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“This Is An Opportunity, Not A Punishment”
And I’m doing OK.
The Remicade, as suspected, never worked. The hospital visit was worth it for the fluid IV alone — my fever has been down since Monday and I’m not as deathly exhausted as I was for that miserable week — but those liters of toxic Remicade I let them pump into my veins? Worthless. (And yet, so expensive. Thanks for getting that one, insurance.)
So the hospital didn’t really help, and my doctor is away healing all the people of India until the end of next week.
I learned last week that it was time to take control of my health.
And by that I mean I got the tough-loving pep talk of the century from Brian on Monday night and it was just the aggressive kick in the butt I needed.
Today begins Day 3 of my 10-day juice cleanse.
Last week, I started using the juicer more and was mostly having juice at breakfast and dinner, but I would eat solid foods in between. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t seeing much improvement in my stomach issues. I was still in constant pain or discomfort, and when I made my mad dash for the bathroom, things weren’t exactly…happening. It was incredibly painful and I couldn’t get much relief.
When I wasn’t feeling any better by Monday, Brian arrived home with stuff. Tons and tons of stuff.
And that’s when I got the pep talk.
Dr. “I’m obsessed with learning about health and the digestive system” Brian encouraged me to try something different: a 10-day total hardcore juice cleanse. As a lover of all the foods, this is not something that appealed to me.
But as someone who, as Brian reminded me, has been sick for “most of our relationship,” it’s something I’m finally willing to try and attempt full-out.
I think the kicker in the conversation was when, after I kept being bratty and resisting, Brian said, “This is an opportunity, not a punishment.”
And damn him, he’s right.
To me, a juice fast is a nightmare. It’s days and days without food and it is, seemingly, a punishment.
But Brian, Mr. Eternal Optimism, changed my perspective so fast.
This is a chance for me to completely clear out my body. Juicing fruits and vegetables breaks down the fiber content, so it’s going to give my digestive system the break it obviously needs. It won’t have to work hard to process complex ingredients. Instead, the juice will just, well, flow through me. Lovely!
From there, this is a chance to learn what my body can and cannot tolerate. The idea is that by the end of the 10 days, my digestive system will have healed itself, and then I can start adding simple foods to my diet.
It sounded terrible at first.
But after more than a year of nonstop flare-ups and then reaching my lowest point while traveling in L.A., I’m ready to accept that this is something I need to suck up and do.
The doctors all swear that food doesn’t affect your disease. I always loved when they said that — “eat whatever you can tolerate and enjoy!” — because it was an excuse to keep stuffing my face with crap. After all, the doctor said it didn’t matter!
I just can’t believe that anymore. I don’t think it’s possible that what you put into your body doesn’t affect your debilitating digestive disease. Sorry, docs. (Still think you’re cute, though.)
So today is Day 3.
The first day was hard for me because I’m mentally weak. I got through a homemade juice for breakfast and had a Cooler Cleanse juice at the office. By dinnertime, all I wanted was to lick a jar of peanut butter. I wanted to have something with texture and couldn’t fathom the idea of more liquid.
On Day 1, Brian probably should have abandoned this relationship, but he didn’t.
But I stuck it out — and Brian stuck with me, like a sweet, sweet fool — and Day 2 was actually much easier.
The whole thing requires a lot of planning.
I’m lucky to have a juicer at the apartment, so breakfast and dinner juices are homemade and delicious. At the office, I bring a bunch of pre-made juices with me. So far my favorites are the Cooler Cleanse juices and the “Green Aphrodite” juice a coworker so generously brought me from Magic Mix Juicery downtown.
This weekend will prove to be the true challenge: I’m traveling to Boston which is going to be amazing because Tyler!!! But I am also attending a friend’s bridal shower, and you know those things revolve around delicious foods and treats. So that will be the true test of my resilience.
One thing that has made this easier so far (my god, I’m on Day 3…I act like I’ve been fasting for a month) is telling as many people as possible what I’m doing. Most people are surprisingly supportive, like the coworker who brought me juices and my long-lost roommate who moved to L.A. and arranged for Organic Avenue to hand-deliver juices to my front door. People want to help, and it’s amazing.
And then there’s that Brian guy.
He’s constantly researching this stuff and finding ways to help me get better. It’s kind of mind-blowing. We’ve been watching lots of documentaries together — surely you’ve seen Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead by now, about the guy with the autoimmune disorder who’s on steroids but they’re not working so he ditches the drugs in favor of juicing and completely heals himself — and he’s not eating steaks by my side while I’m guzzling liquid cucumber.
He’s doing the cleanse with me. Solidarity, man!
When I really want a heaping bowl of macaroni and cheese (because that’ll help my problems…), I remind myself that I’m doing this to finally feel better. I remind myself that on Day 10, even if this hasn’t worked, I’m going to be able to pat myself on the back (you can please pat my back, too, and maybe massage it) and say that I got through a 10-day juice-fest. Because that’s a huge life accomplishment. I’ll put my Juice Cleanse Survivor trophy next to my Pulitzer and my Tony Award.
I’m hopeful, clearly, that this is going to work.
After just a few days, I’m already seeing signs of improvement. I still have the stomach cramping and pain, but when I go to the bathroom, things are happening easier and in a less painful way. That relief right now is huge.
I also feel better knowing I’m finally getting nutrients in my body instead of just filling it with chemicals. The side effects of juicing are so much better than the side of effects of Prednisone (steroids).
And last night, Brian looked at me and said, “You look better!” In other words, “Babe, you were so sexy-hot before, and now you look even more amazing. I love what you’ve done with those dark circles underneath your eyes, and it’s cute the way all your muscles have disappeared so quickly.”
Muscles. Yes. That’s the other thing.
Absolutely no exercise.
As mandated, again, by “Dr.” Brian.
I’m not doing anything to add stress to my body. So no running. No spinning. No biking. Nothing requiring a high-impact sports bra. I have been given permission to do yoga if I’m up for it, so I did that last night and it was nice. It felt good to move my body, though all the twisting poses make me a little uncomfortable.
At first, I was furious at the thought of not being able to spin when I’m up for it. Exercise makes me feel better! Endorphins! Sweat! Loud music!
But now, every time I leave the office and don’t go to the gym, I look at it as a different kind of training. I’m training my body to get healthy and helping it recover. Every workout I don’t do is one step closer to my body getting strong again. I’m getting ample sleep and I’m not cramming my life with to-do lists. I’m coming home after work, laying down on the couch and relaxing until I go to bed.
If nothing else, this juice cleanse has helped me feel somewhat optimistic again.
The doctors couldn’t fix me, so I’m letting someone else try. There are skeptics who think I need medicine and need to be on all the drugs to get better. Then there are people who respect what I’m doing and support it (for the record, my doctor is one of them — I ran this whole plan by him before he left and while it wasn’t what he would have prescribed himself, he did say he’s fine with me giving it a shot). Those are the people I like best!
I trust that this will help. I’ve read so much research now about people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis who have gone hardcore on the juicing and I have yet to read a testimonial from someone saying it made them worse.
So until there’s a miracle cure for this thing, I’m taking control. And avoiding solid foods.
I’m looking forward to a weekend with Tyler, because if the juice can’t cure me, I’m pretty sure he can. I’ll also get to see my parents for a bit while I’m up in Boston, and their hugs tend to help.
My mom asked if she could bring me anything “from home” when she sees me this weekend.
Yes, mom, you can.
My mango soap collection.
I think I’ll be ready for it someday soon.
How’s that for optimism?
YOUR TURN TO BE THANKFUL: I took a different route today. It’s allowed. I’m thankful I’m hopefully on the road to health, one sip of spinach at a time. What are you grateful for today?