Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Squash and Shame

As an athlete having RA doesn't jive so well. I have experienced pain before but it's all been self induced. I've pushed pushed myself up 14,000 foot peaks with my bike strapped on my bike, and not stopped for 24 hours; I've ridden my bike with no more than an hour of sleep per night for 5 days, I've gotten lost and bushwacked 3 hours by myself to find my way out down some steep and overgrown ravine. I can endure not only pain but uncertainty. I'm still realizing that perhaps I did not come here to "heal" my RA but to heal me.

Although it's my second official day on solid food, the realizations keep flowing. Yesterday I had steamed zuchinni and today it's steamed squash. I know, the same thing right? Well technically it's winter squash and I'm grateful for the variation. They said when I start eating again I will have some flare ups, hopefully only minor, and then as I heal my gut, they will go away.....eventually! I am healing my reaction and emotional relationship with RA. Knowing what I knew then and knowing what I know now has helped me not only understand this disease process, but not be so scared of it. Instead of reacting, crying, getting angry, becoming irritated with a stranger, or praying for it to go away forever, I am sitting or learning to sit. Again this isn't me, this RA, it's just something I have.

Back to the bike and my point of all that, besides tooting my own horn. The point is I am so happy I ran myself into the ground on my bike because who knows if I'll do it again, who knows if I want to. It seems like a had a really short go of it, luckier though than some. My friend James Lindenblatt had an even shorter go here on earth and he did a lot. I am grateful for my life here and now. I have been ashamed of having RA because I relate it to being weak. Having a "crippling" illness is not me and giving in to this is surrendering to RA and I have not wanted to do that. I am learning that by surrendering I gain power. I can have this in my life without becoming it. As soon as I attach so much emotion and reaction and let negative opinions affect me, I have not surrendered, I have drowned.

Please understand that when I say negative opinions, I mean anything that is fear based. the "well you can't do that" or "you have to take meds else your joints will be destroyed". I need to be positive, that is my medicine and please respect that. I know you mean well, but when I'm hit with these "can't" and "shouldn't" statements I have to work extra hard to not let them turn my stomach to mush and that hurts me. Please know I am a smart well read woman and I know what I'm doing and I will do the best I can.

Although I surrender I am still strong and inspired and if I can describe my journey I feel the following verse from Dylan Thomas' poem "Do not go gentle....." describes my thoughts the best:

                                                  Do not go gentle into that good night,
                                                  Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
                                                  Rage, rage against the dying of the light

I am not losing I am just following a path I had NO idea existed for me.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Breaking Fast; It's Not About the Food

I'm going to try and post a ridiculous video documenting my first juice ingestion. It's a bit dramatic. I feel pretty self absorbed during all of this, the eating, or in my case the not eating and such. I just read a profound statement that reminded me not to attach myself to any of this; not the illness, the pain, the fasting, the healing, the whatever. I'm not any of this, I'm just me. I have been self absorbed over the past few months and some of my relationships have paid the price. The fact is although being in pain daily is hard, it's not all I have. I am so rich with friends and family and a great husband who loves me unconditionally. I have three therapy dogs who at times drive me up a wall, but at the end of the day make me a better person. I'm reading this book by Ann Lamott and she says "Having a good dog is the closest some of us will ever come to knowing the direct love of a mother." I am lucky enough to be a mother of three and although they are not "good" all the time, they are never not happy to see me.

My next book to read is Anatomy of the Spirit. Caroline Myss talks about why so many of us identify with their trauma or their dis-ease, as if it identifies who they are. I have been definitely mulling this one over even before I read the book description. My work is to find away to have pain but not let it have me. Eating feeds the body, fasting feeds the soul.

Ingrid struck my heart strings yesterday reminding me that we don't need to be fixed, we need to be loved. When you imply that someone needs fixing you're saying they're broken. Nobody wants to feel broken. I am guilty of wanting to fix people including myself. If I've ever made you feel that way I am truly sorry and I promise to no longer do that.

Back to some self absorption time. Today I broke my fast with cucumber juice, 4 glasses, one at 8:30, 12, 3 and 5. Just as I was finishing one they would bring me another. Key to re-feeding is to go SLOW and sip. Stomach not so great today but during fasting all things get wacky including our female cycles; at least it's not a UTI, as I initially thought.

During this whole fast I've been absolutely obsessed with food. I spend a lot of time looking at food, talking about food, talking about things I can make and how with my food limitations I can create these masterpieces of deliciousness. My roommate Kat and I call it food porn. I am obsessed, I LOVE food. I simply cannot wait to go home and start making food. Everything I make for the next
month will be only cooked vegetables but I am ready. I think of how I can cook them: steamed, roasted, baked, dehydrated, mashed, pureed, made into a burger type dish, a casserole, a stir fry without rice. It is remarkable to go without food for so long, the appreciation I have is tremendous. And when I think of those who are starving not by choice I am truly empathetic. I hope this little fast makes me a more generous and caring person.

Day 10; Horizontal Time

It's 5:30 a.m., the morning of my breaking fast day. Yesterday was the tenth day of water. I will get cucumber juice sometime around 9:00. I wake up stupid early and go to bed much later than at home, just so I don't wake up even earlier than stupid. 

I had a wonderful visit from a dear "old" friend, Ingrid, yesterday who lives nearby. Prior to yesterday we hadn't seen eachother in 5 years nor spoken. Ingrid is one of those friends that you can literally pick up where you left off with. We sat and talked from the minute she arrived to the minute she left, 3 hours later. She is such a dear sister and having her visit was a true gift for many reasons. 

Yesterday was exhausting. I spent a lot of time in the horizontal position, my new favorite pose! My legs are getting weaker, and walking downstairs is a task in itself. I feel like these are all very normal expectations of a faster. Soon to pass as I begin my caloric reintroduction today. Last night I once again hit the bed exhausted only to find myself wide awake with brain activity. It really has its' similarities to my experience racing the Colorado Trail. 

My brain is struggling finding words. Again a normal thing, my fasting cohorts have the same problem. Writing this blog feels boring right now. I moved rooms though, I have a great pod with quiet people who mostly don't come out of their rooms. I refer to us as the skinnies because there are two men that don't get out of bed much in order to conserve energy and not burn muscle and then Kat and I. A lot of people here aren't that thin, hence there retreat to health I think. I have befriended a fellow Kat and she is my new roomate. Having eachother makes a huge difference and we both feel we don't need to leave the unit since the other is here!

I decided not to put up with intrusive and toxic roomate anymore, Kat helped me seal the deal and I am so grateful I followed her advice. 

I am not feeling so great right now so I am going to go. 
Stats: 135.8, VS normal, mostly pain free (in comparison) but morning stiffness in left index finger and soreness/swelling in tops in bottoms of feet. 
Lots of stomach gurgling (detoxing)
Waves of nausea this morning. arghhh, just in time for juicing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 9: Fear

Courage is what lies on the other side of fear. We earn the honor if we walk through what we fear. I'm finding that the hardest thing about this walk through is what my brain has wrongfully told me it was all about. One of my favorite quotes that I read to my patients is off of a Yogi's FB page, "If you want something you've never had, you'll have to do something you've never done." Fear shows itself in different shapes and sizes. There is fear of losing, even fear of winning, fear of failure and success, fear of relationships, commitment, getting hurt, getting sick, fear of pain, fear of being seen or not seen, fear of others and fear of yourself. This is a short list. Fear is when you talk yourself out of doing something (this can be a good thing, say in cases of survival).

Although I think we all deal with fear on a daily basis, I think there have been only a few times in my life that I have been truly afraid, like afraid for my life afraid. I want to write about this since it's coming up for me here and writing is about truth in hopes that I may be able to help someone else. I met someone once that wasn't a good person. I am a trusting person and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I trusted him and he took advantage of that to cause me harm. I was travelling in Senegal at the time and I was alone. I didn't make great choices leading up to the event and yet I accept no fault. I was in a locked room with him as he threatened me, hit my face, my left cheek to be specific, and called me horrible names. Needless to say fear overcame me AND saved me. My survival instincts kicked in and without too many details (I'll be saving those for my memoirs) I found a way out. Prior to escaping I said out loud Please God Help Me! He told me I had no God. It wasn't until I called God into the room that things shifted. Maybe it was timing, a mere coincidence, I don't care, I found safety.

Following my escape (I love the dramatics of that word!), I found many angels, or they found me. It was one after the other and the details would exceed the purpose of this blog. The point is I walked through the scariest experience of my life and came out of it, however not unscathed. It changed my life in many ways, and all the ways are good because life isn't perfect. I embrace it all because I know in my heart it leads me to where I need to go and where I'm meant to go. This RA has led me here to True North, to do a water fast for my painful and swollen joints, yet as I suspected the healing is just beginning and it's been more of a spiritual journey.

Writing about what comes up for me here helps me release all the layers of emotional toxins I've been storing. As I let all these toxins out, I heal. When my friend hit me, my stomach turned to mush, it burned and ached. Looking back now I see the connection. RA and Leaky Gut Syndrome are linked (I'll be doing a test after I'm home). It's a long story so Google it if you're interested and read what Dr. Klaper writes and has researched. We store our emotions in our body, our tissues, muscles, intestines and other organs. I have had anxiety, some depression on and off, and low self confidence for a lot of my adult life. I attribute all these things to unresolved trauma. And trauma does not have to mean getting hit, or stabbed or shot, it can mean whatever trauma means to you as an individual.

One more day of fasting and I feel excited and emotional. Food has been the culprit to inflammation and pain in my life as of late. It is hard to think the pain may come back, it is exhausting. I have fear around this. Please tell me how to walk through that fear. How do I embrace THIS pain? I have a lot to learn and this is just the beginning of my journey.

weight 136.6
Vital signs, specifically pulse "beautiful" (she said I could keep fasting based on my pulse, i said no chance)
Orthostatic Hypotension persists, totally normal because I'm not eating
Horizontal time is the best time, promotes healing, if only it didn't cause restlessness


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 8; Hangry

The definition of hangry is when hungriness causes anger, or so we believe. I'll be submitting it to Webster's next year. There is a buzzing in my body that is difficult to explain but I'll try. Luckily this buzzing experience is more prominent at nighttime as my body gets ready for its' usual bedtime. I feel like I know what a patient of mine felt when she couldn't sleep, she would pace, walk in place, and feel like she was going mad. Did I mention I was a  psychiatric nurse? I can only understand this buzzing to be my body's reaction to the fast on a much more visceral level maybe even spiritual.

After a difficult day of sitting around in the sun, lying in bed, going to a cooking demo (I know I'm a masochist) and doing some gentle yoga, I found myself hangry. I took it out on my husband, of course! I have a rather intrusive roommate that does not respect boundaries. I have boundary issues, letting people give me too much of their baggage. It's a good lesson and experiment for me. As a psychiatric RN I normally have to endure this sort of behavior to a point. As a faster I don't. I've been able to draw the lines here because I have no other choice. If I use one ounce of energy elsewhere I think I literally will collapse. I'm sitting with the stuff that comes out for me here. I don't have to work anything out with her or have a talk, I can just ignore her and not engage and it's ok. Life is a bit more simple when you're starving.

Back to my hanger or what I'm cowardly calling this feeling. I feel like I want to rip my hair out, beat the crap out of my muscles or have someone do it for me, and do a thousand jumping jacks all at once. Instead I did yoga last night, my back pain disappeared, just like that. I didn't do gentle yoga per say. I stretched to a new level with greater flexibility and calmness. I touched my tongue to my nose and then tried to swallow it. I went outside and did laps around the 100 meter courtyard. I did Qigong in front of the shallow fountain. I swung my arms up and down and shook them out. I came back to my room, read and went to sleep. Prior to falling asleep I said a prayer that went like this: Please God help me sleep, please God help me sleep, please God help me sleep. Miraculously I fell asleep around midnight and woke up at 4:30!

I'm sitting with the emotions that are coming up and realizing that fasting involves way more than food or no food. Fasting is deep, and there are layers upon layers to detox from your digestive tract to your heart to your brain. Keep in mind I'm coming off an antidepressant which is poison, no offense, remembering that I'm a psych nurse (read Anatomy of an Epidemic). The fact that my brain is literally buzzing, I mean I sometimes have a buzzing sound and visual affect, tells me this Lexapro isn't such a good deal. I'm thankful to be making the change. My clean and healthy new diet will ensure a happy and healthy brain and knowing that is helping me get through this.

On Monday I break my fast. The re-feed for autoimmune illnesses is a tedious journey. When I say journey I mean 6 months to a year. My re-feed goes something like this: 
                                 Day 1: peeled cucumber juice x 4
                                 Day 2: day 1 plus ONE steamed veg of my choice on the "safe" list
                                 Day 3: day 1 and day 2 (as long as I had no reaction) plus another steamed veg
                                 Day 4: day 1,2,3 plus another veg, again as long as no reaction.

Are you getting the picture? If I have a reaction I eliminate that food and go back to my safe list which by day two may only be cucumbers if day two's veg flares me up.  I can gradually introduce my second food group of raw vegetables and continue as above. Beans come after, then nuts and seeds, followed by fruits. They recommend holding off on fruits for 2 months since RA patients react to fruits, probably the sugar. In 4 months I can add some grains, rice, steel cut oats, Quinoa. Some choose not to add grains.....flare ups! Eventually after my gut heals I can try to reintroduce food again if I initially had a reaction to them. I have lots of foods to avoid, like the nightshade family, until all symptoms clear completely without recurrence. 

At this point any food sounds fabulous so I CANNOT wait for cucumber juice and steamed zucchini. I will heal, I am confident of that. My roommate with RA is not doing too well, she is in a lot of pain. Most likely this is because of all the medications she has tried prior to coming. All that junk lives in your body, in your tissues. True, I do not want to ruin my joints but I know medicine for RA is not the answer. One of the most successful medications for treating RA, I cannot take because I had Melanoma and it can cause melanoma. I consider this a blessing in disguise. Why would I want to take a medication, regardless if I had melanoma or not, that causes cancer? If I had the energy I would elaborate on the medication, diet, etc. I don't have the steam to defend this at the moment, go to Dr. if interested. 

Here is what I know. In my heart lies truth and health and grace. Have I mastered these yet? Have any of us? It may take a lifetime to do so and if that is my path, I will follow. I have been hiding from faith, from God from my friends who don't believe in God. I have not been walking my true path out of shame, embarrassment, wanting to fit it. I love all my friends, agnostic, atheist, Christian and Buddhist alike. I do not judge your faith or path. Why have I been assuming you would judge mine? I am still me, just getting to know another part of me and I kind of like her. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 7; Water, water and more water

You're taught to chew your water here. Hunger and cravings are so strong that chewing your water should help. I'm not sold on this. However, I will try to do everything recommended to me. Water tastes like sugar. When I drink it it seems to collect in my gums and release a sugary saliva response. I brush my entire mouth to rid the taste out. They only want you drinking 50-60 ounces of water per day which makes sense. Water intoxication is a serious condition that is caused by too much water and not enough sodium. Hyponatremia then kicks in which means sodium deficiency and problems can arise from there. Of course as a well educated practicing RN I know all this. As a faster I am going through something I've never gone through before and while walking this line I am able to understand my body on a much deeper level. I am watching great videos and going to lectures by Dr. Klaper. He is an extremely intelligent MD who has practiced emergency, orthopedics, obstetrics, anasthesia and more medicine and has a great love and facination for the human body. His understanding of digestion and the way he teaches it are ingenius. Homosapiens are really designed to eat a plant based diet. Granted not everyone will do this, so just eat less meat, don't make it the center of your plate, make it a condiment. Your body will thank you.

I'm down to 137 today. I'm not to worry because as soon as I start eating the weight will come back on. You loose a lot of weight in the first week because when you're not taking in salt and your body drops water. Hence, most of the weight is water weight. Only drinking water allows all your organs to REST. Especially with disease process your body can't get ahead because so much energy is consumed on digestion alone. Fasting allows your body to heal and gives your poor organs a break. The longer you fast the more toxins get released and the deeper you heal, sometimes and hopefully as deep as the soul.

Toxins are surrounded by fat and stored in our body. Toxins are anything from dairy, meat, fish, animal products, NSAIDS, drugs, caffeine, excess alcohol, sugar and salt. Anywher between day 3 and 5 your body kicks into ketosis, the fat burning stage of the fast. On the first days your body is going on glucose stores. During ketosis the fat releases and so do the toxins. As toxins release you will feel them. I feel them in my lower back and hips. The toxins go to the bloodstream which passes through the muscles and tendons and the larger the muscle the more blood flow and sometimes the more aches. Drink more water to help flush it all out.

I am exhausted, lightheaded when I go from sitting to standing and I just want to be horizontal. I feel like I can fall into a deep sleep for hours. Instead I close my eyes and my brain buzzes. It's inferiorating and humbling. Because it brings up feelings of irritation and impatience I feel I should be grateful and I'm working on that. I actually have time to work things out here and so I'm doing my best to take advantage of that. Finding the emotion and finding where in my body it settles and going from there.

Last night I woke up with such an irritated antsy feeling in my left side. I got up to pee at 1:00 a.m. and couldn't stay in bed after. I went outside and looked at the dark sky, no stars, no moon, no Colorado. I miss home and I love where I live and feel so grateful for my life. I am learning deep appreciation for my life, my husband, dogs, job, yoga studio, family and friends. I am overwhelmed by my support system. I hope I can reciprocate all that I have been given and not lead a selfish life.

My left sided irritation went away when I realized I shouldn't run from it, change it or fix it. I sat with it and things from the past came up. I fell back to sleep eventually not knowing if I found any answers. I guess I don't need answers. I have been sitting in the moment more. What choice do I have? I contemplate why I am always planning, thinking ahead or behind. I am gaining the understanding of the here and now. This is it, this moment matters the most. Why are we always running for the future? Just be.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day 6; Skinny is Overrated

I dropped below 140 in weight today.  I don't think I've weighed this little since High School.  As many teenage girls think, I probably thought I was overweight then.  I am the first to admit that I've had body image issues most of my life, until now.  I want to reach my beautiful sisters of the world and hope you hear me.  I miss my curves! I don't think I wear 139 well, physically nor emotionally. At one point not long ago I was excited about getting skinny, knowing I wouldn't stay this way but just to see, catch a glimpse of a long ago me.  I can honestly say with much gratitude that I'm just not that into it; skinny is overrated.  I look bony and frail.  Having my tight jeans fit loosely doesn't mean what I thought it would mean a month or even a week ago.  This fast is healing me from the inside out. Sisters, if you want to be thin to be healthy then go for it! If you want to be thin because fake models (who by the way are teenagers who haven't developed yet and smoke cigarettes and drink diet coke so they don't have to eat) inspire you, think again. We must love our bodies and ourselves, they are our gifts, we must honor them and be gracious. Fixating on weight and looks will only draw you deeper into this Pleasure Trap (the model that True North is based on) and if you continue in this cycle your struggles will only deepen.  Go within, I beg you. Do not ignore what lies at the center of your soul, it's telling you the truth.

Now that was heavy.  I'm all wise now that I've water fasted for 6 days and I think I know it all. I won't start preaching that everyone should water fast to solve all their problems don't worry, although I don't think it's the worst idea.  I just know I've let comments hurt me in the past especially as a mountain bike racer.  I race against a lot of petite fit girls who easily weight 20-40 pounds less than me. I've had people refer to me as bigger and say things like "if you lose 5 pounds you'll probably be faster on your bike". It's hurtful when someone tells you something about YOUR body in reference to changing it.  It's MY body and I can do with it what I want. I also find that competitive athletes fixate on weight so I just happen to be in the crowd where I am more susceptible to that sort of commentary.  
We live in a tough society, one that vomits skinny, pretty and young all over us. People are payed BIG bucks on marketing for companies that sell skinny, do not fall into the trap!

Ok, I guess I had something to say about that!  Moving on to a totally different subject will go along with my racing thoughts theme for today.  Have you ever looked at your tongue?  Now I mean really looked at it? It's truly a fascinating  little thing. As I was dry brushing my teeth, mouth, tongue, gums and whatever else I could find in there I noticed how spectacular the tongue is. I checked out every inch of it, mostly underneath. It is colorful under there. My veins pop out, there are interesting nodular things and it's movements are extraordinary. Not only all that but what the tongue does and is responsible for is mind blowing. There are what seems like thousands (this is not a scientific fact) of taste buds and receptors on that sucker. Hunger, according to an intern here, does not come from the stomach but rather the tongue. I told him I would let my stomach know. All our food addictions start in the tongue. Should we cut it off?

Today was a rough day and I'm feeling much better. My back still hurts, I'm tired but can't sleep and I'm lightheaded and occasionally dizzy. My head spins at times. Coming of the Lexapro causes a slight vertigo effect, it feels like my brain gets zapped every now and again if I move my eyes just the right way. Getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom is a feet in itself. I did chair yoga class because I didn't have the energy for the oh-so-intense gentle mat Yin yoga. Ha! Chair yoga had its challenges but I made it through without passing out.

I embrace every moment of this even though I sound like a complainer. I will finish the fast, break the fast, eat again and look back with little remembrance of how it was like to feel this hungry. I look at recipes a lot on great Vegan sights and CANNOT wait to try them out. I pray to have this desire when I go home to the eating world. Hunger I think really is like pain, you forget how bad it is when you finish. Just as I've done so many times before with races that I said I'd never do again, I'm sure I will do with this fast. I'll probably be planning my next one before the plane touches Durango and think, next time I'll do 20 days!

Yours Hungrily,


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 4 and 5 Water Fasting

Yesterday I woke up crying, for no particular reason.  Today I cried because I thought the guy that I bought my Pellegrino from was rude.  Emotional lability is a part of fasting.  I am also coming off of a low dose antidepressant and that can have side effects all on its' own.  I can't water fast and take meds, I could juice fast and do it but I wanted to water fast.  Plus I have wanted to come off Lexapro for a while and tried unsuccessfully this past winter.  I'm not crying a lot, just when I get a little tipped over as we say in the psychiatric nursing world.  No better time to clear a drug from your system than when you're fasting!

My weight is 141 and vital signs all normal.  The interns (MD students) and D.O.'s check on you twice daily.  These friendly faces visit inpatients once in the morning to take vitals, assess sleeping, symptoms of nausea, dizziness, pain, urination and irregular heart rate.  They also do a urinalysis when you arrive and on Mondays.  I got my blood drawn Monday, and my lab results are perfect.  I have what they call, cardiac awareness.  My heart beat is felt strongly in my gums, chest, Aorta, ears. It keeps me up at night, lovely!  It's pretty normal when you're fasting.  My back pain went from uncomfortable to bad yesterday, the massage helped but it came back today, just less intense. Back pain is caused a lot of times because of its proximity to so many organs.  As my kidneys and liver release toxins, I feel it.  I embrace it as it means I'm detoxing.  However, one intern informed me that they want to look at all possible reasons and it may not just be the detox alone.  Of course they want to make sure you don't have a injury, sprain, fracture, etc. I don't think I do. I'm feeling a bit better this afternoon and definitely not worse so I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. 

Lots of time on my hands here at True North.  I'm not really supposed to be doing much though, just resting, relaxing, meditating, praying, going to lectures, doing puzzles, talking with other patients, watching videos.  It's really a time to chill.  I was so looking forward to taking time off work to do this and after one or two days I started to get a little bored.  I'm not sleeping great, some people don't while fasting.  They don't worry too much as you don't have much to do and even though I'm not sleeping great, I get lots of down time otherwise, so my body is in fact resting.

I toss and turn at night before I'm able to sleep.  I awake before the sun.  It's a different tired feeling.  It's hard to describe, I have brain energy, not body.  My body feels energized on some levels and tired on others.  I think it's because I have no food and coming from a place where food contributed to my fatigue, not having it gives me more energy.  When I break my fast I will "refeed" slowly, starting with a vegetable juice and then something like steamed zucchini, and then gradually increasing from there.  RA is a touchy illness, it doesn't respond well to a LOT of food.  I'll be leaving with the list of safe foods.  The reintroduction of food is a sensitive process, flare ups are probable, I'm praying for a miracle though!  

My health is not just about eating.  I am finding the benefits of having a daily meditation and prayer practice. Fasting is a time of self absorption.  We talk about ourselves a lot, mainly our health. I'm learning valuable information from others, hearing their stories is uplifting and sometimes just a bummer.  My path is my path though and no matter what someone else's experience is, mine will be different.  It's interesting how many people come here not following the vegan SOS free diet and those that intend to return eating off "the plan".  The most successful patients are the ones that eat cleanly and follow this program.  They admit that one fast doesn't always do it and coming back a few times may be necessary.  I can use this as my vacation for the next few years to get well if necessary.  I am fasting 10 days and I have 41 years of who knows what in my system.  There are tiers to fasting, to healing.  I am optimistic and realistic and I still pray for complete healing and also pray for acceptance of what I am given.  I do intend to get back on my bike like before and I think I may be a force to be reckoned with, however in a way different than you're thinking!

Still in hunger, 


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Day Three Water Fast

I pooped today.  Sorry but this is my diary of my experience and I want to make sure I keep track of these significant details.  Why is this worth mentioning?  Typically during a fast you don't move your bowels.  I consider myself lucky because more toxins are being excreted from my body.  Other key areas to note include this theory I've heard that by day three the hunger goes away.  I'm not so lucky in this department.  I can't stop thinking about food!  I have been indulging myself by looking up delicious recipes and talking again about food with people.  I'm getting great ideas and cannot wait to cook!  I was just speaking with a man who has been fasting for 26 days!  He looks normal and says he's doing "great".  I feel the harder the fast, the more you get out of it.  Today's been a harder day for me.

I woke up with terrible back pain.  Back pain is common during fasting, for various reasons.  Old injuries tend to creep up when you're fasting and I have had some minor back stuff over the years.  It's one of my weaker spots and muscle tightness there has left me unable to walk.  It could be because of the toxins moving through your intestines and connecting nerves close to your lower back that attributes as well.  That wasn't a very sophisticated explanation but forgive me, I haven't eaten in 3 days.  Lastly because you do more lying around than normal, the lack of mobility can affect some people.  I did go on a walk today, it's impossible to stay on campus.  I know my body well enough to know if I'm too weak to walk so I took a chance for mental health's sake.

I slept restlessly last night and woke at some obscenely early hour and was unaable to fall back to sleep.  I did not nap today like the last two days in hopes to sleep better tonight.  I have decided to change my water up a bit and started drinking it warm.  I am also drinking fizzy water tonight (totally allowed) to help settle some uncomfortable stomach irritation.

It's amazing the food that looks so appetizing when you're fasting versus not fasting.  Man have I  been missing out on iceburg lettuce all these years.  I am hoping that my new found cravings for pure health food lasts well beyond the breaking of this fast.

Tomorrow I'll have my bloodwork drawn in the morning for the first time just to check that nothing is going awry during this fast.  I'm getting a massage to help with this back pain.  This is the life if I could only eat all the deliciousness around me.

The pain in my hands is nearly gone.  My feet are still tender and sore some.  My BP was 105/70, HR 60 and weight down again to 145.6.

I have no creative writing skills at the moment.  Or maybe I never did and thought I did because my brain was fuzzier on food than off!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Day Two Water Fast

I'm more hungry today than I was yesterday.  I am feeding this by talking about food, recipes, looking at cookbooks and hanging out with eaters.  I had enough just a bit ago as I felt my body reach a more nauseating level of hunger; and so I walked away to retreat to my room.  Talking and listening are getting a little harder.  Hunger distracts me in waves.  It reminds me of pain I would feel during my numerous Colorado Trail Races, it would come and go.  Like pain hunger is not a comforting feeling and luckily it is not constant.

The conversations here are stimulating, they revolve around food, hunger, and health.  It's nice to be around like minded health concsious folks who are dedicated to getting well through lifestyle change mainly found in the diet.  I feel lucky in the sense that if I didn't have RA I would not have been motivated to make this huge change.  I am working on embracing this and for me that looks like embracing health and healing and change.

I live in a little pod with 2 other women.  I share a bathroom with one and the living space with all three.  There is a kitchen with nothing in it, no cooking allowed in there.  There is a coffee pot that sits on the counter, cruelly reminding me of my biggest weakness, essentially my heroine.  It's there to make hot water in case cold or room temperature water get boring. My one roomate has RA as well, she is from Norway.  She travelled here to fast for 14 -21 days because she has been on a slew of RA meds that haven't worked for her.  She's optimistically giving this a try, she's a wonderful lady.

The fasting rules are clear.  There is no cooking in your kitchen.  No showers or baths as your fainting risk goes from good to great.  No leaving the premises because they don't want you fainting in public and cracking your face open.  No use of any products while water fasting such as toothpaste, body creams, perfumes, scented shampooos/conditioners or soaps.  The point of a fast is to get things out not put them back in.  By refraining from all products your body can gain the optimal beneftis of the fast without any interruption.

Not everyone fasts on water.  Some do a juice fast and others just eat a no SOS (salt, oil, sugar) vegan diet while here.  This is the diet I followed with several cheats before I came.  Ironically I fell into the Paleo trap for quite some time prior to being a vegan.  It's interesting to learn the benefirts of this diet and the detriments of a Paleo one.  I always was weary of eating all that meat, turns out my instincts were right on.  Mainly we get all the protein and fats we need from vegetables.  Do the research and you'll understand.  Which leads me to the word research.  We have a plethora of educational DVDs to watch on diet, health, nutrition, psychology, you name it.  We also have daily optional lectures.  Today Dr. Lisle spoke, PhD in Psychology, very smart dude.  He was able to answer my question on correlation is not causation and how research is manipulated to benefit many merchants. He talked today about DNA and genetic makeup and wiring; some hard to follow with this hunger distraction and other stuff resonated so well.  Education is power and if I want to be successful with this diet I need the knowledge to help me succeed.  This place feeds you knowledge.

I would like to keep track of my daily physcial assessment so here it goes.  In December of this year I was 165 lbs.  Since eating the vegan and no salt, sugar, oil diet I dropped down to 155 lbs on average.  Before leaving I was 152.5 on Wednesday on vegetables and fruits for 1.5 days.  On Thursday I weighed 148.8 and today 147.5.  I have not weighed in the 140s in forever and although my goal here is not weight loss it's kind of fun to see this body change.  Weight loss is obviously inevetible with a water fast but when I go back to eating my goal is to maintain a healthly weight.  My BP is 106/69, heart rate 50 and temperature 97.9 today.  I'm a little hunger crampy but not nauseous.  I get an occasional head rush upon standing and my brain is struggling to find creativity to write this blog.  Oh I almost forgot to comment on the whole reason for me being here, my PAIN.  Everyday my pain is less and less and my range of motion in my fingers increases.  Earlier this week I could barely move my thumbs due to the pain and swelling.  Today my thumbs are pain free and my hands don't throb.  My feet are less swollen and easier to walk on without limping.

I'm tired of writing now.  More tomorrow!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Day One Water Fast

So much has happened since my last post that I sort of wonder what the point of starting now is. Nevertheless here I am for a reason that has not quite revealed itself yet.  Literally I am sitting on a lawn chair on a balcony outside my room in Santa Rosa, California at True North Health Center.  It's  a beautiful day with perfect temperatures.  I sit overlooking the view of the courtyard below with the colorful rose garden and just beyond the soothing sound of water from the fountain.  People are milling about, some slower than others. People fast anywhere from 10-40 days here.  I know, I'm sure you're coming up with all sorts of reasons why this is wrong but just wait.  Historically fasting has been around for a long time.  I'm talking Jesus and Moses long time.  Lots of skeptics think and have felt free to tell me that your brain needs food and can't live on water alone.  No offense but no duh.  I plan to eat again and so do the others.  Fasting allows for great things, a time to heal, a time when your body, instead of using up to 80% energy to digest food, can use that energy to heal.  What a fabulous concept right?  Back to why I am here.  I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and my unwillingness to accept this is evident in the fact that every time I type the word my spell check asks if this is what I truly mean.  I started having pain a year ago and here I am, I'll skip the other boring details of how and where and what.  I developed a whole foods plant based diet or WFPBD and based on much research it works for many things.  Rebooting my system with a water fast and slowly reintroducing foods are the doctors orders here.  No drugs, no nothing, just water then fine tuning my diet  Sounds easy right?  If it wasn't for the delicious aromas coming from the vegan, no salt, sugar or oil kitchen I'd be golden except there are eaters here, I will be one in 10 days, and people get to eat after they fast.  

Back to the fasters.  They look different and I suspect I will turn into one here in  few days.  It's the long fasters I think that stand out.  Their eyes are sunken in, they have a sort of dreamy far away look, they talk different.  I adjust my ears wondering if that is an accent I hear.  Instead I think it's the sound of a slow almost slurry speech that comes from a brain deprived of glucose.  There is a very blissful presence in the fasters, they seem ok to be around food and eaters, they go to cooking classes and yoga and lectures.  They are the ghosts of the future for me here at True North.  A girl can only dream!

My first day on water alone and I can't wait for nightfall.  I have time on my hands and it's interesting adjusting, slowing down.  I'm not quite comfortable with all this relaxation and I have a sneaking suspicion this may be my achilles heal.  

I'm excited for this journey because like any journey what you expect is usually not what you get.  I love the unknown!