It’s been a roller coaster ride of health, but intermittent fasting helped get my spunk back.
I’m lucky for what I’ve lived through.
It has been an excruciating journey into the world of healthcare and alternative healing for more than 7 years. I’ve seen all of the specialists, have a long list of diagnosis, had surgery, have had deadly bacteria, taken up to 30 pills a day, been on liquids-only, have had too many ER visits, and been just exhausted and confused by the entire experience.
It’s challenging being sick. And, it’s tough when the source of most of the health issues is a very rare disease. It’s so rare that it took months to get the extensive test results back. Even the hematologist who diagnosed me says that I present in a non-typical way, so I have a rare form of a rare disease. I have mast cell activation syndrome, and trust me, you don’t want this one. It’s an autoimmune disease that is full of surprise and mystery. Basically my mast cells (white blood cells that contain histamine and heparin) react dramatically and inappropriately to different stimulus, like food or smell. Little temper tantrums that I wasn’t able to control.
If you’ve ever watched ‘Crazy Sexy Cancer‘ documentary about Kris Carr’s cancer healing journey, then you can get a sense of the kind of health adventure I’ve been on, and way too much to share in this one blog post. I know way more about health, drugs, nutrition, medical tests, and treatments than I even knew could exist.
The other good part is that now I know what I need to do to keep my body from those temper tantrums, which include a few drugs and supplements, regular exercise, intermittent fasting, meditation, and a rigorous diet.
The diet part? I’m allergic to gluten in a bad way that involves the ER, and most other foods make the worst temper tantrum that shows up as a 6-months-pregnant-looking belly and other unpleasant stuff within just a few hours. When I say ‘most other foods,’ I mean nuts, seeds, raw veggies, corn, alcohol, meat, soy, seafood, rice, sauces, and processed food. I’m sure I’m missing something off of that list, too.
Restrictive eating has been frustrating, just because it’s tough to be an American and socialize with friends when you have severe food restrictions. My friends like to enjoy salad, veggie pizza, sushi, and wine. I’ve been on their food sidelines for years, feeling good about it, bringing my little lunchbox full of what I can enjoy like green veggie juice, homemade vegan mineral broth, powdered medical food or banana. It’s just when my friends’ apologies come that it gets frustrating. Don’t feel bad that I can’t eat your food. I would much rather enjoy being with you and doing activities together then being terribly sick in a few hours, and bedridden for days afterward. My friends and family are way more important than food.
So back to the title of the blog post. I’ve tried intermittent fasting a few times, and I have always had more energy and less pain during those times, but something always got me off track. One of my functional doctors recently suggested trying intermittent fasting or a fasting mimicking diet. I’ve watched fasting documentaries (favorites are Fasting and Eat, Fast & Live Longer), and I’ve read fasting research. Studies show that it helps people get through chemo much more easily and it helps people reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. I don’t have those issues, but if it does good things for them, maybe it can help me, too. Listen, like I said before, I have been game to try anything. Life is full of so much possibility and opportunity, and I would rather repurpose furniture, make art or make beautiful homes than lay around sick watching Netflix.
It’s been a few weeks of fasting for 16 to 18 hours each day, and I can exercise way more and actually eat lettuce, rice noodles, and I had a gluten-free vegan veggie burger again. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I had to give up those foods more than 5 years ago due to terrible reactions. The universe of food I could tolerate started in 2012 with gluten and diary, and ended up about 4 items long last spring. Now with tons of medical treatments, alternative therapies, and intermittent fasting, I’m back up to about 20 things and I am grateful for each and every one of those little food friends.
Yes, I’m always nervous when trying a new food or medicine because of my impulsive mast cells, but I think giving my body those 16+ hours each day to heal and go into a state of autophagy, my cells have the bandwidth to deal with food. You can’t repair a highway during rush hour, and a body can’t rid itself of damaged cells when it’s busy processing food and reacting to food.
I’m also grateful for my family and friends who have been generous with understanding and kindness throughout my journey. Without their help and support, I don’t think I’d have the opportunity to try so many different strategies for healing. It’s hard to be sick, but it’s also hard to love someone who is very sick. I’ve done both, and I’d definitely opt out of the opportunity for either.
The gratefulness I feel is too big to capture. My spunk is back and I’m ready for what’s next.