On Day 2 of training camp, Derek Wolfe blew past Ryan Clady and dropped Montee Ball for a three-yard loss. It’s just one play, without pads, but it’s great to see the man getting his old form back.
Consider this: One DL formation could have Terrance Knighton at nose tackle, Wolfe and Malik Jackson at defensive tackle, with Ware and Von Miller attacking from the edges. It’s just one option, but it’s one that would have to make a lot of quarterbacks nervous.
I’d found myself thinking recently about the situation with Wolfe, who is returning from the seizures he suffered last year. Having worked on other patients with similar situations, it struck a chord within me.
One patient drove to my house unannounced, rang the bell, and fainted just inside my front door. She was a mountain bike competitor who had let her body weight get too low, her electrolyte levels were off, and her body was headed for the kind of seizures that Wolfe had. Overtraining can be a serious problem, as Wolfe learned.
I once helped a patient in similar circumstances, although he hadn't yet experienced a grand mal seizure. I’ll call this person Patient X. He had started having sudden, brief, attention blackouts. They were short, but noticeable when you look for them. He showed the signs of partial, (formerly called petit mal), seizures. He hadn’t had a full grand mal seizure, but he did say that he felt like he might go into one.
Patient X was a professional actor and a third-degree black belt. He was working on earning his fourth ‘dan’, or degree. He had long workouts before and after he worked long days on set. He got little rest and told me that he believed in Bruce Lee's "You can't train hard enough" theory.
Bruce Lee was a great martial artist, but he died at 33. Theories from famous people are easy to take on, but many need to be viewed with caution.
‘X’ came in on the first visit fatigued, shaky, and somewhat pale. He didn’t recall a specific head trauma, but he sparred often. His blood pressure and heartbeat were low, and he was not sleeping. He was also losing weight despite eating regularly. He was just a few years older than Wolfe.
I removed him from all training for 10 days. He took the news kicking and screaming, but then gave in. I put him on a program of acupuncture and Oriental herbs. The OM pharmacology is based on the intricate balancing of myriad substances; the full pharmacopoeia has over 2,500 substances.
Formulas can get complex fast. Each patient is an individual, so the formula has to be individual as well. One ingredient can strengthen one aspect of health - in his case, the OM version of the kidney function was the primary issue. Another herb helps the formula work synergistically. A third might improve the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid. A fourth could aid the immune functions and balance the first ingredient. You can end up with 12-20 substances in a prescription, each important to the outcome.
I had full Western due diligence done on him as well. Through his primary care provider, I sent him out for blood and urine panels. That became a matter of interest that brought his PCP, himself, and me closer. I taught him some light qi gong (Chinese physical exercises for improving health), which we did together.
I started him on rest and a liquid whole-juice diet for a couple of days to let his system recover. He also drank as much as he wanted of a homemade poultry and vegetable broth of my design. Late in the week I eased him back onto soft foods, then onto complete, high-nutrient meals. I also taught him to use lots of raw juices. He took them with probiotic supplements to improve his ability to extract nutrients from his food.
I prescribed a nine-ounce beef filet at least three times each week, done medium with asparagus and other green veggies. Although it's not common news, rare and medium rare cooking of beef can leave parasites alive that move into the intestines.
He added a big side salad, sometimes used as a meal. Butter leaf lettuce, fresh strawberries, some homemade mozzarella, and spring greens worked well. He used a slicer to add a bit of fresh Parmesan over the dish for the saltiness and depth of flavor. He made up the dressing from another of my recipes. I used fresh lemon juice and zest, crushed garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and vinegar. I added a touch of ground sea salt and a few fresh peppercorns.
There are pro athletes (and people) who can handle a vegetarian diet, and those who can’t. Where your genetics come from has a lot to do with that. I was happy to work with people who were and weren't vegetarian or vegan - as long as their health stayed strong. This patient preferred and needed meat proteins and lots of vegetables. Everyone’s an individual.
With his permission, I discussed his case with his wife, his docs, and his physical therapist. By the 14th day, he was able to do techniques and lift weights in ways and weights that he hadn't in six months. He continued on the regime and couldn't believe his own level of improvement. It's combining the yin to the yang, rest (yin) to effort (yang). The creation of balance it requires can be a razor’s edge. You had to admire the young man’s drive, if not his approach.
There’s an inner, subconscious cultural voice that seems to follow most of us around. It’s whispering that we somehow haven't done enough. It also kept my practice full for years. You get overtired people that often get or stay ill as a result. It’s become the American way - as is obesity. Grabbing whatever’s at hand for food rarely works.
This happens to weekend warriors, too. The 'Insane-O' types of workout systems advertised on cable at 3 am are dangerous. Many of them are extreme enough to create serious health problems. The client has to be in tune with his physiology (and his physiologist). Getting proper monitoring is essential whether you’re a full time athlete or not. We can all get caught by a search to look or feel better. That usually starts from within, and manifests outward later on.
There’s no question in my mind that Wolfe’s been getting a lot of help; he’s reportedly back up to 295 lb. He says he's feeling a lot better than he ever has, and the reason is obvious. Two bouts of food poisoning can wreck anyone’s health. Returning to the field 10 days after his neck injury showed how truly gutsy he is, but it didn’t let him heal. This is what Wolfe himself said:
When it wasn’t feeling right I didn't tell anybody. I just kind of played through it and I really should have brought that to their attention. It came back to bite me, that’s basically what happened. It was kind of my fault. I really [didn't] pay attention to it like I should have.
I’m sure Luke Richesson's guys catch those things most of the time. But as Wolfe said, he was concealing things. A lot of players are good at that; it's hard to keep an accurate chart when treating those kinds of patients. I've been there - it's like pulling teeth to get at the truth.
Wolfe's well-earned rep for hard work has exposed something. A few players are hardcore enough to train too hard. It leads to health issues and, with some players, steroid use. Every fan and team wants the kind of player who’s a beast. It’s important that his or her on-switch shouldn't go ‘on’ too easily or for too long. In such cases, the athlete has to rest more. It's a lesson Wolfe will remember. That must have been quite an experience to go through.
I was glad to read that Wolfe’s weight is at its highest since he began with the Broncos. Muscle weight is essential. Fat, in its proper balance, makes it possible to access the energy in the body. As the season wears on, many players are going to struggle to maintain their weight. Wolfe will be under the care of the nutritionist and that of Richesson and Co.; I’d be surprised if he didn’t manage it well.
Getting his weight up and his strength improved shows the value of his current regimen. He’s seen what does and doesn’t work. His own perspective of himself and his relation to football should be permanently changed. He’s seemed like a sensible, down to earth guy; he just didn’t know where his own line was drawn. Now he does.
Welcome back, Derek. Take better care of yourself - for your own sake, not for football’s. Life is a lot longer than an NFL career, and a lot of us are wishing you a long one. I know that some others can learn from your example.