Have you ever thought you were going to die? I have… twice.
My first near-death experience was when I flew off a cliff on a motorbike in Seattle when I was a teen. I couldn’t make the curve, couldn’t stop the momentum built up from my gravity-induced free fall on wheels, and was too paralyzed with fear to jump off before I went over the side. But, other than breaking the bike and knocking myself out, I came out just fine in the end.
My second near-death experience was a bit more drawn out. About three years ago, I was facing some really tough decisions. Like, life-changing, never-be-the-same-again, leave-everything-I-know-behind, career-suicide type of decisions. So, to help me gain clarity, I did a water fast. While depriving yourself of perfectly good food may make no sense to most people, I was fasting to try to understand God’s will for my life. However, I never would have done so if I knew then what I know now.
Just Water Thank You!
I fasted five days with nothing but water. No food, no juice, not even gum… just water. And, I kept doing my sales calls; driving for 8 to 10 hours per day, lifting heavy product boxes up stairs to customers, and unloading and stacking over 400 pounds of product at my storage shed. I had a very physically demanding job. It did not go well with a water fast.
By the final day, I had to lean against the car every time I stood up to go into an office and breathe until the dizziness and blackness lifted from my eyes. Then, I mustered up the courage to put on my best face and hide the fact that I was fasting and completely exhausted from my customers. You may wonder why anyone would subject themselves to this. At that moment in time, my mental and emotional state were not the best, and I honestly didn’t care about my health… I just wanted to find answers. I was trying to do a seven-day fast, but by the evening of the fifth day, I felt so bad that I decided to break it. (I will say, as a side note, that God did answer my prayers and give me a very specific answer during my water fast. But, that’s another story, and I detailed it more clearly in my post about God’s miracle moments in my life.)
I had never done a water fast before, so I had no idea how to break one. I figured carrot juice was healthy. My husband, who usually talks sense into me when I do these things, was overseas at the time. I juiced the fresh carrots and downed the orange liquid quickly, hoping it would make me feel better.
After about 10 minutes, I started having difficulty breathing. It felt like an elephant was playing poker on my chest, and I couldn’t inhale deeply. My heart started beating very hard, and seemed to be trying to break through my sternum to jump out of my chest for a premier performance of Riverdance. I started shaking uncontrollably. I laid down, and then needed to go to the bathroom. The symptom is called polyuria. For the rest of the night, I kept having to urinate even though I didn’t drink very much. The problem was, I was so dizzy that I couldn’t walk anymore. This meant crawling back and from my bed to the bathroom. And so began the craziest trip of my life that night… all from carrot juice. My symptoms went on for hours.
I really thought I was going to die. I didn’t call my husband, as he was in another country and couldn’t do anything anyway. And, strangely, I didn’t want to worry him. I also knew he would call an ambulance for me, and the ER was the last place that I wanted to go. (I don’t like going to the ER. I didn’t go when I had appendicitis either. My hubby found me in a fetal position and rushed me to the ER for emergency surgery.) I was severely depressed at this point in my life, and death by carrot juice didn’t seem too bad a way to go in my messed up mind. Obviously, I didn’t die. By the morning, I felt better but exhausted from the ordeal. However, my strange symptoms continued to perplex me. Why in the world would I react that way?
Fast forward to three years later. Yesterday, sitting in my doctor’s office, I finally got my answer to what happened. I’ve been struggling with my health for quite some time now. I’ve had chronic fatigue, exercise intolerance, double vision, mental fog, weight gain, GI problems, dizziness, depression, and anxiety issues. I finally went to a doctor who did in-depth testing on my blood, saliva, and urine.
It turns out that I’m insulin resistant. This is a precursor to diabetes. This is also why it’s impossible for me to lose weight without taking extreme actions. He also found that my liver was severely repressed. It couldn’t get rid of toxins very well. And, since my body lacked the ability to utilize my current fat stores, I was always in a state of nutrient deficiency. My doctor explained that it was like having a bank full of money, and a broken ATM. I had no way to access my stored energy to burn it. I have been sick with this for at least ten years, maybe longer.
Yet, insulin resistance was honestly the last thing that I expected. I’ve always been athletic, eaten whole foods, and taken care of myself. My doctor thinks that I have some malabsorption issues. I’m very low in several important nutrients, but one is particular is called chromium. Chromium serves as a cofactor to regulate insulin. My tests showed I had higher levels of insulin than normal. Just like someone with diabetes or hypoglycemia, I should not do pure water fasts. That night, when I introduced the very sugary carrot juice into my bloodstream after not eating for five days while maintaining a strenuous work load, my pancreas over-shot my insulin levels and tanked my blood sugar. I was going into hypoglycemic shock.
Thankfully, my blood sugar eventually leveled out. I didn’t die. To say I experienced a near-death episode by carrot juice may be a bit overly dramatic. I never lost consciousnesses and pulled through after a few crazy hours on the wildest ride of my life.
However, I share my embarrassing story now as a warning to anyone attempting any type of fast. Even if you don’t think you could have insulin resistance, get checked out by a doctor before fasting. I was a young, fairly healthy adult when this happened. However, if I had been elderly or really sick, the results could have been much worse.
Fasting is still a perfectly healthy activity for HEALTHY people. And, I’ve recently done several weeks of juice fasting with no issues before knowing the underlying cause of my health problems. However, I won’t be fasting again until I’m better.
Now, I’m following my doctor’s detailed plan for my recovery. I’m left taking handfuls of supplements to replenish my low levels of essential nutrients. And, here’s the kicker… I can’t do processed carbs any more. No breads, no donuts, no pizza, no lasagna, no sugary ANYTHING! I even have to limit my North American fruit and stop eating all tropical fruits. I seriously don’t know how I will live without bananas. On top of that, I’m on a high-protein diet. Since I was predominately vegan, I’ve compromised with a whey protein supplement and eggs (both sources are organic / hormone-free / free-range) to get my 90 grams of protein per day. After eating salads and cucumbers for lunch, that much protein sits in your stomach like a brick. But, I’m giving it a chance… today is day one… ground zero.
Hopefully, this is my first day to a better life! I will keep you informed of my progress.
And surprisingly, despite the insane ride it sent me on, I still love carrot juice!
What about you? What are some of your crazy, near-death experiences? How did they change you?