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.

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