part 1. variety of directions
Although each chapter makes sense on its own, I believe that the greatest benefit is provided by following my relatively longer story gradually as I was gaining experience and knowledge chronologically. The mosaic of stories and sequences thus makes more sense.
part 1. variety of directions
- Residue-Free Diet
- Tibetan Medicine
- Chinese Medicine
Please, take my story as an inspiration on what may or may not help you. This experience and the views are purely subjective; I’m not a self-appointed assessor of different treatment approaches and methods. What I share is my personal perception; what was/wasn’t the right thing for me, how it enriched me. A sincere thank-you to all who I met during my search.
The following is a description of my journey which is detailed on the grounds that anything it contains could resonate in you, show you a new perspective, a new opportunity to help you. I mention my entire story also because I can’t determine what should be omitted from the story because of the health effects on my body and because, besides the occasional colonoscopy, I can’t see inside my bowel and my perception of the impacts of food clarified later.
Everything started (much earlier – during childhood, but I did not know then) at the end of December 2012, when I felt an inexplicable intense sadness the day after finishing my antibiotics (hereinafter: ATB). A sadness I had not understood, I felt it a few times and it was equally incomprehensible over those past few months. There wasn’t any apparent reason to feel so – in the outside world, I had everything I could have wished for and even my inner feelings did not indicate its causes. The sadness of that day escalated in just as utterly unimaginable cries, followed by fever, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. My temperature subsided the next day, but the discomfort in my gut lingered and for the rest of the year, I was on the classic diarrhoea diet – black tea and a white bread.
A doctor whom I visited in January 2013 gave me probiotics (until then I did not know that some antibiotics kill my ‘friendly’ intestinal flora, that they can cause complications and that probiotics are ideal to take with some antibiotics!) and the problems resolved within a week. One week without any problems followed, my body was fully weighted with work, sports, and everything was as before. An interesting event that week was an unfathomable dream of completing my colonoscopy. I had never done anything like that, was not interest in this issue and was healthy, so we had a laugh with my girlfriend. We went for lunch to a Mexican restaurant during the weekend and I bought 200 grams of chocolate as a reward for all the diets and ate it enormously easily, as it had been my long-standing habit.
‘Footnote’ between paragraphs: if you do not know me personally yet, I note that I am 174 cm tall and weigh about 66 kilograms throughout my entire adult life (born in 1980), despite my addiction to sugar and chocolate. Besides sweets, I considered myself as living quite healthily, I had not drunk so much alcohol since college that I would need to kill half the next day by recovering, I had never smoked, I have been doing sports my whole life and I also enjoyed an occasional salad, cleansing and fasting. End of a note.
At night, I was woken up by a crazy abdominal pain, I didn’t know what to grasp because of the pain and sensitivity in the intestines while on the toilet. Besides classic production, mucus and some blood came out of me. Well, it was clear to me that it was not okay and probably would not be. The doctor sent me to my dream colonoscopy, before which I went through cleansing my digestive system by drinking several litres of Fortrans solution. (I already knew Fortrans, I had tried it twice in the past in an effort to cleanse myself but I had never been able to drink so many litres. It tastes like lime ‘juice’ made of school chalk, and once, I got sick drinking so quickly it that I threw up in the kitchen sink). This time I made it because I had to. After the Fortrans, my problems subsided for a few months, but I am getting ahead of myself.
The colonoscopy from January 2013 found inflammation of the large intestine (ulcers) to 20cm of sigmoid colon, and 33 cm in the transition zone. They tested me many times but nothing else was found. Ulcerative colitis (UC) in biopsy unconfirmed, suspected non-specific inflammation, probably due to the ATB. Condition stable, check-up in April 2013 I think, prescribed treatment with Salofalk (anti-inflammatory effects, a part dissolves in the small intestine, most of it in the large intestine), residue-free diet (eat nothing containing indigestible remnants, thus irritating the bowel – no nuts, fresh vegetables, etc.), which I should have found on the Internet. When I asked how I could refuel while climbing mountains, the answer was chocolate. Given that sugar has inflammation-supporting effects, it is interesting information from a gastroenterologist, isn’t it?
At that time, I did not have the information that I have now, and when I look at it in retrospect, I can see that the bowel expert–a gastroenterologist is not a dietician or a nutrition specialist. I wish I had already met Honza, or at least came across e.g. the book ‘It Starts with Food’, but it was in its infancy at that time. But more about that later. In any event, using the variety of information that I found on the Internet, my girlfriend (who has been and still is a support to me) and I created a residue-free diet guide and a food table of the diet. Maybe you're at a similar stage as I was then and it will help you with a comprehensive overview. Although the residue-free diet does not solve the ingredients that are harmful not only to the intestine and do not belong to healthy eating (gluten and foods with added sugar), but the transition to this diet was the first necessary step for me in cutting the attachment to certain foods. In the beginning, it was a necessary diet because the investigation of inflammatory bowel ulcers. Other food elimination from the diet was no longer (except added sugar) as hard as the first major change in eating habits. I was on the residue-free diet for a year, during which I lost 3 kg - until February 2014, when I met a doctor of Tibetan medicine. But about that later, too.
The first direction I took was homeopathy at the beginning of 2013. Moreover, I had the honour to go to a homeopath with a capital H – Mrs Rečlová. Close friends praised her saying she had helped them many times, so I visited her. I had never been interested in homeopathy; I had a natural confidence in the method and the lady, I expected nothing, and was totally stunned by what came. Respectively, it was discovered what had been internally destroying me.
I'm not a materialist, I deal with internal development; I had been a spiritual seeker a couple of years ago until I found Buddhism, which I completely identified with. It’s my heart thing, I meditate regularly and am interested in development, try to be honest with myself and others, not delude myself or others or hide anything. My head is in the clouds and the universe, but I try to walk the earth. Despite that I was surprised that Mrs Rečlová discovered in me what I did not see, even though it was so internally obvious.
It all happened quite passively – only from the perspective of an outside observer. We sat opposite each other at the table, ‘just’ talking. I have to admit that something in me changed at that moment. Emotions and feelings were somehow stronger when I was close to Mrs Rečlová. What I thought I had already settled in life was not settled and the sorrow bubbled out. A contributory cause of grief was an event from November 2012, i.e. a month before my problems started, when a close colleague – a friend, died tragically at work and this situation deeply affected everyone at work. While continuing a question and answer session with Mrs Rečlová, my throat ached and I could not speak. But we went on, we went to childhood, the early dreams and nightmares I remember. One (common in retrospect) dream I could not describe because the sadness overwhelmed me. Then, she asked me if I had lost a loved one as a child (my father died tragically when I was 4). Then I was just crying. I was crying the pain of a then little boy and all the sadness that was so deep. I felt it in my stomach, as it was forcing its way out in spasms and leaving me through the throat and tears.
But it was only partial clarity, I did not feel it completely; I could not be relaxed/open enough and fully surrender to weeping on a wooden chair and opposite a woman whom I had not known 20 minutes ago.
On crying UP
I share this personal experience also to destroy the antiquated ideas and concepts of ‘men do not cry’, of it being something that is not for us, something we should be ashamed of. With my own eyes and skin, I have proved that crying helps and heals. Furthermore, when I feel the pain of the past forcing its way out to leave me, only a fool wouldn’t cry and try to cleanse and heal through the tears. Haven’t you ever felt better and relieved after crying? We cannot run away from everything in our lives, we cannot push away everything. Anything we have under our skin (in the heart, mind), we carry with us and consciously or unconsciously act, feel and decide dragging this burden. Therefore, if you feel it internally, do not fight it and do not hide cowardly behind an artificial mask of toughness. Cry and dissolve everything possible! Surrendering to crying means honesty towards oneself and also a symbol of courage and strength to accept oneself with our mistakes, weaknesses and pain.
Mrs Rečlová gave me a homeopathic medication that should have helped me wash away the unexpressed grief. It succeeded. It was in fact ‘the most varied emotional’ time of my life, I felt like being on a swing, up and down. Arbitrary leaching sadness of varying intensity was a positive feature. It cleansed me to get rid of deep sorrow in this way, although it took several weeks. The ‘Negative’aspect (the quotes explained later) was that it swept away my surroundings, which I caused harm to. When I look back at the few months, I do not recognize myself. It was a period when I could not trust myself for the first (and hopefully the last) time in my life. My valley of tears dried up and I could trust my feelings again no sooner than in May/June. Our relationship eventually came out of it much stronger (hence the quotes).
On Homeopathic Drugs
Later I learned that homeopathic medication may have a stronger effect on people with a predominant wind element. I therefore suggest a more cautious approach in these cases.
Meanwhile, I went to the gastroenterologistin April 2013, where the results of the inspection sigmoidoscopy did not confirm ulcerative colitis (UC). Healed ulcer scars were evident and although the state of my bowel was not completely healthy (slurred vascular pattern), it was probably non-specific inflammation, possibly caused by antibiotics, and the residue-free diet should be continued, Salofalk would be reduced during the half year (from 2-2-2 through 2-0-2, 1-0-1) with perhaps the final check-up in autumn when it would probably be fine. I was happy because everything had fallen into place; ‘it was the unexpressed sadness which I have cried out, it’ll be good again,’ I said.
On The Bowel from the Perspective of Psychotherapy
The bowel corresponds to the lower world on the physical level of the unconsciousness. At the level of symptoms, the UC is a civil war in the lower world with opaque fronts, fighting against oneself; life force is concentrated in the lower world; fear to realize one’s own life and personality; ‘sweat blood and water’ because of the fear, and so on. Previous words were a demonstration of the excellent book The Healing Power of Illness (check also another book Meaning of Symptoms) by R. Dahlke, which I have lent to many people with varying serious diseases including cancer. They all have confirmed that the information gathered from the book internally fits to the diseases. Each disease contains a description (from which the sample is) on the physical level, the symptom level, processing the disease (what should you change) and fulfilment (where the disease directed you). I highly recommend the book as it reveals an inner approach to the disease and its solution.
Thanks to the outcome of gastroenterology, I ventured in food and did not bother with the diet that much (until then, I had done it dutifully). Let’s say I was on it on 87.3%, which I could afford after all when I cried out of it and was still taking anti-inflammatory pills, right? Finally, during summer camping where I didn’t have the opportunity (in fact, did not know the way) to be entirely on a diet, the condition worsened again. I think it was dairy products in oatmeal or sauces resulting in a return of problems (flatulence, mucus and uncertainty when to go to the toilet). I understood that healing was not so real. Another sigmoidoscopy was done in November 2013 (with the results ‘slurred vascular pattern to 20 cm of sigmoid colon, biopsy histologically inconclusive’) and in January 2014, I went to lie down in a MRI tunnel (with the finding of ‘acute to sub-acute inflammatory changes likely within UC’), pursuant to which, apparently to conclude my case, they gave me: ‘Dg K52.9 Ulcerative Colitis confirmed according to endoscopy and MRI finding, in remission at therapy’. At this point, the senior doctor told me what I included in the Introduction: ‘Ulcerative colitis is life-long, we do not know how it is caused and how to get rid of it. You stick to a residue-free diet, take anti-inflammatory pills (Salofalk 500mg). It will be a permanent source of health problems for you.’ Salofalk dose was again increased to 2-0-2.
As for homeopathy, I felt it had fulfilled its role. It brought my raw and unresolved themes of death, loss and impermanence of everything to light.
On Death and Impermanence
Coping with the loss of loved ones, which I unwittingly brought with me from childhood, and my own death is a big issue, if not one of the biggest and most difficult in life (that is at least for me). Perceiving death and loss impersonally, accepting them as a natural part of the cycle of life is easily understood at the level of brain and information. Everybody should try to get this information under his skin or into his heart.
Our society places old age, disease and death somewhere on the edge, beyond our attention, to hospitals, hospices and homes for the elderly. Then, when these inevitable events happen to someone close to us, we are overwhelmed. Incorporating pervasive impermanence and death into the everyday perception of the world (the only permanent certainty in life is change) gives our lives a new dimension: by being aware of loss and the impermanence of life, life is properly appreciated, we will value it and others more, enjoy it and live it (more) meaningfully, not just surviving.
[Update March 2016: I will suggest you one more great book: Lessons from the Dying from Rodney Smith, that worked many years in hospic, where he was close to death itself, very close. He brings us it's deep wisdom, experience and knowledge in form of many stories of many different people with their different life stories, different approaches of going through different stages of dying and their accepting or not accepting of death itself. These experience widely transform our lives, views and our values, behaviour and relationships. You can read it all over again and go through both its realization and individual lectures in form of exercises, urges to think and to contemplate, do both daily and weekly homeworks and subsequently get to change of the way we experience everything. The book has huge potential to change your life into better life, i warmly suggest reading and experiencing it.
I felt that for me, homeopathy (or rather, in my quest for healing, I cannot blame homeopathy) lacks approach and attitude to food. I needed instructions on what I should and should not eat, because by that time I was still living on the information about the residue-free diet found on the Internet. So I had a tendency to look for something else. Tibetan medicine crossed my path.
I have absolute confidence in Tibetan medicine. I was lucky to undertake a course of Medicine Buddha with Anna Elisabeth Bach, a doctor of Tibetan medicine, who among other things studied classical medicine in Germany. Therefore, she has a view of the health/body/mind from both directions – the east and west. She said she has the knowledge and experience of body functions and the health from Tibetan medicine that would result in a Western thinking she was mad if she told him. One example: if I hold a stool for a longer period of time and don’t go to the toilet when the body feels like it and when constipation becomes a habit, it blocks the wind energy that goes back up the body affecting, among other things, a sensitive, easily actionable heart in a form of cardiac disease. Interesting, isn’t it?
In a brief introduction, I would like to say that Tibetan medicine distinguishes among the energy of wind, bile and phlegm within the energy system, which should be in balance, and (not only) their imbalance causes diseases. Abalance can be achieved by proper diet, setting the mind, meditation... It’s a huge topic and I as a participant in one course and the patient would hate to interpret something incorrectly. Therefore, I will mention only one, in my opinion very important fact: from conception to death, our mind is linked with the body, interdependent. One can be seen as a rider (the mind) on horseback (the body). If, for example, the rider is undisciplined and unfocused, it will have a negative impact on the horse. But even reversed, if the horse is restless, it can be tamed by a stable rider. Or, ‘mind over matter!’ Work thus on your internal setting, motivation, optimism, openness, joy and gratitude. These are all ways of physical and mental health.
Did you know that the development of gratitude is the journey to happiness? Just try to live in gratitude for all that you have here and now every day for a few minutes.
In early 2014, I began to visit N. Holečko, a doctor Tibetan medicine, which was also very inspiring. Examination is carried out, among other means, by viewing the tongue, checking urine, checking heartbeat through the hand, where she found after 20 seconds that I had diarrhoea that day. A great deal of other health information can be found using this (for those of us brought up with western medicine) atypical/surprising form. The most important thing I learned was the recommendation for omitting pastry and minimizing the consumption of sugar. As for the pastry, N. Holečko was surprised that I had been actually eating it for over a year since the beginning of my problems. I wondered why I cannot eat it since I’m not allergic to gluten.
Now I have the information I did not have then: the intestine is the seat of immunity and (not only) gluten (but other corn proteins as well) disrupts the intestinal wall (of not only the people with coeliac disease, but everyone!) which then becomes passable, the content of the intestine penetrates into the body, which activates its immune system and according to individual predispositions, causes variously intense immune reaction (inflammation). In short: pastry promotes inflammation in the body. The result today is the ever-growing incidence of autoimmune diseases, allergies, eczema and digestive problems.
Pastry (even ‘healthy’ whole grain) has a strong negative effect on our brains. I’m not an expert, but D. Perlmutter, who wrote Grain Brain, is the expert (researcher neurologist). If you do not want to read the whole book like me (I’m clear in pastry), then a mere excerpt from the book by A. Jermářová is very interesting, an independent nutrition consultant, nutritional therapist and food engineer. Furthermore, a very revealing and incredible book is It Starts with Food, by the Hartwigs, recommended to me by N. Holečko and whose paleo diet is unnecessarily strict for me. However, they say the book contains a great deal of useful information. I bought the book, and read it a few months later. But when I then read it in one breath, I immediately ordered 5 copies for my loved ones as compulsory reading and I honestly recommend it to you, too.
A comment on pastry from Dr Walker is also fitting: ‘In my experience of several decades and the experience of a large number of other researchers in the field of nutrition; bread, pastry, cereal and other cooked foods from starch may be responsible for most of the ills that afflict today’s civilized humanity. I cannot emphasize enough that the best evidence is to try to omit these things from one’s diet for several weeks to give the body an opportunity for self-treatment and experience the unexpected and indeed incredible improvement in health.’ (Norman W. Walker was one of the leading physicians dealing with health and nutrition research in the United States whose findings will be discussed later.)
Do not proceed in reading until you find something about pastry. Perhaps you know someone else in your area who will confirm how it changed his life and moved to better health by omitting bread. Do really spend a moment to search.
After you obtain this information, do you truly desire to continue consuming something so harmful? I have not eaten bakery products since the beginning of 2014, I replaced them with vegetables, gluten-free purees (buckwheat, millet... more under Inspiration), and I do not miss it at all. Try it for yourself to completely omit gluten for a month. You’ll see how you feel and how you feel when you taste it again. I think that you will not want to eat pastry anymore. (As well as my friend Petra who, according to her words, finally began to live: with the omission of pastry and processed food, she feels energetic and not chronic fatigue, she started doing sports that were forbidden for her by doctors, open sores on the skin and more, until then ‘incurable’, problems have disappeared and she finally feels great. Or as a friend Adam from Prague, who got rid of allergies thanks to a gluten-free diet.) The pastry contains sugar, of course, so the addiction to it and your tastes and habits won’t be relieved by moving away from the bakery products. However, if you’re sufficiently informed and you want it, like anything else, you can easily replace pastry with tasty healthy alternatives.
Regarding the practices of Tibetan medicine, changes in lifestyle are proposed (adequate sleep - see ‘On the Importance of Sleep’ below) and dietary changes largely depending on which component of the energy triplet including wind, bile and mucus prevails so as to achieve their balance leads to health. I was given, besides Tibetan herbal pills, several recipes and cooking inspirations, advice on diet and the book Food First was recommended to me. As for the general advice of Tibetan medicine for the general public, a healthy variety of food is recommended to ensure the balanced of 3 mentioned aspects of the internal energy. As for vegetarianism, A. Bach discourages it unless you have been a vegetarian since childhood, e.g. thanks to one’s parents.
On the Importance of Sleep
Although we don’t care much about sleep, it is an incredibly important part of our biology. Lack of sleep doesn’t mean only a less powerful brain, but sleep and (not) enough of it, as you see, has a complex effect on your health and quality of life. There are several explanations on sleep needs by neuroscientists, yet it is enough to just remember your day’s emotions and ‘qualities’ while we slept only a few hours starting with a ‘fresh’wake up. With sleep deprivation, we subjectively feel miserable, the quality of experiencing the day significantly worsens and we are looking forward to go to bed earlier to finish sleeping which, speaking from personal experience, is managed with different levels of success. Objectively, impaired memory and judgment, increased irritability, fatigue and stress emerge. In turn, chronic stress causes a reduction of immunity. Moreover, a tired brain wants extra stimulants from us. Caffeine is a stimulant prevailing in the Western world and more than a few minds ‘run’ on it during the day. Those less fortunate brains ‘run’ on nicotine. Lack of sleep also causes increased production of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, which tells the brain to demand carbohydrates and mostly sugar. Diet and resolutions are therefore easy to break experiencing fatigue and sleep deprivation, and I’m the dark example. When you find yourself in the evening running around the kitchen, looking for what sweet to eat, rather go quickly clean your teeth (my trick against nibbling in the kitchen, because the food is not that tasty after you clean your teeth and I wouldn’t want to clean them again) and then go to sleep.
A relatively new discovery of another sleep function for the brain is that the brain cleanses itself from its metabolic products (only!) while sleeping. This leaching of metabolic wastes is continuously going on through the lymphatic system in the rest of the body; however it is not included in a skull with the brain and its absence is replaced withthe ingenious mechanism right during sleep by the body/brain. A feeling of freshness or lack of thereof after waking up tells you easily what your sleep really was like. Conversely, getting enough sleep equals increased concentration, attention, decision-making skills, creativity, social skills, reduces mood swings, stress, anger, impulsiveness, susceptibility to drug consumption, etc.
Going to bed early or getting sufficient sleep is contrary to our long-term habits, so sleeping enough may really be harder than it seems at first glance. But it’s definitely worth it, adequate sleep is not only the basis of health and well-being, managing tastes and habits when travelling for health would be much harder without sufficient sleep. More details on the sleep are provided by the two following excellent lectures, from which I drew information.
I do not remember exactly with what I walked away from N.Holečko last time, but I tried to follow her advice for about three months. I used the word ‘tried’ deliberately because I was still looking for the path of discipline, self-control and mastery of taste. However, even then I was looking for other options to ‘miraculously heal’ myself.
During those two years, I had also tried reflexology with Mr Havlíček whom I visited several times and who is also incredible at insight into the body and the ability to find out what and where is wrong with the body through your feet. Besides therapy, I was also diagnosed with a malfunctioning liver; I got herbal extracts for various ailments and prescription for anti-inflammatory tea from a mixture of herbs. He also said that it was only on me and on my will when I had visited him for the last time.
I will mention one more episode of searching and this is the EAV method (Electroacupuncture according to Voll) which suited me the least of all due to unconvincing measurement methods. My feeling is personal and individual and besides 3 sessions/measurements within a couple of weeks, I have no further experience with this method. However, this is a measurement of the appropriateness/inappropriateness of tens of food ingredients. Measurements are made using a wondrous device that looks like a compound of Volt-Ampere Meter, a bowl and one old Russian game. I am a technical type; so neither the device nor the method inspired confidence or admiration, rather the contrary. I wanted to try the method because of the trust in a friend who is anEAV therapist. Moreover, I believe in acupuncture and its principles, although I have no experience with it.
The measurement principle is that an ampoule of a controlled food ingredient sample is placed in the bowl. Calibration is done using an ampoule of rat poison. The bowl with the ampoule is part of the circuit with one end held in your hand and the other pushed into your palm. The impact on your body/health is determined according to a deflection on the VA meter. Nevertheless, the deflection was very susceptible to the placement of pushing the other end in the palm showing different results at minimum (millimetre) movements of the end. Herbal energy drops were the sold treatment, the effect of which I didn’t notice myself. I do not feel the need to write more about EAV. I suggest you first find something on this method and then leave it to your critical mind, and possibly personal experience.
The last stop before the ‘awakening’ was three visits to A. Knapová, a doctor of Chinese medicine at a Qi clinic during the summer of 2014. Mrs Knapová is incredible as well, she knew I’d failed to comply with the residue-free diet by eating fresh vegetables and nuts, she knew I had hardly slept and was generally exhausted (I cannot remember what was so important for me then that I had neglected diet and sleep so much). She said I had a mild inflammatory bowel disease and that another one of her patients with a stronger inflammation was fine, which was encouraging but had rather the opposite effect on my dietary discipline. The increased sensitivity in the bowel was gone after the therapy and I felt better. However, I could not resist my cravings and had some candy bars with nuts before the next meeting. My condition deteriorated, the lady’s internal scanner knew it instantly and accurately detected even the nuts with honey eaten the day before (I had not commanded my tastes that much then). She confronted me with a mirror saying that she would return me to the state as last time, and I felt that she had no desire to waste her time with me if I wasn’t interested in healing. I felt stupid, but it was a great experience in the end. I finally understood/experienced and realised that my health is mine and my only responsibility and that seeking healing elsewhere and with somebody other than me didn’t make sense unless I started to be fully and completely honest with myself. It Starts with Food led me to this conviction which I began to read before the last visit to the Qi clinic in August 2014.