Vaccines, Depression, and Type-1 Diabetes—Going Beyond Your Doctor

Many parents and patients are starting to take more responsibilty for their own health.

Many parents and patients are starting to take more responsibilty for their own health.

It wasn’t too long ago when I sat in my primary care physician’s office waiting to be tested for the flu. Knowing the risks and ineffectiveness surrounding the flu vaccine, I had declined the shot when it was offered to me earlier. Now I was just curious if the symptoms I was showing actually translated into the illness. I also decided to take this opportunity to interview my doctor about the flu vaccine—a test to determine whether he was qualified to administer such a potentially lethal cocktail.

After my doctor delivered the news that my immune system was fighting influenza B, I shared multiple stories about coworkers and friends who were bedridden with the flu despite (or because of?) having received the flu shot. Revealing, yet not shocking, my doctor seemed to be surprised about the many vaccinated patients he diagnosed with influenza during the flu season. He wasn’t able to attest to the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

My doctor turned out to be a perfect example of having no clue about what he injects into his patients or the possible associated risks. Why does he subject patients to a medical treatment without having conducted independent research confirming the safety and effectiveness of the treatment in question for each individual? If my doctor doesn’t do the research and doesn’t know the risks, who does?  Well, I do. Or you do. Let us take a more in-depth look into the potential risks and detrimental effects on your health when taking your doctor’s word without having conducted personal and independent research looking beyond your doctor’s recommendations.

I challenge you to find yourself in this article. Perhaps my journey and experiences relate to your ailments, doctor recommendations, and your attempts to find the “right” answers leading to a better and healthier you.

GOING BEYOND MY DOCTOR FOR THE FIRST TIME

[adrotate banner=”13″]I first realized that I needed to go beyond doctors in 2002. Having suffered from sleeplessness and mild depression for many years, I did what most people do: consult with my doctor and leave the office with a prescription for an antidepressant. I was worried about taking the medication since I had read about side effects and simply didn’t feel that it would help me.

Despite my inert objections, I started the treatment as instructed by my doctor. I had been robbed of a good life for too many years and simply wanted to be “back to normal.” A week into the treatment, I felt worse—dry mouth, irritable, and I couldn’t sleep at all. I stopped the treatment and chose to live with sleeplessness and my “gloomy” mood. But I wasn’t about to give up on my quest to a better functioning “me.”

As sleeplessness and gloomy run in my family, I knew from other family members that their doctors also prescribed antidepressants. Hopping from doctor to doctor didn’t seem very promising in finding a cure for my health dilemma. There was only one other option: I needed to educate myself. Already equipped with a master’s degree, I had earned my credentials, but those credentials only translated into a better “work me.”

I wanted to learn about my mind, how it functions, and the underlying biological processes. Perhaps then I would be in a position to aid myself in getting better. Gregg Henriques proposes the following definition: “Psychology is the science of mental behavior and the human mind, and the professional application of such knowledge toward the greater good.” [1]

Psychology seemed a good fit with my quest.  In 2004 I went back to college. Eighteen months later, I graduated with a degree in psychology. I had gone above and beyond in ensuring I get the most knowledge for my money. I left with a really good understanding about underlying biological mechanisms translating into behavior. I learned that my sleeplessness and gloomy mood were caused by a neurotransmitter called serotonin.

“Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system (CNS) of animals and humans. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.” [2] “The duties of serotonin also include the regulation of mood, appetite, sleep, as well as muscle contraction.” [3]

Conducting further research, I learned that “5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a chemical that the body makes from tryptophan (an essential amino acid, which you get from food). After tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP, the chemical is then changed into another chemical called serotonin (a neurotransmitter, which relays signals between brain cells). 5-HTP dietary supplements help raise serotonin levels in the brain. Since serotonin helps regulate mood and behavior, 5-HTP may have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain sensation.” [4] The antidepressants I had been prescribed by my doctor were supposed to “block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin.”[5]

This didn’t make sense. It seemed that I needed to increase serotonin rather than preventing reuptake of the little serotonin I had to begin with. I searched for a doctor who specializes in metabolism (as serotonin is mostly found in the gastrointestinal tract). I found a “Metabolic Institute” and made an appointment. The doctor I saw that day confirmed what I had learned and recommended I take 5-HTP, a dietary supplement without any side effects. Three days after taking 5-HTP, I experienced my first night of good quality sleep—an experience I will never forget. I had gone beyond doctors. It’s been about 10 years since I started taking 5-HTP.

I am still taking this supplement. The quality of my sleep is still good. I am paying around $40 for a 3 months’ supply of 5-HTP compared to hundreds of dollars I would pay for antidepressants that caused me serious side effects without certainty of effectiveness. A drug that even the Royal College of Psychiatrists admits to not knowing how it works in humans: “How do they work? We don’t know for certain, but we think that antidepressants work by increasing the activity of certain chemicals in our brains called neurotransmitters.” [6] Had I stuck with my doctor, I would have been robbed of 10 more years of life quality or spent thousands of dollars hopping from one doctor to the next trying several pharmaceutical products. I am cured because I questioned my doctors’ diagnosis and recommendation.

BELIEVING IN DOCTORS AND THE CONSEQUENCE

In 2008 I was confronted with doctors again. This time it wasn’t me who was affected, but our first child. And it wasn’t because our child was sick. She was supposed to receive a cocktail of neurotoxins and attenuated virus to prevent illness.  When asked to consent to the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, I gave my decision very little thought.

I should have been more critical given my own personal experience in going “beyond my doctor” in 2003. I was, however, overcome by joyous anticipation of welcoming our first child. These emotions put the critical thinking aspect about birth plan and medical interventions concerning our child on the back burner. It wasn’t until a few weeks after we took our daughter home and after our first well visit at the pediatric office that I started to question vaccinating my daughter with unknown substances.

Just like my first experience with antidepressants, I had a feeling that vaccines were not good for our child. I did a little research on the surface and found conflicting evidence about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Safety meaning that there are no side effects and effectiveness meaning that they actually prevent illness. But this time the doctor’s word carried a lot more weight. Not because I had determined that our pediatrician knew what he was talking about in pushing vaccines on our child, but because this was not about me. It was about my child. It was about being so afraid my precious child could catch a disease that the comforting notion of a vaccine preventing this trumped the rational desire to take a closer look into what vaccines are and why our pediatrician so forcefully insisted we consent.

I gathered more information about vaccines. This information led me to go beyond our pediatrician in deciding that we would expose our child to only one vaccine at a time instead of multiple shots as routinely administered during well visits at pediatric offices. That, however, wasn’t enough. At age 3½ our daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Our pediatrician had assured us that vaccines cause mild side effects at worst and that ALL research proves that every shot is safe for our child. As she now suffered from autoimmune disorder, I was forced to take a very close look at vaccines independently of what our pediatrician had to say.

STOPPING HARM BY GOING BEYOND DOCTORS

Searching the literature, I found that in 1978 Margaret Menser wrote: “Since 1968 there has been increasing interest in the possibility that viral infection may play a part in the etiology of diabetes mellitus in man . . . [but] only one virus consistently produces diabetes in man—the congenitally acquired rubella virus.” [7]

Most children are injected with the rubella virus between 15 and 18 months via the MMR vaccine. E. J. Rayfield and colleagues wrote in 1986: “The congenital rubella syndrome provides the best documentation in humans that a viral infection is associated with the subsequent development of insulin-dependent [type I] diabetes mellitus.” [8]

In the 1960s and 1970s, researchers came to realize that “the effect of the rubella virus does not end at the moment of birth, but that it remains in the organism of the baby and continues to exert its influence for many years thereafter. Especially to be noted is the fact that up to 20 percent of these individuals later come down with Type-I diabetes. This may take from 5 to 20 years to develop, indicating that the rubella virus remains active in the organism for all that time.” [9]

This may explain later onset of type 1 diabetes in individuals who have received the MMR vaccine. P. K. Coyle and colleagues add to the fact that vaccines are likely to be responsible in causing type 1 diabetes in many children by saying that “this virus acts by forming ‘rubella-specific immune complexes’ (an immune complex is a mixture of the rubella virus and the antibody to it). Such immune complexes are found in individuals with congenital rubella and also in persons vaccinated against rubella. They were not found in persons who had never been infected with rubella or in those who had had the disease naturally and recovered from it. These immune complexes can and do act on the pancreas.” [10]

Even more implicating of vaccines causing type 1 diabetes is a study from 1989 in which Numazaki and colleagues infected laboratory cultures of human pancreatic islet cells with rubella virus. They found that these infected cells produced much lower levels of insulin and concluded these results suggest that rubella virus can infect human pancreatic islet cells and that such infection may lead to significant reductions in levels of secreted insulin.”[11]

Also included in the MMR vaccine is the live mumps virus. “There is copious evidence of a causal relationship between clinical mumps and subsequent development of diabetes. This evidence consists of: data linking mumps with pancreatitis; individual case reports of type-I diabetes following clinical mumps infection; clusters of Type-I diabetes cases after mumps epidemics; and large epidemiological studies demonstrating parallel curves between outbreaks of mumps and new cases of Type-I diabetes (with a lag of 2–3 years).” [12] The “mumps virus can [also] infect human pancreatic beta cells in vitro and destroy them.” [13]

In Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines, the researchers conclude that “there is evidence suggesting that mumps virus infection can trigger the onset of Type-I diabetes in some individuals. Biologic plausibility data implicating the mumps virus in the pathogenesis of Type-I diabetes include: (1) the association between viral infections, including mumps, and Type-I diabetes in humans; (2) the detection of circulating autoantibodies against pancreatic antigens, particularly islet cells, during convalescence from mumps infection as well as early in the course of Type-I diabetes; and (3) in vitro studies demonstrating that the wild-type mumps virus can infect human pancreatic beta cells.” [14]

As the studies I am citing here were just the tip of the iceberg, I wondered why pediatricians and general doctors recommend vaccines. Leading pediatrician and vaccine expert Lawrence Palevsky, MD, states: “When I went through medical school, I was taught that vaccines were completely safe and completely effective, and I had no reason to believe otherwise. All the information that I was taught was pretty standard in all the medical schools and the teachings and scientific literature throughout the country. I had no reason to disbelieve it. Over the years, I kept practicing medicine and using vaccines and thinking that my approach to vaccines was completely onboard with everything else I was taught. But more and more, I kept seeing that my experience of the world, my experience in using and reading about vaccines, and hearing what parents were saying about vaccines were very different from what I was taught in medical school and my residency training . . . and it became clearer to me as I read the research, listened to more and more parents, and found other practitioners who also shared the same concern that vaccines had not been completely proven safe or even completely effective, based on the literature that we have today . . . It didn’t appear that the scientific studies that we were given were actually appropriately designed to prove and test the safety and efficacy. It also came to my attention that there were ingredients in there that were not properly tested, that the comparison groups were not appropriately set up, and that conclusions made about vaccine safety and efficacy just did not fit the scientific standards that I was trained to uphold in my medical school training.” [15]

The vast majority of doctors base their recommendations and conclusions about you and your children on what they have been taught in medical school and not on independent research. And what these doctors have been taught in medical schools derives largely from special interest groups: “When John Abramson, MD, author of Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, lectured at Harvard’s 2008 Ethical Issues in Global Health Research course, he dismissed much of the content of contemporary U.S. medical journals as ‘little better than infomercials.’ What prompted this harsh assessment? Despite the ubiquitous mantra of ‘evidence-based medicine,’ a curious lack of skepticism pervades journals about experts who accept money from the makers of the products they evaluate. A medical reviewer who writes a comprehensive assessment for a medical journal is supposed to be an expert in the field who evaluates medications, devices, and practices, distilling her expertise and her informed, disinterested opinion for the journal’s readership. The need for objectivity is clear, and journals do not pay the authors of such articles. But the makers of the drugs and products in question often do pay them.” [16]

How can I trust a doctor recommending vaccines based on research that has been funded by those who make large amounts of money from it? How can they have my child’s best interests be heart? Putting the “nail in the coffin” and pushing me over the edge to completely go beyond our pediatrician is the fact that studies claiming vaccines are safe and effective are seriously compromised: “The proper conduct of a research study requires that it pose an important medical question in a clear, unambiguous manner and that it is carefully planned and randomized to ensure that the results are accurate and broadly applicable. Large numbers of subjects are typically recruited to help ensure that the results do not arise by chance. Control groups are given placebos or the standard of care in order to allow a meaningful comparison with the study group. Statistical expertise helps the study designers minimize and tease out any sources of error or bias. But this expertise can also be used to introduce intentional bias in order to attain the desired result: for the determined adept, there exist many ways to subvert the clinical-trial process for marketing purposes and the pharmaceutical industry seems to have found them all.” [17]

Going beyond doctors had again proven to be the best decision in ensuring the best health outcome. Our children will no longer be vaccinated and subjected to the dangers and ineffectiveness of such shots. More important, going beyond doctors has brought to light the inadequacy of most health care professionals who base their vaccine recommendations on manipulation rather than independent education. One independent study of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in April 2005, looked at the health outcomes of children who were fully vaccinated, who were partially vaccinated, and who were not vaccinated at all. All the investigators asked the parents to do was to report atopic illness. Atopic illness means allergies, asthma, eczema, and hay fever. The investigators were blinded, meaning they didn’t know which category the participants belonged to.

When they assessed the data, they found that the largest number of reports by parents of children with atopic illness were in the kids who were fully vaccinated. The second highest reports were in the children who were partially vaccinated. And the lowest number of reports was in the children who were unvaccinated. The investigators performed a statistical analysis to see if the data was based on chance or on real statistical differences and found there were statistically significant differences among these groups. They couldn’t understand how this was possible because the generally accepted consensus is that vaccines are completely safe and completely effective. [18]

To the contrary, those proclaiming vaccines do not cause autism or any other disorders or illness do so based on very limited studies in order to favor the outcome: “When I look at the studies that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC put out, saying that there’s no correlation between vaccination and autism or vaccinations and asthma, I have to say that the studies just don’t hold up to the scientific standards. You can’t have 25 children in a study and then report that this proves that no children who get autism have any correlation to being injured by vaccines. This is what the media does: they take these conclusions, put it right out in front of the newspapers and say, ‘Vaccines don’t cause autism.’ When you really look at the studies—and there’s not a proper control group and there’s only 25 people—you can’t make a grand, generalized statement about a general population because you’ve studied 25 children.” [19] By going beyond our doctor’s recommendation to continue to have our children vaccinated, I was able to stop further harm to their health and well-being.

FAULTY RESEARCH AND MANAGING THE VACCINE INJURY—BEYOND DOCTORS

Through my own experience in finding a cure for my sleeplessness and depression and the harm done to our daughter through vaccines, we have learned to NEVER trust our doctor and ALWAYS conduct our own research. While writing my book, I looked into many possible causes and treatment for type 1 diabetes. I have come to realize that there are two types of research:

  1. Research financed by special interest groups
  2. Independent research

In “Who Pays for Science?” the writers conclude that “Drug research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry is more likely to end up favoring the drug under consideration than studies sponsored by government grants or charitable organizations. Similarly, nutrition research sponsored by the food industry is more likely to end up favoring the food under consideration than independently funded research.” [20] Furthermore, in “Bad Pharma: Drug Research Riddled with Half-Truths, Omissions, Lies,” the author writes: “How does this happen? How do industry-sponsored trials almost always manage to get a positive result? It is, as far as anyone can be certain, a combination of factors. Sometimes trials are flawed by design. You can compare your new drug with something you know to be rubbish—an existing drug at an inadequate dose, perhaps, or a placebo sugar pill that does almost nothing. You can choose your patients very carefully so that they are more likely to get better on your treatment. You can peek at the results halfway through and stop your trial early if they look good (which is—for interesting reasons we shall discuss—statistical poison). And so on. But before we get to these fascinating methodological twists and quirks—these nudges and bumps that stop a trial from being a fair test of whether a treatment works or not—there is something very much simpler at hand. Sometimes drug companies conduct lots of trials, and when they see that the results are unflattering, they simply fail to publish them. This is not a new problem, and it’s not limited to medicine. In fact, this issue of negative results that go missing in action cuts into almost every corner of science. It distorts findings in fields as diverse as brain imaging and economics, it makes a mockery of all our efforts to exclude bias from our studies, and despite everything that regulators, drug companies and even some academics will tell you, it is a problem that has been left unfixed for decades.” [21]

Independent studies and articles on effective treatment for illness and disorders are few and far between. When our daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we were told by doctors that there is no cure and that she will likely have to live with this disorder for the rest of her life. We were also told that she can eat and live as she had done prior to being diagnosed: “simply count the carbs and inject insulin.” For the first 18 months, we did just that. By then, however, I had learned to question a medical establishment that relies on favorable studies and is mostly trained to treat symptoms by means of pharmaceutical products rather than attempting to find a cure. We are experiencing this with our daughter’s autoimmune disease: “Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.” [22]

Insulin is a lifesaving treatment, and there is no substitute for it. Insulin is also a medication and, as such, has the potential for side effects: “Hypoglycemia is the most common side effect that may occur during insulin therapy. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include confusion, nausea, hunger, tiredness, perspiration, headache, heart palpitations, numbness around the mouth, tingling in the fingers, tremors, muscle weakness, blurred vision, cold temperature, excessive yawning, irritability, and loss of consciousness.” [23]

As with any necessary medication, we want to obtain the most benefits by injecting or intaking the least quantities. As far as our daughter is concerned, this means that we want to inject the least amount of insulin yet have great blood glucose control. What is great blood glucose? Good diabetes management is measured by an A1C test: “The A1C test gives you a picture of your average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months. The results give you a good idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.” [24] And “for children younger than age 6, the ADA recommends an A1C of less than 8.5 percent. In children between ages 6 and 12, the recommendation is for an A1C under 8 percent, and teenagers are advised to try to keep their A1C under 7.5 percent.” [25]

The lower your A1C test result, the better your diabetes management. As we have continuously achieved great A1C results (7.5, 7.4, 7.2, and 7.1 over the last four 3-month checks), we noticed hypoglycemia, headaches, and even hyperglycemic episodes in our daughter. “Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low. Blood sugar at or below this level can harm you.” [26]

On the other hand, hyperglycemia is a “condition characterized by excessively high levels of glucose in the blood, and occurs when the body does not have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it does have to turn glucose into energy.” [27]

To summarize: we constantly come in with a good A1C, yet the insulin we inject causes episodes of low blood glucose levels, which is extremely dangerous, and high glucose levels, which is extremely burdensome on the child. In addition, our daughter quickly dropped from high to low blood glucose, which is associated with headaches. We needed to keep the good A1C results but inject less insulin. How is it possible to combine a good A1C and injecting as little insulin as possible? Every child, every person, has a unique physiological makeup and, therefore, there is no universal answer to this question.

After much research and trial and error, we found that our child needs foods with a low glycemic index, gluten-free foods, probiotics, omega oils, and vitamin C supplements. The most drastic changes we saw were when we changed to gluten-free foods combined with foods consisting of a low glycemic index. The two weeks prior to the change, we gave our daughter 189 units of insulin. The two weeks after the change, she received 104 units of insulin while keeping her blood glucose under great control.

That is a reduction of 38 percent. At the same time, her glucose levels have been excellent. She encounters less frequent drops in blood sugars, no headaches, and fewer hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic episodes. We implemented better treatment because we went beyond our doctor’s recommendations.

CONCLUSIONS

As per doctor recommendation, I would receive flu shots, my children would continue to be vaccinated, I would live through the nightmare of antidepressants, and our daughter would receive uncontrollable amounts of insulin that caused frequent and potentially life-threatening side effects. Doctors can be dead wrong, partially right, and completely right in their diagnosis, analysis, and treatment recommendations. As per my own research and in consulting with experts, I will never receive a flu shot again, and my children will not be vaccinated again until independent studies proof safety and effectiveness of vaccines. I am successfully using a natural supplement to treat symptoms of sleeplessness and depression. By means of dietary changes, we were able to adjust our daughter’s insulin treatment, resulting in fewer side effects.

Don’t get me wrong. Our journey doesn’t end here. There is more research to be done. Our daughter isn’t cured yet, and there are also family members and acquaintances with questions desperately in need of ideas.

Where does that leave you? How can you go beyond your doctor? The answer to this question is not very complicated: READ! The Internet is a great tool that provides us with the opportunity to exchange information. Just as you are reading this right now. There are people with similar health issues as yours, people who have experimented using alternative approaches to easing or curing their illness. You will have to dig under the surface, and you will have to dig deep using much of your time. It will be worth it.

You may also email me at: [email protected] if you have any questions. Perhaps I may be able to provide you with a good starting point.

 

[contentbox headline=”References” type=”normal”]

1. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201112/psychology-defined
2. S. N. Young (2007), “How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain Without Drugs,” Rev. Psychiatr. Neurosci. 32(6): 394–99, PMC 2077351, PMID 18043762.
3. www.serotoninpowerstories.com/
4. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/5hydroxytryptophan-5htp
5. www.mayoclinic.com/health/ssris/MH00066
6. www.rcpsych.ac.uk/expertadvice/treatmentswellbeing/antidepressants.aspx
7. Margaret Menser et al., “Rubella Infection and Diabetes Mellitus,” Lancet (January 14, 1978), 57–60, at 57.
8. E. J. Rayfield et al., “Rubella Virus-Induced Diabetes in the Hamster,” Diabetes 35 (December 1986), 1278–1281, at 1278.
9. Daniel H. Gold and T. A. Weingeist, The Eye in Systemic Disease, Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1990, 270.
10. P. K. Coyle et al., “Rubella-Specific Immune Complexes After Congenital Infection and Vaccination,” Infection and Immunity 36:2 (May 1982), 498–503, at 501.
11. Kei Numazaki et al., “Infection of Cultured Human Fetal Pancreatic Islet Cells by Rubella Virus,” A. J. Clinical Pathology 91 (1989), 446–451.
12. Kathleen R. Stratton et al., eds., Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993, 153–154.
13. Parkkonen et al., 1992; Prince et al., 1978; Yoon and Ray, 1985.
14. Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality, Washington, D.C: National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, 1993.
15. www.healthychild.com/leading-pediatrician-discusses-vaccines-for-children/
16. http://theamericanscholar.org/flacking-for-big-pharma/#.UdV7o_k3sRc
17. http://theamericanscholar.org/flacking-for-big-pharma/#.UdV7o_k3sRc
18. www.healthychild.com/leading-pediatrician-discusses-vaccines-for-children/
19. www.healthychild.com/leading-pediatrician-discusses-vaccines-for-children/
20. http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/who_pays
21. www.salon.com/2013/01/27/bad_pharma_drug_research_riddled_with_half_truths_omissions_lies/
22. www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-1-diabetes/DS00329
23. www.medicinenet.com/insulin/page2.htm
24. www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/a1c/
25. www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-1-diabetes-in-children/DS00931/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis
26. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001423/
27. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/hyperglycemia

[/contentbox]

Photo Credit

About the author

Markus Heinze

Born and raised in Germany, Markus Heinze came to America when he was twenty-three years old. As a volunteer, he taught at small Catholic schools and repaired houses during the summer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northern Kentucky University and a master’s degree in secondary education from Union College. For fifteen years now, he has taught German and French in several different public schools. He is married to another elementary school teacher, and they have two young children.