In Memory of Max Walter Baas 7/31/61-3/17/21
This is my brother Max Walter Baas. He was born July 31st, 1961 with the cord wrapped around his neck. He was a blue baby. Walter was our father’s name and our grandmother’s maiden name. Baas (meaning “boss” in Dutch) is our paternal family name. Max was named to be the ultimate embodiment of our proud German family. He was the firstborn son of the firstborn son.
Max was always a little guy until he hit puberty, then finally reaching a moderate height of 5’8” or 5’9”. He was not a towering blonde and blue-eyed man like his father, but he had deep blue eyes with thick, gorgeous brown hair. He was always very fair skinned and a little pale. His short stature worried and brought criticism from our father, who thought he should be taller.
At two years of age, he drank some antifreeze in the garage thinking it looked like Kool-Aid. He was rushed to the hospital and had his stomach pumped.
At 15 years of age, he suffered a head on collision, riding minibikes without a helmet in our drive way. Undoubtably, he had a concussion, which at that time no one knew how to treat. He temporarily lost his hearing from the concussion, while also having a bout of swimmer’s ear that blocked his hearing. Temporarily, he lost about 75% of his hearing. He smoked pot regularly, and at one point took a large dose of acid, running off into the fields behind our home where he disappeared for days.
He returned home but continued to become more anxious and had to be hospitalized. Over the course of many years, he had several diagnoses, including schizophrenia. I remember coming home from college to see him in the hospital with my mother. We were walking down the hospital hallway and I saw this crippled young man standing at the end of the hall. His body was severely contorted, as if he were paralyzed. It wasn’t until I got closer that I recognized this young man was my brother. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to him. That weird physically crippled state resolved somehow. His mind remained layered under many medications and whatever factors contorted his brain, heart, and mind.
My mother took him to the Brian Bio Center in Princeton, headed by Dr. Carl Pfeiffer. I remember hearing Max was diagnosed with the Mauve factor. It was some kind of disease that, with a specific test, the urine turned a mauve color. I don’t remember anyone knowing how to treat it effectively or what it meant.
Flash forward to 2011, I am studying with Discovery Health Solutions and listening to several doctors, lecture about Pyroluria, aka HPU/KPU and Mauve factor. I sat glued to my seat learning about concussions, brain health, Lyme disease, family trauma and their links to anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. I also learned methods to treat them.
I learned that Pyroluria was a disease of elevated pyrroles leading to peeing out more B-6, zinc, and minerals than the body could replace. It could leave a person susceptible to mineral and serotonin deficiency and mood disorders such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, bi-polar, and schizophrenia. It can be inherited and set off by environmental factors. Patients are often pale with China-doll skin.
Max had a classic case of Pyroluria. He had all of the factors. Trauma, injury, gut issues, inherited genetics, drug use, and family stress. Lyme disease was almost certainly a factor. As kids we spent most of our childhood outdoors. We had all been bitten by ticks. I too, have been treated for Lyme successfully with meds and herbs over the years. I understand how it can derail your thinking and energy.
Unfortunately, by the time I learned about my brother’s diseases, he had already been institutionalized on and off for many years. He was put on major medications. He was beyond my care.
Max spent a lot of time making art, as many greatly tortured souls do. He was a primitive artist. He would gather objects laying around, tin cans, plastic bottles, straws, coffee-can lids, rubber bands, nails, old parts from lawn mowers, and lawn chairs to make his sculptures. Before his accidents, he was a motocross racer and daredevil. He always came in first at those races and did the most daring feats. His art always revolved around engines, mini-bikes, pistons, carburetors. All of these things were the things he loved best. They came from his best memories.
Max had been a smoker for all of his life. He had been diagnosed with COPD in the last few years. He also had a diagnosed condition of candida in his lungs, which was never treated. According to the doctors, it was too dangerous to treat. Supposedly, there were too many side effects. Perhaps they didn’t know how to effectively treat it or it wasn’t in his Medicaid treatable-diseases list. He tested positive asymptomatically for Covid in 2020. In 2021 he was given two Covid vaccines. He had been stable for years, but he died about one month later. He passed quietly and quickly, which was a blessing. He had suffered long enough.
I think of Max as a victim of his time. His medical conditions were not widely understood, nor easily treated. Pyroluria has become more widely known, at least in functional medical circles. Lyme disease is being fought over for accepted medical treatment and coverage. According to functional medicine doctors, yeasts, parasites, and other microbes are under recognized in Western allopathic care. However, the balance of the microbiome is becoming more appreciated for its importance in overall health. Brain health is more widely accepted as a source of depression and mental health. All of the factors including diet, microbes, concussions, and trauma are being more widely recognized as crucial factors influencing health and disease outcomes.
My brother Max experienced a life lacking in the benefit of what good specialized medical care can be today. He didn’t have the awareness, support or money for specialized care. I am grateful I was able to learn about his conditions. Even though I was unable to help him in a therapeutic way. I did my best to care for him as I could. His life taught me much about his diagnoses and how to better serve my clients. The importance of brain health, the microbiome and personal biochemistry are critical pieces in understanding our total wellbeing.
In his death, he offered us some familial healing. My distant relatives came together to mourn. We started speaking to each other again. Some people’s lives teach us about how we could do things better. Max was such a soul. He made the best of what he could with what he had. His sculptures are a testament to that.
Max died a year ago ... March 17th 2021. I write this in his honor and memory.