Straightening the Curve

Still eating a plant-based whole food diet. My energy level is amazing. I feel easy in my body. I’m never hungry. I don’t miss butter on my potatoes. And I lost a pound. For a few years now I’ve struggled with some messy digestion issues every morning. That’s gone. Arthritis is gone. My craving for chocolate is gone. I could care less about potato chips. I’m sleeping like a baby.

All of these changes in one short week have been sort of shocking. In a good way. It feels good to feel like myself again. One thing that happens to people as they age is our bodies get less and less effective in fighting off the ill effects of a poor diet. With me, it started in my 40s with my gall bladder. The symptom of gall bladder disease is acid reflux. The body takes in too much fat for the liver to process and the gall bladder takes the excess. Until it gets really tired and can’t do its job anymore.

I knew this when I had the emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. That’s where my curve started, the curve downward toward death. Death happens to everyone. But for some people, and I was in that group, it’s a gradual downward decline. It mostly happens at a cellular level, so we don’t see it happening. We might get warning symptoms, but medication usually clears up the symptoms. Medication does not stop the downward curve.

For me, excess weight was a symptom of poor diet and high blood sugar. It was a warning that diabetes was coming on. There were other signs, too, that I was on the downward curve. That persistent trouble in the bathroom. The fact that the heels of my feet hurt all the time. My joints ached. I had weird random muscle pain in different parts of my body. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night in pain for no apparent reason. The pain would actually wake me up. I suddenly developed allergies at 62.

As I steeped myself in the literature of Dr. McDougall and other experts on PBWF diets, one guy in particular got my attention. He talked about the curve downward to death. And then he said PBWF diets “straighten the curve.” In other words, you’re still going to die, but it won’t be a slow sad decline. You’ll be absolutely fit, fine and full of energy until you drop dead. Or maybe die in your sleep.

I like that death better than the other one. And I like the way this life feels now better than before I started it.



Spirit in the Sky

I am loving the soundtrack to Swingtown! Can’t get this song off my mind. So I’m flowing with it in a connect.the.dots way as I share this story about  some spiritual change agents in my life, and how they’ve helped me cope with a really huge shift that is giving me the health and happiness I’ve been craving for so long. One of them, my best-ever writing friend Pat, is not of this realm anymore, but she reached out from the spirit world to help me help myself.

Pat died because she had a sore throat that wouldn’t go away. It turned out to be cancer of the esophagus, which eventually spread elsewhere. She’d had her damaged esophagus removed and part of her stomach trimmed off to form a new one. She had to force a thick rubber tube several feet long down her throat every day to condition the transplant tissue to behave like an esophagus, and every night she slept upright to keep the bile down.

She could not eat many foods, or much of it, without severe consequences, and so lost a lot of weight, which she loved, because for the first time in a long time, she was skinny. She worked the silver lining at the poetry mic, wearing mini skirts and other flirty outfits at age 60 plus, shouting out her sexy poems to the world. She was amazing, and the surgery gave her a few wonderful years. Then cancer showed up elsewhere and she decided not to pursue an aggressive approach. She couldn’t handle chemo on top of all she’d already been through and simply chose to let her life end naturally. She lived longer than any doctor expected, but finally, she made that big transition to the spirit in the sky.

When I got my own diagnosis of Barrett’s Esophagus, an irreversible pre-cancer condition, I thought about Pat. Of course I did. I think about her all the time. But I went into denial about what was happening to me and continued to eat and drink almost as I had before the diagnosis. Hey, I took a pill every day. I figured that would do the work. And I’d just been through a big thing having my gall bladder removed and was unable to tolerate fatty or fried food, so I didn’t really want to think about giving up chocolate and wine and caffeine and tomatoes!

Years ago, I’d tested positive for hypoglycemia, the precursor to diabetes, and mostly gave up sugar. For a while. After the gall bladder thing, sugar slunk back into my diet, and I gained back a lot of weight I’d lost after that first sugar scare. I talked myself into believing that I’d corrected the hypoglycemia by my sugar fast. And I did try to be more careful with sugar. But between menopause, medication, and two sedentary jobs, I was overweight again.

Then Dr. Oz had to go and show us that belly fat on television. Gross. So I asked Sara, the second change agent in this story, for help. She talked to me about my weight issues. Then she sent me a recording to listen to as I enter a light trance-like state. Part of the recording discusses preferring fruit and vegetables to other foods and choosing water over other drinks. I listened to that recording and noticed a slow, subtle shift in my food and beverage choices. What I didn’t know is that the message had been deeply embedded into my consciousness and would flower more spectacularly than I ever expected.  

It took a full year to face up to the Barrett’s diagnosis. I finally read the recommended eating list (now posted on my fridge), and I am doing a cleanse that goes a bit beyond my prescribed post-treatment diet. That’s from another Oprah show. I figure if Oprah can do a cleanse with her busy life, I can do one on my summer vacation. The cleanse is from Kathy Freston’s book Quantum Wellness and it involves giving up sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, and animal products for 1-3 weeks. I love it. I feel so good, despite the headaches from caffeine withdrawl.

This cleanse is setting me up for a new way of eating, one that serves my heath. But when you’ve dieted (and failed) as much as I have, there’s this little voice that says, oh you’ll gain it all back. You won’t stick to it. Then Mark died last Saturday night and that was hard. Mortality is so fragile. 

All last week, mourning Mark, I was reminded of Pat. I’d pick up a bookmark and see that she’d signed it with love three years before her death. I’d remember a funny poem she used to read. I’d hear a song she used to sing. And I finally got it. I was lucky to be alive. I had been given the warning Pat never got. In fact, I’d had more than one. I’d had three nudges from the universe concerning my diet and health. What was I going to do with the information? Continue on my mindless way or get conscious?

It’s simple. I choose life. I choose to change my diet and lose the weight. I choose not to eat or drink things that irritate my still semi-healthy esophagus. But the biggest surprise is that I’m choosing veganism. Me? Vegan? Absolutely. Thanks to a series of seemingly unconnected events starring Sara and my own friendly ghost.