I was born a passionate person with a larger-than-life type-A personality. I was raised in a lower-middle-class family in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Growing up, my parents instilled the importance of honesty. They would say, “Johnny, no matter what you did wrong (and I was into a lot of mischief) or what else is going on in your life, as long as you tell the truth, everything will work out.”
As I grew up and entered the medical world, this simple but essential lesson seemed to conflict with everything in that realm—which made me go off on my own. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My Life-Changing Medical Experience
My medical education began in October 1965 when I suffered a massive stroke at the age of 18. The stroke left me completely paralyzed on the left side of my body for two weeks, and I remain physically weakened all these years later.
This was my first real contact with the businesses of medicine. Without this opportunity, I would have never become a physician.
My parents worshiped medical doctors as if they were exceptional beings, and I was an ordinary person. I never even dreamed of aspiring to such heights—that is, before my fateful hospitalization.
My exalted view of doctors changed during my 2-week stay at Grace Hospital. As “a medical curiosity”—suffering a stroke at such a young age—I attracted some of Detroit’s finest medical specialists.
After each examination, I would ask the doctor:
- “What caused my stroke?”
- “What are you going to do for me?”
- “How are you going to make me better?”
- “When can I go home?”
The typical response was nonverbal; shaking their heads from side to side, they walked out of my room.
I figured I could do that.
After two weeks of the “best care” modern medicine had to offer, I left the hospital against medical advice and returned to my undergraduate studies at Michigan State University.