Monday, February 21, 2011

Committing to Change

I've got a post coming up about tofu scrambles and delicious things of that ilk, but I wanted to do a reflective post today about my decision to come to macrobiotics.

To say the decision was a last-ditch effort would be putting it mildly. For someone as young as 23, there were a lot of things that I "knew."

I knew that vegetables weren't stronger medicines than prescriptions given by the doctors.
I knew that there was nothing a macrobiotic healer or acupuncturist could tell me that a doctor and tests couldn't.
I knew that no natural healing, whether food, shiatsu, acupuncture, or supplements, would give relief as fast or as strongly as medication.
I knew that when I got better, I would get my life back.

I can't stress this last one strongly enough, because it's the one thing I've heard myself and every single other person I know who has suffered through a long illness say all the time.

Here's the single hardest pill that I had to swallow in my life, and I can't say I wish I had known, because I think if somebody had told me (and they did, numerous people, numerous times), I wouldn't have believed them.

You're not getting your life back. At least, not the life you used to have. For me, "getting my life back" meant that I could walk down the street and if I was craving KFC, buy a giant tray of puffy biscuits, thick gravy, and crispy fried chicken, eat it, and feel fine afterward. "Getting my life back" meant going clubbing with my friends and having drinks if I felt like it, then doing it again the next day.

And for a time, getting my life back meant being strong enough to spend the night outside of my house. It meant being strong enough to get on a plane and fly without throwing up from the exertion. It meant not being afraid to eat a meal that I didn't prepare myself. It meant not getting up from my work to run to the bathroom and throw up.

The important thing to know if you're seriously ill and are considering natural medicine is that no matter what happens, whether you choose natural medicine, or whether you choose medication and surgery, your life will never be the same. It will change in different ways depending on what you choose, but even if you go mainstream with Western medicine, you still won't get the same life back that you had six months or a year or two years ago. In some cases, the medications you take or surgery you choose will alter your body's functions for the rest of your life. In other cases, you'll find that you'll be on a cycle of medication, on and off for years.

Rather than focus on the end goal, which is to return to where you started before you were sick, remember that the life you lived before you got sick was setting you up for illness. Something that was going on in that life wasn't sustaining you. It was a train on a course for illness. Logically, to go back to that life is to go back to a life that is preparing to collapse. To go back to that life is to get back on a train that you already know will crash. You should know! You were on that train the first time!

The real difference between natural and Western medicine is that natural medicine forces you to reflect on your old life and see what was setting you up for this illness. Western medicine in most cases ignores this, stating "These things just happen sometimes." or "We don't really know all the causes of ____." Rather than take medicine that masks symptoms so that you can carry on "business as usual," in macrobiotics your body lets you know when the old ways aren't working.

Example: Friday night, for the first time in two years, I went to the club and drank (about half of what I used to drink pre-macro). My tolerance for alcohol had all but vanished, I was absolutely blind drunk by the end of the night, and for the next two days, my body and mind were an absolute wreck. The next day I felt puffy, my gut and intestines hurt like crazy, my skin broke out, and I cried two times from such weighty matters as my nails getting chipped from work, and getting a friend's voice-mail instead of her phone. Crises, I know.

Perhaps more importantly, I couldn't imagine doing that more than maybe MAYBE once a year. When I was in college I used to go out and party three or four nights a week. Now I can't even imagine how I used to do that.

I used to pray and pray that God would give me my old life back. I would get mad and cry and tell myself that God abandoned me when I would land in the hospital. Obviously He wasn't hearing my prayers when I told him how I deserved the life of a "normal" 20-year-old, and that if I had my life back, I would be normal again. And don't we all deserve to be normal? Normal people don't get randomly hospitalized with recurrent skin infections that require surgery, kidney stones, rupturing internal cysts. Most importantly, most people don't throw up every meal for months on end, to go from a size 12 to a size 4, to cry every night to just be knocked unconscious because the nausea and vomiting are so bad.

God knew that I deserved better than just getting my old life back. If you are reading this tonight and you are sick and want to know why God doesn't just give you your life back, it's because He has the foresight to know that you deserve better.

As far as the things I "knew" went, each one of them was wrong. The first night I was at Ginny's, she saw me take the antiemetics (anti-vomiting medication) prescribed by the hospital. (Note: You know that nobody has any idea what the hell is wrong with you when they write you a prescription for 100 pills and they tell you to call when you run out).

The next day, she stopped my hand and gave me a tea to drink instead. I knew it wouldn't work, but what the heck, right? The pills the doctor prescribed me sure weren't working.

30 minutes later, my nausea level had been halved. I couldn't believe it. Ginny explained to me how and why it was working, and unlike the doctors who cleared the room seconds after giving the medication to see the next patient, she sat with me for several hours, checking on me and making sure I was doing okay.

I can't really describe the difference that macrobiotics has made in my life. I went from taking 3 pharmaceutical drugs a day to treat everything from chronic yeast infections to chronic sinusitis, more antibiotics when I'm sick and a bunch of pain killers for cramps... I don't have sinusitis anymore. I treat yeast with diet and it goes away in a day or so, I don't need antibiotics because I only get about 1 cold a year, and I don't get cramps. And this is just my first year of macrobiotics. I thought as soon as my nausea got better, I'd get off the diet.

Instead, I can't wait to see what next year brings.

1 comment:

  1. Great Article.
    I can relate in every aspect.
    I have some questions about the recipes and living Macro. I have been on this journey since Feburary.
    Could you email me? I could not find a way to email you. My email is