I Wasn’t Meant To Live

Foreword: Please don’t start this unless you have 15 mins to read it to completion.  Come back to it later.  If you read only half way it will leave you depressed.  Don’t do that to yourself.  Comeback later.  There’s no rush.

I read a story recently about a dog who gave birth to a litter of six pups.  To the humans who cared for the mother, all six seemed happy and healthy, however after a short while the momma pooch gently lifted one of the pups up, carried it from the dog bed to the other side, where she nuzzled and then left the poor little bugger.  She returned to the ‘nest’ to tend to the remaining five pups.  The little pup who had been outcast cried and whimpered, the mother looked at it sadly, but did not go to it.

The humans, alarmed, scooped the pup up and placed it back in the bed with the others, but it was to no avail.  After a short while, the mother merely picked it up and removed it again.  The humans tried this repeatedly over the next few days.  They made it their mission to save this unwanted pup from its apparent fate.  And they succeeded, the mother eventually gave up on her mission to orphan her apparently-healthy offspring, but at what cost?

That puppy went on to live for thirteen years, but according to the owners was constantly sick, regularly at the vets, racking up huge bills, needing operation after operation, medication after medication, just to stay alive.  Moral of the story:  Momma pooch knew something the humans, though trying to be ‘humane’, did not.

As my own mother was in labour, her body and my own unborn foetus conspired to turn me upside down in the womb and wrap the umbilical cord around my neck.  The hospital staff, seeing my vitals instantly shift, rushed my Mum into the operating theatre to perform an emergency caesarean to save my life.  Western medical intervention ensured I survived, and here I am, thirty six years later writing about it.  But should I be?  Should I be here?  Should I be writing about it?

Nature is life.  Humans are an expression of life.  Life knew that I was a flawed copy, and took action at the last moment to prevent that flaw coming into existence.  This isn’t about right or wrong, good or bad.  The medical staff overrode nature, and so here I am.  But was I meant to live?

Perhaps you think I’m being ridiculous in asking such a question.  Perhaps you think you know better than I do.  Perhaps you think I’m over thinking it.  Perhaps you think I’m being morbid.  Perhaps you are right.  Perhaps you are wrong.  It doesn’t matter.  I express my experience truthfully on this page.  That is all that is certain here.  The rest of it is just opinions, as proved by the use of the word ‘think’.  Right or Wrong.  Good or Bad. Beauty or ugliness -it’s all just opinion.  Conditioning.  Programming.  Fluff.

I woke up at 4am this morning and started to meditate, as I do most mornings these days, but rather than finding peace and calm, I descended almost immediately into mental anguish, and eventually, hell.  I have no choice in the matter, I cannot control it any more, and nor do I want to.  If a downward spiral begins I have to ride it to the bottom, and it’s best to get there as quickly as possible.  This spiral spiralled rapidly, and within minutes I had my face buried in the pillow and was blasting muffled screams into the material of the pillow case.  This was the third morning on the trot that this has occurred.

I’m in a strange period.  I have found this love, a strange love, for everything.  I walk around and feel powerful fondness for all the creatures that I see, from insects to birds to humans.  I feel connected to the world like never before.  It’s like I’ve just upgraded my satellite TV package from Basic to Premium Deluxe.  I understand myself, and the world around me, and all the people in it like never before.  But at the same time my life has lost meaning, all the stuff that used to give my life purpose has ceased to fulfill or drive me, and so the joy has departed.  I’m full of love and patience, but in a deep malaise at the same time.  How do you make sense of that?  It’s something I’m working through.

I made some sense of it this morning as I furiously screamed my final bout of rage into the poor pillow.  When I enter one of these spirals, obviously it’s not a particularly pleasant experience, but at the very bottom I fall out and into a void of wonderful nothingness.  It is there where the true revelations seem to occur, the clarity of my existence becomes clear.  When my third eye bursts open and I intuit what I need to intuit.  The spirals aren’t always downwards into hell, sometimes they cycle up into heaven and when I hit the void at the top of that I find pure love.  It seems that pain and anger bring wisdom and knowledge.  Ecstasy and bliss bring love and joy.  I welcome both directions.  You should know that, because I’m fully aware that a vision of me screaming into a pillow int he darkness of my bedroom is probably not a nice one for you.  For me, it’s just part of the process.  I’ve learnt to feel things on an enormous spectrum.  So yes, there is terrible anger and sadness, but there is also mind-blowing, better than any drug, bliss and love.  I’ve wondered if that’s bipolar, but I always feel in control.  Maybe.  Who knows.  Who cares.  It’s life.

You have not lived my experience, so you cannot know my experience, as much as I cannot claim to know yours. I have whole-heartedly and honestly attempted to describe my experience through the words on this blog over the past two years, however it is but a tiny window into my soul.  I have written extensively on the subject of my health.  The sad fact is that I have felt as though something was not quite right, physically, with my body since my mid-teens.  I remember struggling to stay awake in class sometimes at school.  The digestive problems started around that time too, 16 or 17.  Debilitating stomach aches.  When I was 19 I started having issues with my bladder that led to an operation. I almost dropped out of uni in my third year as I was struggling to cope.  In my mid-20s I went from doctor to doctor being tested for all sorts of ailments.  I suffered from terrible arthritis in my knees and feet, my hands were often numb and cold, my digestive system got worse and worse, my hormone system was malfunctioning and I started to suffer mood swings and sexual dysfunction.  There was near constant back pain that no amount of osteopathy or physio could cure.  And fatigue. The fatigue that started to appear occasionally in class at school plagued me regularly in the workplace.  I would often doze off through afternoon meetings.  I became an expert at putting fake meetings in my diary and finding secret places to nap.

Doctors tested for lupus, thyroid dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, crohns, diabetes, and on and on.  They never tested for Coeliac disease.  Why??? I saw at least three gastroenterologists.  Not one thought to test for it.  Looking back now it seems madness. Nothing came back conclusive except that I did have early-onset arthritis.  The medical system is whack.  I’m sorry to all the doctors out there, most of whom just want to help people, but I have very little respect for the profession.  They know how to treat a broken leg, but for chronic diseases they just don’t have an answer.  If you have a chronic disease, come talk to me.  Doctors will likely give you a medication to mask your symptoms whilst you slowly deteriorate.  Doctor after doctor washed their hands of me when they couldn’t find the problem.  Eventually I took matters into my own hands and started to tweak my diet, becoming an early champion of the paleo way of eating.  The digestive issues started to improve, the arthritis went away, my thyroid seemed to perk up.  Life became a lot more enjoyable.  However hangovers became the bane of my existence.  They would often last for three days, but I was oblivious to why, so I drank, because that was the only time I felt free.  I started passing out, having panic attacks and scary things happened with my heart that led me to A&E, twice.  Like gluten, alcohol was removed from my life.  Life became really quite dull.  So I moved to Australia.

I spent my first year Down Under living in mouldy apartments.  High temperatures, next to a large body of water, massive humidity and poorly built buildings.  Mould is everywhere here, and it’s a silent killer.  Just look at the tragic tale of Britney Murphy and her husband.  I’m tuned into it, my local supermarket has a mouldy aroma near where the bottled water is, I hold my breath whilst walking through that section.  The coffee shop with the wonderful-looking pastries that I can’t eat has a mouldy cover out front that makes me woozy if I stand there too long.  There is a theatre in Newtown that I simply cannot go in.  Like a canary in a coal mine, if mould is there, I’ll be able to tell you.  The fatigue I’d largely eliminated with the gluten and alcohol bans came back with a vengeance.  And then I got bitten by that spider, and all hell let loose.  That insect bite put some sort of toxin in my body which was the final straw for my long suffering immune system.  That was almost four years ago.  I’ve written about it extensively on here before, I don’t need to go back over it.  I’ve made peace with it.  I’m bringing it up here for context.

Here I am today, with two decades of research into trying to find ‘health’.  Whilst many of you have been off finding love, starting families, buying houses, focusing on your careers, I’ve been distracted with trying to find ways to feel well.  I’ve covered it all off.  I eat organic and grassfed, no sugar, nothing processed.  I eat according to the body ecology diet, water in the morning, protein at lunch, carbs at night, I do regular fasts, I don’t drink, I’ve learnt how to de-stress, I practice yoga, I meditate at least twice a day, I walk a minimum of 10k steps a day, when I’m not fatigued I can run a 24 minute 5k, I do strength training, but not too much, I take my shoes off and ground, I take epsom salt baths on the reg.  I learnt to do all this, because if I don’t, I can’t function, I get really ill.  In the past year I also developed a spiritual practice, found unconditional love and the truth of life. and resolved the gigantic rift I had with my own past.  I healed my traumas, I found the joy, the gratitude, the clarity, the oneness.  Prana now runs through me and into others like lightning passing jumping from one metal rod to another.  It’s so powerful that it scares me sometimes.  I’m learning how to use it to heal others.  Which is amazing, and ridiculous.  Energy healing wasn’t even on my radar a year ago.  That may be a bit too ‘woo woo’ for you, and that’s fine, but for me it is the diamond in the rough.  The thing that enables me to find gratitude.  Enables me to feel it was worth all the hassle.

And yet, AND YET, despite all this, I am still not in good health.

I have scoliosis.  I was 27 when I found out that my back is slightly twisted.  My left shoulder slopes down lower than the right.  My neck carries my head slightly forward to balance it out.  One of my pupils is larger than the other.  My jaw hangs slightly more to one side.  My nose points slightly to the other direction.  My right hip is looser than the left.  Subtle imbalances are displayed externally throughout my body, but I’m not vain enough to care.  The real flaw lays inside my back.  The spine is the support system for the muscular skeletal system, but it is also the home of the spinal cord.  The nerves shoot out from the gaps between each vertebrae, regulating the function of the organs, the nervous, circulatory and endocrine systems.  When scoliosis causes the spine to curve laterally and unnaturally it pinches those nerves and negatively affects the functioning of those systems.  A prominent scoliosis support website says:

Accumulated stress. In milder cases, most scoliosis symptoms aren’t severe enough to impair the patient’s ability to function, but over time they can add up to a lot of strain on the body. On top of the emotional stress caused by the spine’s deformity, patients may endure chronic pain and fatigue, headaches, difficulty sleeping and digestive problems — all of which can sap vitality over time.

Amazing really, how reading a story about a runt in the litter, could lead to an insight so profound during a 4am meditation (I don’t sleep well).

This is important knowledge for me.  It’s a massive part of the puzzle.  It explains why I have not been able to find good health for the past 20 years despite trying so damn hard to find it. It explains why my body rejects foods which are mild stressors, like gluten, dairy, tomatoes, white potatoes or anything artifical or processed.  It explains why I struggle to build muscle, and lose it quickly.  It (partially) explains why my stress tolerance became low, why fatigue has been a problem.  Why my body can’t clear mould toxins, or why that spider bite wrecked me.  More than one doctor has told me that my physical ailments are all in my head, and to some extent I believe that was true.  Undoubtedly childhood trauma and my parent’s divorce affected me in a profound way, but I realised this morning, in that meditation, that it was always destined to be this way.  I wasn’t meant to live.  Nature reminds me so every day.  The intention was for me to die in my Mother’s womb.

What this realisation gives me is something beyond measure.  I know now that I can give up my exhausting search for optimal health.  It simply ain’t gonna happen.  The thirty six and a half years I’ve had to date have been an unintended bonus.  Any further days, weeks, months or years I’m gifted are a blessing.  How incredibly freeing to realise that I don’t need to try so hard any more, or question why I don’t feel so great most of the time.  Pain and suffering is my status quo.  It’s time to accept it, manage it and move on.

There is a quote that says something like:

“A man with his health will have a thousand desires, a man who has not, has only one”

This is true for me.  Everything in my life, especially in the last decade, has been of secondary importance to finding good health.  It has dominated my existence.  It is no surprise, although of course, of utmost disappointment, that I am single and without children.  I am not the bachelor who revels in his single status.  I have no interest in one night stands and casual flings.  Ever since I can remember I’ve been craving a loving, fulfilling relationship, I just haven’t been able to find it, because I’ve been a little distracted, a little lost.  The sexy, confident women I’ve been attracted to have no interest in man who is lost.

But what about if I accept my limitations?  Stop fighting the pain?  Stop trying to make a conventional life work for me?  What then?  Stephen Hawking only really flourished after his disease took away his physical body.  What’s become really apparent to me is that I feel good when I’m moving my body a lot.  When I’m out in nature, walking through the bush, swinging from trees, diving in the ocean, dedicated to my yoga practice.  Away from the pollution and craziness of cities.  I simply cannot spend forty hours a week at a desk bathing in man-made EMFs, artificial light and air conditioning anymore and expect to be ok.  My body needs to be outside and it needs to be moving.  If I want to live a long and happy life I need to cut the cord with the old life.  To commit myself to Mother Earth.  To Gaia.  I don’t know how that will work, but it will.

The microbiome, normally inherited from our mothers as we pass through the birth canal, and so in my case disrupted upon birth by C-section, needs me to be outdoors.  Caesarian babies are 10 times more likely to have asthma, 4 times more likely to have coeliac disease.  Babies who do not pass through the birth canal suffer a blow to the development of a well functioning immune system.  Is it any wonder that so many more kids have autism, behavioural issues and food allergies when elective C-sections are borderline fashionable?  From my experience you simply cannot heal a damaged gut or rescue a failing immune system with sedentary lives, indoor gyms, offices, and 40-degree yoga studios.  My body needs dedication to the practice.  It needs space.  It needs clean air, and food, and water.  I need to go live out there.  My gut has known this for some time, I’ve been thinking about it for a while.  It’s time.

I’ve seen people holding on to nothing
Broken dreams and broken cords
Running on empty, losing sleep, oh
It’s true I’ve earned these cracks upon my feet
Walk away from all that you know
Walk away and hold your own
Walk away and hold your own
And I’ve seen people holding on to something
Smiling with no place to call home
In you I see something so familiar, uh
My dear friend, so nice to have you home
Xavier Rudd, Walk Away

That last verse gives me real hope, and you know what else gives me hope.  That puppy.  That puppy who wasn’t meant to live, but did, thanks to human intervention, and went on to live a long life.  It was a life of pain and suffering, but you know what his owners said about that dog?  They said he had more love in him than he knew what to do with.  He gave that love freely to those blessed to be around him.  He was a survivor.  It seems to me I could learn a lot from that pup.

Maybe I was meant to live after all, but it’s a redundant question, it’s not worth pondering, because I am here, alive, and grateful to be here; grateful for the past; grateful for the present; grateful for the future, whatever it may bring.

And a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.

Love,

Christopher

If you would like to work with me because you’re suffering or stuck in a rut and can’t see a way out, then head over to my business page at www.mindbodyquantumhealing.com for details on what I do and how to contact me.

Losing the battles, Winning the War

It’s a funny thing, if you had told me a year ago that I would be writing and publishing my memoirs for all and sundry to read on the internet I would have likely scoffed.  Don’t get me wrong, I had thought about writing a blog long before I actually got round to doing it.  It was just one of those things that I thought about sometimes, a bit like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, yoga teacher training in Bali, snorkelling in Palawan, a threesome with two blonde Scandinavians, learning to play the guitar, or starting a family.  Just another item on the bucket list of life.  Something to dream of, not necessarily achieve.  Yet here I am, ten months on since penning that first piece, just back from snorkelling in Palawan, still writing blog posts. Tick. And. Tick.

I started out with the intention to use this post to write more about my experiences in the Philippines, but as I sat down and began to type, I found myself drawn towards an entirely different topic.  Rather than deny my intuition, I’ve allowed it to dictate my pen.

So what have you got instead?  Well… Me.  I know.  Sorry.  To be fair, the blog is called ‘Redesigning My Best Self’, it was always going to be somewhat self indulgent twaddle.  A friend told me it’s not a blog, it’s an open diary.  Fair comment.  Before I get going on my chosen subject, I should warn you, this is not Fun Time Frankie content.  I said in my very first post that I would be honest to fuck, so here we are, yet again, laying myself bare.  It does, however, have an upbeat ending that I think is worth the investment of your time.

My first proper post last June (link here) came about after a crisis of health; it sounds dramatic, I know, but something has been going on with my body for several years, that no matter what I try, I have not been able to find an answer to.  It has undeniably been an almost constant source of frustration, angst, and illness; physical and mental.  I have seen countless doctors, including functional practitioners, at my own considerable private expense.  Some provided theories and recommendations, others just shrugged and said “you’re fine, it’s all in your head”.  I have undertaken all manner of tests.  I have consumed just about every supplement under the sun.  I have eaten the ‘healthiest’ organic paleo diet of anyone I know.  I work out, I walk, I get in the sun, I socialise, I try new things, I try to do good for others, and I look on the bright side, most of the time.  I do everything one is supposed to do to live a healthy, happy life.  What has been the result of these endeavours?  I am a bit better than I was two years ago when I was barely functioning at all.  I am, however, not well.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will probably have gathered that my health has been an ongoing problem.  Sometimes I disguise my torment with stories of experiences, escapades and observational theories about life; at other times it has been all too obvious from my writing that I am struggling, with ‘something’.  Nothing, and no one, has been able to give me an answer, or a solution to that ‘something’.  Not even my fave personal development guru, Tony Robbins.

Until now.

It is the “something” in that sentence above that has been the most problematic.  Symptoms can be tolerated, managed to some extent even, but the not knowing why I have those symptoms has been by far the most difficult element of the experience.  The complete inability to label what I am experiencing has lead to feelings of weakness, inadequacy, confusion, frustration, desperation and loneliness.

It’s not loneliness derived from a lack of people around me, I have friends, but without a label for what I have been experiencing, it has been nigh on impossible to explain, or relate.  Unlike an alcoholic or a cancer patient, there is no forum or support group.  I have not been able to identify a fellow sufferer who gets what I’ve been going through, or can tell me that it will get better.  Occasionally I try to explain to people how I feel; chronically tired and unwell; that I have weird symptoms that come and go; or that my brain simply doesn’t work properly a lot of the time.  Inevitably I walk away from such exchanges feeling deflated, boring, lost, and honestly? Like a pathetic hypochondriac.  I hate it.  I’ve lost interest in my career.  I’ve lost interest in relationships and sex.  I have lost interest in food, and drink.  I rarely play sport after a series of little injuries culminated in a broken ankle late last year.  I used to be quite the socialite, now I’m borderline reclusive.  I used to religiously read the news, today’s current affairs hold little interest. To be completely honest with you, dear reader, there is little that I get excited about anymore.  Not even Netflix.

Everything I do has been shadowed by this mystery illness.  Holidays, parties, days outs, weekend trips, gigs, work events, weddings, everything.  That isn’t to say that I haven’t tried damn hard to maintain and develop my life, but I have failed.  The scope of my life has gradually shrunk.  I have striven to keep a positive manner about me as the losses mount up;  Friendships, hobbies, interests, and general enjoyment of life have all dwindled.  Potential relationships have been tragically stunted before they had a chance to flourish.  But at no point have I given up.  I fight everyday to laugh and joke, to be good company, to see the good stuff, to hope for better days, but the sad reality is that I have come to the point where I have just one solitary focus:

Getting better.

Everything else feels like background noise.  Everything.  I have tunnel vision.  Maybe that is selfish, but devoid of any help, I’ve had to be that way.  When I’m not undertaking the basics of being alive and trying to keep my job, my mind has been interested in only one thing; Fixing myself (ok, and writing this blog).  I’m not depressed, there is no black cloud, I enjoy frequent moments of joy throughout most days, and my spirits remain remarkably high, but I am, underneath the surface, battle weary.  Fighting the good fight for the past three years has undoubtedly taken its toll.

So what are these symptoms that have had such a detrimental impact on my life?  Invariably I sleep badly, waking up through the night.  Most days I arise feeling sluggish and tired, my head aches, my eyes are puffy, with dark circles, my sinuses congested.  My energy in the mornings is low, I cannot remember the last time I sprung from my bed ready to tackle the day.  My brain fails to perform, especially in the mornings.  I forget what I’m saying half way through sentences, I miss words, I forget names.  I don’t know what the early stages of Alzheimer’s feels like, but I imagine it’s something like this.  In meetings at work I have to plan my sentences in my mind ahead of saying them, and hope they come out as I intend.  Often I miss my cue to speak.  My responsiveness, spontaneity, wit and creativity are all curtailed.  My digestion is crap, my skin gets weird breakouts, I have persistent muscle pains, especially in my back and neck, my joints crack, my toes tingle, and my libido is whack.  The neurological symptoms tend improve as the day goes on, but they nearly always return with a vengeance each morning.  It’s like I go to bed and someone slips me poison whilst I sleep.  It’s a problem, it’s not sustainable, and alarmingly, it has been getting progressively worse.

The miserable morning faces. I take these pics of myself when I’m feeling like shite to check to see if I look as bad as I feel. And occasionally when I feel great to remind myself what is possible.

Until, that is, I went to the Philippines just under a month ago.  After 3 or 4 days in Palawan, living on a boat and in bamboo huts on tropical beaches, diving in and out of the sun and sea all day, away from my life in Sydney, and modern life in general, things started to improve.  Massively.  “Wow, what a surprise, everyone feels better on holiday” I hear you cry.  Fair point, I hear you, but bear with me.  Within three days of being back in Sydney all of the symptoms had returned.

Here’s where I may lose you.  I have long suspected that my problems might be somewhat attributable to mould.   I sold my car last year as I became convinced that the air conditioning gave me a headache every time I turned it on.  Yes, I felt like a loony person.  No, I didn’t care.  I have gotten off of buses, walked out of shops and even avoided my own apartment when I have sensed mould is in the air.  Sydney has a hot and humid climate for much of the year, and it has a lot of old rental accommodation, complete with old carpets and poorly serviced aircon units.  It is fungus heaven.  If you vacation in the tropics you’ll know that their abodes typically have tile or marble floors. In Sydney, presumably because it’s cool for four months of year, it’s pretty normal to have carpets.  Mould loves an old carpet.

It’s the hypochondriac’s dream, is mould.  It can be blamed on all manner of bodily issues, from nosebleeds to cancer, but it’s not necessarily easy to spot its location in your home or workplace, and proving it to be a problem in the human body is even harder.  However, driven by the widespread mould toxicity following hurricane Katrina in the States, and therefore commercial viability, free market forces are doing their thing, and science is starting to catch up.  Amazon has many books on the subject (I own most of them).  Pubmed is littered with peer-reviewed studies.  iTunes has all manner of podcasts.  All focused on Mould Sickness or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).  And now, finally, they have a test for it.

Four weeks ago I paid $900 and sent off some yellow pee to a specialist lab in New Mexico, USA to have it checked for mould waste products, or ‘mycotoxins’.  I won’t bore you too much with the science, but lots of the common mycotoxins are bad bad news, and what’s more, roughly 25% of the global human population has a genetic makeup that makes them poor detoxifiers of these mould toxins.  If you somehow obtain a massive slug of such toxins, as I probably did when I first moved into a dark, musty smelling apartment in Bondi back in March 2016, and are one of the unlucky 25%, as I probably am, serious health issues could well be on the horizon.  Unfortunately most doctors are completely clueless in regards to any of this.

So could mould be my problem?  I’ve spent a lot of time over the years suspecting that gluten was the issue, I stopped eating it eight years ago because something was seriously messing me up, and it worked, I improved, a bit.  But here’s the thing: grains, the glutenous ones especially, are often ‘mouldy’ due to the way they are stored.  All these years of digestive and cognitive issues – could they actually all be down to my genetic inability to expel penicillin and his mouldy cousins?  I’d read enough scientific literature to believe it entirely possible.  I’ve spent tens of thousands trying to find an answer, $900 felt like a bargain, if only to rule it out. I’ve lived in fear of gluten for years, assuming my ongoing issues were in response to repeatedly eating or drinking something contaminated.  What if I was right to be fearful, but I was fearing the wrong thing…

Well…. on Tuesday last week an email from the lab in New Mexico landed in my inbox, and finally handed me the answer I’ve been searching for, for a decade….

GPL Myco

So what does that all mean?  It means I have a bunch of ‘mycotoxins’, specifically Ochratoxin A (from the common mould ‘Aspergillus’) floating around inside of me. Constantly inflaming my bodily tissues and activating my immune system.  So what does that mean…? Well here’s the really ‘fun’ bit.  The same report goes on to state:

Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a nephrotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic mycotoxin. This chemical is produced by molds in the Aspergillus and Penicillium families. Exposure is done primarily from inhalation exposure in water-damaged buildings

Ok, so that holds up my theory that this may have really kicked off when I moved into a damp apartment three years ago.  It also means that this stuff inside me is kidney-killing (nephrotoxic), cancer-causing, and immunity compromising.  Awesome.

Minimal exposure can occur through contaminated foods such as cereals, grape juices, dairy, spices, wine, dried vine fruit, and coffee.

Would explain the facial flushing, sinus congestion and headaches that I often get when I consume cheap wine, aged cheese or crap coffee.. Oh and the cereals…like gluten-containing wheat, rye and barley?  Ohhh…..

OTA can lead to kidney disease and adverse neurological effects. Studies have shown that OTA can lead to significant oxidative damage to multiple brain regions and is highly nephrotoxic.

Oh great, so it is destroying my brain after all.  That would explain the sleep issues, the forgetfulness, and the headaches. Good to know.

Nb. There’s something interesting to note here; my dear mother has suffered with crushing migraines for as long as I can remember, and she has problems with her kidneys… I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you this, but I am made of her genes, and this is a genetic problem. She’ll read this, and I want her to take me seriously, attempt a low mould diet and have her home checked by a professional.

Dopamine levels in the brains of mice have been shown to be decreased after exposure to OTA. Some studies have hypothesized that OTA may contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Dopamine: The ‘feel-good’ hormone.. The neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward.  That would explain a lot.

Treatment should be aimed at removing the source of exposure.  Studies have also shown that OTA is present in sweat, which supports the use of sauna as a treatment to increase the excretion of OTA.

Removing the source of the exposure…. sounds like it’s time to move. They say you can’t run from your problems. This is an exception.

Ps. Who bought a sauna 9 months ago?  (link here)  And was widely derided as ridiculous for doing so..

THANK FUCKING FUCKETY FUCKY FUCK FUCK

Finally.

Earlier in this post I said I was battle weary, which I am, but I’m not beaten. Up until now I’ve been like the US military fighting the ‘war on terror’, confronting a faceless enemy, and so it’s been an impossible campaign.  I know my enemy now.  It may have won the early battles, but it’s time for some new tactics.  It’s my war to win.

It’s on. Bring it.

 

To Sauna, or not to Sauna?

I should advise you, dear reader, that this post is mostly informative.  As  I started typing I worried about how I might be able to make this an interesting, entertaining post.  I mean, it’s not the Truman Show-esqe glimpse into my being, like some of my other recent pieces.  Then I slapped myself across the face.  A post does not need to be entertaining to be worth reading.  (That said, I have got a juicy, 2,500 word epic sat in the drafts that I’m aiming to publish at some point next week – it just feels too soon after England’s World Cup disappointment to put you through that).

At least 50% of people think it’s ridiculous when they find out that I recently bought a sauna for my rented apartment.  30% don’t seem to know what to make of it.  The enlightened remainder think it’s awesome.   I’m unaffected by such judgments.  Spend 30-40 minutes in my pride and joy, and you’ll soon change your mind, and your underpants (if you’re wearing underpants..).  It gets hot and sweaty in there, folks.

The decision to purchase an infra-red sauna was a surprisingly easy one.  I started paying for 45 minute sessions at a ‘sauna shop’ on Bondi road.  No, it wasn’t a brothel.  After 3 or 4 sessions I was hooked, I always felt amazing afterwards.  I didn’t like the exorbitant cost, but I presumed buying one for my rented apartment was unachievable.  I was wrong.  For $1,900, I had a one-person, Canadian Hemlock sauna delivered up from Melbourne.

It turned up flat-packed in three fairly sizeable boxes.  I’d been out for drinks that evening, so when I arrived home, fairly inebriated, I did what any drunk person would do.  I unpacked it all.

Now, even a one-person sauna is quite a substantial bit of kit, so having removed the wooden panels from their cardboard suitcases, there was simply no way I could leave it strewn in pieces all over the living room.   The instructions stated that putting it together was a two-person job.  Balls to that.  It would be an entertaining YouTube clip to watch me putting that thing together, stumbling around half-drunk, completely failing to heed the assembly notes.  By some miracle, however, just a mere two hours later, and sweating profusely, my throne was erected.  I stripped off, stepped in, and sweated some more.

I woke up with a slight hangover that next morning, so I dived back in for a quick 30-minute bake.  Finished it off with a cold shower and made my way into work.  I felt amazing.  No hangover. No tiredness after 6 hours sleep.  I was a fan.

I bought the sauna on gut-instinct, having chanced upon that shop near my home, and how it made me feel.  I did no prior research into the science of why it made me feel good.  However now I own one, I’ve been researching some of the other touted benefits.  This isn’t a story about me buying a sauna.  It’s a suggestion that you may want to consider getting one for your own home.  I’m looking at you, the cynical 80%.  Here’s why:

Sauna makes you happy: There are studies such as this one to prove it so.  Or, you could just take my word for it.  Waking up in the morning, jumping out of bed, and jumping into the sauna puts a smile on my face.

Increased detoxification: It’s a fact; we live in a toxic world – especially those of us living in cities.  Which is most of us.  This study found a total of 287 chemicals in umbilical cord blood (from a sample group of 10 North American babies), of which, 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.

Holy f**king sh*t, right? Re-read that above paragraph.

Why have I used this study as an example?  Well, expectant mothers are generally the most careful about what they put into their body, and the mother’s body is pretty darn good at protecting the fragile, unborn child.  Despite this, 287 chemicals made it into the babies’ food pipe.  It’s scary stuff.

I described some recent health problems I’ve experienced in my second post.  You read stuff like this and it’s not hard to understand why we’re experiencing a spiraling health crisis in large swathes of the planet’s population.  Without packing up and moving to the forest (what forest?), it’s going to be hard to avoid the chemical ‘wash’ that today’s civilisation burdens us with.  So what can we do?  We can detox.

The skin is key to detoxifying your body via sweat pathways.  The more you sauna, the more you sweat, and the better you become at sweating.  End result.  A less toxic you.  Win.

NOTE: Do not use a sauna if you are pregnant, or have an existing medical condition – check with your doctor.

Hangover Killer: Pretty obvious given the point above.  I’ve had a number of opportunities to test this out over the past month.  Having consumed too much vino on a school night; I’ve dragged my sorry self into the sauna armed with a litre of water and hope for the future.  It works.  I invariably emerge feeling like a new man, albeit a sweaty new man.  Quick cold shower to follow, and I bounce out of the apartment, ready to tackle the day.  This one justifies the expense on its own in my view.

Increased Longevity: This Finnish study proved that regular sauna use (4-7 times per week) resulted in the risk of heart disease or heart attack being halved.

Sauna can make you smarter: Studies have shown that heat stress increases a number of key hormones such as prolactin, norepinepherine and brain-derived neurotrophic factor.  All 3 are linked to improved brain function.  Here’s one such study

Sauna will give you nice skin: In the month or so of procuring my sauna, I’ve had 3 compliments on my skin.  I’m a dude – people don’t compliment men on their skin, or at least, it’s unusual.  Of course, I do also have my diet on point, which helps.

Reduced muscle soreness/inflammation: Feeling a bit stiff after a big gym sesh?  Feeling a bit ‘achey’ with the contraction of a cold/flu virus?  Neck on a 30 degree angle after sleeping at a funny angle?  No problem if you’ve got an infra red sauna lying about.

Talking point: Owning a sauna is unusual.  As far as I’m aware, I am the only person I know who has one, to date.  I’ve had all manner of entertaining conversations around this purchase.  Everyone has an opinion on it.  I see a future where humanity is split between those who have access to a sauna and those who don’t.  Make sure you’re on the right side of that divide.  Yep, they’re that good.

More than enough reasons for you to jump onto the ‘bandwagon’ up there.  I’m sure there are other benefits too.

Ps. this is the supplier who provided mine.  http://www.jnhlifestyles.com.au/far-infrared-sauna/deluxe-1-person-far-infrared-sauna/

They currently have a 15% sale on, so you can pick up a one-person unit for $1,600 in Australia.  Comes with a 3 year warranty.  All those health benefits for the price of a long haul flight. Madness!

No, I’m not on commission.

Happy Sauna’ing.