What happens when you find out that the “medicine” your dad gave you when you were 14 was poison? You start going into shock. At least, that’s what I did.
My limbs grew cold and weak, my face became ashen, and my pupils dilated. All I wanted to do was curl under a blanket and not open my eyes for a long, long time. Thankfully, by the time my husband got our baby ready to get in the car and take me to the ER, the color had started coming back to my face.
Instead, we went on a walk—a very slow and shuffling walk. My limbs were still too heavy to lift all the way. Josh held my hand firmly and warmly, and I sucked in the new spring air. This is reality now. I am safe now.
Here’s what happened: When I was fourteen, my dad took me aside to tell me of a miracle cure for everything from cancer to autism to the common cold. Apparently, some guy had discovered it while prospecting for gold in South America. He used water purification drops to cure first his guides, then whole villages, of malaria.
“The pharmaceutical companies hated him!” My dad said it like a badge of honor. “They couldn’t monetize it, so they bribed local doctors to silence him. They wouldn’t let him in the country.”
There was that familiar gleam in his eyes—the power of secret knowledge. He explained to me that I was going to start taking MMS (Miracle Mineral Supplement). I’d start with one drop a day. When my body got used to it, then I’d up the dose until I reached six drops every day.
He ordered the stuff online. I don’t know where it came from, but I remember the green and blue labels on the bottles. There were two: one was the MMS and one was the “activator” that was supposed to unleash its amazing oxidating qualities.
The worst part might have been the smell: overpowering chlorine. Or it might have been the involuntary gag that always came as I forced the stuff down my throat.
All I remember about the following week was the sickness. Nausea so overwhelming it weakened my limbs. The effort it took to hold up my head. How all I could think about was taking my next breath, then the next. Trying to focus on anything else but my roiling insides (essentially trying to dissociate).
I never actually threw up, but I did ask Dad to pull the car over so I could dry heave on the side of the road several times. Finally, Mom convinced him that it wasn’t doing any good, only making me sick.
“If it smelled like chlorine, it probably was chlorine,” Josh said when I told him about it.
“No,” I said. “It couldn’t have been. Dad wouldn’t have done anything that crazy.”
I don’t know why it took so long for me to look up what MMS actually was. It was last week—over ten years later—that I finally googled the strange medicine.
As I read, I felt the blood draining from behind my eyes.
The second hit was a warning issued by the FDA: when activated, “the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent.”
Warnings from medical sites and government agencies around the world told the same story. MMS (or WPS or CD, as it is also called) can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, life-threatened drop in blood pressure, and liver failure. At least seven people have died from it.
I could have died.
I could have died. I could have died. I could have died.
I was shaking by the time I dropped my phone on our kitchen table and went to the nursery where Josh was playing on the floor with our son. I held my elbows and pressed my arms protectively into my ribcage.
“Josh,” I whispered. “You were right. It smelled like chlorine because it was chlorine.” And I started crying.
This was far more than the apricot seeds he’d wanted us to eat (he said the cyanide would kill cancer). It was more than him leaving me in his truck alone for hours when I was three years old. Somehow, this felt more invasive and harmful than any of it.
My dad sacrificed me on the altar of his conspiracy theories. He took away my bodily autonomy and forced me to ingest poison. I knew I had no choice. I could not ask for the misery to stop. Even though the gold prospector story sounded suspicious to me, I could not question.
It is no wonder to me now that I began restricting my calorie intake not long after. If my body had to suffer, at least I would be the one making it suffer.
I still don’t know how to process this new revelation. (Why, after all this time, does anything surprise me?) But I expect it will look like everything else: work on staying grounded, hold my boundaries, remind myself I am safe, enjoy the good things I have in my life now, and feel the grief so I can move past it.
I don’t want to feel the grief. I don’t think anybody does. But I know it is the best thing for me. It’s the best thing for all of us.
Oh, and before you ingest any miracle cures, google them.