Asthma, Terror, Health/ Raw Food, and Heartache
( Wedding vow #5: We are being present, vulnerable and kind in our words and behavior. )
This is a hard chapter to write.
I know the rough outline so deeply that it could come out as two sentences:
One. I had a sickly childhood, where almost every night I was terrified to go to sleep for fear of waking up with asthma so bad it felt like I was dying, and I later in life adopted extremes of healthy eating, for long periods completely raw, that made a HUGE difference.
Two. Now there are all sorts of people in my life, most of whom are vastly younger, that are far less healthy than I am, and it’s heartbreaking to see this, and still I’m not sure: do I have a right to push/ suggest that they change what appear to be extremely detrimental habits.
I don’t know if I have that right. If I don’t say anything they look headed to continue lives of poor health. If I do say something, I’m imposing my ideas on them. Do I have that right?
I don’t know.
That’s part of why this is hard: I like to be sure about things.
The other reason this is hard to write is that it delves into what I’ve almost forgotten: how terrifying it was to be the young me.
I’m quite healthy now. I hardly ever get sick, and consider getting sick more than once a year a failure of health. I use no medications. I don’t even use aspirin. I have been to a doctor once in the last thirty years.
If it weren't for Austin’s good old “cedar fever” and the slight wheeze that comes up at night, I might not be remembering this.
And remembering this makes my health food “fanaticism” ( since it worked) a lot more understandable, even to me.
And still, do I have a right to try to convince others to “eat better.”
I don’t know.
I do know I have this right. To write about what was true to me.
To request that anyone who suspects that food might improve their health in small or huge ways to read this several times, each time with a period of examining their habitual responses and resistances.
To call the lives of those for whom this is written unhealthy seems harsh, but unhealthy is being sick. A lot. Like almost twice a month, or at least once a month.
Like almost dying.
Like being in an out of doctors offices constantly.
Like missing major possibilities by being sick, like missing many days of work being sick, like sickness being such a part of life, that it is almost the norm.
And that was my life as a child.
Asthma shots at least once a week in the usual kid’s doctor office with the usual mesmerizing huge fish tank. This was the office we visited at least once a week, the office of a very nice pediatrician (Dr. Hugh Plumb, who in memory's vagaries had Hugh Grant’s handsome dark-haired looks). But still the shots were shots that stuck a needle way in and I was tough and blah and blah and they still hurt.
And didn’t work.
Another thing that didn’t work was the “pills” I took every night (perhaps one reason I take zero medications now, and won’t even use aspirin).
I took “asthma pills” every night, which made sleep a tricky proposition. Not only was there the fear of what would happen when I did fall asleep, but what I didn’t know was that these pills made sleep an extremely difficult proposition.
The pills were a kind of speed I found out later.
And even with the shots and even with the speed, my wonderful and ignorant parents were feeding me ice cream and Velveeta Cheese and sugar deserts and margarine and pasteurized milk, all of which I have discovered later to be more or less poisons for everyone’s nervous system, especially a sick child’s, and I’d go to bed, not sure what would happen.
And terrified I’d wake up with an ASTHMA attack one more time.
An ASTHMA ATTACK IS LIKE THIS:
YOU CAN’T BREATH
YOU COUGH SO MUCH YOU SEE STARS
YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING TO DIE FOR LACK OF BREATH.
This happened hundreds of times, thousands, from age two (I’m told) until at least eighteen. And then beyond in slightly mitigated form. As a child these terrifying almost dying nights happened far more than they didn’t.
No wonder I don’t want to remember this.
There were all sort of psychological elements behind asthma. One of the standard models goes like this: the child wanting to scream at an abusive parent ( Mom liked to hit) and afraid to, and wanting tenderness (Mom liked to read and be left alone, and had to come to the rescue if I was borderline dying).
So asthma is like a scream and a crying for help at the same time.
And so what.
I didn’t know this shit.
I just felt like I was dying.
Again and again and again.
I have a sister who thinks I had some sort of golden boy childhood, being the male and getting straight A’s and that blah blah.
I’d almost bought into that, since I’ve been healthy for so long (like going to a doctor once in the last thirty years), that I’d forgotten about this childhood almost daily torture.
And I don’t like remembering being sickly and weak and friends making fun of me.
I don’t like remembering how handicapped and beleaguered I felt.
It took the cedar allergies in the winter that Austin and central Texas are so famous for to rekindle this memory. I started to have a slight wheeze at night. That reminded my of a wheeze that would get so large I thought I was going to die.
And sickliness was not just as a child.
Even in high school, I remember my best friend coming over and laughing at me because my whole bedroom as about six inches deep in Kleenex from all my nose blowing.
And not only during the night. Almost worst was having this happen in the day, at school, and everyone else gets to look at me as if i’m a really strange and afflicted creature. When I was around ten, and younger, coming in from a fun recess of hardy and competitively delightful four square and then sitting in my seat and starting to wheeze and cough, and trying to restrain the cough to avoid all the attention and water pouring out of my eyes from the allergies and the effort to restrain. And then the cough coming and coming and everyone’s like, “Again????”
Great golden childhood.
Lots of sickness.
And here’s the story, that is what happened in my life. This didn’t last forever. All this sickness and endless colds and asthma and being at the point in my late thirties with one knee so bad my son had to help me down a mild hill.
And then, later in my thirties, I had a girlfriend who got me started on the alternative eating path.
Fit for Life was the name of the book. A simple program to stop certain foods, and combine others certain ways, and eat only fruit in the morning.
No dairy. No sugar deserts.
Food combining. Greens with protein, or starch with greens, but no starch with protein (think of meat and potatoes, or pizza, or almost every sandwich you know)
The only fruit in the morning was to promote the healthy and constant cleanse of functioning bowls.
It was exhilarating. It was easy and I started to feel better very quickly.
And then, what a drag, other symptoms came up as the breathing stuff cleared.
This almost always happens. It’s got some name I’ve forgotten since I’m so far from it, but it’s something like the “healing cure.”
Much of the time this works the way mine did, with skin issues, which are much more surface and “irritating’ in all senses of the word. You stop being sick at the deeper layers and start having symptoms on the surface.
And these symptoms inspired and “irritated” me to try more and more avenues of what appeared to be “healthy” eating.
Organic was an obvious. I’d spent enough time in the country, and seen enough fields sprayed with poison to know that couldn’t be good for me. Or anyone.
I tried vegetarian.
I tried no fat (A disastrous way to go, but you’ve got to learn about fats that heal and fats that kill)
I tried vegan, which means no animal products at all. This was a mistake, but I was on the path of improvement, which sometimes leads you astray.
Eventually I went raw.
skin problems gone.
Breathing problems gone.
Unfortunately I did raw vegan.
Don’t do this, unless you want brain fog and teeth disasters.
I didn’t use raw pasture raised eggs yolks and raw lamb and raw salmon and raw bison and raw pastured raised beef the way I now do, and I lost teeth. Many, many.
And, even as I wasn’t in super duper health, teeth wise, so much else was remarkable.
Here’s how good it got in allergy land:
I was living in Sonoma California and working outdoors every day, including scything a quarter of an acre a day or so, which meant stirring up all the seeds and allergies possible.
Everyone else is town was red eyed and obsessed with their latest anti-histamine and whatnot. Sonoma was reputed to be an allergy central place. When my son as a young adult would stay with me, and we’d drive from the Bay Area to Sonoma, about eight miles away he’s start sneezing. It really is an allergy heavy place.
I was fine.
Until one day, at a potluck some impossibly good bay area bread showed up (Acme bread for those from the bay area) and I had some.
And cooked and delicious bread being the addiction it is, I had more and more. I couldn’t stop, it was so “good” which is to say filling to my almost forgotten addiction.
Next day, I went from ZERO allergies, to POURING out snot and sneezing to the point of about a gallon of mucous.
Point learned: modern day wheat is a poison to the system. Read Wheat Belly the book if you want, for how modern wheat is mutated beyond recognition for our internal system do be able to use, but this was years before the book, and I found out the disaster of wheat immediately and without doubt.
At the coughing and sneezing your brains out level.
Some more learnings in this period of transition to all raw.
Potlucks with “cage free” chicken (if you’ve raised them, you know this means a big yard, eaten down to the dirt), and I’d get asthma again.
Potlucks with organic chicken, no asthma.
See the DVD called Food, Inc, to see how factory processed meat, which is almost all you get when eating out, is nearly a poison. Watch what happens when the chicken and beef you get in stores as non-organic or in almost all restaurant food, is corn feed. Watch what happens to the animal’s health, and all the cover up methods they use on the meat. How it clearly is very near a poison, and is situated to give you cancer or heart attacks down the food.
And every restaurant wanting to cut costs, and hence not stating they do pasture raised or organic meat, is bringing this to your family.
One more, in my body lesson:
Learning about the truth of sugar as a Vitamin C destroyer. A friend gives my a small tiny jar of homemade lemon jelly. Can’t hurt right? Pure organic lemons. Some organic sugar. Word is that sugar at a tablespoon robs the body of half it’s vitamin C, but I’m so healthy I can enjoy this snack.
And since sugar is a major addictive, I eat too much and wham, sick with the first cold in a year.
Two other poisons that never interested me: canned foods and “glutten free” baking products.
So I’m seventy one and pretty darn healthy.
At one point, and again, like the “golden childhood” thing, I kind of believed it, some wonderful younger people pointed out a word for someone so obsessed with food they almost make themselves sick.
I wasn’t sick, but I was pretty adamant about my food.
It did indeed seem I was obsessed.
And since then, these wonderful people have missed gobs of work, and one has almost died, and their children have one rush to the doctor/ hospital sickness after another.
They are NOT "rigid" and treat themselves as a relief from times of stress (many of which seem to be cause by the way they eat and the amount of sickness they have) with sugar and wheat and factory raised meat and lots of binding foods like rice and bananas.
With the near death and continuous sickness consequences.
And so, here’s the heartbreak:
With the near death and continuous sickness consequences.
And so, here’s the heartbreak:
Should I warn them, ask that they change, plead with them to change, set up a challenge to try sixty days of healthy eating. (It takes six weeks to make a new liver, so six weeks free of alcohol and sugar and wheat are more or less the minimum to get your system reoriented.)
I know a beautiful person deep into cancer. He loves his french toast and syrup. He jokes that he’s “killing himself” when he eats this in front of me.
And he may be.
And I don’t really know.
I have evidence for myself, and I don’t want to go to the proof that this is a guarantee for others.
And yet I see how serious these other situations are.
What to do?
I don’t know.
And I do know that there are a lot of great raw recipes that make life a party and a healthy party.
I do know that if you want to avoid wheat and grains and canned food there are vast amounts of healthy and fun and delicious alternatives.
As the blog and the book progress, I’ll mention some.
Maybe you’ll want to take the challenge.
At least I’ve begun a dialogue from my side.
What do you think from yours?
So, here’s the challenge, and can I be brave enough to present this, though people massively resist food change:
Read this four times.
And each time you read, make sure to put down all the reasons why this is too hard, or too strict or too much, or whatever.
Each time you’ve let your resistance and anger out of the bag and written it down, take a walk, get present and consider what might happen with a two month reset.
Look at the resistance coming up and see how you might use almost the same strategy in other areas of your life.
Consider going this route for 60 days.
It takes 6 weeks to make a new liver.
I takes 21 days to break a habit.
Two months will revert you to a level that may show you how you want to live the rest of your life.
The next section is if you want to try a total reset in 60 days. I’m not an expert, but have poured over books and information from a lot of people who were interested in the best health possible.
Not in losing weight, but in health without colds, without cancer, without heart disease, without diabetes, with brain fog/ dementia.
This all seems rather easy once you make some small shifts that seem at first like huge shift.