By Nancy O'Neill
Most of my life I had a very unhealthy diet consisting mainly of fast food, soda, and high fat, low fiber food. Finally my diet caught up with me.
In late April, 2012, I came to Kushi Institute as a very sick woman with a long list of symptoms including diverticulitis and other digestive problems, vertigo, vision problems, tinnitus, many disabling menstrual problems, obesity, arthritis, and depression. In the prior four years I had gone through three hospitalizations and two surgeries. One of the surgeries was an emergency a life-saving colostomy that resulted from a perforated intestine. The operation was a success, but even six months later I was left suffering from major depression.
I went to Kushi Institute because my older sister was coming for the Way to Health program and she invited me along. Although I did not have much hope at the time, I wanted to see if macrobiotics would help remedy my ongoing health problems. It turns out it was the best decision I ever made.
I stayed at Kushi Institute for two weeks, first attending Way to Health, then continuing on another week for the Way to Health PLUS program. By the time my stay was over, I had already lost nine pounds and was less depressed than I had been in years.
I write this only a few weeks after returning home, and even in this short time, my weight loss has continued, and I am no longer depressed. In fact, I am happy and excited about my future. My body feels stronger. I also have no more diverticulitis and I go to the bathroom with no problems. It is amazing to me, because for years I always had problems going to the bathroom, I was either constipated or had diarrhea. The vertigo and tinnitus are gone. The menstrual problems are gone. I have much less arthritic pain and I feel it will eventually go away after I get down to my ideal body weight. At Kushi Institute I also realized gluten was a part of my health problems and am now eating gluten-free.
I am so grateful to my sister for getting me to Kushi Institute, and also grateful to the staff at Kushi Institute, who were wonderful, supportive and great examples of how life can be if you eat a macrobiotic diet. I keep in touch with the people that went through the programs with me. It is great to have friends now who are working on the same macrobiotic lifestyle. We share a lot of cooking and shopping tips.
I cant wait to see how good I will feel in another year! Now, instead of worrying about my future, I am eager to see how my future unfolds.
When I was at Kushi Institute, Larry and Judy MacKenney, two of our wonderful instructors, would have us get into a circle at the end of class and say, Every day in every way I am getting better and better and better. I continue to say this to myself and for me it has been true every day in every way I AM getting better and better and better! Thank you Kushi Institute for such a wonderful gift. Youve given me the gift of health.
By Charles Duvall
In October 1994, when I awoke in the morning my right hand was asleep, and I could not wake it up. This was the beginning of a very painful year. Within one week, both hands were numb, and becoming increasingly painful. By Christmas, the pain was so bad at night that I had to get up every hour and soak my hands in ice water to stop the pain. By then, both hands were stiff, and I could no longer make a grip with my fists. In March 1995, my ankles began to stiffen, and I began to experience pain when walking. This stiffness quickly progressed to my feet, knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders and by summer, I could not get out of bed without help. My knees would not straighten. I relied on hot showers to wake-up my body, but I became very weak, and unable to work more than several hours in the morning.
In early July, I met with a client from London, and went to dinner at a fancy local seaside restaurant to discuss a project in Mexico City. I ordered stuffed eggplant with riccotta and mozzarella, with a cream sauce, new potatoes, a glass of red wine. I followed this with a flaming dessert of caramelized bananas with chocolate sauce. We talked for several hours at our table. After the bill was paid, I pushed my chair back and quickly realized that my legs would not support my weight. I told everyone that my legs had fallen asleep, and to walk on ahead of me. It took ten minutes before I could stand and walk slowly to the parking lot. I attributed my problem to sitting for such a long period.
On August 1, I decided to eliminate sugar, dairy, and nightshade vegetables from my diet. I had been a vegetarian for five years, and frequently ate nightshades two or three times a day. Immediately, I began to lose weight, and did not have any more shocking after dinner experiences, although I continued to lose flexibility.
Finally, in September 1995, I gave in to taking the recommended drugs, as I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis by a rheumatologist. I was prescribed one of about two hundred possible types of NSAIDS. If these were not strong enough, there were various stronger levels of drugs ranging from sulfa sulfates to cortisone, and even radiation therapy which could eventually be available to me should I need more relief in the future. My control over my condition was to become my choice of how many pills I required to relieve my condition.
The NSAIDS relieved the pain in my ankles, and I could walk more easily, but I still continued to loose my overall flexibility, and strength. I could work about four hours before collapsing on the sofa for the rest of the day and evening. I got a boost at 6pm when I popped the second pill. The rheumatologist had explained that the drugs would relieve the pain, but not prevent my condition from deteriorating further. I was skeptical about taking drugs in the first place, and suspicious about the connection of food because of my direct experiences. The literature of the Arthritis Foundation states that there is no scientific evidence of a connection between diet and arthritis, although some people have noticed effects from eating certain foods.
I decided to take a short vacation at Nags Head before leaving for a two-week project in Mexico City in the end of September. I made a business phone call to Maine, and an old friend picked up the phone. She mentioned the Kushi Institute after hearing that I was experimenting with my diet. I immediately called and signed up for the Kushi Institutes Way to Health program on October 15, even though I was basically unfamiliar with macrobiotics. I had to explore a food-related solution out of intuition and desperation.
On October 11, I had an appointment with my rheumatologist. She prescribed the next level of drugs, sulfa sulfates. I should take seven pills every day. I could eventually experiment with the dosage based on my needs. I somehow knew I would never fill the subscription.
One week later, at the Kushi Institute, I quickly realized that I was in the right healing place. The teachers immediately confirmed my suspicion that my condition was related to my diet. The teachers emphasized the relationship of lifestyle as a big factor as well. After several days, I already felt the energy of the delicious balanced macrobiotic meals. I stopped taking the NSAIDS. I tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible in this concentrated week of study, cooking, exercise, and healing. Sharing experiences with other students and faculty was also a vital part of the week. I realized that I was beginning a new way of thinking and living, but I never grasped how powerful and uplifting the process would become, and how it would begin to transform my daily life.
Slowly, my arthritis began to change. My joints started making cracking sounds, and became gradually more flexible. I utilized frequent ginger compresses on my ankles and knees. The swelling eventually subsided almost completely. Initially, doing hot towel rubs in the morning and evening was physically difficult, but after three months became easier to perform, and has been very effective in increasing my vitality and circulation, as well as increasing flexibility and eliminating pain and stiffness in my shoulders and knees. Daily Do-In exercises have also added strength and flexibility, as well as weekly Tai-chi classes. After three months of a macrobiotic diet, the exercises became more effective than in the beginning.
Recently, I discovered that chewing the food has a direct relationship to the stiffness in my joints, so I am now more focused on chewing every mouthful. Learning itself is a process, and takes patience. It was not possible to prepare every meal perfectly in the beginning, but gradually I overcame obstacles. Now I am pretty proficient at getting breakfast prepared well, with rice, greens, and miso. It took effort and time to establish a consistent yet flexible process for preparing breakfast. Now, I am trying to improve my preparation of dinner.
In February, I turned forty years old. I have been practicing macrobiotics for four months. I still have good and bad days, but I am moving rapidly towards healing and balance. Once the arthritis is behind me, I can move on to a continuous and ongoing process of healing, transformation, and changes in my diet and lifestyle, and in my relationship to other people and the world, and with myself. I look forward to returning to the Kushi Institute in Becket to continue to educate myself about macrobiotics and receive the support of others committed to health and healing.