Friday, September 30, 2016

Two steps forward, one step back

That's my hand at the top of Mt. Cube--a nearly 3,000 foot summit that I reached via a two-plus-mile trail in Orford, New Hampshire. My dog and I joined my husband and his puppy for the trek. I slowed them down a bit, but after several short rest stops, I actually made it, thanks mostly to the encouragement of my husband. And possibly to the lasting effects of my three-day fast.

While Sunday was a bit quieter since I was so exhausted, on Monday I found myself able to join my friend at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge for the evening meditation session. And on Tuesday she and I scooted down to Salem, Massachusetts to see my step mother-in-law and her niece and nephew-in-law. 

Wednesday was another recovery day. But by Thursday I was able to work on editing my novel again. Today I'm behind where I wanted to be by this time in the week, but I'm close to my goal. In a few minutes I'll return to the project and with any luck I'll be able to edit another five chapters. 

Sherman rests with me at the top of Mt. Cube.
My IC symptoms have stabilized, only occasionally bothering me now. And my most recent visit with my Lyme literate doctor was positive. I've now dropped one of three medications, as it looks like I've finally beaten the Babesia that's plagued me all summer. Now we're trying pulse antibiotic treatment with the other two medicines--where I only use each one week a month, and not at the same time. It will mean I must keep meticulous notes, tracking my symptoms each day.

One of the latest symptoms to slow me down is the return of my insomnia. I'm not sure what's behind it. One theory of mine is that I'm more active and able to think clearer, so my brain is making up for lost time when I was too exhausted to think or stay awake for long. I've also noticed that anytime one of the dogs moves or my husband snores I'm instantly awake, and have difficulty returning to sleep. Indeed, the only night I've managed to sleep through was when I started out on the sofa. 
Still, my thrill at reaching the peak last weekend has kept me going. I am getting better, I am getting better, I am.... If the Little Engine can do it, so can I!  

Friday, September 23, 2016

I’m up to 15 Tibetans a day!

I’m pleased with my progress post fast. And though all things aren’t perfect—today has been a struggle with depression, for instance—I feel like I am getting better and stronger. Maybe one of these days I’ll even give the bionic man and woman a run for their money.

Yesterday, for the first time since the fast, I loaded the dog in the car and took him to the start of the mild climb up to the town’s fire tower. It’s a short walk and not much of an uphill march since most of the ascent is by car to the trailhead. The tower itself was closed. I must admit that we didn’t walk the final 30 feet since the grasses were overgrown in the clearing. Afraid of ticks, am I.

Can't see the forest for the ticks

Today on my way back from grocery shopping I stopped at a quarter-mile trail down a small embankment to see some magical old growth trees. The wooded path was clear, but anytime my dog and I encountered even the slightest opening in the canopy, grasses and other brush emerged. I found one tick on my pant leg and calmly removed it, but promptly turned around with only a quick general hello to the trees.

I had hoped to stop and enjoy their presence. But ticks and I do not mix. And though I didn’t outright panic, I had a bit of a fight on my hands, trying to remain positive and not fall further into depression. At the car I found no ticks, but that hasn’t stopped my body from itching ever since—and that was almost three hours ago.

The power of positive thoughts

On my drive home, I began by breathing in the depression and breathing out joy, compassion, and love, but reasoned I needed some of that positive energy internalized, so I ended up breathing in a bit of it for myself too. I didn’t release the depression energy into the world, instead owning it and winning it over with a positive attitude. It worked. By the time I returned home I was feeling better. And right this moment I’m feeling much better. It also helped landing on a positive title for my blog post.

We really are what we eat

Last week’s fast triggered symptoms of interstitial cystitis. I hadn’t experienced pain in my bladder since 2012. The moment I realized my body was in trouble, I adopted my restrictive, acid-free diet (available HERE), though without the dairy products, which I haven't been able to tolerate since giving them up during my first bout with Lyme a few years ago. I was feeling better within 48 hours, and have already been able to add back many of the foods I love.

My theory is that I may have pumped a wee bit too much lemon and/or vinegar water into my otherwise empty belly. The next time I pursue the three-day fast I will definitely commit to drinking only water—no caffeine or additives of any kind.

I had hoped to have typed up my first few post-fast days by now. I will get to that soon. For now, it’s time for dinner. And I’m happy to be able to eat it!

Note: The title refers to the Five Tibetan Rites exercises of Yoga poses that are completed in sets of three up to as many as 21 at a time, explained a bit HERE and on several other sites. I've done these nearly daily since the beginning of the year after choosing this as one of my New Year's Resolutions. Over the past several months I built up my number of repetitions to 21, but that number dropped during the fast and in post fast. I hope to build up to 21 again soon. I also hope to do these daily the rest of my life. I tend to follow my Tibetans with meditation, another reason I am so devoted to my daily practice.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Was it a Water-Only 3-Day Fast?

One of the questions I fielded from family and friends—and especially my concerned husband—was whether or not I was adding any other calories to my day.

While ideally my three-day fast would have consisted of only water—warm, room temperature, and cool to change it up a bit—as you’ll notice in my graphic below that records what I drank, I found I couldn’t maintain a simple water-only regime.

In my not-extensive-enough research prior to embarking on this journey I found some sites recommended the consumption of up to 200 calories a day, mostly in the form of honey, organic cider vinegar, and lemon juice. I didn’t want to add any calories since the study that I noted in my first blog post on this journey promoted a water-only fast, as does Jonathan Turley’s first-person account of his own successful three-day water-only fast.

Listening to the needs of my body

However, in Day One I had a scant couple of calories of honey mid-day, and ended the day with a crushing headache that prompted another 10 or 11 calories of honey. I hadn't caught it soon enough and soon found myself with a migraine. I chose to shut down my painful symptoms with a generic Excedrin and half a Dramamine. It was the right decision for me, but admittedly may not be ideal for the purpose of the fast. I own that.

The next two days I added black coffee, sometimes with half a teaspoon of honey, consuming it at the regular times of day I ordinarily drink it. More research during my fast revealed that caffeine addicts frequently experience the headaches caused by withdrawal. For my next three-day fast, I will prep several weeks ahead, finally kicking my caffeine habit once and for all before I attempt the water-only fast. Yes, I do believe I will be embarking on this journey again.

Breaking fast can be hard to do

You can see that I broke the fast at 7:50 pm on Day Three. That’s because I technically began at 7:45 on Saturday prior to Day One. As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve taken up the daily routine of a 12-hour fast. Since I am a natural early riser, and because breakfast is often my favorite meal of the day, I decided months ago to make eight pm my latest target time to stop eating for the day.

If you’re considering embarking on your own three-day fast, I hope you can learn from my missteps and my successes. Of course, you should do your own research. And consultation with a physician or a natural caregiver is helpful (and recommended in most every narrative you’ll read). I did mention that I was considering the fast to my holistic nutritional advisor at Bridge to Natural Wellness who had a few notes for me, but seemed to sense that I was determined to make this journey on my own terms.

And what a journey’s it’s been…and continues to be. My next post will sum-up my three days post fast. Bon appetit!

Note: My fruit, cider vinegar, & lemon juice was organic. The honey is local. 
Another note: The Tibetans refers to the Five Tibetan Rites exercises of Yoga poses that are completed in sets of three up to as many as 21 at a time, explained a bit HERE and on several other sites. I've done these nearly daily since the beginning of the year after choosing this as one of my New Year's Resolutions. Over the past several months I built up my number of repetitions to 21, but you can see that number dropped during the fast and in post fast. I hope to build up to 21 again soon. I also hope to do these daily the rest of my life. I tend to follow my Tibetans with meditation, another reason I am so devoted to my daily practice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Day Three is not as Smooth as Day Two

While yesterday I experienced an overwhelming Zen feeling and felt more energized than I have in weeks, maybe even months, today I woke at 6 a.m. tired and hangry (when hunger causes anger).

Actually, that may be an overstatement. I had a few moments of feeling that way—especially while I made my husband’s lunch and prepared his dinner for the crockpot. But I was able to identify it, even stating out loud, “I feel hangry now.” That made it dissipate. Warm water helped too. And our two happy dogs who never seem to get hangry even when it’s past their mealtime.

Today as I write this there are only a precious few hours left in the great three-day fast experiment. Five to be exact. Four hours and 44 minutes if I’m really being precise. Yes, I am counting down to that degree. Yet I am also trying to accomplish other things so I can distract myself from the fact that I’m occasionally hungry.

To-Do List as Distraction

Balancing the checkbook today and going over our summer expenses I experienced two belly rumbles. They’re my first since midday Sunday. My initial thought was to head into the kitchen and see what was available to eat. But then I remembered, “Oh yeah, I’m fasting. My only choice is water.” The water worked, dispelling my hunger almost immediately.

When it came time to vote in today’s primary elections for state offices, I wasn’t sure I had the energy to walk. My knee gave out just after I had tossed a peanut-butter bone to my dog, which convinced me to drive the couple blocks. It felt good to vote. And it feels great to cross off so many items from the to-do list. Even with the weariness I am still able to do more today than I could all of last week. 

Just Nod if You Can Hear Me

I just got off the phone with the nurse at my primary care physician’s office. It was a challenge parsing out the symptoms from last week vs. today, but we managed. I’m thinking I’m not supposed to still feel this bad after being on antibiotics and extra supplements since February. Because I’m no longer sure all my symptoms are caused by Lyme, I want to see a rheumatologist to discuss my progress and my challenges. I’d like answers, but even just someone to listen is a good start.

Present and Future Posts 

I know today’s post is a rambling update of my day. I can’t help that. It’s my brain on hunger, and hopefully on reboot. I envision a future post to include a recap of what I drank during the fast and a few notes on things like bathroom breaks (I was up twice as much last night compared to the night before, for instance). After having heard from several people via Facebook and text messages that they’d like to know more about my experience on the fast, I’d like to make even the more personal information available to anyone who might be interested.

I will also write about my post-fast strategy. Tonight at 7:45 I won’t get to savor a veggie burger on a gluten-free bun. Instead I have an organic homemade juice planned. I don’t have a juicer, so my blender and a sieve are going to have to do. I’ll mix the result at least 50/50 with water, possibly watering it down even more than that. One glass is all I plan to have before bed. And tomorrow, after my customary morning two glasses of water, I’ll have another. Of course we all know what is said about plans made, right? 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Meditation Message Leads to This Post

Today as I meditated my guides advised me to start blogging again. They meant today. Almost at that very moment. Or at least as soon as I had completed my final in breath/out breath.

“What should I blog about?” I asked them in thought, even though I know from reading about meditation that I’m not supposed to think while I’m doing it.

“Your health,” one said.

“Your current fast,” said another.

“Life,” said yet another. Or maybe it was one of the first two. I’m still learning to recognize the voices of my guides.

My father’s voice I have down pat. As well as the voices of a few other departed relatives and friends who like to visit. I also know the voice of my Guardian Angel. She’s recently asked me to write about how I know her so well. That’s a future assignment. After I’ve finished editing my first novel, which I’m working on now.

But I digress. Just like my random thoughts while meditating.

Fasting as a Health Benefit

I’m more than halfway through my first fast. The idea of a three-day fast was proposed to me during our annual family sojourn to Cliff Island, Maine—a small, quiet place that is a ferry ride away via Casco Bay Lines out of Portland.

Someone commented on my abundance of supplements, tinctures, and prescriptions that lined one of the windowsills in the kitchen. They’ve been part of my daily regimen since early February when it was discovered I was infected with Lyme disease for the second time in my life. In late spring, I was further diagnosed with both Babesia and Bartonella, which added yet another Rx to the mix.

I said that I was hoping to drop some of them soon, if only I could get better. Blood tests over the past few months have revealed that my white blood cell count has been declining instead of improving on all the meds. One of my doctors wasn’t sure why that would be, but we left it that I’d have my blood tested again in late September.

My son told us about a study that found a three-day fast could reset the immune system. My initial reaction was how difficult it would be to fast. “The best things for us are often the hardest to do,” he said (though I may be paraphrasing slightly).

Leo has an incredible mind. It’s one that remembers an astonishing amount of facts, especially in the area of natural sciences. Because I value his insight, as soon as I returned home to available Wi-Fi, I researched it. Almost immediately I discovered the article “Can a 3-Day Fast Reset Your Immune System” by Steven Salzberg in Forbes.

Knowing that is exactly what I need, I became convinced it was worth a try. Yes, it would be difficult. But hadn’t I taken on the ridiculously restrictive Interstitial Cystitis diet that lasted for many months…and eventually helped me cure most of my symptoms? (You can find that diet HERE.)

As I write this, I am three short hours from being at the official two-day mark. It’s actually much easier than I thought it would be. While I had initially worried about being hangry, instead I’m finding that I’ve become more introspective. It may have even made me more receptive to my guides. (They’re agreeing with me!)

How did I begin?

Sunday morning I woke not feeling well. Nothing new there, except this time I wasn’t feeling up to eating anything. While I normally wait 12 hours to eat after my last bite of food, I just wasn’t hungry at 7:45. So, getting the idea that I could take advantage of this peculiar feeling of not having an appetite, I decided to jump into the fast.

How’s it going? That’s a story for tomorrow. Though I can report that I am feeling quite good. A tad bit dizzy at times, but my husband would tell you that’s completely normal for me. ;)