Thank you for visiting this page. My name is Zelda Okia. I am a physician, a forensic pathologist / medical examiner, and a Life and Weight Loss Coach! I tell people I have transitioned from death into life. My goal is to impact people so they can realize how wonderful life can truly be. I work with them to achieve their goals so that their legacy is one of significance and impact.
Forensic Pathology deals with the medical-legal aspects of death. I perform autopsies to find out why people have died. Many of the people I autopsy have suffered violent deaths, some at the hands of other, but sadly most by their own hands. Not just the obvious suicide, but slow, painful deaths caused by poor choices, bad decisions, and lack of sound judgement. Proper coaching can change that negative trajectory into something positive. I help people make choices that are life affirming.
My decision to become a coach is inspired by the patients I see on my autopsy table. Many of those lives were unexpectedly cut short. Many had unfinished business. They had activities in which they were involved. They were employees, husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers. You may have known them in life, I get to know them in death.
When the body comes into my morgue, I view that as a chance for me to meet them, hear their story, and learn from them, like other doctors do. In a sense, these dead bodies “talk” to me. They send me messages which I am able to convey to living people so they may also learn, understand, and grow and perhaps, find closure. My autopsy findings may motivate those still living to change their behaviors, perhaps schedule an appointment to see a doctor about their own health, or make amends as they confront their own mortality.
The message of death is carried in the form of a death certificate and an autopsy report. It is read by family members, close friends, insurance companies, law enforcement officials, attorneys, judges, and beyond, depending on the implications of the cause of death. Thus, my reach extends far beyond the dead (the autopsy) to affect the living.
This blog is about what I have discovered from studying the dead, and what this has taught me about living. Every morning as I drive to work, I wonder what bodies await me. When I look inside the morgue cooler, the bodies are wrapped in body bags so I can only make out their general size and shape. I can tell if they are fat or skinny, tall or short. I have to physically open the bag to discover their race, facial features, injury patterns, etc.
Every dead body has a story to tell that can help those of us still living. The dead talk and they talk to me. I am amazed how much they can say in their death, and I wonder how much they said or tried to say while they were alive? Was anybody listening?
This blog is for families, and specifically parents. What inspired me to create this blog was seeing the deaths of so many young people in recent years due to heroin overdoses.
Heroin has been around since 5000 B.C. when in Sumeria, opium was described as “joy plant.” Through the ages, it has undergone many variations and uses. But todays heroin is not the heroin of our ancestors or even our grandparent’s or parent’s generation. Todays heroin is cheap, pure, more accessible, more deadly, and far more addictive than ever. People are dying quicker and at much younger ages than in the past and it is affecting people across every economic strata. A large number of people from the millenial generation have already died, and their very young children are growing up alone and more disillusioned. This heroin and opiate drug crisis will unfortunately fuel yet another generation of heroin and opiate addicts. This blog is my attempt to encourage and empower parents with children that are currently using drugs or may use drugs in the future. It is also written for those families that have lost a child to heroin addiction. I want to encourage them that it is still possible to have a whole and healthy family. I hope to show these parents that they can heal and anticipate a better future for themselves and their children.
Like most doctors, I strive to see people live long and productive lives. I enjoy watching babies become children, pre-teens become teens, adolescents become young adults, and the middle aged become seniors. I like to see the natural progression through all stages of life. I believe that no matter the circumstances, whatever the hardship, we all can experience a joy that overrides any depression. I want to see my patients grow up, get married, have children, have grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I know, it is odd coming from a Forensic Pathologist. But I desired that of all the dead people that come across my autopsy table.
Sadly, many of the opiate addicted patients did not make it to or through adolescence and young adulthood. Seeing teenagers and young adults brought down by such a ruthless, heartless taskmaster as heroin, made me stop and try to find an answer to the “why” that loomed in my own mind. As I began to study and talk with people that had dealt with this topic, I wished to share what I learned, and this led to my writing this book.
When I first started practicing medicine in the early 2000, I never gave much thought to heroin. I thought it was gone. In the early 1980’s and 1990’s, when intravenous drug abuse became taboo because of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), people were frightened by the sight of “dead men walking. Poor, emaciated drug addicts with their bodies destroyed by AIDS frightened young people into not abusing intravenous drugs. But today, heroin can be snorted and smoked. You don’t have to inject it.
The kids don’t fear it. Additionally, the new drugs against HIV/AIDS allow HIV positive people to never develop AIDS. Plus, with the availability of Narcan (a drug that reverses the effects of opiates), many heroin addicts believe they can easily be “brought back” from death when they do overdose. We have made it so teenagers and young people do not see the ugly side of heroin addiction.
I hope this book will enliven parents to wake up and begin to take a stand against drug abuse. I believe parents are the greatest, most important and powerful influencers in whether their child uses drugs or not. Rehabilitation, law enforcement, jail, all these are important armamentaria, but the escalation and continuation to addiction and death is still largely decided through the interactions of the drug addict, their parents, and the family unit. I hope this blog will help parents to begin to watch for signs of abuse or problematic behaviors in their children. Kids communicate continuously. You just have to recognize it.
Once you recognize the signs of drug addiction or escalation in drug use, then seek help, not only for your drug addicted child, but also for yourself and your family. Drug addiction is a mental, physical, and psychosocial disorder. I write this blog to encourage and enable parents to psychologically put on their own oxygen masks before or while they are helping their child with theirs.