Today I’m letting go of expectations I have of myself. I’m giving myself permission to go with the flow rather than trying to make something fit that I think ought to fit but just doesn’t today.
I’ve just come out of a frenzy of trying to fix everything, … again and have reached a whole new surrender … again.
In my last post (here) I promised a series of posts exploring the 9 key factors in radical remissions that have been the subject of a recent book, Radical Remission. The next 2 posts are nearly written but I’ve had a difficult couple of weeks, with an extremely foggy brain and little motivation, and they just haven’t come together. I’m parking those posts. For now. And I’m not going to think less of myself for not reaching the deadlines I’d set for myself.
So what’s been going on? If you get squeamish, I suggest you stop reading now. Because I’m going to talk about digestive issues. And that can just be a bit too much information for some. I’m completely sensitised to it all now. It’s been my life for the last 6 months. I won’t be offended if you turn away.
Because for 6 months I’ve had chronic diarrhoea. Everything I eat pretty much goes straight through me. And it means that I’m probably not really absorbing all of the nutrients that I’ve been inundating the body with through the multiple juices. And some foods I eat just feel as if they are ripping the lining off the insides of my guts. It’s not been very pretty.
My energy levels have been all over the place. Some days I feel better than I’ve felt for years and others, I’m just so tired and become fearful that progress is not being made. My immune system is weakened and I’ve been getting back to back herpes outbreaks. I cannot recall a time since February that I have been without a sore. The regular blood tests show that my body is not producing lymphocytes, the white blood cells that fight viruses and infections in the body. They are well below normal levels. And herpes, being the opportunistic virus that it is, wreaks havoc.
My doctor and I have been playing around with the diet and juicing regime. I reduced the number of juices I drank, did an intensive (and somewhat harsh) parasite cleanse and then a couple of weeks ago, I fasted for 2 ½ days, drinking only water. And once I started to take in food again, some grated apple, vegetable broth and then just gentle, warming veggies, I felt like a new person. But not for long.
Then over the last few weeks, in my health coaching course, we have had some lectures on gut disorders and in particular gut dysbiosis. Dysbiosis occurs where there is an imbalance of good flora and bad flora in our guts. We have 1 to 2 kg of bacteria living in our gastrointestinal tracts. There are trillions and trillions of them. More of them in one person than there are people on earth. That’s a lot!
A healthy person has good bacteria flourishing. These good bacteria are nourished by the food we eat and set about processing and synthesising it, creating essential vitamins and assisting in the production of our blood cells, both white and red. They also help to ensure that the lining of the gut wall remains strong and impermeable to toxins and pathogens.
On the other hand, when the bad bacteria are dominant, the wall of our gut becomes compromised, we can end up with a yeast over growth, such as candida, or a myriad of digestive disorders can occur, such as Leaky Gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, auto-immune conditions such as Crohn’s disease, food sensitivities and allergies, and even psychological disorders. The gut has over a hundred million neurons and communicates directly with our brains (it really is very busy in there).
The causes of gut dysbiosis are varied but the main ones are:
- Antibiotics, cytotoxic (chemotherapy) drugs and other medications;
- An excess of sugary and starchy foods, and for those with intolerances, gluten;
- Early life factors: as newborns we get our immune system and original flora from our mothers as we pass through the birth canal and then are breastfed. If our entry into the world was via a Caesarean, we were not breastfed or even if our mother herself suffered from dysbiosis, then chances are that we began life without balance in our guts;
- Sleep deprivation and stress.
This is a very superficial overview and I have included some websites below where you can find out more.
So it is clear to me that I have some of these things going on. I’ve also found out that through the impact it has on the gut, the chemotherapy drug I was given last year, Bendamustine, is well known for long term immune suppression.
I had hoped that by fasting, my system would be rebooted and all would return to normal. A recent study (that you can read more about here) found that water fasting for 3 days can completely rejuvenate the immune system. And given the immune system is governed by the gut, you would think that by definition, digestion could resolve too. Alas that was not my experience. And I’ve lost an extraordinary amount of weight, partly through not digesting my food properly, and partly through muscle wastage as I haven’t had the energy to exercise regularly. This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle because if I exercise, I seem to get more energy. If I don’t, I don’t.
And as I learned more and more about the gut, and read the Body Ecology Diet (BED) and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), the more obsessed (or even frenzied) I became with following their recommendations to heal my gut. And I paid for it.
Some of the things I’ve done over the last 2 weeks are:
- Good morning smoothies from the Body Ecology Website. A delicious recipe I will confess but celery is incredibly fibrous. The results were disastrous.
- Eating eggs and fish. This was challenging given I’ve committed to being plant-based but I have approached them as medicine. I seem to be able to tolerate them reasonably well and think that maybe I need some of those things in my diet. After 9 months of lots of raw food and having a belly that had not really had a chance to recover from chemo, I probably need some easily digestible protein and some of the other nutrients they offer like vitamin D and fats.
- Increased vegetables so they take up 80 per cent of my plate. This seems like good solid advice and I’ll stick to it.
- Increased my intake of fermented foods, sauerkrauts and coconut kefir which are packed full of good bacteria. I have some with every meal and when I have a snack, I have a piece of fruit like kiwifruit with coconut yoghurt. This also seems to be working okay.
- Eliminated all legumes and grains with gluten. Tried to eat only quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat after they had been soaked for over 8 hours. I can’t digest any of them and the buckwheat went through my gut like sandpaper. You get the picture.
And then I decided, quite desperately, to try the holy grail of gut healing – BONE BROTH. Apparently a long slow cooked bone broth is full of gelatine, amino acids, glucosamines, fats, vitamins and minerals that help to soothe and rebuild the mucosal lining of the gut. And according to GAPS, if you have severe diarrhoea, you should have nothing but bone broth and meat until the diarrhoea subsides.
And that’s what I did. Like a bull at the gate, I ran out to buy beef bones and a piece of osso bucco so that there would be some meat. I prayed over the stock pot and gave thanks for these creatures that sacrificed their lives so that I may be healed. And I drank my first meat stock in over a year. There is only word for it. YUCK!
And that’s all I had for 24 hours. I felt gross. The inside of my mouth was heavy with fat and slime. I had no energy. My brain became oppressed by a fog. So I made a chicken stock, thinking that would be better but no. I felt like I had hay fever for 24 hours. That’s the end of that experiment. And we have some very lucky dogs.
So once again I’ve had to surrender this process. I decided to go back to eating what I was eating, PLANTS, with the addition of some eggs and the occasional piece of fish. I’ll keep the legumes and soy out for a while. I think they are just too fibrous for me. And I’m going to stop self administering and seek professional health. Fortunately, my naturopath has recommended a holistic dietician with experience in GAPS and BED, AND the Gerson Therapy. Together we should be able to design an eating plan just for me.
In the meantime, there is something constructive I can do. It is really simple. As it turns out, a lack of exercise can have a detrimental effect on digestive function. Of course, I hear you say. After all, the gastrointestinal tract relies on muscles to make it work.
I’m between a rock and hard place too when it comes to exercise. I need to do some but if I do too much, my immune system responds poorly.
The solution? A rebounder.
I now have my very own mini-trampoline. And I leave it set up so that I can just bounce away for a few minutes every time I walk past it. Or when I’ve been sitting here at the computer for too long, I just go jump up and down and get the lymphatic system moving. After all, it doesn’t have a beating heart to help it. It needs us to move in order to function properly.
NASA was the first to study rebounders in the 1980s and found that rebounding is quite simply a ridiculously efficient form of exercise. Some of the benefits are:
- 20 minutes of rebounding has the same cardiovascular effect as 1 hour of running
- overall muscle strengthening and toning
- reduces fat and cellulite
- low impact so places little stress on joints
- improves your agility and balance
- by moving the lymphatic system, it detoxifies the body.
Best of all??????? It’s FUN!!!!!!! And God knows, I’ve been taking this healing journey just a bit too seriously so now I’m just going to bounce my little heart out! A little bit at a time.
Be happy. Be well.
So be it.
NASA Study: Rebound exercise is the most efficient form of exercise yet devised by man (with link to original study)
If you are on a plant based diet but want to try a broth for healing, you might like to try this recipe – Bone-Health Broth for Vegans