Steve Reiter: Welcome to The Gladden Longevity Podcast with Dr. Jeffrey Gladden, MD, FACC, founder and CEO of Gladden Longevity. On this show we want to answer three questions for you. How good can we be? How do we make 100 the new 30? And how do we live well beyond 120? We want to help you optimize your longevity, health, and human performance with impactful and actionable information. Now, here's today's episode of the Gladden Longevity Podcast.
The Gladden Longevity Podcast is provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The use of any information and materials linked to this podcast is at the listener's own risk.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Welcome, everybody, to this edition of the Gladden Longevity Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Jeffrey Gladden, and today we're going to do something a little different. You've probably heard the voice of Steve Reiter do the intros and the outros for the podcast for, I don't know, the past six months or so. And he and I just recorded an episode where he was interviewing me about my story. I think it would be great for you to get to know Steve as well. Steve has a very interesting story about how he came to come across the podcast, reached out to me, et cetera. And so, I'd like for you to hear this. And I'd also, for this interview, really, if you will, to kind of focus a little bit on you, the listeners, what works for you, what could we do better for you, that kind of thing as well. So, hopefully, all that comes out in this conversation with Steve. So, Steve, welcome to the show that you're technically producing, so.
Steve Reiter: Thanks, Dr. Gladden, I love our conversations and ...
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, likewise.
Steve Reiter: Getting you as a client was probably the single most exciting experience, professionally, bring a new client in. Because-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Oh.
Steve Reiter: ... I've been a fan for a long time, and so, to actually be a part of this now, I'm so jazzed.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, and we've really loved having you really lend a much more professional edge to the entire thing about how it gets produced and recorded and edited and all those kinds of things. So, thank you for all your great work. Really, really appreciate that. So, let's back up a little bit. And so, tell us what led you to start sniffing around the whole functional medicine space or longevity space?
Steve Reiter: So, I grew up in South Central Wisconsin. And both my parents were overweight. And I got into playing football and working out. And it was really when I started lifting weights when I was in high school that the idea of “I want to be in shape the rest of my life” really kind of hit me.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Interesting.
Steve Reiter: And so, in part because I saw some of my parents' brothers and sisters that weren't overweight, and I knew it could be done. And I knew this wasn't just something that was determined that I was going to just be overweight and all the health problems that really come with that.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Did your parents have some health problems?
Steve Reiter: Yeah, my dad had a heart attack in 2005, I want to say.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay.
Steve Reiter: He was always overweight. My mom broke her leg and her ankle when she was in high school, and some arthritis developed because of that. And the weight that she had on definitely didn't help at all. And heart disease always ran on my dad's side of the family. My maternal grandfather died in his late 70s of a heart attack. My paternal grandfather died of a heart attack when my dad was, I think 16 years old.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Oh wow.
Steve Reiter: And so, I always knew that I didn't want that in my life. I wanted to live as long as ... I wanted to live a full, healthy life. And my target was always: “I'm going to be kicking it really good in my 90s, and then as I approach a 100, that's when I'm going to go.”
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, anyway, you had all this going on, and in high school you developed this desire to stay fit. Was that really of the first time you got fit was when you started playing football? Or had you always been fit as a kid, or?
Steve Reiter: No. So, when I was in junior high, I got chunky. I started having, my mom had to start buying the Husky jeans.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay, okay.
Steve Reiter: And so, as I started to play football, I shed that weight and my confidence really started to develop and grow. And it was a lot less criticizing.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, 13, 14, is that kind of where you were in that?
Steve Reiter: Yeah. And so, yeah, I just always tried to stay in shape. When I finished college, I moved out here to Colorado and I got into hiking. And two or three days a week there was an open field where we worked, and I worked at an organization that had 1,500 plus employees. And during lunch we'd go to the workout area, change, go out and play football. And the other days I'd be lifting weights. And it was in 2010, actually it was around 2009, that I started getting headaches, migraines that would just knock me out. And the stress of work really started to get to me. So, I worked in radio. I worked at an internationally syndicated radio broadcast called Focus in the Family. In 2008, we were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. We beat out Howard Stern, we beat out Dr. Laura.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Oh, wow.
Steve Reiter: And then in 2000, at the very end of 2009, the leadership of Focus decided to finish the leadership transition between the founder and the new president. And so, they basically, if you will, ushered him off to pasture. And he said: “I'm going to pop up somewhere on radio. I don't know where. I don't know when. Keep your eyes peeled." And so, I immediately reached out to him, and I said: "Hey, listen, I've loved working for you the last 12 and a half years. You want to start something new. I have dreams of doing bigger things and just studio recordings. I want to get out there and tell stories NPR style." He loved the vision. We launched Family Talk. It ended up becoming what our marketing company called the largest rollout in radio history.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Oh, wow.
Steve Reiter: But the money never really came in. And I was doing two daily radio broadcasts with half the staff I had at Focus to do one. And I couldn't step back from the workload and kind of see, "Okay, how do I get this done with what I've got?" Because we had to do things in the Focus way. We had to do things the Focus way. And so, I just really pushed myself into this place of just complete and total burnout. In March of 2010, I turned in my resignation, stepped out of the boat, and I was like: "What am I going to do now?" And it was around that time during that recovery that for some reason the word bio hacking would be on my spirit when I would wake up. And I'd be like: "I've never heard of this word before. What the hell's bio hacking?"
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah. That was a pretty new word back then in 2009, 2010.
Steve Reiter: Yeah, it was. And so, I was at lunch with a buddy of mine, and he mentioned that as well. And I was like: "Hey, all right, tell me a little bit more about this? Because I've been waking up to this word." And he told me about his health journey. And that's when I discovered Dave Asprey, Bulletproof Radio. And I think Ben Greenfield was really new at the time. And so, I just started listening to these podcasts, just trying to gobble up information. Well, concurrently, at this time that I'm recovering from my burnout and getting better, my wife's health took a major nose dive.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Oh, wow. When did you get married?
Steve Reiter: So, we got married in 2001.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay.
Steve Reiter: And I was 26 at the time, I think, 27. And she was 22 I want to say.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: How'd you meet?
Steve Reiter: We met online.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay. Modern story. Modern love story, yeah.
Steve Reiter: It was at the dawn of internet dating. And this is back when there were still really kind of sketchy things. There was no way to really verify. And actually, she was the daughter of a cop and she worked for the Anaheim Police Department. And her mom was like: "How do you know he works at Focus?" And she's like: "I called and as soon as they started transferring me, I hung up." So, I know that they were verifying my story that I was telling them right from the get go.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Wow.
Steve Reiter: Early on in our marriage, she started exhibiting autoimmune issues. Her joints started to really tighten up and she'd just be achy. And at its worst, at its worst, when she was pregnant with Caleb, I want to say, even afterwards, there would be times I'd have to help button her shirts, have to help get her dressed, have to put her socks on, have to help get her into the shower, those kinds of things. So, concurrently, her health started to kind of decline.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Did it decline? Did it begin declining after childbirth, or prior to?
Steve Reiter: So, she would have these flareups. She would have these autoimmune flareups. When she was pregnant with Caleb she had a big flare up. And then afterwards she seemed to get a little bit better, but then she had a couple other flareups. I mean, we had more ER visits and hospital visits than I can even begin to count, whether it was pneumonia at one point while we were on vacation out in Pagosa Springs, which was, oh, it was awful. Or pregnancy-induced hypertension. In fact, when we found out that she was pregnant with our first, Matthew, her rheumatologist recommended an abortion. Because he said: "This kind of lupus will present a major health risk to you, and we recommend an abortion." And she was super pro-life, and she was like: "No way. Never going to happen." Sure enough, it played out exactly like he had said it would. I had to give her blood thinner shots.
We had numerous hospital visits because her blood pressure went through the roof. Bedridden. She was put on bedrest, and it was about 10 weeks prior she ended up being hospitalized because her blood pressure was just crazy and they just wanted to keep her there at the hospital. And few days after she was there, she started to bleed and they kind of figured out "Oh, the placenta is erupting we need to do an emergency C-section." Pulled him out because she had been on blood thinners all those weeks and months prior. The doctor came to me afterwards and he was like: "Steve, it got really hairy in there. She lost a lot of blood, but we're stable. She's good. Go ahead." So, yeah, we were done having kids after that. But as I was saving up to pay for a vasectomy, I slipped one past the goalie, she was on the pill, and I slipped one past the goalie, and we ended up with Caleb.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Gotcha. Gotcha.
Steve Reiter: But, fortunately, we got with probably one of the best prenatal doctors, not only here in Colorado, but even I had some doctors say he was one of the best in the Western United States. And he was watching her like a hawk, and it was able to hold on a few more weeks. And Caleb was a much healthier situation that was with Matthew. But it was in 2013, so a few years after I had left working at Family Talk that she started to get really sick right around her monthly cycle, probably in the week before and the week after, she would just get really exhausted, really tired, and no appetite whatsoever. And so, the local doctors thought it was hormonal, they thought it was this, they thought it was that. And finally she wasted away to about 86 pounds.
She was skinny to begin with, five six really thin. And she just ended up going to University of Colorado Hospital up in Denver. She was like: "I'm just going to the best hospital in the state. I'm just going to see what they say." And as soon as they got in, they said: "Yeah, even though the lupus looks like it's in remission, all these doctors have said, we're going to treat it lupus and just see what happens." Within six hours she was getting up by herself, going to the bathroom by herself, able to put on her own socks, which is something she hadn't done in months. And so, she got better so quickly that some undiagnosed pulmonary hypertension raged. So, rewind back to that traumatic birth with Matthew. During those few days right afterwards she'd be laying down and she'd be like, "My chest hurts. My chest really feels tight. I feel like there's pressure on my heart. I don't know exactly what's going on." And the doctors always said: "That's just the lupus. That's just the lupus. That's just the lupus."
Fast forward to 2014 when she got better from that lupus flare up, this undiagnosed pulmonary hypertension raged. And over the course of six months her heart went from perfect to significantly enlarged and failing congestively when she was admitted in November of 2014.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right. So, that's a rough deal. Pulmonary hypertension is really rough. And interestingly enough, I trained there at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. I mean, that's where I did my cardiology training. And they're leaders in the field of pulmonary hypertension. I mean, between them and National Jewish. And I mean, it's really kind of an epicenter for pulmonary hypertension, if you will.
Steve Reiter: I was blown away. The nurses all told us, as soon as she was diagnosed with that, the nurses came to us and said, Dr. Badesch, who ran, I think he's now since retired, he ran the pulmonary department. They said: "He is world renowned as a pulmonologist." They were like: "He is really good." And so.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Really great people there. Yeah, they did.
Steve Reiter: And so, he came to me a few days after she was officially diagnosed and he said: "Steve, I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but there's a real possibility your wife's not going to be around to see her youngest graduate high school."
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: That's stunning. I mean, that must have really, did he tell her that too? Or was it just you?
Steve Reiter: Yeah, yeah. He told us both. And he said: "Really, it was because one, the current meds that we have, eventually they stop working. And two, because there's now a Hickman line going into her chest that presents a bacterial infection risk. And so, you need just to be really careful."
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, she was on prostaglandin, probably to dilate her pulmonary arteries or try to keep the pressures low.
Steve Reiter: What was it? VELETRI, VELETRI was her main pulmonary medication that was being pumped in there. So, once I recovered from that shock, I consciously made two decisions. One, I was going to love my wife to the best of my ability every single day and look back at that day and ask myself: "Did I love her to the best of my ability?" So, that way if things change and if things suddenly turned for the worse, I'd be able to look back at every day since then and have no regrets. The other one was, I am going to listen to as much health information as possible to try and catch that next breakthrough that is going to either give her more years, or potentially heal pulmonary hypertension entirely. Because I watched this documentary called, How to Survive a Plague, on Netflix.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: How to Survive a Plague?
Steve Reiter: How to Survive a Plague. And it was all about the AIDS crisis and what was going on within the gay community there in the '80s. They had lots of video footage and these meetings, these community meetings and all of this. And they talked specifically about all the breakthroughs that were kind of going on and how when AZT came out and then the med that really kind of broke things open. There were AIDS patients on their deathbed not expected to make it. And all of a sudden that breakthrough drug came through and they were alive today. And that's what I wanted, I wanted to keep her around as absolutely long as possible in order to get there. And it was through that podcast consumption, as a radio guy I just love spoken word, audio and podcasts, that I ended up discovering you. Because I was listening to Exponential Wisdom by Peter Diamandis and Dan Sullivan. And Dan mentioned you as someone in Strategic Coach that had a podcast. Specifically, they were talking about health and they mentioned you. And I was like: "Ooh, this guy sounds like I really want to listen to him."
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Interesting. Cool.
Steve Reiter: In part, because I listened to Ben Greenfield and I listened to Dave Asprey, and specifically with Dave he would recommend certain things on his podcast and I would try them out. And I did not think it was, it didn't work for me, it just didn't work for me.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: It's the problem with generic recommendations. I know Dave and I respect Dave. It's interesting when you have people that are non-physicians that are kind of held up as experts in health, it's kind of like there's just a backdrop of information that you get. And it's not that traditional medicine is the be all and end all. But going through that training process, you learn so much about the body that it's almost impossible for anybody else to actually have that same feel for it. It's kind of like going through Navy Seal School or something. Nobody will ever have the same perspective on a room when they walk into it that you will. It's just, it's be impossible to do that right. So, yeah.
Steve Reiter: No, without question. I mean, he would recommend his upgraded PQQ supplements saying how this would make you feel, and I didn't feel it. His sleep induction mat, he would say: “This will help you get to sleep faster.” I had my Oura Ring and the numbers didn't bear that out. And there were some other things that ... So, I was looking for a medical expert, a doctor that I could listen to and really be able to trust. And that's how I found you, and I, my man, I binge listened for months every single episode in that back catalog, all the way back to the beginning.
And there were a number of them, I've told you this a couple times, there were a number of them that I would listen to two or three times and listen to them at 1x speed. Because, normally, I listen to podcasts at 1.5 or 2.5, depending on how fast the host and guest are. I would listen at 1X speed and be taking notes. For example, you did one about peptides with Mark, back in the day. And I listened to that thing like four or five times going over, "And this peptide does this, peptide does this, this peptide does this, and this is what the dosage for this one that was mentioned." And I was like: "All right, I need to really kind of figure out this whole peptide thing. Because it sounds like it's really on the cutting edge."
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right. Yeah, no, that's interesting. And that's good feedback. And for the audience listening here, if you come across topics that you find are really helpful like that where you find yourself wanting to go back or get more, you should let us know. You can go to the email, I think it's a Gladden-
Steve Reiter: email@example.com.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: There it is.
Steve Reiter: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to us through Instagram or Facebook, send us a direct message through either of those as well. Just search for Gladden Longevity there on your social media platform.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, yeah, that's a great way to get back to us, because we'd like to get more of that information into your hand. So, it's interesting. So, you were binging on all the podcasts, which is great, and finding it to be useful, I take on some level.
Steve Reiter: Oh, yeah, definitely. And then it was in January of 2020, very early January of 2020, maybe even been late December, I was hanging out with some friends and they had known Elizabeth's health journey and been with me since she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. And these are successful guys and really, really, really connected guys. And we're sitting around having a cigar, just relaxing, talking about life and cigars are my one thing, just an occasional cigar. I freaking love, absolutely love. Especially with the guys, it's so relaxing, which I'd love to talk to you about it on a future podcast at some point.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Depends on what it does for your Oura Ring.
Steve Reiter: Yeah, we're talking and they said: "Steve, what we want to do is we want to come up with a GoFundMe for Elizabeth and you let us know what you want, your dream doctor that you want to work with. You want to work with Dr. Mark Hyman at Cleveland Clinic, or you want to work with the Cleveland Clinic, let's figure out what the budget is and let's do it. You want to work with someone local, you want exercise equipment, you want, whatever it is that you want, let's come up with a budget and let's get that money raised." And so, there were three doctors that I wanted to reach out to at basically three different levels. One was a local one up in Woodland Park, functional medicine doctor, not really into peptides, but which I thought could be a key for Elizabeth, but really kind of just general health benefits, and he was the most affordable.
The second one was Dr. Abid Husain up in Denver. He's kind of like you, cardiologist. He wasn't an interventional cardiologist. His brother's an interventional cardiologist, but he's a cardiologist turned functional medicine doctor, super into peptides, cutting edge stuff. I love Abid. He's become a friend. I just think the world of him. And the third one was you, you were my top dream guy that I wanted to get with Elizabeth and to talk with and to work with. And I am, my man, I am so glad that I was able to start to get to know you during that time because you went and you looked over everything in her health history. You got access to everything, and you looked everything over. And this is one of the reasons why I respect you so much.
You came back to us and you said: "Steve and Elizabeth, you could work with me, you could work with me. But honestly, you're working with some of the best doctors in the nation and they're doing everything that I would do. And so, because your health insurance is currently paying for it, I don't see a need for you to come here. We could do some things, but there's really no major benefit for this, as long as you are just continuing to try and get your health better. But we are looking at doing some trials in the future regarding stem cells and lungs. And so, if you guys, at the point of which we start that, that's when I would want to start to work with you guys." And you could have taken our money and done the exact same things and just pocketed that, but instead you were open and honest with us and-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Oh, absolutely. No, absolutely. I remember the calls.
Steve Reiter: I so respect you and love you because of that, and even a bigger fan because of it.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Gotcha. No, and I can appreciate that. I mean, there are a lot of people that I suppose that would sort of take the money, so to speak. But I met you on a phone call, you reached out and then we had a phone call with Elizabeth and I had a chance to speak with her also. I mean, what a sweetheart. And you could just see the pain and everything that she'd been through. And I still wanted to be able to help. I wish I'd had something I could have done, but when I did look at everything, it was just pretty clear that she was quite end stage at that point. She was on the IV prostaglandins and things like that. And so, there just wasn't really going to be much that we could offer in addition to that, unfortunately. So, I felt really bad that we couldn't help because you obviously loved each other very, very much.
And it's a tragic story. Pulmonary hypertension is kind of a tragic thing because it does lead to right heart failure and then people just, they can't pump blood through the lung so they can't oxygenate, so they really die. And I mean, it's a really, really tough thing. I was very impressed, quite honestly, with her and also with you and how much love the two of you had. That came across loud and clear, really. So, yeah, again, I really wish I could have done something to be helpful, but I was happy to take a look at your stuff and see what was up.
Steve Reiter: Thank you. Yeah, well unfortunately, as listeners can obviously ascertain, she is no longer here and that really has to go with the way in which we shut down. She didn't get the healthcare that she needed during the pandemic because they thought she had COVID. She tested negative twice. And despite that they still thought she had COVID and so they wouldn't see her in-person and you can't diagnose pneumonia or a blood infection over a virtual visit. And she ended up being hospitalized 21 days at the University of Colorado Hospital up in Denver. I was never once allowed in until she had passed.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, that's so tragic. Yeah, so many stories of that, people not ... Well, it cuts both ways. The family is left hanging, but the patient is also left completely hanging. And so it's a really, really, really hard situation.
Steve Reiter: Since then, I've created a nonprofit called The Never Alone Project, all with the goal of trying to raise awareness about this issue, about patients being forced to recover alone. Because I mean, Dr. Gladden, as much as anyone else the stats of having a loved one there and not having a loved one there... Whether it's the studies or even just anecdotally seeing it during your years as a cardiologist. The patients that had a loved one there, had family that was just covered and just lots of love and attention and affection and those that didn't and were in that hospital room alone as they recovered...
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, no, it's night and day, quite honestly. I mean, it factors into the person's psyche, their depression, their hope, their sense of still being loved, still being connected. It's a sense of identity that's reinforced, even when they're not themselves, so to speak. I mean, there's just so much that happens there. And then once the psyche is engaged in a positive direction, it has such a massive impact. And when it's engaged in a negative direction or a non-direction, I mean it's like it's being left a drift out in the ocean somehow, hoping you make it to shore. I mean, it's really quite sad and quite dramatic. So, no doubt about it.
Steve Reiter: And believe me, I hear from opponents, if you will, to what I'm trying to do, which is to guarantee a patient's right to at least one screened loved one, advocate, caregiver, person holding their hand per day, no time limits.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, tell us a little bit more about Never Alone. Where are you with Never Alone? I think it's such an admirable thing to want to make sure that people aren't abandoned almost. And so, what's the status of that at this point?
Steve Reiter: So, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit where with tax deductible donations help to fund us. And really, what we're trying to do is we're trying to raise awareness about this issue, so that way we can mobilize a community to raise awareness about this issue, so that way we can see legislative and regulatory change that's needed in order to ensure a patient's right to one.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right.
Steve Reiter: One screened loved one, advocate, caregiver per day with no time limits. Because here's the thing, Dr. Gladden, I fully, fully understand the need to protect doctors, nurses, staff, and other patients.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Sure, sure.
Steve Reiter: I totally get that. I absolutely understand that, because my wife was one of those other immune compromised patients who also had a lung condition who COVID would have been, could have been very, very, very deadly.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah.
Steve Reiter: So, when the pandemic happened, we took all the precautions. And so, from Never Alone's perspective in terms of where we are right now, here in the state of Colorado we just got some legislation passed. Even the governor admitted it's kind of weak. The hospital association came in and demanded too many concessions.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Concessions, yes.
Steve Reiter: But we're going to try and fix that in future legislation. But there are other states that do have it like Florida, but unfortunately Florida, all it guarantees is a daily two hour visit. And a lot can happen in that other 22 hours of the day.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah.
Steve Reiter: West Virginia has legislation, but all it guarantees is one visit every five days. Dr. Gladden, it's not just a national crisis, it's also a worldwide crisis. Because back earlier this year I wanted to hire an assistant, a virtual assistant to help keep some things going, because I also had my audio production business, which is what pays the bills going.
And so, I'm kind of splitting my time between the two. And I needed an assistant to really kind of help keep Never Alone moving forward. And in that online post that I made about that job, on that freelancer site, I put specifically in there an Easter egg: I want to know why you want this job, what is it? And Dr. Gladden, I cannot begin to tell you. It was story after story, after story, after story, after story, after story of people who went through something similar. My sister, my grandma, my brother, my mom. They were all in the hospital all by themselves, all alone.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah. No, it's massive. It's a real big need. I know when we were going through training, there were all these visiting hours, particularly in the ICU, where people are there at their sickest. And we would let the people in for 30 minutes twice a day or something like that to see, visitation was not more than an hour. I forget exactly what it was, but it was twice a day somebody could sneak in and say hello. And it always seemed rather strange to me. I mean, obviously there are sometimes when it's difficult to have a family member in the room when you're doing a particular procedure or you're doing some stuff where you're gowned up and all that kind of thing.
But in my residency at Case in the ICU we had a neurologist that was an attending who had a, it's unusual for a neurologist to be an attending in a medical ICU. But he was very, very savvy and he was also very attuned to families. And he taught us a lot about the importance of having family there. And also, the importance of being very honest with the family about what's happening. Because so many times a doctor will tend to withhold information or they'll do things like that. And what I've come to find is that people can deal with anything, except ambiguity. They can't deal with ambiguity. That's very difficult. But once they know, it's like: "Oh, okay, I get it. She's here. There's a 90% chance we're going to lose her, but there's a 10% chance based on this and this, and so we'll keep an eye on that." But if you just tell them: "Well, she's kind of doing okay," and then she dies three hours later, it's like people can't deal with that.
Steve Reiter: It was that honesty from Dr. Badesch that really cemented the fact that I knew I needed to put as much effort into my marriage as I possibly could, because-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: 100%.
Steve Reiter: ... I didn't know how much longer. And really the idea that I could lose her was planted when that doctor after Matthews traumatic birth came to me and said: "Steve, it got really hairy in there." And for some reason, Dr. Gladden, some reason when I would work, I worked on a broadcast Focus on the Family, as I said, when we would talk about grief, when we would talk about losing a spouse, which would happen occasionally, there was something in my spirit that would just perk up and say: "Pay extra attention." And so, when Dr. Badesch was honest with me and said: "Steve, there's a real possibility your wife's not going to be around to see her youngest graduate high school." Caleb was eight at the time, which basically meant in the next 10 years she could be gone. There was something in me that because of that honesty, it changed how I related. It improved and really just made me want to finish that marriage well, if that was indeed where it was going. Was me ended up becoming a widower.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yep. No, I think this is a really great point. Because I think many times people are afraid, and this is not only true in the ICU, but this is where in medicine it's true across the board. That people are afraid to tell the truth as if it's somehow going to be bad news. But what I found over and over again is that if you tell people the truth, it's actually a gift. All of a sudden they can start to take action in a way that's informed, as opposed to just going around kind of oblivious to what's actually happening. And it's such a gift to speak the truth, even when it's difficult, I think. And I learned that from this neurologist watching him talk with these families, and I adopted it into my whole process as a physician for all the years I practiced. And still to this day, quite honestly, I mean, if I think something's not going to work, like in your wife's situation, I'm going to tell yo: "Hey, it's not going to work, or I'm not going to be able to add much of anything."
So, that being honest I think is just really a really critical part of life, even though it sometimes is difficult. So, yeah, so that's cool that you've got the nonprofit and I think that, how do people find out more about that? Is there a website for it, Never Alone?
Steve Reiter: Yeah, so neveralonepandemic.org, neveralonepandemic.org. There at the website we have a link to states that have legislation currently, so that way if your state is not on there or if your state has some flaws, you can reach out to your state senator, your state legislator, and try and get legislation introduced there in the state. And then we're also trying to do this on a federal level. I've been talking with my congressman's legislative director, and he has a plan that I think would be really worth doing. And there's the dentist and a doctor in the doctor's caucus in The House that have introduced some legislation that they say will help to write patients right to visitation into the Medicaid and Medicare and just Social Security Act. In looking that over, James, my congressman, Doug Lamborn's legislative director, he says: "Doesn't have enough teeth. It's not really that defined really."
And so, we're trying to work with them to really kind of give that some more teeth. If indeed that's the case, then we'll have some federal protections. But one of the problems that we've run into in Arkansas, which has probably the best now legislation in 2021, they passed last year, they passed some legislation that was really kind of a model legislation for Republican states. Can't get away with it in blue states or even purple states, but in solidly red states it's really big model legislation. Representative Julie Mayberry came to me and she said, we had a conversation and she said: "Steve, I've run into really one big problem with it, two problems with it. One, people don't know about it. So, when the hospital says, 'No, you can't come in,' they don't know that they have this right to go in.
Two, if they do know about it, often they're afraid to take that to the state and register a complaint because they're afraid of the repercussions that'll happen." Here in Colorado, we had some, for the legislation that passed when it was before the Senate Kill Committee, they sent it to the Kill Committee. We had three doctors that testified, one of which had COVID, one of which treated COVID patients, then ended up getting COVID himself and ended up being treated and isolated. And he talked about seeing it from the clinician's perspective, as well as the patient's perspective. And just tears coming down his cheeks just weeping about the loneliness and afraid of dying in the hospital alone. After that he had his hours cut by the hospital. He had his patients cut by the hospital as retribution for him testifying, which is just-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, I mean, I think this is an interesting point because it's one thing to talk about the legislation, but really the hospitals are the ones that are kind of in the driver's seat here. Because they're the ones that are ... They're there in-person enforcing, not enforcing whatever they're doing. And so, being able to crack the code on the hospitals is ultimately how this works. I saw something interesting on legislation. We think we live in a democracy, and now this is not a political podcast, but just since we're talking about legislation, we think we live in a democracy. And Princeton did a study on this looking at legislation over the last 10 years. And if you have a graph, if nobody wants it, then nothing should get passed. And that should be down here at where the X and Y axis come together. If everybody wants it, then it shouldn't be up here at a 100% that it gets passed.
That would be a democracy. Anywhere in between. What actually happens is 30% gets approved no matter, it's a straight line, if nobody wants it, 30% passes. If everybody wants it, 30% passes. It's a straight line. The only time it changes is when corporations have lobbyists, and then the curve is if they don't want it, it's 0%. It matches the curve up and it goes up to about 70% approval. So, it's a bureaucracy that we live in, right? It's not a democracy, and the money talks and it's money about reelection. And so, this is what people ... It is just important for people to understand this, that when you're trying to change the "system," you really have to focus on the people that have the lobbying dollars, because until you convince them, you're not really going to convince the legislator. And that's unfortunately how it works.
Steve Reiter: I've had mental health groups that have come alongside and supported at one point here in Colorado, weren't the very first legislation that we tried to introduce. The AARP supported it, because they fully understood the need for patients to get that loved one, their constituents to get the loved ones there to help them recover.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: That's all good, but you've got to go to the people that are saying no. And that's the hospitals. If you really want to have an impact, you've got to find a way to actually crack the code with them. It would be my recommendation. Yeah. Well, this has been a fascinating conversation, Steve. Really nice of you to share your story, some of our story around this too. But really appreciate you doing that. And I think for the listeners, I think all of you have your stories too, and if you do have questions that we can be helpful. Unfortunately, I can't review everybody's medical records independently, but if you do have questions, please feel free to reach out to that email email@example.com, and we'll be happy to curate them and respond going forward. So, that'd be terrific.
Steve Reiter: Yeah, one of the ideas that we have moving forward is to do occasional Q&As where we get listeners' questions, questions that come into Gladden Longevity a whole bunch, and then just talk about them not only with you, but with also the staff to get their perspectives and what they're seeing. And yeah, we've got some plans for this show that I'm really excited, my man. I'm really excited.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, we are too. Yeah, I think it'll be fun to do this with you, so I'll be looking forward to that. Awesome. All right, well, thanks so much.
Steve Reiter: Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the Gladden Longevity Podcast. If you would like more information on what we've discussed or other topics, please reference the show notes or go to gladdenlongevitypodcast.com. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter by searching Gladden Longevity. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe to get future episodes delivered to you. And share our podcast or this episode with someone in your life, they may find benefit. Thank you for listening. We'll be back next week with another exciting episode.