Robin Gentry McGee is an independent thinker who has lived the definition of perseverance. She is also a wife and a daughter. One day the daughter within Robin found herself standing beside her father’s hospital bed wondering if this was the end of his life’s story.
In the winter of 2003, Robin’s dad was getting into his car, slipped on the ice and lightly bumped his head on the open car door. A few hours later, while reading out loud to his wife, he started to fumble his words. Vowels and syllables sounded like a foreign language. They drove to the hospital for a CAT scan. The results came back clear. So he and his wife returned home.
Around 2am Robin said her dad awoke with a splitting headache. When his wife turned on the bedroom lights he was still in darkness. They rushed back to the hospital.
When Robin’s dad hit his head it had cause a tiny bleed undetected by a CAT scan. By the time they returned to the hospital the bleeding had severely impacted his neurological function. The medical team operated on the hemorrhage in his brain twice to stop the bleeding. The risk of the second surgery was extremely high, but necessary to ensure no more bleeding. The surgery was successful, but Robin’s dad slipped into a coma and placed on life support.
“They said if he recovers he’ll be a vegetable and they were advising to pull the plug…and it was a very, very hard time,” Robin recalls as she looks back on that bleak year. Friends and medical staff where encouraging Robin and her immediate family to let him go.
It was then that Robin’s internal revolt against the reality of loosing her father came alive. “I’ve always studied alternative medicine, and so I started thinking about anything I could that would help my dad,” Robin said. Then she remembered a conversation she had with an acupuncturist. Her acupuncture therapist once told her the Chinese practice could bring someone out of a coma.
Due to some difficulty with hospital regulations, Robin sought instruction from her acupuncture therapist in order to administer treatment solo. Then, with a diagram in hand, she placed the acupuncture needles into her father’s hands and feet. “Basically, 24 hours a day every five minutes, [applied the acupuncture needles] to these five points. Within two or three days he came out of a coma,” said Robin.
Then Robin’s father began 106 days of rehab. He eventually gained back his ability to take a few steps and was released to go home. He was home for one week when his behavior changed for the worst. “He became very aggressive, which wasn’t his nature,” said Robin. His aggression escalated to a point where he threw something across the room. At that, they returned to the hospital where he tested positive for a urinary tract infection, and were told aggression is a common symptom for a 74-year-old with a UTI. “The protocol is to sedate them,” said Robin as she remembers not being keen on the idea of sedating a brain injury patient who had recently embarked on the road to recovery.
After being sedated her dad had regressed to physical state he’d been in the day they brought him into physical therapy. “He was very unaware of anything,” said Robin. He had digressed to laying limp in a hospital bed.
Robin and her mother elected to set up home health care visits in the comfort of their living room. One day while Robin was sitting beside him she noticed the food they were feeding him via the port connected to the feeding tube. “I read the ingredients and was mortified…no wonder he’s not getting any better.” said Robin, “There’s nothing in it, it’s sugar water.” This fueled round two of Robin’s revolt.
Robin set out to find a whole foods feeding tube formula for her father. Her hunt resulted in finding another problem: the market had nothing to offer in the realm of natural food supplements. Nothing was made of pure vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein. So Robin created her own healthy whole food supplement.
“I developed an organic whole foods recipe based on all that was going on in his body. He was going into renal failure and they wanted him to go on dialysis; consistent phenomena; sepsis…it was horrible,” said Robin with reminisces of frustration in her voice.
After seeking the support of the registered nutritionist: Lynn Goldstein MS, RD, CDN, and a doctor of internal medicine: Deepak Sarwal MD, Robin directed the development of a whole foods supplement. She named it Liquid Hope.
Liquid Hope, created out of the tragedy endured by her father, is the first line of whole food supplements on the market. There is a paradigm that frames Robin’s company: Just Great Foods, which also is the name of her holistic health company.
Before Robin created the name of Liquid Hope, she implemented one cup of the food supplement into her father’s diet via his feeding tube. For days at a time he only digested the nutrient dense supplement. In a few weeks time Robin’s dad was strong enough to sit up in a wheelchair and shake his doctor’s hand.
The power of food is life changing. Robin has dedicated her life to the pursuit of educating, counseling, and creating whole food options for individuals. Little did she know that the knowledge she gained as a graduate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City would fuse together with her passion for organic foods and fuel the successful attempt at saving her father’s life.
This June Liquid Hope will make its debut in Washington, D.C. at the Food as Medicine Conference.
Photographer: Ashley Sohngen
Model: Robin Gentry McGee