Post-Panchakarma – business as usual, mostly…

Mmmmm, coffee. Morning coffee. Mmmmm. No worries, before I indulged I still started my day with hot lemon water, fresh watermelon and a small portion of masala yoghurt*.

And the watermelon tasted all the sweeter for being a gift from one of Dr A’s harem. She’d brought it from her village and was happy for anyone to have it. Being as it was my last day that meant I was the only one allowed fruit. Lucky me. Dr A also gave me the remainder of my smoking medicine – that’s it next to the watermelon. I’ll be honest, I’ve not yet used it on my own – I hated doing that smoke decongesting part each morning (Dr A forgot one time and the hope that she’d forget again lived on, despite that never happening) – but I’ll have a go soon. Also on my last day I got another special treat.

Dr A’s clinic premises are much in need of some house repairs and maintenance. She’s only been in the building the past three months, so clearly the lack of love is down to the current owners. That said, they’ve finally got on with the job of doing some work on the place (but only because Dr A is footing most if not all of the bill). The areas needing urgent work are the toilets/wetrooms. As mentioned in an earlier post, when I was doing that purge thing, the toilet was a lot less than lovely. So my treat yesterday happened post-enema when I got to inaugurate Dr A’s newest toilet bowl! Now that’s a first for me – an enema excretion leading to a toilet inauguration.

Anyways, back to that coffee, the one poison I’ve not given up, and other foods. Thankfully, one small cup of the hot brown stuff is enough now. I no longer need a whole pot. What I was more concerned about was the other crap I’d been shoving down my gullet in the name of nutrition. Namely low-value carbohydrates in the form of white flour products – bread, biscuits, tortilla wraps, parotta – as well as cheese and paneer. Being almost exclusively vegetarian in India means I’ve tended to add more dairy to my diet. Hence those bastard fat bubbles. Anyhoo, Dr A’s dietary recommendations are simple enough – no white flour, no nightshade vegetables** and drastically reduce the quantity of cheese, paneer and butter (yoghurt and ghee are OK). Does that mean I won’t ever eat any of those foods again? No! Will I pass up the opportunity to have a nibble on a small slice of full-fat gorgonzola, or sweet brie? Again No! Will I shun a dip into a bag of chips  (that’s fat french fries to my North American friends) from my favourite local fish n’ chip shop in south London? Abso-bloomin’-lutely not!

So maybe you’re wondering what the heck I got up to on my first day post-Panchakarma. Did I laze around? Did I get extra cuddle time in bed with Mr D? Or did I bounce out of bed with excitement and enthusiasm for a new day that came with knowing I’d regained some fresh freedom?

Yes – I luxuriated in getting up later than normal, then crawling back to bed with a book.
Yes – I grabbed my extra morning cuddles.
Yes – I enthusiastically set about starting on a spring clean of my house (the bathroom is now the cleanest its been in weeks).
No – I did not bounce out of bed, but I was thrilled, excited and gratified to have my days and my time back.

As I write, the day is well-started even though its not yet 8am and despite the greyness of the sky this morning. It’s a Saturday. The kids are off school and hanging out nearby, their voices raised in play and games – I think I hear the thud of ball on cricket bat. And although I’m not missing rushing out the house for my early Panchakarma start, I’m kind of missing the cycle ride along our neighbourhood lane when daylight has been but a dirty smudge across the lower part of the sky. At one end of the lane is a milking spot. Cows are led there each morning and evening for milking. A milk broker sits nearby. He collects milk from the cow owners and doles it out, for payment, from those without their own cows, each person walking away with a small, metal, lidded milk pail swinging from their hands. For a city chick like me, simple morning sights like that fill my heart with a soft peace and a quiet bliss.

And so, away from enemas and powerful rub-a-dub-dubs, life goes on – the chores, chucking things off the To Do lists, the cuddles and laughter, and the integration of all I’ve been through this past month.

I’ll be back with a few more updates as and when they happen – possibly a photo too (which’ll probably be disappointing in its banality, but I’ll have a go anyway).

For now wishing you, in amongst the regular maelstrom of life, your own moments of soft peace, quiet bliss and a bundle of fun too.

* yoghurt (curd) masala – basically yoghurt mixed with any combination of flavourings you like; mine was with salt, turmeric, freshly-ground black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, ground jaggery (palm sugar), and a drop of water; goes well with a chapati 😉

** nightshade vegetables include potatoes, aubergine (eggplant), tomatoes, regular peppers/capsicum & chilli peppers (the following links give more detailed information, but it seems the delicious potato, when green and sprouty, is potentially the most lethal)

http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/nightshades/ (the author seems to have tried to back-up the information with scientific research)
http://paleomagazine.com/list-of-nightshades-foods (a fairly full list of nightshade-inclusive foods)
http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/nutrition/4-myths-about-nightshade-vegetables/ (a counter-argument for those who like a balanced view on things)

 

Day 31 & 32 of Panchakarma – farewells and fresh beginnings

Folks. I’m done in, so this’ll be a brief post. But I’m delighted to say all ended well today. I’m done. Wooohooo!

Fond Farewells
In preparation for a thank you treat for the harem women, on the way home yesterday I popped into the local ladies handicrafts shop to buy cards and ribbon. After this morning’s treatments I picked up a length of strung jasmine outside the ashram where the woman who sells flowers is always smiley. Back home I wrote out cards, enclosed cash, attached ribbon and jasmine, and then pedalled back to the clinic for my last rub-a-dub-dub.

I had planned to dole out gifts after the treatment, but because one of the main harem massage therapists was leaving early I handed them out before we got started. As you can see, I wrote in Tamil the names of each of the three women I was giving cards to. We took photos, me and my Panchakarma Comrade. So now you can see the lovelies who’ve been pummelling, rubbing, tapping and using hot herb balls to do a (not-always so soft) soft shoe shuffle across my skin these last three weeks.

Version 2

Version 2

So that was my first Panchakarma treatment. In the next couple of days or so I’ll wrap things up properly, but as far as tomorrow goes – I intend to rest. It’ll be my first free day in three weeks. Whoop, whoop. Can’t wait!

Thank You
Thank you for keeping up with me. Having people check-in on the Panchakarma progress has been encouraging and much appreciated.

And a big shout out to Mr D who has been patient, caring, intrigued and supportive throughout.

Today, I thought I’d end this post with a poem by Mary Oliver:
– Wild Geese –
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Throughout my posting on the subject of my Panchakarma experience I feel:
– I’ve been telling you of my despair
– like “the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,” that I’ve now returned home to myself for a fresh beginning
– gratitude for your listening and creating a space in this quirky “family of things” out here in Facebook cyberspace

So anytime you need to, find someone to tell of your despair, of what your body loves, and (like the wild geese flying high in the clean blue air across the landscapes of your life), of all the ways in which the world calls to you, however harsh, however exciting.

Wherever you, however you feel, whatever your despair or your loves – travel well.

Day 29 & 30 of Panchakarma – acts of love and kindness

These early starts are proving a bit of a killer. I’m cream crackered mid-morning. I won’t be surprised come Friday morning when I just stay in bed, enjoy a wonderful lie in, laze around and snuggle up to Mr D. That’s the kind of colour and form coming into view now I’m only two days away from completion. Two days until freedom! Sweet.

Food and Love
However, the weariness is not just from clinic attendances, but also that darn pre-menstrual thing. Got the tell-tale spots too. So on Monday night when I was at that stage of feeling too tired to eat I nearly caved when Mr D suggested he’d head out and go forage for his supper. Not happy with that idea given he’s also in need of good food, I said I’d cook a simple supper for him. I said, “It’s an act of love and kindness. It’ll be my pleasure.” I made a quick but delicious dinner of nothing I could eat. But guess what? I did. That’s how come I know it was delicious. Food prepared and cooked with love – makes all the difference no?

Then yesterday while lying on the massage table I started imagining what I’d do for that night’s supper. When Mr D came to collect me he asked Dr A if I was allowed biscuits. She said no problem. Confession – I had a ragi biscuit yesterday! Then I though that was what he was on about, but when I got back home I discovered that all my cogitations about what to cook where cancelled out. On the stove was not one but two pots of beautifully cooked veg. To put that into context – in the eight years Mr D and I have been together (during which he has obviously performed many acts of love and kindness) he has never cooked us a meal. Ever! To come home to freshly cooked food on a day when I was feeling knackered – an awesome act of kindness that went straight to my heart.

Kolam Kindness
With regards my Panchakarma Comrade – she’s back on form, her splodge of difficulty not exactly passed, but more manageable. She’s also been keen on having Dr A have a kolam outside her clinic. A kolam (also known as a rangoli) is a design of powder created fresh each morning at the entrance to a person’s home or business. Frequently just white powder is used, sometimes a ruddy-brown powder is added as well, then other times they’re a fab splash of colour. Traditionally the powder was rice flour, but now most people use rock powder. Kolams are good-luck and welcoming symbols and the designs vary from simple dots and interlinking lines to all sorts of fancy stuff. With Panchakarma Comrade in refreshed and ebullient spirits, a couple of days ago she insisted Dr A have one outside the clinic. Dr A duly instructed one of the harem to set about doing that very thing. First up was the ritualistic prepping of the intended kolam area by sweeping and washing the space down, then it was out with a bowl of rice flour (no rock powder available) and on with making the kolam. As you can see from on of the photos, my Panchakarma Comrade was happy with the outcome.

2017-03-01-kolam-making

2017-03-01-kolam-complete

Monkey Care
Not long after leaving the clinic yesterday with Mr D we passed some monkeys perched on the top of a concrete wall. Because it’s a fairly narrow and pot-holed lane we were going slow enough for Mr D to spot that one of the monkeys had just given birth. We stopped. Signs of fresh birth matted the hair of the mother’s backside. Her new-born baby clung to her chest. The monkeys beside them were tending to the mother with so much care and kindness. Although I hated to intrude – as well as being worried we might get attacked for being so close – seeing the exhausted mother, the tiny baby monkey and their attendants like that, right next to the road in full view, felt like an amazing gift of natural kindness.

2017-03-01-fresh-monkey-birth-1

2017-03-01-fresh-monkey-birth-2

Gratitude
So despite not much to report on the Panchakarma front – bar the rising excitement that it’ll be over very, very, very soon – there’s been magic and beauty and kindness a plenty. I’m also taking the image of that new life as a symbol of fresh life flowing in me too. And no matter what else I say, no matter how tired or moaning I get, because of that fresh flow I continue to be really bloody grateful.

To all you lovelies everywhere – wishing you your own magic, beauty and acts of love and kindness.

Days 26 & 27 of Panchakarma – less of the ‘Tango’ effect, and other changes

With only five days left to go (woohoo!) I’m hanging in there. And with a change in schedule, hanging in is going to be a smidgeon easier.

Sadly my Panchakarma Comrade (who has been a joy to have as my companion through all this) is going through a difficult time and will be quitting her programme early. The knock-on effect for me was that my normal schedule shifted both yesterday and today. Although my treatments started later yesterday, the morning section flowed into a short breakfast break before going straight into the massage. And during the last part of the massage, instead of a red earth rub-a-dub-dub I got a gritty one. Ouch! on the sore skin parts. But I was relieved when I got out of the clinic around 1:30pm. Re-sult!

Unfortunately, because I’d been up so darn early (that 3:30pm/4:00am thing) I was feeling kinda knackered and headed straight home where, after a couple of mouthfuls of food and plenty of water, I showered and climbed onto my bed with my Ayurveda book. That was around 3pm. I fell asleep about an hour later. From there on in, bar a short break at 7:30pm for about thirty minutes, I stayed in bed until 4:30am the next morning. Almost 12 hours sleeping. I think that counts as being truly tired.

When I left the clinic yesterday, I got an assurance from Dr A that we could start today’s morning treatments early – 6:30am early. I made sure I got to the clinic on time. But wouldn’t ya know it, she had some guy there already. Bugger! I thought I could get an undistracted doctor to myself for a change. So much for that expectation. Fortunately, he wasn’t another new patient but some marketing chap. Phewie! But then Dr A wanted to chat. I said, with conviction, “I’d like to start the treatment now.” Her response? “Oh, no time pass. OK.” No. No friggin’ time pass. What I’d liked to have said (but am holding the comment in abeyance) is “I ain’t paying for time pass lady, I’s paying for treatments, innit?” So instead of starting my morning session around 8am I was done by 8:15am. That felt so goooood!

Cycling away from the clinic this morning I felt liberated knowing I had time to do stuff – leisurely grocery shopping, a bit of laundry, unhurried eating & digesting, and what-not. Truly fab. Even now, as I write, I breathe easier from the sense of space in both my life and my head the extra time gave me. The massage session today also started and ended earlier. Bliss. Hopefully, all being well, the next five days will be similar and I’ll feel less harassed about the endless waiting and quick turn-around between sessions. But it’s been a fight to get to this point and possibly would never have happened but for yesterday’s changed schedule (and possibly my previous complaints 😉).

Also during today’s massage rub-a-dub-dub the grit and the red earth powder were replaced by yet another medicine. Not as soft as the first fine sand, but not as rough as the grit. Seems there have been other medicine changes during the last week or so: the hot herb balls – which remain bloody hot – have different herbs; the enema gunk has been at different times reddish-brown or sewer-brown; even the nasal drops have changed, but are still deeply unpleasant.

I realise this is a bit early to do, but I’m going to do it anyway. A wee checks-and-balances thing.

The not-so-good:
Flappy bat wings? Check 😞
Pot belly? Check 😞
Cellulite? Check 😞
Hair fall? Check 😞
Wonky left knee? Check 😞

The okay-ish:
Orange glow? Uncheck! 😀
Scraggy neck? Uncheck-ish! 😀
Dark eye circles? Uncheck-ish! 😀

The fantastic:
Brighter eyes? Check 😍
Clearer brain? Check 😍
Reduced shoulder pains? Check 😍
Weight loss? Check 😍
More fluid spine & body? Check 😍

Come next Friday I’ll also be doing that body measurement thing – gulp! And then…. And then indeed. But for now, with extra space in my day, I’m feeling more inclined toward equanimity than a state of bonkersness. Although maybe, possibly, I already am bonkers (which could explain a few things…).

And if you’re feeling kinda bonkers yourself, for whatever reason (internally- or externally-driven) – you could try

  • kicking the crap out of a punch bag
  • sitting down with a good book
  • going to bed early (😉)
  • taking a scented bath in candle-light
  • meditating
  • doing nothing at all

Right now, I’m going to my own bed – got that early start in the morning. Yippee!

Day 20 of Panchakarma – more non-European flavours & a miracle!

First off – apologies to all the vegetarians, vegans and anyone who loves healthy food. My last post included an offending image for some. But stotties (and other carb-laden foods) remind me of my childhood in the North East of England. The years when, I’m sure, my penchant for all things stodgy began.

Right, back to India and this Panchakarma lark. Attending the clinic twice a day for hours on end eats into a lot of time each day. There’s not much of the day left to crack on with other projects – some of which have deadlines. So for the past two days I’ve been eating breakfast at a new restaurant where I can do work rather than cycle home and cook my own breakfast. My Panchakarma Comrade mentioned the restaurant to me because they have an Ayurvedic-friendly menu. Sure enough they cooked my food in ghee and kept things simple. The first day I had a rather delicious kitcheree and paratha. Yesterday I went for a smaller meal – the ragi roti as pictured. When it arrived it looked like a delicious dark chocolate pancake of some sort. Sadly not (although munching on that much chocolate would have felt a lot less delicious by the end). I don’t use ragi, but after yesterday’s roti I have a new-found appreciation for the grain. (In case you missed my mention of ragi in an earlier post – ragi is a whole grain/cereal and a type of millet that originates from Africa). May have to add that to my slim culinary repertoire.

I’ve no doubt my telling you that ‘Panchakarma’ is a Sanskrit word will not come as a surprise. ‘Pancha’ means five and ‘karma’ means action, so a Panchakarma treatment consists of five core treatments. However, my earlier understanding of the word karma was the law of cause and effect, which can mean all the affects occurring in our lives in all sorts of ways. So, fancifully perhaps, I had linked that understanding of karma with the recent experience that I’m not just having a physical cleanse but also a karmic one. Seriously, I feel there is a depth of healing taking place that is hard to imagine given I’ve only been on the overall treatment programme three weeks, the core Panchakarma treatment a mere nine days.

Initially I thought I was getting rid of crappy build up from the past few years. But as the treatment progresses I get the sense that the cleanse is so deep, layers of gunk from decades ago are getting hauled out for examination and release. I feel as though I have Ayurveda elves sifting through my body machinations – like one of those factory conveyor belts and as bits of me pass under the hands of the Ayurvedic elves all the unhealthy, unnecessary deadweight is being chucked off the conveyor belt and out of my body, out of existence almost.

So apart from the visible signs both good (weight loss, muscles and flesh firming), not so great (dry, flaky skin), and that uncomfortable pain in my lower abdomen now mostly gone, last night’s discovery was, ta dah, a miracle!

I was lounging around on the sofa when I happened to point my toes (I know, who the fuck goes around pointing toes? but if you’ve ever done a lot of dance or some such it’s not so strange) and had another one of those “Oh my god, it doesn’t hurt” moments.

Under the ball of my right foot I’ve had what I assumed was a bony growth, a hard lump at the base of one toe. It’s been there for about 15 years and can give me problems when I’m standing or walking for too long (see, I told you I was speeding towards decrepitude faster than Humpty- Dumpty fell of his wall). Because of the location of the hard lump, it also restricts movement in my foot, giving me a cramp-like sensation when I point the toes, rotate that foot or ankle, or even, on those rare occasions I bother, to massage my foot. I figured I was stuck with the bony growth and it would eventually get worse to the point of surgery. But no! Woohoo – Miracle! My toes, my foot pointed and no pain. No cramping. Nothing in fact. That my friends, that is a bloody miracle. I’m flabbigasted (OK, not enough to not write about it, but still – AMAZING!).

I’ll be honest, I’ve been griping about my days being consumed by treatment time, but when small miracles like disappearing lumps happen, a rapid regain of flexibility  and an overall reduction in pain are showing up – I reckon I best shut up and put up.

I wish you a day where your miracles appear too – they are out there…..!

Day 17 of Panchakarma – on the theme of dough

Not a lot to report for Day 17. I managed to have hot food for both my breakfast and supper. Supper was the bowl of rice, sautéd onion and cauliflower, and something saucy with mushrooms and other veg. The food felt healthy going down. The taste was unexpected.

The Culinary Swing Towards Asia
Mostly the results of my recent culinary efforts have tasted different from my usual output. Not only have I had to ditch the olive oil for ghee, I’ve started using different flavourings. Ordinarily my style of cooking tends towards a Mediterranean theme. Now, in my attempts to tow the Ayurvedic line, the slow swing towards an Indian style has picked up. For example, I don’t know what fenugreek is (methi in India), but I’ve started adding powdered fenugreek to dishes sometimes – and discovering that it has a slightly bitter flavour. Cumin (jeera in India) has always been part of my stock, but just in powdered form. I’m now incorporating the seeds too. For example yesterday, instead of plain chapatis for my (late) breakfast I added both cumin seeds and powder to the mix. What I didn’t add enough of was salt. But the chapatis tasted great. And to keep me sweet, I had one with a drizzle of honey.

That Enema Thing
At Dr A’s clinic yesterday, the enema came in the douche bucket and the liquid looked dark and oily. I swear, when it’s going in I feel I’m going to expel the thing along with more than just medical liquid. Even though I’m making every effort to relax (I think that might be some kind of oxymoron – effort & relax?!) my anxiety rises with the worry about what’s doing down. I stay on my side and try to ensure some absorption has happened before I get up. Also, at the first hint of movement around my back passage I head straight for the toilet. If I’m a bit premature I just walk around outside for a little longer before trotting back to the loo. And phewie, at least no accidents at the clinic. No, that came later. When I was home for breakfast I managed to misinterpret things and once more *shock, horror* I pooped my pants. Damn! Fortunately, my Panchakarma Comrade and I have fun sharing our various mishaps and incidents as they unfold. Mixed in with the embarrassment is plenty of hilarity.

Another Cooking Lesson
After my massage Dr A demonstrated a new recipe – I’m calling it the jazzed-up paratha. Ingredients included whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, turmeric, dried-leaf methi/fenugreek, a red-chilli powder (but which was not particularly spicy) and salt. Water added, the ingredients mixed then kneaded into a soft dough – as with a chapati. Not long after Dr A had started putting the ingredients into a bowl a few of the harem also gathered round to observe. When Dr A got to kneading the dough (a crucial element of the process to make the paratha light and crisp) I pointed out to the youngest harem member that during the last part of the massage I had been like the dough with four pairs of hands pummelling and pulling me as the medicinal sand was rubbed into my flesh.

The Daily Rub-a-dub-dub – two types of dough get kneaded
Seriously, that is so what it feels like – my blubber is kneaded as hands grab flesh and pull it in a different direction from the one it normally clings to. Hands working against each other horizontally across my body. Thigh flesh, belly blubber, hip wobble rubbed and knead under the fine sand. “Rub-a-dub-dub,” as my Panchakarma Comrade says. And rub-a-dub-dub the dough too. Needless to say, under Dr A’s expert hands and years of experience, the paratha tasted dee-licious. The two paratha I ate kept my hunger monsters occupied right up until supper. Which means the rub-a-dub-dubs of doughy flesh and edible dough are all working their magic – although I’m not looking to be crispy, just lighter.

Onwards – Hope and Trepidation
Day 18 will mark my seventh day on the core part of the Panchakarma treatment – the head decongesting, the medicine administration up the bum, the two-hour massages – and will mean I’m a third of the way through. Clearly, given the improvements so far, I’m hopeful for more and better, but I’m guarded about that expectation. Because we all know what happens with expectations, right? They rarely match up with reality. So with caution and trepidation I am hopeful of how I’m going to feel at the end of the treatment programme. The image that springs to mind is of Dr A’s previous patient (Dr A’s first Panchakarma patient here in Tiru). I happened to pass her on my cycle as she walked up the lane away from the clinic for the last time. She was free and she looked great. As I called out “Free at last,” she threw her arms outward, a smile brightened her already beautiful face and the joy of healthy freedom pulsated from her. Sweet. Remembering that moment is a totem of sorts. Reminds me of what I’m aiming for, of what’s possible. I may not end up looking as awesome as she did, but I might, at the very least, feel as great as she did that day we passed each other in a shared moment of joy.

For today
Let me encourage you to take care of your own health, starting now, in whatever ways work for you. One small step for today, one giant leap towards your improved health.
Keep it real and, go to it!

Day 16 of Panchakarma – that slimming thing

“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” That was what my Panchakarma Comrade said to me not long after we met at Dr A’s clinic. We say it to each other frequently. I feel like it’s become our motivation mantra.

That said, both of us are going through the Panchakarma ordeal for more reasons than weight loss. Dr A is not bothered about our weight, loss or otherwise – more important is our health and how that benefits us. But – and in the spirit of ‘keeping it real’ – there’s no getting away from the truth that slimming down is one of those much-loved side effects of these kinds of treatments. I’m dee-lighted to report that my clothes are no longer clinging to or, worse still, ruching around the bulges. The struggle to pull my tunics over my weighty shoulders, down my blubbery back and over hips a pregnant hippo would be proud of has been less arduous the last few days.

Obviously the eating less (especially a significant reduction in sugar intake), cycling back and forth between home and the clinic every day (about a 12 minute distance each way), and having two-hour massages will do that to a body. And this body surely and sorely needed it.

Speaking of massages – towards the end of yesterday’s not only were two people working my body but four. Four pairs of hands worked that fine sand (not actually sand, but precious medicine) into my body. That was pampering. The kind of pampering not many of us give ourselves. Mostly those with money, time and the intention can indulge in those kinds of regular body treats, which is why they frequently look to be in such great shape. Ordinarily, my time and money banks are not replete enough to indulge. But this time round, my mind and body were in a weak condition, a condition that seemed to be presenting me with a bleak future in all sorts of ways. Surrendering to the need for help, for powerful intervention was necessary. So although those four-handed (sometimes eight-handed) massages seem like a luxury, they are a crucial part of the treatment programme that is taking me to better physical and mental health.

An update on noticeable improvements:
– Weight loss (nothing tastes as good as thin feels – SO TRUE!)
– Waist is almost discernible again
– Spine feels looser and elongated
– Skin on my neck no longer looks like a dried out old turtle’s
– Bags under my eyes look like a few more Airbus passengers and their luggage have been chucked out

Yesterday Dr A gave me a couple of stretching exercises to start incorporating into my day. I’ll be doing them in a moment. During today’s massage she informed me that the gristly bit at the top of my inside thigh is a “fat bubble”. Fat bubbles get formed in different parts of the body. Ordinarily fatty foods get dispersed throughout the body (I can definitely vouch for that). What I didn’t know was that sometimes the fat gets deposited as hard lumps in different parts of the body. Weird but true. Knowing that has put a whole new spin on eating cheese that’s for sure. When I next do, and I’m sure I will, I’ll be thinking of the fat bubble that might get deposited some place. I’m not finding that a pleasant notion.

I’m also still chucking out toxins through my skin. But no surprises there given how toxic I’ve become in the last few years. I reckon if I’d undergone this programme not long after my last surgical operation (2013) I would never have ended up in the morass of poor health the way I did. Hindsight, eh!

And so now, instead of that scrummy morning coffee (yes, I am still hankering after a good one) it’s the hot lemon water. Now, for a quick snack it’s a homemade chapati. And tonight’s supper will be brown rice, sautéd cauliflower and onions, and something saucy with mushrooms.

Right, better go to it. I’ve got exercises and cooking to do because: “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” and for me, thin feels like good health. “Get thee begone you foul fat bubbles. Begone I say.”

So whatever you’re feeling (thin, fat or anything else), have a healthy, happy day – however you do it.

P.S. Also in the spirit of keeping things as close to real as possible – the numbering of my days on the Panchakarma programme started with the first day of treatment so does include the few days of rest I had before the main part of the programme began:
Preparation = 5 days
Rest = 2 days
Purge = 1 day
Rest = 3 days
Panchakarma start date = Friday 10th February

Day 13 & 14 of Panchakarma -the low down on the down below

So, about those enemas – three so far. The first and third was with the giant baby toy syringe. The second was this…

2017-02-11-todays-herbal-enema

My first bucket enema encounter

Daunting was the first word that came to mind.

Although having seen something similar taken into the treatment room a few days earlier for my Panchakarma Comrade I was not surprised – but still, daunted. Where the syringe and thin rubber tube were genteel, the douche bucket (for that is its name – I’ve seen the box) was less pleasant. In fact more like, “Oh God, that do not feel good”, as the tube end went in and I focused on my breathing, tried to relax, similar to all the usual thinking about anything other than the process when I’m getting a cervical smear taken. That said, the enema tube up the bum is still more comfortable than the smear. Anyways, once the colon decoction and tube are removed I relax a bit before getting up and moving around. Sitting is not an option. A wad of paper against the anus and the potential for a down-flow is not conducive to bums on seats. I waddle around waiting for the moment, the precise moment, when the down-flow feels imminent. I trot to the toilet. Once I’m cleaned up I’m free for a couple of hours, which is just as well because by the time I get my breakfast at about 10:30am I’m a Starvin’ Marvin.

I normally return to the clinic around 12:30.

As I cycled over yesterday I got stuck behind a small truck down a narrow lane. In the back of the truck, along with two men standing, was a large, dark-brown cow. There were dots of red and gold across its backside (I’m guessing the cow was on its way between owners and had just received blessings). The cow’s tail was raised, the bum was looking large and as the truck suddenly slowed I braked too late and was inches away from the ooze that dribbled from the cow, down the back gate of the truck and hit the road – splat!

Some 60 minutes later, lying on my front on the massage couch and having the backs of my legs and buttocks massaged I worried that after the morning’s enema my behind would behave in the same way as the cow’s. I can report all was well and I was able to relax into the massage.

So enemas. No they’re not anything like colonic irrigation. I’m not able to endorse the latter, jury’s out on the former. But I’m betting that getting things lubricated is going to have a lot more benefit for my sluggish guts than just a load of warm water swilled around up there. Here’s hoping.

Results so far:
– Some weight loss – but I’m not eating much sugary food and I’m cycling to and from the clinic twice a day
– Facial colour and tone seems have returned to something more normal – now sort of pinky-brown instead of the week-old dishwater look
– Under-eye bags (the ones that would fit an Airbus-load of luggage) seem to be less puffy (more like the Airbus lost a few passengers and their luggage en route)
– The alertness continues, even when I’m tired at the end of a long day it feels more like plain tiredness rather than a mix of apathy, or “Who gives a fuck” lethargy, or even “Huh? What you say?” befuddlement
– Lungs and airway already seem freer to expand and do their job

What I’m most curious about is that deep in my lower abdomen I still feel bloated and tight despite the reduced external bloat. However, in terms of the core Panchakarma treatment, I’m only three days in with another 18 days to go so it’ll be interesting to see what other changes come about in that time.

ayurveda-book

Found the book in a local bookshop. Thanks for the steer Panchakarma Comrade.

And to all you lovely folks out there, here’s something potentially worth remembering – learning to relax, to breathe deeply and consciously gets the blood flowing. During my steady breathing during the nasal steaming and smoke swilling I’m going to visualise my blood flowing right the way through. Go to it lovelies!

Day 12 of Panchakarma – now we’re getting serious

I kind of fucked up today. I’d misunderstood Dr A’s instructions around food and had breakfast before I saw her this morning. I didn’t realise I’d made a mistake until after the morning treatments. Here’s how things panned out:

Around 7:45 am this morning Dr A massaged my face for a few minutes with an oil that smelled like the ghee decoction of the first week. Then I sat at the table where a large covered metal pot of hot water was waiting for me. I made like a tent with my head under a couple of towels. Dr A instructed me to slowly and steadily breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth before she slid the lid away from the pot about an inch to release a puff of steam. My Panchakarma comrade had already gone through this a couple of times, so I knew to expect heat. The first part was no sweat, just warm, moist air. Gradually, Dr A exposed more steam as she pulled the lid further back, about an inch at a time, always making sure I was coping.

For anyone who has read my Ayurveda posts from the start, early on I mentioned Luke Coutinho – a nutrition guru. He recommended steaming with turmeric as a simple method for detoxing the lungs. I gave it a go. Because the water cooled quickly, I’d had to reboil it a couple of times to feel like I was getting the full steam effect. This morning, having the pot covered and steam gradually released was an excellent method. I got hot and sweaty. Loved it.

Next up I was up on the massage table on my back. Hands and feet covered. Dr A dropped two drops of medicine into each nostril. That was OK, what was less fun was lying on my back, using the same breathing pattern, while also trying really bloody hard not to swallow. I failed, mostly. After being on my back for about three or four minutes I sat up and spat into a small bucket Dr A handed me. Not a lot came up. I confess, at least half the time I swallowed – that automatic reflex over-rode my attempts to catch the mucous before it drizzled down my throat.

I sat out on the porch, chatting with my Panchakarma comrade while continuing to get the mucous out and into the bucket rather than back down my gullet.

Some 10-15 minutes later what followed was more nasal, or rather mucous, decongestion by way of smoke inhalation. A small light brown stick of something that Dr A burned the tip of to get smoking, was then wrapped in a leaf to create a nozzle of sorts. Gently I had to inhale the smoke into each nostril then exhale through my mouth. The first few times, again, I failed, spluttering and hating the sensation of smoke down the back of my throat. But I kind of got the hang of it.

My last treatment for the morning was a small enema. Dr A asked me very sweetly: “You OK for an enema?” compassion oozing with every word. “Yeah, sure. Why not?” I said. After all, I’m surrendered to the process, right?

She returned with a packet of long, thin tubes. “I show you I use a fresh tube for each patient” she said. She held one in her hand – it looked clean and unused. Good call on her part. Good to see the pink rubber tube in her hand before she inserted it. I nodded my understanding and agreement. Also good to see was the large syringe that looked like a toy for a giant baby. It was half full of sun-gold oil. I’d have squirmed inwardly more if I hadn’t already seen the litre of brown liquid the doctor had moments earlier given to my Panchakarma comrade.

Back in the treatment room we go with me on the massage bench, this time on my side with my lower leg straight, the upper leg bent and my bum exposed. Not quite the ignominious pose required of us ladies who go for cervical smears, but not far off.  And my bum? It’s not my best feature. I consoled myself with the thought that Dr A has seen a lot of backsides during her many years as an Ayurvedic practitioner. The sensation of having the rubber tube inserted, the oil gently pushed through and up, the tube removed and a wad of tissue paper placed against my anus was – how shall we say, all things considered? – genteel. Who’d have thought. But yes, yes indeed, genteel because the experience was not hideous, just functional. Not only that, given how expertly Dr A makes a chapati, she has the same level of confidence with her procedures and treatments that I feel I am, literally, in good hands.

Anyways, shortly after this – including some prancing as an excuse for dancing (I’d been told not to sit, move around) and a visit from a cow – Dr A told me I was free, free to go home and have breakfast.
– “But I’ve already had breakfast, before I came,” I said.
– “What?” she said.
– “I thought I was meant to,” I said.
– “No. No wonder it’s not working this morning,” she said.
Doh! Big fat double Doh!

2017-02-10-mistake-breakfast

Egg-white, brown rice & veg – a nutritious breakfast, but at the wrong time of day!

This afternoon I’ve had a two-hour, four-handed, hot-balls-of-herbs massage. Magic. The herbs had been wrapped and tied in tea towels, four of them. The massage began at my feet and shins with a small amount of oil poured onto my skin and rubbed in. The next bit was interesting.

Those herb balls? They were hot. Roasting.

They were heated by an assistant who exchanged a hot herb-ball with one of the masseuse as and when the one they were using cooled. Before using the fresh hot herb-ball, the masseuse tapped it against one of her palms to check the temperature before doing a tapping, shuffling slide across my skin. A new and gorgeous experience. Loads better than Monday’s adventure *wink, wink*. When my back was getting done, the herb-ball heat felt more intense. Hopefully without visibly flinching, my internal comment a few times was “Ah fuck”. Literally. But that heat, the subtle waft of herbs, hands pressing, rubbing, smoothing my flesh and – that heat. Magic. The last part was getting my whole body rubbed down using something that felt like the finest, softest sand. Looked like sand too. After that, all I had to do was rinse and dress. Fab.

For the next 20 days I will be going through more or less the same procedure. The quantity of nose drops each morning will increase: 4 drops in each nostril tomorrow; 6 the day after that: 8 drops thereafter until three days before the treatment completes.

I’m hoping that, if not tomorrow, soon after I’ll have mastered the art of expectorating. If I’ve got to do it, I’d like to appear vaguely elegant. Also those enemas, well let’s see. I may or may not report on those, not closely anyways.

Seeing as there is unlikely to be anything new to share I probably won’t post until the end of the 20 days. If anything comes up that’s relevant and potentially interesting for anyone I’ll give an update. Obviously, my wish is that come the beginning of March when the treatment programme is complete, I’ll be able to report on wonderful changes to my body and mind.

All-in, even though after the first week when I saw some changes there are now no significant new improvements to remark on (bar a small persistent spot at the side of my nose that has vanished and a probable ganglion on the inside of my left wrist has softened and reduced), this Ayurvedic treatment lark feels as though it is unfolding as a significant life affirmation. For example, frequently we’re told to wake up and greet the day with gratitude for being alive and all that. Fair-play. I endorse such a thing. Me though? Not so much. But that’s another story. However, this morning while I was eating my mistake breakfast, the rising sun glimmered through the trees and whispered across my skin – and I was grateful for that. Grateful that the sun continues to rise on all of us, wherever we are and whoever we are. 

So for now, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, however you are doing whatever you’re up to
– Keep it real
– Keep sharing the love
I’ll see you on the other side (of the treatment of course).