Did food save my life? The right food did. Part 2 #ME #juicing #IrritableBowelSyndromeIBS #Fibromyalgia #nutrition #macrobiotic
(continue from Part 1)
In 2004 I was literally struck down by what I read is the classic onset of ME, a weird violent flu (which was in fact Epstein Barr reactivating, but I didn't know for years), which left a lingering state of unthinkable weakness and exhaustion, that got only worse with the passing months.
After a year I was mostly bedbound and barely able to care for myself. Common sense told me that eating ready-made trash was not going to help my situation, so I made an effort to eat properly, but it was a struggle as most days I was barely able to stand.
My meals were very simple, vegetables often boiled whole because I didn't have the strength to cut them in pieces (at some point I got a steamer so at least they were a bit tastier), wholewheat pasta with tomatoes and basil and olives, yogurt, nut bars, all from the organic store, pretty healthy by conventional standards but I was still eating gluten and dairy and a pretty consistent amount of sugar.
That still didn't affect much my eating habits, as I was doing literally the best I knew, but at some point a spell of terrifying bowel immobility that lasted 9 interminable months made it clear that I needed to learn more.
(A Note: you will ask: why didn't you follow the doctor's advice? The first specialist's advice was: eat only pasta and no vegetables, and only one beer per day (! I didn't even drink). The second specialist's advice was to take some medicine that listed "death" as a side effect, and zero mention of diet. At that point, it was clear that I was on my own).
As I was miserably dragging myself from one hydrocolon therapy to the next (the only way my bowel would empty), it made sense to try and ingest as many nutrients as I could in liquid form. For that reason I looked into juicing. I found on youtube a film by some Joe Cross called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", where he recounted his story of salvation through juice fasts, and how he traveled across America to spread the Gospel. That was a helluva convincing movie, and I was sold.
At the time I hadn't understood the importance of having a good juicer, so juicing was cumbersome and messy, the results everything but tasty, but I did it, for 3 weeks. After that, when it was time to start eating solid food again, I was ready, armed with another kind of precious knowledge.
In the library I had found a book about Macrobiotics, which not only appealed to me because it was based on eating seasonally and the principles of Yin and Yang (Chinese medicine and acupuncture had been key in helping me out of the worst agonic ME years), but also it was based on simple natural foods and easy to prepare, albeit quite bland.
After the fast I started with the recommended brown-rice only diet for 2-3 weeks, with the only extra taste from umeboshi plum and miso (and a bit of olive oil and soy sauce if I got too desperate). In hindsight, it was possibly the prebiotics in the juice, the much needed probiotics in the miso and the antiparassitary and detoxifying effects of the umeboshi plum that performed the miracle, but from that moment on, taking a LOT of care, my bowels started working again more or less normally.
Because I am not very smart, after a couple months I went back to eating sweet stuff (although rigorously organic), but my healing was at a turning point after stopping tranquillisers and all Western medication, and I had started walking again, I like to think possibly helped by all the fasting and cleaning I had done.
As I was trying to catch up with my life after recovering a bit of my health, my energy was still not au pair with the tasks required by my new job (I had a job! that was unthinkable before) and I was suffering quite a bit from the neurological fallout of having quit benzodiazepines, which translated into horrible anxiety and nerve twitching, on top of all my usual lovely ME neurological symptoms, still present at some level.
I came across a book called Sugar Blues, which I found terribly written but the main concept was very convincing: sugar was considered a potent stimulant in Ancient Greece and was to be taken in tiny amounts, and in today's amounts it was creating all kinds of neurological damage. Thanks to my classical studies in high school, I knew where to look for that bit of Ancient Greek medical wisdom, and I found that the quote was correct. At that point I was ready to believe the whole book, so I made a solemn wow to give up sugar.
But that was not enough. Another source I had come across was called the Whole 30, that maintained that some foods had inflammatory properties, and eliminated not only sugar but also gluten, dairy and any kind of processed food.
So in I think August 2011 I eliminated all that and started eating, as I myself admitted, "like a hamster", vegetables and rice and seeds, and cooking everything from scratch was driving me crazy.
By end of September 2011 I noticed something very weird: the nerve twitching and jumpiness and constant tense feeling from the benzodiazepines was gone.But there was more.
I always thought of myself as a very jumpy, nervous, hypersensitive individual (I am undoubtedly HPS, but that s another story), as I mentioned in Part 1 of this story. Well, it turned out that a good part of it was just sensitivity to sugar.
So giving up sugar as a teenager would have saved me 17 years of tranquillisers and 7 years of therapy. (Ok, I did need a couple of years of therapy, but I swear all the other years were overkill). And the reputation as the town's troubled teen, which never stopped following me, really. And countless lost chances, both work and relationship-wise. Seriously, wtf. Sugar. The mind boggles. It's easy to see things clearly with the knowledge of 20 years later.
But that is still not the end of this story, bear with me.