Ask Dr. Brinkman

Priorities in Black & White part 2

I spent the summer of 2008 in NYC taking care of my elderly father. (See “Priorities in Black and White”). Then I brought him to my home in Portland, Oregon for a couple of weeks of intensive naturopathic therapies. When I dropped my father off in NYC in mid September and flew off to the UK for seminars, it was to be the first time in two and a half months that he didn’t have someone with him at all times. Here is what happened.

He not only survives but he thrives. He has more energy and memory than before he was hospitalized. He is back at work managing a commercial office building for his former partner in the disco nightclub business, not because he has to work, but because it gives him pleasure. He drives to work each day from Manhattan to the Bronx.

Three months after leaving him, I returned with my family to celebrate his 90th birthday. We had a party for him at O’Flanagans bar in NYC where the idea for Adams Apple (the disco he opened in 1971) was born. And being the kind of guy he is, he flirted with the girls at the bar and danced the night away.

My father Felix Brinkmann is a survivor. During World War II he was in three concentration camps. When my family and I visited Auschwitz we saw samples of well-organized handwritten spreadsheets created by the Nazis that showed the profit to the Reich from the slave work of a prisoner. If not purposely killed early, an initially healthy prisoner would be worked to death by the sixth month. My father survived in the camps for a full year.

His father was an electrical engineer so my father, Felix, was very familiar and comfortable with all things electric. In that era, it would be the geeky equivalent of a computer programmer today. He also had a natural ability to fix things, even things he never saw before. It was those skills, his ability to work, and his never give up attitude that allowed him to survive.

When he was in the Lodz ghetto (before being shipped out to the camps) he was in charge of a telephone repair factory. A German officer hearing about his ability to fix things brought him a record player and asked if my father could make it work. Felix said of course (even though he had never seen the inside of one before). He asked the German officer to leave it and a few records for a couple of days. Felix “the electrician” fixed it in a matter of minutes and as a treat to his “employees” he brought all the workers at the factory together to hear the music. People didn’t have such things in the ghetto and hadn’t heard music for years. Most of the employees were young women and some of them insisted, “Herr Brinkmann you must dance.” My father chose my mother. A day later he made her his secretary, even though she couldn’t type, but as my dad said, “She sure could kiss.” And the rest is history.

He spent the next year in the concentration camps; six months in Auschwitz (Poland), two weeks in Mauthausen (Austria), and five months in Ebensee (Austria). While in Auschwitz he was picked for the gas chamber five times and five times got out of it because he could speak perfect German and explain his value as an electrician. This summer and fall when we would discuss his life threatening illness, his response was to show me the numbers on his arm and say, “Big deal. I’m a survivor.”

In dealing with my father’s illness I am amazed that we have a medical system that can prevent people from dying from a life threatening disease, but then release them with no care whatsoever to actually help them recover. Out of the ten medications he was prescribed, none of them produce healing. They all just force a certain physiologic response. It would be difficult for a young person to recover from the liver issue my father had, but for an older person, it’s nearly impossible. That’s where naturopathic medicine comes in. I brought my father back to Portland for two weeks of intensive naturopathic therapies, which included I.V. vitamins, B12 shots and a supplement regime to support the liver and other vital organs. For the entire month of August following his release from the hospital he didn’t even remember being hospitalized for the month of July. After one week of naturopathic treatment he could remember the day and time we were flying back to NY. Before the illness I could barely get him to walk a block. Now he not only walks six blocks, but he does it with intention like any self-respecting New Yorker.

Although my naturopathic medical course took me into the mind/emotions, relationships and it’s affect on your well-being, this experience re-energized me in terms of what is possible physically.

I want to share the benefit of that with you, so in the coming months I will be interviewing some exceptional holistic healers and posting those interviews. Many of these will be audio downloads, while some will be articles by guest authors within the Conscious Communicator e-article series. Here’s to your health and I’m here to support you.

Dr. Rick Brinkman

PICTURED ABOVE: From Top to Bottom:

Felix Brinkmann 1939, age 21,

Felix and Simone 1946,

Felix Brinkmann’s concentration camp tatoo 2008,

Felix Brinkman at his 90th birthday part November 20, 2008.

8 Responses to “Priorities in Black & White part 2”

  1. Laurie Urquhart Says:

    Thank you for the great reminder; I concur!

  2. Julie Catala Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your father’s amazing story! I am inspired to research more about healing and creating health through naturopathic means. I look forward to hearing/reading the interviews/guest articles.

  3. Nancy Dunne Says:

    Oh, maaaan… and I am wearing the mascara that runs this morning, too! Thanks, sweetie, for sharing this story. And especially for the pictures too. I am recently re-committed to my work as a ND, after stretching away from it for a while, thinking specialization as a psychotherapist was The Way To Go. It would be, if it were all about my own personal narcissistic enjoyment of every day. But the universe patiently and persistently put obstacles in that way, made that road just clue after clue the struggle-way to go. And turned me gently and relentlessly back to the necessity of wholism. Its a rare privilege, to carry the knowledge we have, in our minds, our hands and our hearts, altogether, and to be useful with it. I have a strong preference for being useful! Thanks for your work.

    Warmly, with the best smile, the best Love,


  4. Renee Windsor-White Says:

    Dr. Rick, I am looking forward to your presentations as well, for selfish reasons. My husband (who will be 59 in May) has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer Disease. He is being treated by two physicians (one a neurologist) and a naturopath. I look forward to what you will be presenting in terms of healing through naturopathy, but also hope that in your presentations you will give some insight to those of us who are “caregivers”….how can we help the healing process? How do we discover the blocks to healing that may be lurking in our relationships to our loved ones? (ie, how do we keep “caregiving” from turning into “caretaking” and hurting ourselves?)

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights!!

  5. Michelle Stevens Says:

    That is an awesome story! I just watched Dr. Oz on Oprah talking about the same things. CAN”T wait for the interviews to come!

  6. Leslie Lew Says:

    Beautifully written! As one that attended your Dad’s 90th (and danced with him- he even dipped me a few times), I have no doubt your mix of naturopathic medicine worked! I never knew the story of your Mom being hired by Felix – and that she was a great kisser- but having known her- of course!. Have you sent my friend Sandy your blog for her brother?
    Will look forward to more info in regards to the interviews-

  7. Greg Goloborodko Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the story of Felix. I really had a great time getting to know him, and spending time with you in New York. He truly is a character, and what a character he is.

    Thanks again,


  8. crystal Loper Says:

    That was a wonderful story about your dad’s life and his survival. Is he born again in Jesus Christ? To survive all of humanity is unless, unless you survive eternity with Jesus. His face at age 90 does glow, i feel he gives glory to God for his survival, though you priase the medicine, I do believe God is to be given all the glory for your fathers survival and long life. God gave the talents. God gave the wisdom, In all your ways acknowlegde God and God will direct your path. Amen!!! All things work together for the good for those who are called acording to Gods purpose

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