Shit happens. Actually, quite a lot of shit happens.
I last posted a year ago. At that time, I was in reflective mood. The truth is, I had reached a point in my life where everything had changed. It was a year since my Mum had died and 4 months since my Dad had followed her. I was 3 months into my 3rd job in 2 years. I had been an arthritic for 30 years and I was beginning to allow this thought to define my life. I was looking back and worrying about what lay ahead.
Rewind 18 months and I wasn’t in a great place. The effects of stress were beginning to impact every aspect of my life. My health took a prolonged downward turn and my arthritis flared beautifully, which just fuelled my stress. I even found that music wasn’t lifting my spirits.
Music has played a big part in my life since I was a teenager. Not just listening, but playing, writing and recording. I’ve played in bands since I was 15 and I’ve been very lucky to end up in some great bands with great people. I have lovely gear – just check out my see-thru drum kit!
But, I wasn’t happy playing with my mates. Setting up for a gig left me stressed and angry. Little issues (there are always issues when setting up) got right up my arse. By the time we were going on stage, I would be wound up and, sometimes, I felt like walking out and giving up. Not like me at all.
When my Mum died after a long decline into dementia, there was some relief. She hadn’t known any of the family for a long time and I was happy for her that she had been released from her lonely world.
My Dad, my hero, was her carer even though he was well into his 80s. He gave my Mum the dignity of dying at home with her family around her – a promise he made when she was more herself. A few months later and, instead of his life being more relaxed and less stressful, my Dad discovered that he was dying from a massive tumour in his colon. My brother, sister and I became his carers and we took shifts staying at the family home to look after him.
My stress turned into depression. The blue funk.
We buried my Dad in the same week that I had the interview for my current job. As well as interview prep, I was in the middle of preparing a eulogy and rehearsing a song – yes, I played the ukulele and sang at my Dad’s funeral. After, hopefully, making everyone laugh with a song taking the piss a little (I think my Dad would’ve liked it) I stood and delivered the eulogy in the church where he had been an Elder. The day after the funeral, I got the job. That whole week is a blur.
My doctor took an aggressive approach. I don’t mean he slapped me around and kicked me in the bollocks, which may have helped, he prescribed a drug regime to rid me of the self-destructive and negative thoughts.
It worked to a point. But recently I feel like I’ve been going round and round in a circle with no corner to turn to get out.
Trapped. Stuck. Eating the wrong food and drinking too much. All of the things opposite to the paleo lifestyle that gave me such amazing results 5 years ago. My health was shit, my head was full of shit, I was a complete shit and I felt powerless. I had to do something different to make the change that I needed to help me move forward.
Luckily, I have a partner who loves me and cares about me. My wife Anthea knows. She knows how I feel, what makes me tick and watching me struggle hasn’t been easy for her AND she has had to pick up my slack when she’s busy enough herself. It’s been shit. But, she offered me a way out.
I was 50 in June. Anthea’s gift to me was for me to piss off out of the house for a week. “Just go away!” she said. No seriously, she bought me a week at a health retreat in Spain. I must admit, I didn’t immediately take to the idea but the more I thought about it, the more I got excited about going.
I’m just back from an amazing week at Laughter Cleanse run by two wonderful people, Jo and Claire. I was one of four guests. I wanted the chance to reboot, to get my head in order and to break out of my circle. So, what happened……..?
Cleansing and Detox – we had four and a half days of fresh vegetable and fruit juice, 5 times a day with some dietary supplements thrown in. Nothing solid to eat. Now, you’ll be thinking that I’d be bloody starving but not at all.
Then there were the enemas. Oh yes! The most exciting bit. One each day during the detox period and I felt the need to keep Anthea up to date as I went along. In fact, on the Thursday (the 4th day) I was so dissatisfied with the results of my enema that I did another one. Ah, that’s better.
I recommend everyone do this. You really don’t know just how full of shit you all are! The volume and colour of the stuff that’s probably been languishing in my colon for years was pretty impressive. I took photos but I won’t share.
A big part of the week for me was our morning routine:
- 10 minutes of laughter – everyone lying on the floor pissing themselves laughing, releasing enough endorphins for the whole day
- Joy Fit – getting the lymph flowing
- 45 minutes of yoga, which I just loved, loved, loved
- 15 minutes of meditation – awesome!
Then there was the location. How can you NOT feel good being in a place like this?
Loads of time and space to do your own thing, chill, snooze, read, chat, listen to music, have another enema or two, whatever.
Nutrition – the juices were bloody lovely. We had either ginger or turmeric shots each morning, followed by delicious vegetable and/or fruit juices freshly made from organic produce. Awesome!
We also had this disgusting stuff called Spirulina twice a day – the trick was just to get it down as quickly as possible. It’s pretty awesome stuff but tastes horrendous. I won’t go into its many health benefits, just Google it people!
Friday was solid food day. Raw. Vegan. Now, I bet you’re thinking that raw vegan food is bland, tasteless, dry, all nuts, salad, cardboard and hemp washed down with water. Well, that’s the image I had in my head. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
We ate glorious pad Thai, amazing Mediterranean olive and walnut bread, banana and ginger ice cream, key lime pie among other things. All raw, wheat free, dairy free, sugar free and more delicious than you can possibly imagine.
Why raw? Well, we still have the bodies of our hunter gatherer ancestors. Same idea as paleo. In the last 200 years and especially in the last 50 years, we have moved to processing pretty much all of our food. We add chemicals to make it last longer, sugar to make it taste nice and bulk it out, E numbered compounds that we have no idea about, MSG, etc. The list goes on.
Yet we still have the genetic makeup of hunter gatherers. A few hundred years isn’t enough for evolution to allow our bodies to adapt, that would take a few hundred thousand years if not more. The bulk of what we put into our bodies is unnatural and toxic to us. Again, same idea as paleo.
The difference between raw and paleo is cooking – duh, no shit Sherlock! Cooking kills the enzymes – the life force – of the food. Now, I’m not turning into a hippy and I’m not about to grow a long beard or anything like that, but it does make sense. We’re designed and we’ve evolved to live in harmony with nature and our surroundings. Our bodies are geared up for raw food, using the natural enzymes in it to help us digest and pull nutrition from it.
It all sounds very Avatar but why shouldn’t it be like that?
Raw food (either completely raw or dehydrated) maintains the life of the enzymes. It made me feel really good. My body is an amazing thing, as is yours. It wants to heal itself. It’s desperate to be given the clean, non toxic fuel to help it do just that.
The Future – So, what was my outcome? Did I reboot? Was it the change I needed?
You betcha baby!
Days 1 and 2 were odd. I was tired. I retreated to my room and slept a lot. I needed the privacy to be with myself and reflect. Day 3 was odd. I had a sore head all day and a grumbly tummy – not through hunger, I hadn’t given myself long enough on the bog after my enema. I squirted all day and almost followed through a few times. Nasty.
On Day 4, I woke up and felt superb. I literally jumped out of bed (I haven’t felt like that for over 3 years) and when I looked in the mirror, there was a healthy person looking back at me. My energy was up. My head felt more clear. I felt happy – that was unusual!
Day 5 was even better. I slept so well the night before (again, something that hadn’t happened a lot). I felt energetic. Feck, what’s going on!?
Day 6. More of the same and more.
Day 7 and beyond. Well, I’m on day 11 today. I have, with the exception of a couple of meals, maintained a raw diet. I feel great. I’ve had a sore and swollen right ankle which has given me a limp for around 3 years. It’s getting better. The chronic inflammation in my hands is receding. My right shoulder is less sore. I have a little more stamina. I feel a little stronger. My head is more clear.
I’m going to continue. I have to. I owe it to myself and my family to give this everything.
In my last post I talked about having another 35 years to go. If I’m lucky and that’s the case, I’ll have been living with rheumatoid arthritis for 80% of my life. A scary thought? Maybe.
Maybe I won’t have to.