Don’t Shoot the Messenger, please…
It seems so easy to make reactive comments and blame ‘the messenger’ without fully understanding the big picture. It’s even easier since the advent of Social Media platforms and the anonymity you have, hiding behind a computer screen.
My husband, Gary Fettke, is copping flak on several fronts by people who don’t know the full story.
While a brave man may stand up for what he believes in, it takes a courageous man to then speak out about his beliefs and expose controversial findings, knowing full well he may be ridiculed, harassed and even bullied by those who either don’t understand, won’t take the time to listen, or those who feel confronted by concepts that go against everything they have thought to be right.
Gary Fettke truly is the most courageous man I know …
I guess it is hard to explain courage, but to me;
Courage is mortal.
Courage is facing ‘a bullet’ knowing you can get hurt.
Courage is making a leap of faith and sharing that journey of faith with others.
Courage is refusing to take the easy way out!
As I write this article, I am thinking of my courageous husband, who has just had surgery to have his hip replaced. A lifetime of pushing himself physically has deteriorated Gary’s hip over time.
But pain doesn’t stop this man.
He lives with physical pain every day.
It is what drives him to be the best that he can be as both a medical practitioner and a surgeon. He has an empathy that only someone who has experienced ‘real’ pain can understand.
Cancer does that to you …
When you lose your Mum to cancer at the age of 16, it turns your world upside down. It makes you grow up in ways your peers will never have to know, thank God.
And then, when you experience cancer ‘first hand’, the world as you know it, implodes.
As with the book Gary wrote in 2007; Inversion, One Man’s Answer for Peace and Global Health, http://www.onemansanswer.com his Nutritional Model of Modern Disease http://www.nofructose.com/introduction/nutritional-model-of-modern-disease-2/published in 2014, is about ‘the message’, not ‘the messenger’…
‘The Message’ in both is to encourage everyone to look at everything from a different perspective…
Sometimes though, it is useful to get to know the messenger so you can gain an understanding of the motives that drive their thoughts and an appreciation for the extensive experience and research they have done. Insights into outcomes that throw light on related topics and ascertain the incredible resources they have drawn information from.
In Gary’s case, in particular, hearing some of the background and a glimpse of his story, provides an opportunity to understand the reasons why he is so keen to fully understand health and nutrition. In a sound bite, his thoughts and recommendations may seem superfluous to some people who aren’t happy with him giving dietary advice, considering the specialty he has trained in.
Considering he is an Orthopaedic Surgeon?
So, I looked up the meaning of Orthopaedics and while it is defined as; surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system, the definition goes on to describe Orthopaedic Surgeons as doctors who use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat the musculoskeletal system including trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumours, congenital disorders and complications of Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2.
Gary believes it is his duty of care, as an orthopaedic surgeon, to discuss realistic patient outcomes with all patients regardless of their need for surgery. In fact, how much better to help people avoid surgery if at all possible, by educating them on the preventative measures for their condition, including nutritional advice and the use of specialised exercise programmes.
Gary has continued to provide a holistic approach to healthcare for the last 20 years, which is at the forefront of prevention rather than just surgery.
Since starting his Social Media presence, Gary has a medical disclaimer across all platforms about the ‘ín principal’ generalisations he makes and the importance of talking to your GP if you are considering making major changes to your diet or lifestyle. The majority of his writing is about trying to put complex material into lay terms and he states that all the information he shares is HIS interpretation as a doctor, a patient and an observer. What he recommends may not suit everyone, but it works for him and so many other people are seeing the benefits of the low carb/healthy fat diet he is recommending.
So, an insight into the messenger …
Gary was in year 12 when his Mum died and thoughts of mining engineering took a back step as studying medicine became his priority. He watched his Mum suffer when her cancer was found ‘too late’ to do anything. Her knee pain had earlier been dismissed without further investigation by her GP at the time, until finally she was admitted to hospital and then she never came home …
As a result, Gary won’t let a complaint of bone pain be ignored, not ever, without investigating to dismiss anything sinister going on. He simply can’t!
His first visit to an intensive care unit as a patient was at the age of 37. Whilst operating, he became aware of his vision deteriorating and he underwent urgent neurosurgery to remove a tumour from the base of his brain. As a grown man with a family of his own, hearing those three words “You Have Cancer” was devastating to my husband. Not only did he have to deal with the ramifications of the diagnosis on a very personal level, but Gary also had to deal with the grief it caused to those close to him. Grief that reveals a vulnerability you just can’t explain. Looking into our young children’s faces and seeing his pain and fragility mirrored in their eyes, made him determined to fight for more time.
Life experiences change you …
Gary always checks and takes down a plaster if someone complains of pain. He watched me lose a 1/3rd of my right index finger to gangrene under a plaster when I was 18 and he was a 2nd year medical student. Neither of us understood at the time that betadine was iodine based and that my claim of an iodine allergy had been somehow ignored in theatre. Too young and too trusting of the Resident Doctor who insisted all was OK, when questioned about the yellow dye on my arm soon after I came out of theatre. Insecure and vulnerable after being told I was over-reacting to the pain I felt under the plaster, when others around me had endured more major surgery … till they took the plaster down; then it was too late to save my finger.
Our first born daughter, Kate, had a congenital hip dysplasia and wore a brace for eleven months. The worst case of hip dysplasia Gary had ever felt.
And our youngest daughter Megan, suffered from a tear in the Ligament of Teres, at the head of her femur when she was in Grade 6. She required 3 operations in Melbourne to repair and finally remove the ligament, leaving her on crutches for over 3.5 years! As a result of long term anti-inflammatories and pain relief, she ended up with a lot of gastrointestinal issues which sent her on an endless medical chase of medication and diet to try and heal the lining of her stomach wall. Finally, it was (reluctantly to start with) giving up Fructose that cured her stomach problems.
Going back to 2000, when Gary was first diagnosed with a benign Pituitary Tumour and following on from his initial surgery, he had weeks of intensive radiation therapy and still requires intermittent periods of chemotherapy. You can’t keep a good man down and further surgery in 2004 didn’t stop his determination to return to work.
Gary truly understands what it is like to be a patient, learning how to endure daily stereotactic radiotherapy with our young son accompanying him to these sessions. William would be doing set homework in the waiting room, busting for Gary to emerge from treatment to see what the days’ adventure would hold. Gary and William were in Sydney for 10 weeks. I flew back and forth pulled between Kate who had just started high school, Megan on my hip at 3 years and the boys in Sydney. It was a difficult time, but we learnt resilience and our family grew stronger and stronger.
This journey left Gary with an even greater desire to teach the things he has learnt to manage his pain and control symptoms of his disease. Researching cancer management extensively for 14 years has given him the tools to help him develop his Nutritional Model of Modern Disease.
Right from the beginning of his medical career, Gary always assessed patient symptoms from every angle and thought outside the square.
He was the first Orthopaedic Surgeon in Australia to use straight arm casting for forearm fractures in children after researching the benefits from studies in China and the successes they were having with their patients.
Gary also developed a new technique for women’s incontinence surgery many years ago, which has since become the basis of most pelvic floor reconstructive surgery, worldwide.
His lateral thinking approaches are well utilised on the trips to Vanuatu as a volunteer surgeon with a team from the Launceston General Hospital. Limited facilities and funds necessitate imagination, including the traction and pulley system he set up last year with bits and pieces from a marine supplier. Just one of the many challenges the team come across in a third world country being confronted with diabetes and diabetic complications since the introduction of polyunsaturated oils and fructose into their diet
More recently his concern about post-operative complications and vascular compromise in severely obese people (BMI over 35) and diabetic patients has led to his study into diet and nutrition.
I believe Gary’s cynics feel threatened by the information he is uncovering. They should make time to listen to the whole story with an open mind and then make an informed decision about their next step. There is a wave of opinion from the highest levels and a change is occurring.
Just look at Britain and their latest ban on smoking for people who have been born from the year 2000 … In forty years, smoking will be illegal there. My husband was at the forefront of declaring smoking a danger to our health.
Gary’s refusal, more than twenty years ago, to perform ELECTIVE surgery on smokers without a six week interim break, caused a lot of flak and ridicule at the time. But he had researched the post-operative risks associated with circulation compromises in patients who smoked and believed it to be his duty of care to reduce the postoperative risks. He wanted his patients to have the best possible outcomes from their surgery and refused to defer to others opinions when they felt he was being fanatical. The peripheral vascular complications of smoking are now well understood and the risks involved during both the surgery and post operatively are widely documented and by law, now written on every cigarette box sold.
How can you criticize a man who reads widely and wants to know the latest scientific thoughts and questions the validity of Associations that have funding from Big Sugar and Big Business? Gary may specialise in orthopaedics, but he also researches and delves further into other areas that may impact on the overall health and wellbeing of his patients, allowing him to practise holistic medicine. The holistic approach can take away a need for surgery, reduce complications and improve patient outcomes.
The idea of our health education being compromised by an industry or group that has vested interests is just plain wrong! People are getting sicker and the system we currently have in place advocates cure more than prevention. Like the food pyramid, it is time it was turned upside down and looked at from a different perspective. Take major sponsorship and big industry out of the equation. Invert our thoughts and ideas.
There is scientific proof that Fructose is a major contributor to modern disease and is consumed in our society in levels way beyond the World Health Organisation 2014 recommended 5 teaspoons per day. Recent studies show that saturated fats don’t make us fat and are necessary for our bodies to absorb the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K) we need to function healthily, whereas polyunsaturated fats are now found to be toxic.
With his latest research Gary has been focusing on health and nutrition. Studying scientific papers, analysing results and collating independent data about cancer metabolism, risk factors of infection and complications from surgery with a high fructose loads.
His cancer eats sugar. It uses glucose to metabolise. So do most cancers…
I have had lots of time to think while sitting beside Gary during this latest hospitalization and want to do my best to stand up for him. To give his critics some insight into the man that he is. I want to share some of the things that have shaped him and made him a respected surgeon.
I can assure you, he isn’t a fanatic, but rather he is a man who is both intelligent and passionate; about life, health care and related medical issues. He has never been one to accept everything he is told to be true and correct. Even when we were back at high school, he has always wanted to understand ‘why’ and validate information; prove to himself that something was valuable and worthy.
Gary first became aware of the arthritis in his hips in 2002, when he experienced pain and stiffness confirmed on x-rays. He has pushed on for 12 years as he recommends to his own patients. He has lost 25kilograms in weight to ease the load on his hip and help make the joint last longer.
He waited to have his hip replaced till the pain was felt in every step and it started to disturb his sleep. When there was a marked fixed flexion deformity he sought advice from a colleague. Gary has rarely complained and mostly when he has, it is an involuntary groan when his hip has ‘çaught’. There is not much you can do about an arthritic hip except take medication to ease the pain and have it replaced when it all becomes too much. But, there is a clear indication for maintaining a healthy weight to take the load off the affected area and improve post-operative results. A low carb/healthy fat diet decreases inflammation and assists wound healing. Especially important when Gary wants to walk his daughter down the aisle without a limp in October …
And here he is; 3 days post hip replacement at home with me, walking with one crutch, able to walk up and down stairs with 2 crutches and only taking aspirin and Panadol for pain… He is AMAZING!! Photograph taken of our family by Alan Moyle Photobat.
Gary Fettke is not a fanatical man, but a man who is passionate about health. Something that happens when life is so close to being taken away from you and then you get a second chance to live…