By Charles Duvall
From this page:
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.
Two weeks later, again I went out to dinner. This time I ordered a pizza
with onions, eggplant, and garlic with double cheese, a bottle of beer,
followed by a large slice of chocolate cake. After dinner, again my legs
would not support me. This second experience was enough for me to finally
make the connection between the food and my condition.
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 rhumatoid athritis by a rhumatologist. 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 form sulfasulfates to cortizone, 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 rhumatologist 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 Athritis
Foundation states that there is no scientific evidence of a connection
between diet and athritis, 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
immediated called and signed up for the Way to Health program on October
15, even though I was basicly 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 rhumatologist. She prescibed
the next level of drugs, sulfasulfates. 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 emphasised 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 tryed 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 become 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, and 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 breaksfast
prepared well, with rice, greens, and miso. It took effort and time to
establish a consistant yet flexible process for preparing breaksfast. 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 on-going 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.