Our guest this week is Dr. Anju Usman Singh, a board certified family practitioner and the medical director at True Health Medical Center in Naperville, IL, providing integrative and biomedical treatments that enhance traditional medical care.
Dr. Usman is director and owner of True Health Medical Center and Pure Compounding Pharmacy in Naperville, Illinois. She also is the Chief Science Officer for True Healing Naturals. She specializes in biomedical interventions for children with ADD, Autism, PANDAS/PANS, Down Syndrome and related disorders. She has been involved in research regarding copper/zinc imbalances, metallothionein dysfunction, biofilm related infections and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She serves on the board for The Neuroimmune Foundation, and the medical advisory boards for TACA (The Autism Community in Action) and Autism Hope Alliance, as well as faculty for MAPs (Medical Academy for Pediatric Special Needs). Dr. Usman received her medical degree from Indiana University and completed a residency in Family Practice at Cook County Hospital, in Chicago, Illinois.
Tragically, Dr. Usman lost her oldest daughter, Priya, in 2003 (at age 12) to a peanut allergy.
Her first husband, Predeep, died in 2018 at age 52. Collectively, her children have been challenged by allergies, asthma, ADD, Juvenile diabetes, and Autism.
It’s a very enlightening story about overcoming adversity and an unwavering commitment to serving the needs of families touched by a variety of special healthcare needs, all on this episode of the SFN Dad to Dad Podcast.
True Medical Center – https://www.truehealthmedical.com
Pure Compounding Pharmacy – https://stores.purecompoundingpharmacy.com
Email – email@example.com
Please take the SFN Early Intervention Parent Survey and as a token gift, receive a Great Dad Coin – https://tinyurl.com/5n869y2y
Tom Couch: [00:00:00] Special thanks to Horizon Therapeutics for sponsoring the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast, working tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics’ mission at HorizonTherapeutics.com.
Anju Usman: And so I always tell my patients, they’re my doctors, they’re my teachers. And Priya was one of my greatest teachers, and so is Nika and Vanya and Rajan. And as a parent we always think, oh, like somehow we’re above our kids, or we have to teach them all this stuff. But I really feel like as a parent, I learn so much from my kids. I almost sometimes feel like the tables are turned. I try to teach that, but they teach me a whole lot of stuff.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest this week, Dr. Anju Usman, a board certified family practitioner and medical director at True Health Medical Center, providing integrative and biomedical treatments that enhance [00:01:00] traditional medical care. Dr. Usman also tragically lost her daughter Priya in 2003, to a peanut allergy. It’s a rich, full story that you’ll hear on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Say hello now to host David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the Dad to Dad Podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs, presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a Dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.”
Tom Couch: So now let’s hear this [00:02:00] fascinating conversation between David Hirsch and Dr. Anju Usman.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Dr. Anju Usman of Lisle, Illinois, who is the mother of three, a widow, a board certified family practitioner, as well as medical director at True Health Medical Center and Organization providing integrative and biomedical treatments that enhance traditional medical care since 2003. Anju, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Anju Usman: You’re welcome. I’m so excited to be able to talk to parents out there. And dads.
David Hirsch: You and your first husband, Pradeep, were married for about 30 years before he died prematurely in 2018. You are the proud parent of four: Priya 31, Nika 30, Vanya 27, and Rajan 22. Collectively, your girls have been challenged by allergies, asthma, ADD, and juvenile diabetes. [00:03:00] Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Anju Usman: People ask me where I’m from and I tell them I’m a Hoosier, and they kinda look at me with two eyes, and I say, I’m from India-Anna. [laughing] I was born in India, north India, near the Taj Mahal. And my parents immigrated to this country when I was around two years old. So I don’t really remember a whole lot about India, but I do remember a lot about Indiana.
David Hirsch: Okay. There’s a little twist on India, Indiana there. Thank you. And my understanding was that when your family immigrated to the US they ended up in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Anju Usman: Yes. My dad came to do his master’s degree and we lived in places like Minneapolis, Minnesota and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cleveland, Ohio. So I’m quite a Midwesterner. And then we ended up, he taught at Indiana University in Fort Wayne, which is called Purdue University in Fort [00:04:00] Wayne, Indiana. And all his friends call him Professor. I had that as a chronic thing in my life. My dad being a professor, and all my friends taking classes from him.
David Hirsch: Oh, that’s very funny. Thank you for sharing. My recollection was he was a sociology professor and I’m wondering how did that influence your life?
Anju Usman: I don’t know if many people took sociology in college, but when you think about sociology, you think about like social aspects of how we’re living. And so my dad likes to talk a lot about things like marriage and family and culture. He’s traveled all over the world and religion, and so I think for me, being a daughter of a sociologist opened my mind to all kinds of interesting thoughts and interesting ideas, and I think that helped me be open-minded to interesting thoughts and interesting ideas about medicine as [00:05:00] well, like culturally diverse ideas about medicine.
David Hirsch: Okay, so did you know at a young age that you wanted to be a doctor?
Anju Usman: Yeah. I don’t know if you know much about Indian people, but there’s only two options for you when you’re growing up. [laughing] You could be a doctor or you could be an engineer. [laughing] And I’d hate to pigeonhole people, but in the sixties when we moved to the United States, there weren’t that many Indian people around. And so we assimilated. But my mom and dad, my mom especially, she was like, I want you to be a doctor. And my maternal grandfather was a surgeon in the Army in India. And he was a surgeon in World War II and stationed in various places. And she just had this idea that I was gonna be a doctor. And I thought, okay, sounds good. But it became passionate. It was my feeling as well.
David Hirsch: So does that mean your sister is the engineer in the family?
Anju Usman: No, [laughing] we didn’t follow the rules. [00:06:00] No. But I remember going to India when I was like seven years old and there were like lines of people to see this doctor, and I was in that line to see this one doctor. And when I got to him, he was so nice and so kind and I thought, after all this time of seeing people and taking care of people, just to still have a smile and connect with somebody, I just thought I wanna be like that.
David Hirsch: So from a very early age, okay.
Anju Usman: From seven, and I’m like, I’m gonna be like that and I’m gonna take care of people who are hurting.
David Hirsch: Let’s go back to your dad who’s still alive. And how would you characterize your relationship with your dad?
Anju Usman: My dad’s like my best friend. He’s always been there for me. He’s always encouraged me. I just wanna cry thinking about it sometimes. I can’t even imagine my life without him. He was a father figure like most fathers are. He’s the eldest [00:07:00] of seven. And in the Indian culture, the eldest son has like a really special place. The eldest son is supposed to have sons. It’s a thing. And my dad had daughters and so he always was like you’re just as good as any boy. And he would teach me sports and just want me to be tough.
And back then Little House on the Prairie was like this famous TV show, and he wouldn’t even let me watch it because he is if you watch Little House on the Prairie, you’ll become soft. And I’m like, no. I can watch Little House in the Prairie and still watch sports, Dad. But he’s always encouraged me.
Sometimes with the culture there’s a little bit of difference because my sister and I had to teach my parents about being American and my parents had to teach us about being Indian, and there’s a little bit of that conflict, but we figured it out. And he’s still with me. He’s with me right now today. He’s probably my biggest [00:08:00] fan and my biggest supporter.
David Hirsch: So was there any other takeaways when you think about your relationship with your dad or perhaps how you’ve parented, something you’ve tried to incorporate into your own parenting, as a result of the influence your dad had?
Anju Usman: I think my dad is very good with boundaries. He’s very good at telling us what he expects and what he wants. He’s good at giving us direction, but he gives us a little bit of space to make mistakes, and he does it all with a very loving attitude. Again, growing up as a immigrant in the US, in India they have things like arranged marriages and they didn’t want you to date. And they wanted you to marry in your, even there now like, in your culture or in your caste or whatever. And I think my mom and dad just were very open-minded and they [00:09:00] trusted my sister and I to make some decisions, and they’re always there to say, “Hmm.” I call my dad a Indian hippie [laughing] because of the sociology degree. I wanna be like that. Like I wanna be able to set good boundaries for my children and let them know what I think is right or wrong. And sometimes I’m like, I’m your mother. I have a right to tell you what I think even though you’re adults. If I want you to come visit me for Thanksgiving, I have the right to tell you, I want you to come visit me for Thanksgiving and I want you home for Christmas. If you don’t do that, it’s gonna be okay.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So is it safe to say that neither you or your sister had an arranged marriage?
Anju Usman: Yes. Very safe to say that. [both laughing]
David Hirsch: Okay. You made reference to one of your grandfathers, your maternal grandfather, who was a surgeon, served in the Indian Army during World War II, and I’m wondering what your dad’s dad did.
Anju Usman: He’s, I think he was a kind of a free thinker himself. He lived in a very small village outside the [00:10:00] Taj Mahal. And we come from a community that’s very unique in India where Hindus and Muslims and Christians live together and intermarry. When my grandfather was like 13, his dad told him, go to the well and take a shower cuz when you come back you’re getting married.
David Hirsch: At 13.
Anju Usman: At 13. My grandfather didn’t come back home. He ran away from home cuz he didn’t wanna get married. And so he left and went to a home of another gentleman that was from their village who took him in and educated him. He went to college and got educated. And my grandfather’s name was Kumar Mohammed Usman, which is an extremely Muslim name. You don’t get more Muslim than that name. And in the 1930’s he actually converted to Christianity and he became a Methodist minister.
David Hirsch: So pretty free thinker. [00:11:00] Yeah.
Anju Usman: Yeah, he married my grandmother who was Hindu, so my grandfather was Muslim, my grandmother was Hindu. They got married, they became Christian and that’s my grandfather.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Anju Usman: He also traveled the world talking about religion. But I don’t think he ever let go of his kind of Islamic roots.
David Hirsch: Okay. Thanks for sharing. That’s very interesting. So my recollection was that you got your medical degree from Indiana University, and then from there you did your residency and family practice at Cook County Hospital, which is sort of a big place with a lot of things going on. So no doubt you had an eye-opening experience there. And then you went into family practice from what I recall. And I’m wondering, when you first started your career, where did you think you were going? Where did you think you were pointed?
Anju Usman: Yeah, so I decided to go to Cook County from Indiana University against most people’s advice because I really wanted [00:12:00] to take care of the sickest of the sick. I thought if I could take care of the sickest people, then I could take care of anybody. And so I thought I was… I wanted to treat like the people I saw in India, the really sick, needy kind of people. So I thought I would be in that place of taking care of those types of people in the inner city.
But I was pregnant with my first daughter during my residency, and I had her during residency. And then I got pregnant with my second daughter towards the end of residency. And my eldest ended up having severe asthma even as like a six-month-old. And my peers would say, babies don’t get asthma. And I said, she’s wheezing. I need to do something. And then she had a severe anaphylactic reaction around nine-months-old to egg. And I went down this road of a whole bunch of things with allergies and asthma for her. [00:13:00] I just felt like I wasn’t getting the support I needed. People didn’t believe me when I said that she would eat something and she would wheeze. Again, it was ’91 before Whole Foods and before gluten free. And I went on a journey of trying to figure her out and in the process I started learning a lot of different things about health and that kind of took me down a different route than I thought I would be on.
David Hirsch: So when you said you were learning things that were not taught in medical school, that’s what I think you were referring to.
Anju Usman: Yeah. So again, I’m in residency, I’m with other doctors and I’m talking about food allergies triggering asthma, and everybody’s looking at me like I have three heads. She was allergic to dairy, gluten, soy, legumes, nuts, peanuts, and eggs.
David Hirsch: Oh my God. [laughing]
Anju Usman: And before the internet I had to figure out how to feed the kid. [00:14:00] And I went to allergists and they… there’s no treatment for food allergies. They don’t have a treatment for it. And I’m like, there has to be something we can do. I can’t… she’s just a little baby. She’s gonna be on steroids for the rest of her life. That’s when I started working at a clinic called the Pfeiffer Treatment Center. Not right then, but I had her and then I had my other daughter Anika and Nika had some allergies and asthma as well and later on went on to develop type one diabetes, needed insulin.
And then a few years later I had Vanya. And Vanya, every time I would hold Vanya, her eyes would swell and she would end up in the hospital with infections around her eyes. And we found out that her eyes were very sensitive to chemicals, like even in clothing, like rayon and polyester. And so if I kept her in cotton, she was pretty safe. But every little chemical from a paint [00:15:00] to a perfume, from detergent to dryer sheets would set off her eyes. And so I just was searching for ways to figure out my kids’ immune system. Did a lot of self teaching on that.
David Hirsch: It sounds like the data points that you were working with your three daughters were very enlightening, right? Because you weren’t getting answers from the mainstream, call it medical community and you had to do some research. This is like pre-internet or right at the very beginning of the internet. So I imagine there was a lot less information available at people’s fingertips. It sounds like that was the change of course, from a career standpoint. Was there a point in time where you could say, okay, I’ve gotta do something about this, not just for my own children, there’s a bigger problem out here?
Anju Usman: Yeah. So as I started trying to figure out my children, I thought I’d start taking some classes. And I found a class in homeopathy and then I went to that [00:16:00] and I met some people from my area and then they introduced me… It’s funny how things happened. They introduced me to this clinic called Pfeiffer Treatment Center in Naperville, Illinois. And they base their work on Carl Pfeiffer’s work from the 1970’s and he worked on patients with schizophrenia and ADD and ADHD. And he treated them with what they called orthomolecular medicine at the time, which is high-dose vitamin therapy. And they used various vitamins and they had different protocols.
And so I became their medical director. I was their medical director for eight years. I did some research on copper zinc imbalances in patients with ADD. And I started seeing patients with autism spectrum disorders. And because of the research on copper zinc, we did research on kids with autism and found that 90% of over 500 patients we looked at had high copper and low zinc. [00:17:00] And that was also associated with ADD type symptoms. So I got a name [chuckles] in the world of ASD, autism spectrum, regarding this research on copper and zinc. Then in 2003, my daughter Priya, the one I told you about that had a lot of allergies, she passed away from a peanut allergy.
David Hirsch: Wow.
Anju Usman: Yeah. And you know it’s hard as a parent cuz you feel a lot of guilt about stuff. She passed away from eating an egg roll that was laced with a little bit of peanut butter. And we had always eaten at that restaurant, so I felt safe. But that day they had a new chef and he put peanut butter in the egg roll. And she just… we couldn’t save her.
And after that I decided I really wanted some autonomy. I wanted to treat kids, treat [00:18:00] patients who really couldn’t find a lot of help other places. And so I started my own practice and that’s True Health Medical Center in Naperville. And because of Priya, Nika, and Vanya’s sensitivities, I also opened a pharmacy called Pure Compounding Pharmacy. And compounding pharmacies can make stuff that’s clean. I know it doesn’t have soy. I know it doesn’t have corn. I know it doesn’t have peanuts or junk in it. So I can make things like ibuprofen or diphenhydramine or anything I want, and it’s clean. That was the impetus.
David Hirsch: Thank you for sharing the story about Priya. Out of curiosity, how old was she when she passed?
Anju Usman: She was 12.
David Hirsch: Wow.
Anju Usman: Yeah.
David Hirsch: It’s said that a parent’s worst nightmare is losing a child regardless of the age or what the circumstances are. And I can just tell by the tone of your voice that that was an earth-shaking experience for you.
Anju Usman: Yeah. [00:19:00] I have a lot of patients on the autism spectrum and the parents, they’re waiting for their child to hug them or say something to them or tell them they love them. And I always feel like a lot of my patients are here physically, but maybe they’re somewhere else. And with Priya, she’s not here physically but she is somewhere else. She’s still there with me.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I think that what’s clear to me, just having you recount the story, is that it’s because of the experience that she’s influenced your life. So it’ll be a part of you and your family in eternity.
Anju Usman: Yeah.
David Hirsch: That it’s because of that experience that you’ve pursued the work that you have and what a great legacy or testimony it is to her.
Anju Usman: She always wanted to be a doctor, and doctor means teacher. And so I always tell my patients, they’re my doctors, they’re my teachers. And [00:20:00] Priya was one of my greatest teachers, and so is Nika and Vanya and Rajan. And as a parent we always think, oh, like somehow we’re above our kids, or we have to teach them all this stuff. But I really feel as a parent, I learn so much from my kids. I learn about myself. I constantly am learning, oh, you know what to do, what not to do. And I almost sometimes feel like the tables are turned. Like I try to teach that, but they teach me a whole lot of stuff.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I think that it’s emphasizing how open-minded you are, right? And I think that you had referenced the fact that your dad was open-minded, right? So maybe that’s part of your family’s legacy. And you mentioned that his dad obviously was open-minded given the trajectory of his life as well. It’s just coming out in a different way. Remember, you’re the oldest son.
Anju Usman: I am. [laughing]
David Hirsch: Okay. I’m curious to know before the girls [00:21:00] were born and all the things that have transpired that you’ve made reference to, did you really have any exposure to the world of special needs, what we might call special needs?
Anju Usman: Not directly. I worked as a nurse’s aide in the hospital. I worked as a candy striper in the hospital. I did some volunteer work. My mother worked in a group home. She worked for Arc.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Anju Usman: And she was a supervisor for Arc, and a lot of her clients had special needs. And so I was exposed to a lot of children with special needs. And my mom was just so kind and loving. And I sometimes would think, gosh, how does she deal with that all day long? That was my kind of exposure, but I never really thought I would be working in that type of environment.
David Hirsch: Was there some meaningful advice that you got as a parent raising these [00:22:00] young girls with all these different challenges, something that sticks out in your mind today?
Anju Usman: I don’t know if I got specific advice, but again, I think a lot of us model our parents. We model behavior. I think I just had great role models. Maybe just watching my parents just be so compassionate and kind to everybody from all walks of life, from all religions, from all health perspectives.
One of the things that I talk to parents about is in my patients, I talk to them about presuming competency. I really feel that all my patients, whatever degree of intellectual disabilities they have, cognitive disabilities, language, behavior… I truly think that they understand things more than we may give them credit for.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Just as a parent, I think you fundamentally [00:23:00] know that your kids are always watching you, right? And they’re picking up things at a much earlier age than you might give them credit for.
Anju Usman: Yeah.
David Hirsch: At least that’s what I think I heard you say, and that was my own experience raising our five kids. And there’s a lot more going on there. And when I think about the various conversations I’ve had with hundreds and hundreds of parents raising kids with special needs, the inclination is to dumb things down and assume that they don’t understand or they won’t be able to understand. And I think that might be intuitive but I think we need to be thinking counterintuitively, which is just expect, not unrealistically, but expect the best outcomes. And that way you’re not putting limits on your child and their development. And the main takeaway that I’ve experienced is that kids will surprise you with what they’re capable of…
Anju Usman: [00:24:00] Yeah.
David Hirsch: … but they need to be given the space and it does take some faith. Maybe not blind faith, but it does take some faith to think that there’s a greater horizon out there.
Anju Usman: Yeah. I think that like you said, our kids are teaching us a lot of things along the way, and we just have to be mindful of the fact that they’re wise. [laughing] They’re wise. My son Rajan, he’s in college right now, but he likes to write poetry and when their dad died, he went… he’s my healthy kid. [laughing] And so when their dad died, he became very depressed and went through a lot of anxiety and he started writing poetry. And I encouraged him to put together a book that some of my patients had given me poems over the years that they had written. And most of my patients are nonverbal. And [00:25:00] if you read these poems or these writings, you’re just like, oh my God. It’s so deep! Like the thought process, the insight, it’s so deep and profound! And if you look at the surface of these people, literally you would think that there’s intellectual disability. There is none. And so he put together this book called Writers Without a Voice. I was very proud of him and that whole concept of underestimating.
There’s a dad. His name is J.B. Handley. He’s kind of a famous dad in the autism world. He had started a nonprofit called “Generation Rescue.” But he came out with a book last year called Underestimated. And again, this particular dad has a lot of resources. He’s well known, financial resources. And his child was quite affected and he felt like one of the things that he did was underestimate his child. [00:26:00] And the book is actually written by his child and him. It’s an excellent kind of an eye-opening journey.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be sure to check it out. It sounds fascinating. And again, I think we’re scratching on the surface of what human beings are capable of, particularly those that say might be nonverbal like you were just referring to. They might be written off as not able to communicate, maybe don’t understand. And I’ve seen time and time again where individuals, while they might lack a certain skill, it might be the ability to talk or it might be the lack of vision. It’s like their other senses are overcompensating and they’re much stronger. And I think that we need to identify what people’s strengths are as opposed to maybe what their deficits are. And define people by what their strengths are versus what they’re not able to do. But easy to talk about. I think that it does take an extra level of discipline to [00:27:00] look beyond what we might be able to physically experience or see ourselves.
Anju Usman: Yeah.
David Hirsch: So I’m wondering, thinking about your girls and raising them with the various challenges that you’ve described, were there any supporting organizations that played a role either directly for their benefit or for the benefit of your family that come to mind?
Anju Usman: Since my daughters had medical conditions and they’re not considered on the autism spectrum, but I still was involved in various non-for-profits in the autism world. Autism Research Institute, Talk About Curing Autism and now it’s called The Autism Community in Action, NAA, National Autism Association. I found a lot of support in that world for myself so I could help my children. In the world of integrative medicine, it’s a little different than traditional medicine in that [00:28:00] I have a closeness with some of my patients and parents, and we support each other. And so again, when we go to these conferences together and we meet each other and we talk and we share, I found a lot of comradery and having that network of AutismOne and things like that, a lot of my support comes from people in those organizations.
And it takes a village. It really does. It’s so isolating when you have a child with issues that nobody else can figure out. And another thing I tell my patients’ parents is that they’re the world’s leading expert on their kid. They need to find that team, the leader or the coach, and then we have our players on that team to take care of this child. And if you try to do it alone, it’s just… I don’t think you can. I don’t really think you can. I think our culture, like that Indian culture versus the American culture, the culture in America is a little bit more [00:29:00] isolating, individualistic. It feels lonely.
Tom Couch: We’ll be back with more of the conversation on the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast in just a few moments. But first, this quick message. Please help 21st Century Dads gather research on families raising children with special needs by having them complete the Special Fathers Network Early Intervention Parents Survey. A link to the survey can be found in the show notes. As a token of our appreciation each person, mom or dad, who completes the survey will receive a Great Dad Coin. Thank you. Now back to the conversation.
David Hirsch: I’d like to switch gears and talk about True Health Medical Center which you founded and you’re the medical director of since 2003. And from what I remember, the mission of that organization is to use evidence-based integrative medical interventions to help children diagnosed with ADD, autism, allergies, gastronomical issues [00:30:00] and related disorders. And I’m wondering, was that from the very get-go or has it evolved to that? What was your original vision and what are you doing today?
Anju Usman: That was pretty much from the get-go. Because the original vision was that people with chronic illnesses, whatever they are, have a lot of things going on in their immune system, their GI system. So by addressing those issues, we can help those other mental symptoms. And so patients with autism spectrum disorders end up coming to see me, patients with ADD. I have some patients with Down syndrome, allergies and such. And again, we approach it all the same way. Clean up the environment, clean up the diet, clean up the gut, do some foundational support.
And I think that, we’re talking to dads out there, and I find that the patients who do the best at these kinds of… [00:31:00] It’s a long term kind of approach to things. It’s not a magic pill… are when both parents, obviously it’s divide and conquer in families, but when both parents are understanding and onboard and support one another and are moving in the same direction energetically, emotionally I feel like my kids who do the best are the kids who have their dads really involved. I really do believe that. And I get so excited when the dads are on the calls and they send me a message or they… It just makes all the difference in the world.
David Hirsch: Yeah. The advocacy I’ve been doing the last 25 years suggests that when both parents are involved, and I always talk about from an educational perspective… when both parents are involved, the educational outcomes go up almost across the board. And a lot of the things that are holding kids and the families back, the drug and alcohol [00:32:00] abuse, the teen suicide and pregnancy, the crime and incarceration, the headline news and every community across our country and around the world for that matter. But when both parents are involved, the outcomes generally speaking are better. It’s not prophylactic. It’s not a guarantee that everything is gonna be better. But when you look at the statistics and that’s what we’re talking about, the evidence. If you look at these longitudinal studies, dads do make a difference. We need to step up, we need to lean in and we need to be engaged to the full extent that we’re able to. So thank you for emphasizing that.
So is there a story that might be anecdotal in nature but might emphasize the success that you’ve experienced? Mom and dad come to you with a 10-year-old, whatever the age is and say, here’s the crazy situation we’ve been dealing with. We are at the end of our rope. We’ve [00:33:00] tried everything. We found you, got a referral to you and that you were the answer to their prayers. Do you have a story that would be a representative? Something like that?
Anju Usman: I have five, six stories in my head about this, so I’m trying to pick one that you guys would like. But this is an older kid. On the autism spectrum, parents are divorced. Dad is interested in doing something outside of the norm of like antipsychotics and antidepressants and mom is not quite wanting to do it. But this particular dad went to one of the conferences and he made an appointment and we got mom to come too even though they weren’t together anymore. And these two have worked together to figure their son out, even at a later age. [00:34:00] I think he was like 15 or 16 when I started seeing him about five years ago. He progressed quite a lot with the different therapies and dad made mom a believer. And now I’ll get messages just from mom saying, what should we do with this? And we always make decisions together. Even though they’re not together as a family unit in the classic sense, I do feel like they are together as a family unit for their child. And their child has really blossomed and now the child is older and now he sends me messages and then sends them to the mom and his mom and dad double checks with them if it’s okay, but yeah. They’re an incredible family.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. Let’s just touch one more time about the Pure Compounding Pharmacy. This is an organization that you’d started I think it was in 2007, you already made reference to it. And what is it that makes [00:35:00] PCP unique or different? Is it the manufacturing standards? It’s the type of compounds? What is it that distinguishes this type of pharmacy from going to Osco or Walgreens or someplace else?
Anju Usman: So a compounding pharmacy basically takes whatever, like a pharmaceutical, even a nutraceutical, and delivers it to you in a clean format. So again, any drug that you get over the counter might have dyes, excipients, other ingredients, and when you have that particular drug compounded, it doesn’t have any of those in it. So because my children were so sensitive, they couldn’t tolerate a lot of the other stuff in medicines. And my patients are like that too. My patients are extremely sensitive.
A compounding pharmacy cannot manufacture, so we don’t manufacture anything. We may get on an individual basis for the person. So that’s the compounding. But because it’s a pharmacy, we do sell regular medications and things like [00:36:00] that so people can come for their blood pressure medicine.
And the other thing that’s unique to what we do is we can do compounded vitamins. So say I did some blood work on you and found out you’re low in zinc and you’re low in D and you have some mitochondrial issues, so you need some carnitine and CoQ10. Instead of having you take four different, five, 10 different supplements, I can decide, I want this much vitamin C, E, zinc, carnitine, CoQ10, and put it in a compound. My pharmacy would make it, and then you would get your vitamin prescription. It has it’s unique qualities.
David Hirsch: It sounds more complicated and more expensive. Is that reasonable or is that just a misnomer?
Anju Usman: It’s not more expensive in the sense that if you have a whole bunch of vitamins you’re buying and you compound them together, that doesn’t get much more expensive or more expensive. Sometimes the compounded prescriptions [00:37:00] get covered by insurance. And nowadays, copays and some of these prescription meds are so expensive that our compounding pharmacy can even be cheaper for the prescription medications. So it’s not always more complicated and more expensive. And I always tell people, call, find out what it is.
David Hirsch: Yeah. It’s good advice. I think I’ll take you up on that offer if I can call it such, because I do take maybe nine or 10 different supplements. It’s just evolved over a longer period of time and I don’t really have a clear understanding if it’s absolutely necessary. And my way of thinking about it is even if there’s a marginal benefit to the supplements, I’d rather be supplementing than not supplementing so that I’m giving my body, my immune system, the advantage of performing at its best ability.
Anju Usman: Yeah there’s a whole lot of research out there about how certain things can be helpful for various issues. The only thing with compounding [00:38:00] pharmacies, if you get something prescribed, it has to be prescribed by a physician for them to make it. So if your doctor is willing to write down, take this, and send it over to the pharmacy, they’ll make it.
David Hirsch: Gotcha.
Anju Usman: So it is like a regular pharmacy where you need a prescription for things. But the compounding pharmacy that I have also sells supplements, and those are over the counter.
David Hirsch: Okay. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting. So I’m wondering if there’s some advice that you might offer a parent, dad specifically, as it relates to some of the issues that we’ve been talking about?
Anju Usman: You probably say this to all your dads, and I think I heard you say it, it’s just dads that are involved and engaged. I hear some of the dads tell me they’re paying the bills and they’re bringing in the money so they are not involved in some of the other aspects of the childcare. And as a mom [00:39:00] who had to work and bring home the money and take care of the kids, I don’t see that as a great excuse.
And also as a mom that lost a child, I know that feeling of not being able to fix everything, and that’s a tough feeling. We have to do the best we can and be okay with that.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I think that’s very insightful. Thank you for sharing. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Anju Usman: No, I just wanted to thank you for having a mom on your dad’s podcast and I appreciate the dialogue cuz it helps me to help my patients and I definitely will ask my fathers in my practice to listen to you. And moms.
David Hirsch: Thank you.
Anju Usman: So thank you.
David Hirsch: So let’s give a special shout out to our mutual friend, Peter Maurici, for making the [00:40:00] introduction.
Anju Usman: Yes.
David Hirsch: If somebody wants to learn more about True Medical Center, Pure Compounding Pharmacy, or to contact you, what’s the best way to do that?
Anju Usman: They can go online at TrueHealthMedical.com. PureCompoundingPharmacy.com and our information is there.
David Hirsch: Excellent. I’ll be sure to include those in the show notes. That’ll make it as easy as possible for somebody to learn more about the organization, and I assume that they could contact you through one of the websites as well.
Anju Usman: Yes.
David Hirsch: Anju, thank you for taking the time and many insights. As a reminder, Anju is just one of the individuals who’s part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father, or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st Century Dads Foundation is a 501c3 not-for-profit [00:41:00] organization which means we need your help to keep our content free to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tax-deductible contribution? I would really appreciate your support. Anju, thanks again.
Anju Usman: Thank you.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children match up with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support other dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.” Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story, please send an email [00:42:00] to David@21stCenturyDads.org.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast was produced by me, Tom Couch.
Thanks again to Horizon Therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives. That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics at HorizonTherapeutics.com.