Mildly Medicated: HGH Therapy, Music and the Metamorphosis

Rocky Basile is the compact drumming dynamo behind the sound the Modern Rock Band Mildly Medicated. What do you get when you combine a lead singer with Hemophilia, a guitarist with ADD, a guitarist with diabetes, a bassist with Tourette’s, and a drummer on HGH therapy? You get the modern rock band Mildly Medicated. Against all possible odds, these uniquely talented young musicians from Monmouth County NJ found each other in 2012, all unaware that each of them had medical issues. It was only until they were discussing possible band names that they all realized that they shared a commonality.

Labels – Sometimes the packaging hides what’s really within

I’ve been called them all, midget, dwarf, shrimp, shorty, just to name a few. When a girl Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 9.34.46 PMwrites in your middle school yearbook “Rocky, you’re my favorite midget in the whole world” it’s hard to find the compliment in that statement. By then I was already one of the best drummers my age in the state of NJ, but that didn’t seem to matter much to people my age. I think that’s one of the things that drew me to drums, other than the fact that I sucked at everything else, was that I sounded big. I mean you could barely see be behind the kit, but there was no question I was there when I stated to play. My beats were loud, angry, attacking, and complex; all the things I wasn’t in physical form.

You see, at age 12 I was diagnosed with a non-functioning pituitary gland, which just happens to be the gland that produces human growth hormone when you sleep. My growth velocity was measured as zero. I was destined to be a little person. Other than being able to park in the handicapped zone, I wasn’t really happy with the prospects of being 4’2″.

My parents gave me two options, one being to break my legs and transplant bone grafts into the gap and put rods through my legs to hold everything in place, or lobby our insurance company for legal human growth hormone, which costs around $5,000 a month. I opted for hormone therapy, and thus we embarked on a two year battle with our health insurance company to get them to pay for it. Their position was I was not sick. Our position was that we wanted them to look at the situation holistically and treat the entire patient, not just an affected area. I would be a happier and healthier person if I was able to grow to a normal height. During this two year battle with them, my internal clock was ticking, and my growth plates would eventually lock up, and no hormone would ever make a difference. I became depressed hearing my father constantly fighting with the insurance company, while trying to hide the pain of labels and the natural abuse you get in school by being the “favorite midget” .

The recluse

Even though we finally won the battle over the insurance company and I was taking daily injections into the flank of my stomach, I threw myself in my music because I could feel the Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 9.34.59 PMdepression and the anger start to build. School was still problematic, and I had not yet found my voice. My body was changing, some of it for the better, but some not. It’s a funny thing about human growth hormone, it makes everything grow, even the bad stuff inside you. And for me, the bad stuff wanted to make itself known. I developed tumors in my wrists and ankles, which is not great if you’re a drummer, causing me to have multiple surgical procedures. I had just started playing with my band Mildly Medicated, I had just starting feeling like I was accepted and surrounded by people who understood me, and now my drumming career could potentially be over. Continue reading

Far Better To Dare Mighty Things

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One of my favorite quotes in the world is Theodore Roosevelt’s, “Far Better to Dare Mighty Things”.

“Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy nor suffer much, in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

No one on earth lives this wisdom more than one of our Project Athena “Survivors”, Alli Morgan. I created Project Athena to help women survivors of medical or other traumatic setbacks achieve their adventurous dreams.

When Alli was 15 years old, she tore her ACL in a soccer game. She went in for a routine surgery to fix her ACL and was progressing toward recovery until she faced intense pain and couldn’t advance further in her therapy. It was discovered in an x ray that a screw was lodged in the joint and the replaced ACL was too long. So she underwent a second surgery to correct the first. A few weeks after her second surgery, a staph infection set in, and her surgical wound refused to close. The ligaments and hardware in her knee became septic and were removed, but the infection continued to spread.

Over the next four years, which were spent on crutches, Alli endured over 40 surgeries and spent a collective 15 months in the hospital, missing college. To literally add insult to injury, her leg had become irrevocably locked straight, and no surgeon could provide her with an answer about whether she would ever be able to bend that leg or walk again. So at the very young age of 20, Allie decided to make a very brave decision to avoid the “gray twilight” her life had become, and she dared to do a very mighty thing.

She decided to become an elective above the knee amputee to gain her life back. She applied for a grant to become one of our Project Athena “Athenas” for the Keys to Recovery Adventure, which is a kayak and bike ride from Key Largo to Key West. She completed all 120 miles of that journey in 2012 surrounded by a supportive group of fundraising gods and goddesses in and crossed the finish line with her new bionic leg and her new life. She’s now a member of the US Paralympic Skeleton Team.

For me, Alli truly embodies Theodore Roosevelt’s Far Better To Dare Mighty Things quote, because she knew that there would be fear, failure, and pain along the way….but a far bigger fear for her was to take rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. She knew her life would be harder in many ways, but as she said in an interview, “I didn’t know if I was going to get my life back or what would ultimately happen, I just knew I had to try”. Brave words, from a brave young lady who would much rather have victory or defeat than what ifs.

So what is your gray twilight? How are you in limbo in your life? It’s time to channel your inner Alli Morgan and dare mighty things!


Robyn Benincasa is a World Champion Adventure Racer, 3x Guinness World Record Kayaker, San Diego City Firefighter, 10x Ironman Triathlete, sought-after leadership speaker, New York Times Bestselling author of ‘How Winning Works’, proud owner of 2 bionic metal hips, and the Founder and CEO of The 501c3 Project Athena Foundation, which helps survivors live an adventurous dream as part of their recovery. In her spare time, Robyn’s favorite hobby is inspiring people to do insane, life affirming things like run their first triathlon, start their own business, hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, or kayak and ride 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West. For more information visit www.robynbenincasa.com and www.projectathena.org.

Can Trumpism Lead to a Better American Story?

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By Deepak Chopra, MD

We are living at a time when the story of America is changing, with nothing but more change on the horizon. Therefore, we face a critical decision. Should the new American story be born out of fear or hope? The stark contrasts in the 2016 election make this choice inevitable. One indelible human trait is the craving to turn our experiences into stories. These stories gather tags (now often called memes) that keep the story straight and allow people to agree about them. “The greatest generation” is such a tag, supporting the story of the Allied victory in World War II, which is referred to as a “good war,” another tag. Politics is many things, but one of the most important is a war between competing stories, and if your side comes up with the winning story, your victory can last far beyond one election cycle.

Donald Trump has been wildly erratic when it comes to actual ideas, policies, and positions, but he rode the crest of an immensely successful Republican story. So-called conservative “principles” are largely a collection of mythical storylines, and the tags that define them go back to the Nixon era. We are all familiar with law and order, the silent majority, morning in America, “Government isn’t the solution–it’s the problem,” “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” clash of civilizations, “Guns don’t kill people–people do,” and many other conservative memes.

So fervent is the craving for stories that the right wing clings to storylines that are totally false if your standard of truth is historical fact, accurate data, and pluralism. But rigidly clinging to our story is something we all do. By the same token, we become nervous and disturbed when our story starts to fray. The right plays upon fear very successfully at times of national anxiety, from Nixon’s “pitiful helpless giant” to Bush’s “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” to Trump’s “make America great again,” which plays upon the anxiety of national decline. Fear is a powerful motivator in the short term, even when it proves to be disastrously bad as a guide to action, as witness the Vietnam war and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It seems likely that Donald Trump has finally reached the end of his string and will self-destruct thanks to his total inability to control himself. But the crisis surrounding the American story won’t go away. The benign revolt led by Bernie Sanders isn’t comparable to the toxic revolt led by Trump. Yet they share a refusal to go along with the American story we’ve been living with, and the fact that such a huge proportion of Americans think the country is moving in the wrong direction indicates how deep our confusion, frustration, and discontent have progressed. Continue reading

Move Beyond Casual Dating: 3 Tips to Choosing a Partner You Can Grow With

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You met at the right time and everything just fell into place. You’ve dated plenty of other people but it has never felt this right. You’re ready to move past casual dating and take the next step. A big, scary, exciting step. When you find someone with whom you’re ready to take that leap with, it isn’t unusual to struggle with a lot of thoughts: does this have a shot at the long run? Is what I’m feeling for real? Will they be there through all the times, not just the easy ones but the truly challenging moments as well?

Here are three suggestions on how you can give yourself a little assurance that you’re choosing a partner who’s good for more than just dinner and a movie. Continue reading

Letting Go of Fear of Abandonment

abandomentHi guys.  Today I want to talk a little bit about the topic of letting go of our fears of abandonment.  I think it’s a really important subject when delving into love addiction and co-dependency, and fear of abandonment is one of the main things that prevents people from getting out of unhealthy relationships.

The idea of being abandoned is scary.  Nobody wants to be left alone to fend for themselves.  As humans, we are social creatures, and having other people and even animals in our lives is comforting and part of being human.  The issue then, is when our fear of being alone – a reasonable fear – becomes so deep that it prevents us from being independent.  We can be independent people without having to give up healthy relationships.  What we have to strive for there is balance. Continue reading

7 Reasons Some Women Think They Will Never Find Lasting Love

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No one should ever give up on finding love, it doesn’t matter if you are sixteen or one hundred and sixteen there is still the possibility of finding love and embracing it. Sadly, many women have been hurt and are afraid of falling in love again; they may have been searching for love with no success and have now reached the conclusion that they will never find lasting love again, these are the reasons why this can occur: Continue reading

Break the Norms: What Happens After We Die

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In the light of so many tragedies, we are continuing our difficult questions series as led by the author of Break the Norms: Questioning Everything You Think You Know About God and Truth, Life and Death, Love and Sex, Chandresh Bhardwaj.

What happens after we die?
Dust? Heaven? Hell? reincarnation? There are lot so of opinions.
What does it mean for how you live today?
Watch the video here: Continue reading

How Music Can Change Your Life… Even if it Wasn’t Your Intent

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How often have you heard someone say: “Wow… that song really moves me!”… or “That piece is so stirring…!” Well, there’s a reason for that: there’s an emotional connection… a bridge… which inexorably links our physical selves in this earthly world to our souls in the spiritual world. It’s one of the very few absolutes we can count on. And unless you’re sociopathic or a psychopath.. it’s inescapable. In other words, being touched in some way by any/all music that you hear makes an impact to some extent that’s unavoidable. One’s auditory connection to the physical world instantly translates any music you hear into emotional “triggers” that migrate immediately to the cerebellum and hippocampus (part of the brain’s limbic system) regions in the central and medial temporal lobe of the brain where neurons process the synapses into sensation… what we call “emotional feelings”.

The impact of these emotional feelings varies for myriad reasons of course, a few being one’s personality, likes/dislikes, environmental situations and so on. But there is no discussion that can argue against this impact and how this transferance moves our spiritual intent to new highs… or lows depending on the music. I said spiritual intent because the reality is that your emotions drive your spirit whether you want that or not.

And you CAN function with intent both physically and emotionally… and you should. Otherwise, as you no doubt have commented to yourself at times about some people you have seen, your life becomes aimless, your actions shiftless and without direction. Seems lately like there’s so many more people like that these days, young and old: without direction, without intent. I’m certain that if used correctly, music could help them.

The fascinating study of how truly impactful and enriching music is to humanity has in recent years become an entire and separate discipline of collegiate study: music therapy. Just visit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles or any hospital with major emphasis in children’s medicine and you will see music therapy being applied just as readily as pharmacological remedies. The point here is that the biological effect AND the spiritual effect BOTH need to be applied in many cases to aid in full and comprehensive treatment if a young patient is to be returned to full health. And I mean FULL health, which includes spiritual nourishment in equal amounts as medication. Music can and does provide emotional uplifting which raises the spirit in injured or diseased patients and obviously now, it is done with the intent that the process will manifest very positive results. It’s been proven. It works. Continue reading

In Memoriam…

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by Arsenio Rodriguez

These incredible arms that we are endowed with can move at will, to gesture praise or curse, to caress and strangle, to protect and destroy. These thoughts, feelings and speech that I carry, can arrange to communicate humbly and generate laughter, consolation, forgiveness, or in self-aggrandizement and ignorance, stimulate fear, violence, prejudice.

Thoughts and feelings, that in a secret whisper can poison the other through calumny and generalization, and fueled by my darkest fears, can align with the fears of others to give rise to a wave of hatred and animosity, however those same thoughts and feelings, when attuned to that inner voice that once said “let he who has no sins cast the first stone” they can shower instead, compassion, and the gift of forgiveness. This fascinating mind of ours! It has blessed us with technology, to heal and prolong life, to alleviate suffering, to look beyond our senses and magnify our awe, at the cosmic miracle of universe and life. But it also has given us the tools of mass destruction, the capacity to magnify the power of our strangling and sword carrying hands, to shower death in an instant, not just to a fighting face-to-face adversary, but to dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of our fellow living beings.

From the mass graves of Eastern Europe, the ovens of Germany, the fields of Rwanda, the prairies of western United States, the coliseums of Rome, the squares of Tienanmen, the slave trade of Africa, the religious wars of India, the crusades, the Armenian purge, the conquest of America, the “collateral damages”, the rape of Nanjing, the burnt flesh of Hiroshima, to the dance halls of Orlando, massacres have occurred all the time, as we know from recorded and not recorded history, perpetrated by governments, tribes, religions, ethnic groups, individuals, all who have become possessed by the fear inside, disguised as hatred for the demonized others. We have shed the blood of others so many times. Continue reading

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