyroid hormone. After a week on this, my mom was much worse. He could have put her in thyroid storm and killed her. Fortunately, my mom quit taking the meds and we went to see an endocrinologist on our own. Sure enough, she had the antibodies for Grave's and the radioactive iodine scan came back positive as well. At our next appointment, we reluctantly told Sponaugle about us seeing an endocrinologist and had to listen to him for 10 minutes fly off the handle about why he knew better than all these other doctors and how irritated he was that we went behind his back. When he finally calmed down, we told him what the actual results of my mom's tests were and that she did have Grave's and not Type II Hypothyroidism, and he just changed the subject. That is but one story of many.

I want to make it clear that I am not a woman scorned. I am not mad, upset or regretful that I went and got this treatment. I feel like it was part of God's plan for me because He has allowed me to go the long way around on the journey to my miracle. I met other patients at FDWI that I feel humbled and honored to know and their stories are now woven into my own. I also feel like my experience can and will be used to help others as they are so desperately searching for the cure for their loved ones, or themselves. I want my mistakes and set backs to be out there for others to ponder as they are making very important, and potentially life-altering, treatment decisions. That is the whole point of this blog.

Always Hope

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I am going to go ahead and post this for all those who keep emailing me for more about my experience with Dr. Sponaugle and Florida Detox and Wellness Institute and will be updating it as I can...

Florida Detox and Wellness Institute (FDWI) is located in Palm Harbor, FL, about 20 miles west of Tampa and 10 minutes north of Clearwater. I was actually born and raised on Anna Maria Island (about an hour and 20 minutes south of Palm Harbor). I went to law school at Stetson in Saint Petersburg (about 30 minutes south of Palm Harbor). In fact, I had only moved from Saint Petersburg across the state to West Palm Beach in the summer of 2008 so I thought it was ironic that three and a half years later, I was traveling back to my old stomping ground in order to seek treatment. Much like West Palm Beach, Palm Harbor is a haven for all things alternative medicine. However, unlike West Palm Beach, where the motivation behind the alternative therapies is to mainly keep the rich young and healthy, the motivation behind the alternative therapies in Palm Harbor is a bit more obscure. You see, the Palm Harbor/Clearwater area is a mecca for all things Scientology. In fact, Scientology's world-wide home base is Clearwater. As you may remember--no doubt thanks to Tom Cruise's public condemnation of Brooke Shields when she openly admitted using antidepressants for postpartum depression--Scientologists do not condone the use of psychotropic or mood-altering drugs; they prefer to do everything naturally and based on this, the Clearwater/Palm Harbor area is booming with all things alternative medicine and holistic health.

When we first got to Palm Harbor, my mom and I were staying in the grandmother's house of a friend of mine from law school. Her grandmother lived up north and due to ill health, had not been coming down for the winters anymore so the house happened to be available. It was about 5 miles north of FDWI and we were only going to be paying $600 for four weeks (which was what I had been initially told by my patient coordinator, Jack, was the length of the treatment). The house felt like such an answer to prayer! When we got to the home Sunday night--the night before treatment--we thought it was going to be just fine for what we needed. It was an old Florida home with two beds and two baths and was a little musty smelling, but nothing we didn't think could be remedied with a good airing out. We settled in for the night and I remember feeling so hopeful because I finally felt like I was going to be getting the help I so desperately needed.

The next morning, we were at the clinic by 10am. We were told by Jack that we were going to have lunch and a MANDATORY group meeting with Dr. Sponaugle where he would go over all relevant information as far as why all the incoming patients needed his treatment protocol and exactly what it was going to do for us. It was difficult even sitting there in the waiting room due to the state of my physical condition. I was having a big problem with over-stimulation of the senses at that time and as there were all kinds of people milling in and out of the office; it was pretty disconcerting for me. The a/c was broken and the doors to the clinic had been propped open. It was cool outside, so that was fine, but people were smoking at picnic tables outside the clinic and for someone with chemical sensitivities like myself, it was hard to tolerate. Even though there was a sign posted asking people not to wear perfumes, smoke or do other obnoxious things because of "patient sensitivities" no one was enfocring it. There were people in the waiting room who looked "normal" like myself and others that were definitely high and strung out. Many couldn't keep their heads up and were slouched over in their chairs or on their "caretakers"--which was the term the clinic used to refer to the patient's companion who oversaw their needs. Other people came out of a door leading into the back office and they were wheeling around IV stands while they were hooked up to the IV bags, getting their daily "cocktails." A couple of the patients were kind of boisterous and one guy in particular couldn't sit still and was walking around talking to everyone and cussing up a storm. I kept looking around, thinking that someone would come out any minute and take charge of the situation--perhaps telling the smokers to move to another place, separating the people that were there for the wellness program and the ones that were there for the alcohol/drug detox, asking the obnoxious guy to stop using profanity, telling the people on the IV drips to stay in the IV room like the sign posted said to...but none of that happened. Instead, I just had to wait anxiously while the girl behind the front counter kept checking to make sure the little machine that defused the thieves oil (to counteract any mold) was working and was simply oblivious to everything else. I did try asking several times about the lunch menu because I was strictly gluten free and was told they would have gluten free options.

Finally, after waiting several hours, a woman came out and introduced herself as Audrey and asked all the new patients to go to the back of the clinic, help themselves to lunch, and take a seat in the conference room. When I passed through the door leading from the waiting room into the back part of the clinic, I took an immediate left. on my right, I could see a room that housed all the IV patients (at least when they stayed in there like they were supposed to). The room had a TV and lots of black, leather recliners. Some people in there were chatting and others were sleeping. Most all of them were hooked up to an IV bag and getting some sort of cocktail.

My mom and I made our way further down the hallway and to our left was a little toom with several red chairs where "nurses" were hooking up patients to IV drips and/or taking out the IV drips. Across the hall were the men's and women's bathrooms. Next you came to a dead end at a perpendicular hallway. If you went left, it was another exit out to the front of the clinic and if you went right, it led you yo the back of the clinic. All along that hallway were offices. Right there where the two hallways connected was Dr. Sponaugle's office. Then you had the offices of three actual, registered nurses. There was one with red hair (I forget her name), Dennis (who ended up being my nurse), and later, Kathy (whom Sponaugle had just hired about the time I got there).

Lunch consisted of sub sandwhiches, cheese, fruit, veggies with ranch dressing, chips and soda. I was shocked that they were feeding this rubbish to people who obviously had problems with leaky gut but then I thought that maybe there were way more drug/alcohol detox people there for intake than wellness people like me. Even though I knew that the addicts had leaky gut too, I figured the addicts themselves didn't know about leaky gut, nor would they have cared if they did. My gluten free option was to remove the meat and cheese from the bread, to eat a piece of fruit, and to eat veggies with no ranch. Since the meat had bread all over it, I ate veggies and fruit and I opted for water to drink. Later, I expressed to several people who seemed to be in charge of administration issues how nice it would be to have actual, gluten free foods brought in for people like myself and I was assured that they were "working on" getting some trays from Rawk Star--a raw cafe right across the street. Needless to say, not only did this food they promised never materialize at any of the weekly intake sessions for the six weeks I was at the clinic, but when I checked with the owners of Rawk Star, they were adamant that no one at FDWI had ever contacted them about brining food in.

Things like this were a reoccurring theme at FDWI. At first, I was blaming the employees for not having their act together and was feeling quite sorry for Dr. Sponaugle. I was trying (when I could) to run my own business too and I sure knew that good help was hard to find. But FDWI seemed to take it to a whole other level. The massive confusion coming out of that place was very hard to deal with. Even though I had my mother with me, she was only my "caretaker" in the sense that she provided companionship--God bless her. She had no medical depth or breadth of knowledge like I did and had a hard time comprehending much of anything. She had been through chemo for breast cancer twice and unbeknownst to everyone at the time, was battling Grave's Disease. So it was really up to me to deal with everything and admittedly, I envied the patients who could just be total lushes and let their caretakers--usually wives or mothers--do all the leg work for them, gather all the medical information, put all their supplements together, foot the bill for everything, and most importantly, sift through all the total confusion that was everything FDWI.

When we finally started the mandatory group session (at about 2 pm), I noticed that some of the people in there were also hooked up to IVs so I surmised that anyone could join this group, even if they had already been to one of these sessions before. Dr. Sponaugle entered the room as he dictated orders to Audrey about taping the session, the lighting and other instructions he wanted her to follow. He had a large cup with several tea bags hanging off the edge and looked a little frazzled and haggard--not like the well-put-together doctor I saw on his website or on YouTube. He quickly started into his diatribe about how modern medicine had failed all the people sitting in the room and how his methods were somewhere in the high 90th percentile at fixing everything from autoimmune, to autism, to cancer to drug/alcohol addiction. Again, everyone had toxic brains and needed to detox. What followed was a 7-8 hour (that is not a typo) medical lesson/marketing session that basically was the same thing as his webinar but went more into depth. In my opinion, he could have stated everything in 2 hours but the tangents he kept getting off on took him down all sorts of other rabbit holes for which there seemed to be no end. Don't get me wrong, the stuff was interesting, but many of the people in there were addicts and either had their cups full of alcohol or were literally leaving the room to go pop a pill or go snort something. Others had traveled a long way and had literally come straight from the airport and were exhausted. Still others, like myself, were so sick, they found it hard to even leave their house most of the time, much less sit in a room full of strangers with a doctor rattling off things that only a person with a background in biochemistry really could understand. I have that background as I was premed for 3 years but as sick as I was, it was very hard to assimilate all the information being thrown at me. On one hand, I really appreciated what Dr. Sponaugle was trying to do, which was to educate us, but on the other hand, I realized that part (if not most) of his motivation for educating us stemmed from his desire to make us believe that there was absolutely no other way we could be healed of our ailments unless we signed up for his services. He was obviously taping the lessons/sessions, so why wouldn't he just use one of tapes for his incoming, potential patients to watch? In my opinion, it was because the lessons/sessions served to feed his ego, the lessons/sessions let him hear himself talk and by doing this, he could perfect his marketing skills or "pitch", and because it gave him and opportunity to answer any questions people have in order to quell any doubts they might have about needing at least a full four weeks of Vitamin C and amino acid IVs.

At about the two hour mark, one nice looking lady in the front raised her hand and said she was just there for the rapid detox session. She just wanted the detox and wanted to go home. That didn't sit too well with the good doctor. He basically told her she was so messed up, she couldn't even realize that he was telling her she had to go through at least four weeks of his brain detox program with the vitamin c and amino IVs because if she didn't let him fix her brain, the 3 day drug/alcohol detox would do nothing for her and she would start using again. The lady said she wasn't planning to stay for 4 weeks--that she couldn't do such a thing. She clearly was impaired, but she wasn't out of line. She said she started using pain pills again after the death of her husband. To that, the doctor said something along the lines of (and I am paraphrasing), "Sorry you lost your husband but you need to shut up because you don't know what you're talking about. It's not your fault, you have a toxic brain, but shut up." This left the lady in tears and her caretaker-sister too shocked to say anything so they both just sat there while Sponaugle then addressed the rest of us. He said he had no time or patience for anyone's BS. He had been doing this for too long and knew things that we didn't so we just needed to trust him and let him get on with his lesson/session and his treatment. Now, I had heard him pop off at people on the webinar, but that afternoon he made it clear that he was just as willing to do it to people's faces too. I couldn't help feeling like this guy really just wanted everyone to hand him over $10K and then shut up and let him treat them. Still, Dr. Sponaugle and the staff at FDWI were the only hope I had at the moment and I still felt strongly that I was right where God wanted me yo be.

At 7:30pm, my mom and I had to call it a night. We slipped out quietly and headed back to my friends' grandmother's house. That night, even with the windows open, we both had kind of a fitful sleep. The house still smelled musty and all the literature we had gotten at our lesson/session with Sponaugle said he only wanted us to stay at a couple different hotels in the area because there was mold everywhere else. Later, I would come to find out that the "testing" they did on the recommended hotels consisted of the fact the the hotels were the newest in the area and that Jack could go sit in them without having a reaction. Apparently, you see, Jack was very sensitive to mold. This method was all fine and good until one of the families staying in one of the recommended hotels found mold all back behind their airconditioner. This was even after Jack had "cleared" their particular room. So the family ended up moving hotels. In any case, by the next morning, my mom and I felt like if we were going to be spending all this money to get treatment, we better just anty up and make sure that we weren't staying in a mold-infested property. We sent my friend's grandmother $250, packed up and moved into the Holliday Inn in Seminole, which was one of the hotels FDWI recommended.

That afternoon, I was to have my first, actual appointment with Dr. Sponaugle. We were going to be going over the test results from all the labs my mom and I had done and we were supposed to figure out our treatment plans. Sponaugle was several hours late to the appointment and again, we were left waiting in a room full of sick people all just wallowing in our sicky-sickness. I was secretly a little irritated that Sponaugle was meeting with both my mom and me at the same time. I really wanted my own meeting because I was scared he was going to jump around between the two of us and leave us both feeling confused. A meeting with Sponaugle is like a an encounter with a rapid-fire machine gun: you try to do the best you can in the situation while he fires off about everything, but inevitably, you're left with a hole in your head and wondering what the heck just happened. Thankfully, my nurse, Dennis, taped the whole thing (which I didn't even know he was doing and is technically illegal in the state of Florida unless all parties to the conversation consent, but in this case, I was glad). I have the little tape and haven't listened to it yet for a couple reasons: one, because I was a bit traumatized from the whole FDWI experience, and two, I just don't have a mini tape player. But for you, dear friends, I have gone and bought one and will put the recording of my meeting with Sponaugle into a format so I can post it here.

Updating as I can...

Always Hope

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


When I wrote Part I of this blog series, I was in a very positive mood. I felt like I was finally getting the outside care and help I needed and that I was done having to self-treat. It was such a relief to be handing over my care to what seemed like a doctor who finally understood all aspects of what was really going on underneath the surface of my illness and who knew that without a doubt, all the seemingly unrelated symptoms I was having were indeed connected. If any of you reading this have ever struggled with a chronic illness and tried, or are trying, to treat yourself in order to get well, then you know how exhausting, frustrating, stressful and defeating it can be. Likewise, when/if you find a practitioner or someone who steps in and manages your care so that you don't have to do it yourself, well, that can be one of the biggest joys and feelings of relief that you've had since your illness started. In any case, because of my cheerful mood, I realize now that I failed to lay bare my full experience with Florida Detox and Wellness (FDWI) up until that point. Yes, I semi-consciously overlooked things that I should have written about because I wanted everything to be right and to go right--especially the end result of my treatment--but I know it's important that no detail is left out this time.

In late December 2011, not long after I found Brenda Watson's card in the probiotic bottle, Googled her, and then learned of Dr. Sponaugle and FDWI, I used the contact form on the FDWI website to give a brief synopsis of myself to an unknown "patient coordinator." A man by the name of Jack Palumbo contacted me via email fairly quickly and simply said, "there [sic] is too much to say in an email.. [sic] Please call when you can as I can tell you with some degree of certainty that you are severely Toxic [sic]. Jack Palumbo XXX-XXX-XXXX" The rest of the email contained copied and pasted information, which I found to be a bit confusing since I had no references about the "Toxicity Program" or what was being offered to begin with. The information, verbatim, was:

Toxicity causes many symptoms of various diseases. Dr Sponaugle has developed a treatment plan to cleanse the toxicity from his Toxic patients that show symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Alzheimer's, Lyme & Parkinson's Disease.
** We understand that it is a big commitment on your part to come to Florida for an extended period of time for treatment.
** We need to do extensive testing before your arrival. Dr Sponaugle will review all the results and design treatment options.

At Florida Detox and Wellness Institute we find the underlying cause of the Toxicity . Furthermore, Dr. Sponaugle’s pioneered IV Drip Therapy restores and replenishes the damage toxicity has caused.

Dr. Sponaugle will answer questions about addiction, anti-aging, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety, etc. Get powerful and helpful answers - without even leaving your home!
Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!

Call-in toll-free number (US/Canada): 1-877-668-4493
Call-in toll number (US/Canada): +1-408-600-3600
Call-in toll number (US/Canada)*: +1-571-918-6008
* Call-in toll number (US/Canada) should only be used if the primary number does not work.

Attendee access code: 738 372 211

Meeting password (if required) 3333

To join the online meeting (options 2 and 3 above)
Click HERE to join the WebEx online meeting.

or copy the web address below to your browser:

Please follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

The description of the Toxicity Program is below.

Kind Regards,

Xxx-xxx-xxxx cell

Toxicity Program $9800.00

**Analyze and optimize more than 200 vital biochemicals including brain neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
** Intravenous program restores numerous biochemical deficiencies and intestinal malabsorption issues.
**Diagnose and successfully treat “stealth” infectious intracellular microorganisms in Mold Toxic patients that are causing excessive inflammation and tissue damage.
**Restore vital nutrients and the “building blocks” of every cell in the body while simultaneously removing brain toxins.
**Remove harmful biotoxins, industrial and environmental toxins that accumulate in the brain.

• Intake EKG
• Nineteen IV drips
• Thirty days of follow up consultations with Dr. Sponaugle and medical staff after treatment period


Additional Costs include:
• Lab testing (Both admit lab testing and 1st urine neuroscience are extra.)
• Rx medications (we will give vouchers and samples when available)
• Supplements.
• IV drip therapy (in addition to the 19 drips included in the price)

. Anticipated Schedule however may vary depending on your unique circumstances:


Monday= Intake, meet with the medical staff, EKG, Patient and caregiver attend workshop @ 2pm.
Tuesday= IV drip meet with Dr. Sponaugle today or tomorrow depending on schedule
Wednesday= IV drip
Thursday= IV drip
Friday= IV drip


Monday = IV drip
Tuesday= IV drip meet with Dr. Sponaugle today or tomorrow depending on schedule
Wednesday= IV drip
Thursday= IV drip
Friday= IV drip


Monday = IV drip
Tuesday= IV drip meet with Dr. Sponaugle today or tomorrow depending on schedule
Wednesday= IV drip
Thursday= IV drip
Friday= IV drip


Monday = IV drip
Tuesday= IV drip
Wednesday= IV drip
Thursday= IV drip, meet with Dr. Sponaugle to discuss final treatment plan.
Friday= IV drip

About a minute after I received Jack's first email, a second email appeared with an attached .pdf article from Life Extension Magazine, featuring Dr. Sponaugle. You can see the article HERE. Most everyone in the natural/alternative health world knows about Life Extension Magazine so I have to say, I was pretty impressed to see this recent accomplishment of his. The FDWI website itself is littered with articles, pictures and propaganda all touting Dr. Sponaugle's prowess and making the impossible seem possible. I mean, he certainly has all the celebrities, articles, research and pictures/testimonies of real, live patients to back up his claims. As an attorney, I like to see the evidence and Dr. Sponaugle was spoon-feeding it to me! Not only that, but there were scripture references predominantly displayed throughout his website and it appeared that his faith played a big part in his personal and professional life; a nerve-calming addition, to say the least.

Blaming myself for being just too toxic to comprehend much anymore, I disregarded the confusing nature of Jack's original email and signed up for one of Dr. Sponaugle's weekly webcasts. I couldn't believe that I was actually going to get to hear this guy speak AND have an opportunity to ask questions before I made any commitment to seek treatment with him. I had seen so many other doctors up until that point and never had I been able to give them a test run, so to speak, before I went. Had I been able to, I would not have seen 99.9% of them.

I listened to the fist webcast without asking any questions or making any comments. It began 20-30 minutes after it was supposed to start because Dr. Sponaugle was running late. A nice administrator named Audrey greeted the people joining the webcast and told everyone that the doctor was running late because he was still seeing patients. I remember thinking it was pretty refreshing to hear that a doctor was running late because he was actually taking the time to sit, listen and help the people he was treating. Audrey seemed to be broadcasting the webcast from Dr. Sponaugle's home and was simply waiting for him to get there. I later found out she was an employee of his who was in charge of the web-based content as well as various tasks around the office, but that she also watched his kids sometimes.

When Dr. Sponaugle finally arrived home and started the webcast, he made no apologies for making us wait. He spoke with authority and talked very fast. He didn't sound at all like he did on the video I saw with he and Brenda Watson. In that video he was clam, cool and collected. On the webinar he seemed discombobulated at times and would ask Audrey in a demeaning manner about why a slide wasn't where it was supposed to be, or he would tell her to change something for the next time. An hour and a half later, after he gave a very informative, albeit sporadic, tutorial, he started to answer questions from the listeners. In order to ask a question, you had to type it in a little box at the beginning of the webcast and the doctor answered them in the order they were received. Most of the people on the webcast (at least the ones asking the questions) were the caregivers of the prospective patients who needed treatment. They had their faculties about them and were able to listen, comprehend and articulate their questions well but many of them were distraught about the state of their loved ones and you could hear the desperation in their voices. At one point, a mother of a disabled Vet spoke and described how her son was suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD. He apparently was on all kinds of medication, including stuff for seizures. I cannot recall whether he was also self-medicating (using drugs/alcohol) but this poor mother was so distraught and you could tell she was absolutely at her wits' end. As she was explaining things, Dr. Sponaugle kept interrupting and telling her how he had seen this over and over again. He seemed to pride himself in being able to tell you about you or your loved one's physical and mental issues before he heard much of anything, and he did this, in my opinion, to prove his superiority, assert his authority, and to make you want to sign up for treatment right there on the spot. At one point, as the mother of the Vet kept asking questions and trying to understand everything, Dr. Sponaugle jumped in and said, "Well you better up his seizure medications because he could have a massive one at any moment." It was just such a jarring, fear-producing thing to say and the mother's stunned silence was broken only by the sound of her soft sobs and Dr. Sponaugle's voice telling her that her kid needed treatment right away. He was unapologetic and I think, if you would have asked him why he was so harsh, he would dismiss your mercy by saying that the mother just didn't get it, that her son was on the verge of a major medical episode--maybe even death--and that if he spurred that family into action due to the shocking nature of his statements, then it was all worth it. In essence, he was saving this kid's life, and that was the only thing that mattered.

The rest of the question/answer session was much of the same thing, at least on the part of Dr. Sponaugle. Everyone's stories were different, sure, but no matter what your symptoms, Dr. Sponaugle would always relate it back to your toxic brain/body: excessive alcohol or drug use = toxic; Autoimmune Disease = toxic; Lyme Disease = toxic; cancer = you get the picture. Now certainly, I am oversimplifying the issue of toxicity here. All you have to do is read some of my other posts to see that the workings of biochemistry and microbiota in the body are not something that anyone really fully understands, BUT if there is someone out there who thinks they are pretty close to seeing the big picture, I would say it would be Dr. Sponaugle. And I have to give him credit; he is super-intelligent and knows a lot. He definitely knew more about what I felt like I my physical issues were than any other doctor I had ever come in contact with. Even his egotistical, overbearing attitude was dismissible because after all, he must be exhausted from seeing all these patients whose cases were so critical and from listening to all these stories people had over and over and over. I mean, I could understand his frustration because at the end of the day, if everyone was really suffering from the same thing--that is, toxicity--and you could treat them all the same way, then how annoying would it have to be to have to explain this in detail to everyone?! It's not always easy convincing people that the reason one patient has self-medicated with alcohol is the same reason another person has Alzheimer's. We have been taught the Alcoholism and Alzheimer's are two totally different diseases and that one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. When you go about trying to explain that they can be, and often are, related, people have a hard time wrapping their heads around that.

For me, what Dr. Sponaugle was saying made a lot of sense in my mind, but not only that, it resonated within my spirit. This is something I often check for when I am trying to discern the truth. I did not like his alarmist ways, or the fact that he belittled or demeaned anyone who challenged him or had a hard time comprehending what he was saying. I did not like that any time someone would try to correct him on a symptom or detail that they were giving about themselves or a loved one--simply because they were trying to get him all the relevant facts--he would either gloss over what they said, dismiss it altogether, or imply that they may not know what they were talking about. Further, while I was so grateful he took the time not only to explain his theories and to answer everyone's questions, and while I certainly felt like there was a lot of truth to what was being proffered, I couldn't shake the feeling that 1) it was a well-orchestrated, marketing campaign 2) he felt that everything that he said was straight from God's lips and there was no room for challenging it, and 3) perhaps the actual, underlying reason for such an extensive webinar session was because it satisfied the need to feed his own ego.

I listened to a few more webcasts over the next few weeks, all the while corresponding with Jack, who was one of two patient coordinators at FDWI. My emails and phone calls with Jack always left me feeling frustrated and like I had even more questions than before. He was certainly nice, but every time I asked him for any details of the program, or about what to expect, or how long I would need to be there, or how much it was going to cost, etc., I would always get generalizations--if my questions were answered at all. And then, trying to figure out what labs I needed, getting my prescriptions for the labs and trying to figure out when I needed to run them was a nightmare. I had health insurance, but could never get any clear information about what might have been covered and what wasn't so I was left without knowing the cost of anything. I was so, so sick at that time and I had never been so frustrated with a health care provider. Later, I would come to find out that Jack was not trained in the health care field at all and in fact was the father of a boy that Dr. Sponaugle had previously treated. Jack said the doctor had completely turned his son around and as a result, it appeared Jack became a convert, a devotee, a follower of all things Dr. Marvin "Rick" Sponaugle. Jack lived in Naples--several hours south of where FDWI was located--and didn't work out of FDWI on a regular basis but instead used his cell phone to field calls from prospective patients or their caregivers. The extent of Jack's role appeared to encompass giving people a little information about the treatment program, telling them the miraculous story of how the doctor healed his son, booking their intake date, and occasionally popping into FDWI with lunch for the employees and to see what was going on with everyone.

Despite all the confusion I experienced trying to get started with treatment at FDWI, I did get my lab work done and on Sunday, February 19th, 2012, my mom and I were headed over to Palm Harbor for what I hoped would be my last stop on my journey to healing.

To be continued...

Always Hope

Monday, April 8, 2013


It was one year ago this weekend that I returned from six weeks of treatment at Dr. Sponaugle's Florida Detox and Wellness Center. I don't really know why it's taken me a year to write this blog (or series of blogs, as I have planned it). With my illness, I have had a hard time finishing what I started so I am trying to be more cognizant of that. I guess for a while, I was waiting to see what the final outcome of my treatment was. I really, really wanted to give people an honest and in-depth assessment of my treatment, let them know what they could expect if they went, and most importantly, let them know whether it worked for me! But after a while, the task just seemed daunting and monumental. Quite a few people have contacted me in the meantime though and have asked me for an update; now I plan to give it.

I have yet to put all my symptoms on my blog because I really wanted the tone here to remain positive. I did write my symptoms down in my Journal and reading over them can be downright depressing, but I am now going to list them for you here because I remember scouring the Internet looking for anyone that had similar symptoms to me and wanting to know what they did to get well. I am going to write them verbatim from my Journal entry on October 8, 2011. I think doing so will give you an idea of the helplessness and hopelessness I was feeling that day. It is important to note that I never stayed in that mindset. I had to constantly renew my mind to pull myself out of feeling that way, but it is important to be honest and say that there were certainly days and even weeks that I felt very helpless, hopeless and desperate. When I look back, it was in those times that I can see God's hand on me the most.

October 8, 2011
I am having a rough day today. It's so frustrating not knowing what is really going on in my body, and even worse, not being able to do anything about it. I am so weak that I can hardly sit up or write. Even as I write this, I do it from my bed in a reclining position and I have to take frequent, short breaks. My mind keeps failing me as I cannot remember how to spell simple words and even if I could, recalling the words I want to use is a most difficult task in and of itself. I have also been transposing my letters a lot and leaving out words in sentences altogether. I cannot speak correctly either and am constantly changing tenses in mid-sentence. This is not what one should expect from a straight-A English major.

My eyesight is blurry and I have strange, depth-perception problems. I would go get glasses, but I have done so in the past and as soon as I did, my eyesight would improve. My anxiety is through the roof. The strange, neurological feelings and sensations that go through my body day and night are enough to make anyone uneasy. Agoraphobia comes and goes but even on the days I don't have that, I still don't feel well enough to leave the house.

I am constantly dizzy and disoriented. I cannot stand or sit upright comfortably and I can only stand and sit upright uncomfortably for a few minutes at a time. My oxygen saturation seems to be low, or perhaps it is my body's inability to convert anything to the energy it needs to function. All the things that a body is supposed to do without a person noticing (like breathing, swallowing, your heart beating, blinking, etc.) are noticeable to me.

My spine feels like it is in a vice grip and I am constantly contorting my body into different positions and poses to try to find some relief, but even if I find that relief, it is only momentary. Plus, my muscles are so weak, I cannot hold myself in any one position for very long.

My heart is constantly beating rapidly within my chest. I am always aware of it and often feel it in my throat and ears as well. I cannot escape it and it is exhausting. Many times, I have palpitations--anywhere from a small flutter to heavy-hitting thuds where I am sure my heart will just explode and that will be the end of me. These heavy-pounding sessions often steal my breath and I have to cough several times just to try to get everything going again.

Often times, I feel like there is a fire raging just beneath my skin, yet my skin is not hot to the touch. Many times, my skin feels sore and I feel like I have just been in a physical fight. I bruise easily and any sort of pressure on any part of my body for too long (including wearing a bra and socks/shoes) is uncomfortable and noticeable. I cannot even have a cat on my lap without it creating an uncomfortable amount of pressure for me.

Speaking of pressure, it is terribly difficult to fly in a pressurized cabin in an airplane. It seems to heighten my dizziness and the pressure changes play tricks on my mind. I have no fear of crashing--only flying. I had to give up scuba diving years ago because I couldn't stand the pressure changes any more. I also do not like to be in any enclosed spaces, but this may have something to do with being put under blankets as a child.

My mandible joint on the right side of my face has seemed to separate from its rightful place. It has shifted and I can feel a lump in the joint area itself. My gums will bleed for a few days and then won't bleed at all. My eyes and my mouth will be dry for a few days or even a day and then will seem normal. My limbs are constantly falling asleep and there are sometimes crawling sensations in my forearms and down my shins. One month, I will have terrible menstrual cramps; the other, hardly any at all.

My endocrine system is messed up. I am currently taking Amour Thyroid and bioidentical Progesterone. Before the Progesterone, I had six months of terrible, disfiguring, cystic acne on my face. I never had a problem with my face before that; now I have lasting scars that will be with me the rest of my life. Sometimes, I experience internal tremors--like I am leaning up against a generator. This improved greatly with Progesterone but it still happens on occasion--especially upon waking or going to sleep. I cannot handle stress--bad or good--as my adrenals are burnt out and I do not have the proper cortisol responses.

I feel dizzy, off-balance, even drunk at times. I have lost over 2/3 of my hair, including the hair on my head and the hair found on other regions of my body. I cannot move quickly for fear of a pounding head or a blood rush to the head. I am pretty sure it is P.O.T.S. My ears are constantly draining with a wax-like fluid and are wet to the touch.

I have bad episodes of Seborrhea Dermatitis where my whole scalp will become infected. My face is always peeling, as is the area around my eyebrows and lips. My face and chest have developed telangiectasias (small, dilated blood vessels). My body cannot regulate its temperature anymore. Doing simple lawn tasks will cause me to overheat but there are no warning signs.

My symptoms migrate all over my body. Someday one thing is affected; the next it is five things; the next ten. I feel differently minute by minute sometimes. I have food allergies. What may seem not to bother me one day will make me break out in hives the next.

I obsess over things I shouldn't. I am constantly worried about whether I said or did the right thing. Social interactions can leave me feeling elated or defeated. I long to interact with people but the obsessive need to be able to control peoples' perceptions of me is exhausting. I did not used to be this way.

I creak and crack and pop. There is pressure in my joints. I don't have a lot of joint pain, per se, but I am constantly laying down or reclining. When I find myself having to sit straight up in a chair, I do have pain. Also, one of my first symptoms was terrible joint pain in my knees.

Sleeping is difficult. I vacillate between insomnia and sleeping for 9-10 hours at a time. I crave fatty foods--meats and cheeses, but I am already overweight. I haven't had any success in losing this weight, including six months at the gym, working out 5 days a week for 1-2 hours per day. I would not be able to physically do that anymore.

I can be short-tempered, moody and irritable. My life seems to be lived in stops and starts. I have sensory overloads. Light, smells and sounds bother me and I don't seem to be able to process them well. I have what I call "Autistic-like episodes." The only difference between myself and an Autistic child sometimes, I believe, is that I have an already-developed brain and can verbalize to others what it happening to me. I can feel loud sounds or bass from a passing car deep within my chest and it is uncomfortable. When my husband lightly snores at night, my eardrums vibrate incessantly.

My chest and muscles are so tight. It is only by going to cranial sacral therapy each week and having my body manually manipulated that I feel like I can breathe a little again. But by the next week, I am locked back up and my breathing is again labored. I have terrible chronic fatigue. It literally feels like I am not making the energy at a cellular level needed to sustain my life force. I am not trying to be an alarmist, but I do feel like death could only be a moment away.


So there you have it: my symptoms as I was experiencing them in the days and weeks leading up to October 11, 2011. There have been others that were not included here, but this is a pretty comprehensive list. When I wrote this, I was feeling pretty desperate and was really seeking help from God with a specific request that I needed some sort of outside help. I just did not have the physical, mental or emotional capacity to treat myself anymore. A couple months later, my prayers were seemingly answered in the form of a bottle of probiotics that had an insert in it which led me to Dr. Sponaugle.

To be continued...

Always Hope