Monday, October 29, 2007

Plastic Universe

There have been a number of times in my life when I've found that the substance and events of the material world have appeared to be influenced by what went on in my mind. Like the time I felt I had the symptoms of "GERD" and took prescription drugs for months to fight them off. The drugs did indeed appear to work: the scorching pain in my throat that prevented me from sleeping was kept at bay. Then I did a 10-day silent meditation course "vipassana" and as I gained faith in the method and learned to observe sensations without reacting to them, the pain began to fade moments after it would first appear. After the course, my "condition" no longer existed.

Then there's been this issue with the pain that plagued my right abdomen, apparently my right hip some time before that. When I had the hip pain, my thoughts went back nearly a decade earlier when a sonogram - in the examining physician's opinion - revealed a gallstone. "This could cause discomfort later on, you may wish to consider surgery." My thought at the time was that my practice of Yoga and vegetarian diet would protect me. But my persistent hip pain got me thinking that perhaps it was the stone coming back to haunt me.

But upon my participation in a class with a very impressive Iyengar Yoga teacher, a man in his early 50s from Forest Hills, NY, the pain went away. Then my practice fell off and other troubles plagued me and my self-confidence took a beating. The pain showed up again, this time moving to my abdomen. I would discount it, maintaining that as soon as I went back to regular Yoga practice, I would send the pain packing. Suspecting a gallstone(s), I attended a liver flush workshop. But no stones came out and I left suspecting it had been a hoax. That it was all in Hungarian and most of the participants were older women with whom I couldn't communicate may have had something to do with my lack of faith.

Then came a recent Vipassana (another 10-day) and I discovered there was a pain in my right abdomen that was not going away. I spoke with the instructor about this pain and she suggested that I have it checked out after the course. This I resolved to do and despite the chronic pain I weathered on, in pursuit of perfect equanimity.

But when the course concluded, I didn't go to the doctor, despite the pain. I was short on cash and without health insurance. Instead I fasted for two days. And the pain subsided. Once eating again, I returned to my old habits of overeating, eating after dark and eating reheated leftovers of cooked dishes. The pain quickly returned. So then I fasted for four days and commenced another liver cleanse. This time I passed what looked to be a number of stones, although I wasn't quite sure if they were hardened balls of old fecal matter. Once the cleanse was done, I went easy on food for a few days, had some very nice Yoga practices, with only a faint soreness in my side, but then towards the end of the week, a buddy (a former chiropractor) told me in the morning that I should be careful of liver flushes because they could dislodge a large stone that could not be passed, thereby causing a blockage. Doubts entered my mind, where there had been so much faith. Then I had an oily fried lunch, then fried leftover potatoes for supper, well after dark. I cooked them and ate them quickly, rushing to indulge in what I reckoned to be a sin.

That night, the pain returned.

So I phoned the woman who had led my first cleanse. She told me that it could be possible that a stone had lodged causing a blockage and she reccomended another cleanse. Around this time I found very encouraging entries on about how such cleanses had brought relief to long-term sufferers of abdominal pain. So I began fasting - this time on apple juice - and then did another flush, which I just finished today. At some moment I did come across an entry by a man claiming to be a doctor who said that the stones that come out in a flush aren't stones, but soap, made by the Epsom salts, the citrus juice and the olive oil (all components of the cleanse).

But this morning when I started passing "stones", they looked like exactly that. They were very dark and the size of pebbles and did not resemble either soap of old clumps of shit. And my pain was passing, disappearing altogether the more stones I passed. But lo and behold, the more stones I passed, the more they started to resemble (and feel) like bits of soap. No longer black, but light green. Later in the day, I passed some in the john at the mall and I noticed them floating - much like soap, but not much like stones.

Then on the web I suddenly found all sorts of reports purporting to debunk the "quackery" of liver flushes. But I also found many that supported them with first-hand accounts of people who said their lives had been transformed by these flushes.

My first meal of any substance has been a delicious salad of spinach, ruccola, shredded carrot, zucchini, a little mushroom, oil, vinegar and soy sauce. For much of the day I had been doing different bends and stretches to see if I could detect the pain, but could not. Pain now? I felt a little prick in my upper abdomen earlier, then another. Do I react, search for more? Do I go to the doctor, spend the rent money on tests, then go into debt for surgery? Naaah. I'll just observe. And eat moderately, before dark and RAW. Like Jesus used to say, "Your faith has healed you."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Liver flush

I just wanted you all to know, yesterday morning I passed literally dozens of
gallstones. It wasn't exactly easy, fasting for four days with enemas every
day, then drinking a half liter of olive oil mixed with a half liter of
citrus juice and several doses of Epsom salts. Last night was the hardest,
keeping that citrus and olive oil cocktail down. Then more Epsom salts this
morning and many trips to the toilet. But it worked! The abdominal pain is
gone, except for some residual soreness. And to think, I could have had
surgery instead! What a relief . . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Abdominal Pain

During my recent 10-day Vipassana meditation course, it became clear to me that I was suffering from a dull pain in my abdomen that wasn't going away. In fact, it occurred to me that I had been suffering from a pain on my right side for a year, on and off. The thought that I was diagnosed with a gallstone 9 years ago and that the symptoms for pancreatitis as described on the Mayo clinic's web site match my own to a large extent and that pancreatitis is often set off by gallstones.

So I've decided to fast. And see the doctor, hopefully get an ultrasound.

I fasted 2 days last week and the pain abated. So I think a 7 day could help.

And I will continue with Yoga, which seems also to help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

After Vipassana

It's been a while since my last entry. This past Sunday I returned from a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. It was my third in three years. It was done sitting in complete silence for 9+ hours a day, for nine consecutive days. On the tenth day, the "veil of silence" was lifted and we were allowed to speak with our fellow meditators. This was interesting. All these men (women were in different quarters, though we shared the same meditation hall) with whom I had been eating, showering and peeing next to for nine days, whom I had speechlessly observed (and they me), whose habits and mannerisms I knew - some I had even assigned names to, like "the old soldier, an old guy who marched up and down constantly during every break, or Samson, one of my roommates, very tall and very solid man with full-bodied long, blond hair - I finally got to speak with them. It was like I knew them already except that I didn't. Sampson turned out to be a sculptor. I regrettably didn't speak with the old soldier, hence never learned if he'd been a soldier. He was too young to have fought in WWII and probably too old for Vietnam (the Hungarian Vietnam veterans fought on the North Vietnamese side, they got to win).

After the course, some of us went to a nearby Buddhist stupa, a sort of Buddhist shrine built in memory of