Day 2 of Panchakarma – still fasting

Last night, by the time I had supper the gap between meals had been more than six hours. As a perennial grazer that’s a pretty good achievement. Dinner was more runny rice, only this time I managed to eat most of the large bowl Dr A offered me. She explained I’d not been hungry enough at lunchtime because my body was still assimilating the morning’s medicine.

Day 2 of Panchakarma has been more or less a repeat of yesterday. I got it together to cycle over to Dr A’s clinic for 7am where she took my pulses and doled out the medicine. More warmed ghee with herbs but with less of a gag reflux.

While I was slurping the medicine I had a brief chat with the woman nearing the end of her own Panchakarma programme. I asked her what she thought about it all. She explained she was feeling lighter, in all sorts of ways, as well as having chucked out a load of toxicity from her body. Note: This woman is fine of face and figure. She’s got great, symmetrical bone structure. There’s no excess fat. And her skin glows. I realise I won’t ever look as fabulous as she does, but the glowing skin, the lighter feeling, that seems possible and what I’m going for. Slimmer would definitely be wonderful too – you saw that photo of me didn’t you?

Back home today I’ve been experiencing a different type of internal ghost. This one is hanging out in my mouth. Often, along with the morning coffee I have a ragi biscuit (or two!). Ragi, or Finger Millet, is a grain that originates from Africa but is widely used in Southern India. The biscuits are made locally. In the UK the nearest thing we might get to a ragi biscuit in terms of texture is shortbread. There is a similarity with the grittiness – quality and colourwise they are very different (see photo). And it was the grittiness of the ragi biscuit I could feel, and crave, in my mouth. Did I resist? Of course, I resisted! I’ve also had to resist lying down. However, my eyelids are less resistant – even as I type. You’ll have to forgive me if this danf;kdag;kjadg’laj’d happens 😉

Apart from a restricted dietary intake, there are various activities on the currently-forbidden list during this part of the Panchakarma programme. One of those restricted activities is (quoting Dr A) “playing with water” and generally getting wet. (And for anyone with a smutty mind like mine, yes that does mean no slippery sex for now.) On a more prosaic note: if it rains I’m to get an auto-rickshaw so I’m covered; I’m not to do any laundry, which I do by hand and most days; and today I’m also not allowed to shower. Fortunately the weather is cool enough I’m not desperate for a shower the way I would be if we were in summer, nor am I going to be in either polite or impolite company – other than Mr D (no sex anyways) and the doctor of course.

With this being only Day 2 of Panchakarma you wouldn’t be surprised there are no new changes. There bulbous belly is still evident but, given the lack of food, feels less tight. An unexpected development is that I’ve felt the need to brush my teeth more and Mr D mooted last night that my breath smelled different. The headache seems constant, but more as a brain freeze than real ache.

Currently the time is around 3pm and all I’ve had today, Day 2 of Panchakarma, is the medicine and hot water – and the ragi biscuit ghost in my mouth. I’m considering waiting it out until dinner time. Fasting is no bad thing generally and as I’m not yet feeling famished I figure I might as well wait. Let’s see if that turns out to have been a smart strategy or not.

For now, wishing you food joy wherever you are.

The Start of a New Discovery

 Initiating an Exploration into Ayurvedic Medicine and My Own Body

Yesterday I went in search of an Ayurvedic practitioner and thankfully, I think, found one. I’m hoping the start of a new discovery will lead to a life-enhancing outcome. Perhaps a life-long adventure too.

Why did I go on such a search?

Because I’m feeling like shit. Physically and mentally.

I’ve not been in great shape for a few years. Went through a terrible time with my menses for a while. They were heavier, and lasted longer, than an overactive and destructive volcanic eruption – and as messy and devastating. Think about it. When there’s a heavy and sustained loss of blood for a couple of years, where’s it coming from? From my bone marrow is where. Before I reached the final resolution with a second, small operation – to remove the troublesome intra-uterine fibroids at fault – I needed two mega doses of iron, given intravenously, before they would do the op. That resolving operation was about three and a half years ago. Recovery from all of which has taken time. Too long. In the process of recovering I seem to have slipped into sluggishness and apathy – on all sorts of levels. However, this past year in particular I’ve been experiencing near-constant abdomen discomfort, bloated daily, and a lot of lethargy.

Due to whatever fucked-up reason, this time round I just don’t seem to be able to get it together to do what I know can and will work. The result – I keep feeling shit. Every day. All day. Feeling shitty and fucked-up is NOT good. Ever. Feeling shitty and fucked-up when trying to motor through creative output, to be a fully-involved person in an intimate relationship, to keep kicking-arse is NOT good. Ever. So, what to do? What the hell to do? That is what I have been asking myself. Something has to give.

For a while the key questions running around my head, like growing kittens in search of milky nipples, have been:
– What is it I really need to do?
– How I can do that?

– I need to lose weight and find healthier ways of living. Not just for the aesthetics, but more importantly for my health and wellness.
– I need to be more active too, for the same reasons.
– I need to readjust my dietary intake to support all that.

I’ve been here before, getting help with my health. In this way, what I’m about to start is a new discovery because of the method, rather than the intention.

A short bit of back-peddling/backstory:
In case you didn’t already know, I’m in India. In particular a small town in Tamil Nadu (I’ve written about this elsewhere). I love here. Apart from being with Mr D, there was something about the place when I first visited back in 2007 that grabbed me and held me in a firm embrace of love and compassion and kindness. I happily fall into that embrace every time I return. The natural consequence of my staying in India is that when I consider seeking out help with this persistent problem I want something, someone, local. So naturally that had to be Ayurvedic Medicine. (If you want the low-down on Ayurvedic Medicine there is plenty online.)

During the ruminations about my persistent problems I happened to tune into a TV programme last Sunday during which a celebrated Indian health and lifestyle guru* spoke cogently and emphatically about the need to, sometimes, detox the body. Apparently he’s had excellent success with his detox programmes for cancer patients, as well as helping people with weight loss and improved health generally. From the manner in which he spoke, and the specifics, I believe him. His chat and obvious knowledge on the subject of health convinced me – I need to detox.

Clearly I could just do this at home. The guru chap already gave a few pointers. Simple stuff. But I’ve never been great at detoxing. Let’s face it, retoxing is always way more fun and easier. Given my brain fog and entrenched lethargy, how the hell was I going to get a start on detoxing? I figured it was time to get help.

While out and about a few days ago I took a detour and saw an advertising hoarding outside a suburban house: Ayurvedic treatments for all kinds of illnesses and health issues. Yesterday I met the owner of that hoarding, Dr A. I liked her from the off. Female (preferable given my complaints), direct, forthright, approachable. I told her I needed an outside agency, someone other than me, to help me shift my shit.

What I actually told her was I feel stuck. My whole body feels stuck. I feel stagnant, almost on hold. Definitely not girl interrupted – that passed by a long while back – more like woman halted. Even though I’ve been feeling this way for a few years, more recently the sense that this stagnation is not just physical but affecting all of me has grown.
Here’s a list of my physical issues:

  • Bloated belly – almost constantly
  • Aching joints
  • Sluggish colon activity – too often constipated
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss and thinning
  • Painful joints
  • Overweight with – because of the bloated belly – a girth-to-hip ratio tipping me towards diabetes, heart problems and the like

My other issues include:

  • Brain fog
  • Erratic energies, but mostly lethargy
  • Unfocused in my activities

With a smidgeon of info about Ayurvedic medicine I already knew that one of the treatments might be an enema. I told her I was not keen on having one. She wanted to know more. I explained I’d already had colonic irrigation, twice some years back. While the irrigation itself was mildly unpleasant – warm water gushing past my anus and up my rectum was an odd experience – the fact of the cost with no obvious positive outcome (coupled with a lackadaisical practitioner of that fine art!) meant I was not enthusiastic about going through something similar.

Dr A sent me away with the agreement that I would return the next morning, before breakfast, when she would make a diagnosis by taking my pulses. After the pulse diagnosis she would make her recommendations.

That diagnosis took place this morning. In Dr A’s consulting room she sat me down, placed her fingers on my left wrist and took my pulse.
“Fire,” she muttered after only a few moments.
Given all I know about my body and personality type, that one-word assessment was not a surprise. But I was surprised when she gave her diagnosis – all of my key elements (doshas or humours) are out of balance. That ain’t good. No wonder I feel so crappy. Her diagnosis confirms what I thought – I am fucked-up. She reckons she can reverse my shittiness.

Following her pulse assessment she went on to explain the proposed programme. Now that was not just a surprise but a bloody shock.

Panchakarma is a detoxification procedure that involves a variety of processes and lasts for between 30-45 days. Thirty days! Holy shit. And, less holy but more shit – enemas too. Crappolla.

We chatted some more. Dr A. gave an overview of the procedures involved in panchakarma, said she’d prepare a full outline when I start. At that point I hadn’t yet agreed I would start  – but I was aware that something in me felt drawn to doing her detox. She left me for a while to go and attend to another client who was coming to the last few days of her own panchakarma programme. I mulled over what Dr A had just told me.

Although we hadn’t yet discussed it, cost was definitely going to be a consideration. Could I afford to undergo such an intensive programme? Could I afford not to, whatever the cost? Clearly doing a panchakarma in India was going to be cheaper than if I did something similar in London. That was a worthy factor. Also a factor is that I have the time to do this. No need to try and fit the programme around a full time job. No need to worry about how to juggle work, commuting, and other commitments. But could I afford it?

She told me the cost. Higher than I expected. But understandably so given the procedures and herbal medicines involved, the – gulp – enemas and food too. She made me a coffee and we chatted some more.

When I left her some 50 minutes later I had a small batch of tablets and she had my agreement that I would undergo the programme. The start of a new discovery has begun.

I’ve also decided using my blog to document my experiences during the process might be fun as well as interesting for anyone thinking about taking Ayurvedic treatments, or undergoing panchakarma in particular. I’ll try to post daily.

Today, as one means of assessment, I have taken a few body measurements. No weight recorded as I’ve no weighing scales. I’ll take these same measurements at the end of the programme. Here’s the awful truth:
Bust 102 cm/40 inches
Waist 93 cm/36.5 inches
Hips 103 cm/40.5 inches
Right Upper arm – 33.5 cm/13 inches
Left Upper arm – 35 cm/13.5 inches
Right Thigh – 64 cm/25 inches
Left Thigh – 62.5 cm/24.5 inches
Right Knee – 43.5 cm/17 inches
Left Knee – 42.5 cm/16.5 inches
At a height of 156 cm/5 feet 1 inch all of those measurements mean I’s fat! Clearly I’m hoping there’ll be a reduction in all these figures, including my own, along with all the other intended improvements.

So tomorrow morning at 7am is my start on a new discovery, but just a start. I know that these next 30+ days are only a beginning. After the panchakarma is complete I’ll need to keep on implementing better lifestyle choices. Here’s to my starting a new discovery that supports all the health improvements I’m aiming for – because right now I need them more than ever.

If you have any questions as I go through this process, please throw them my way.

For now, let me leave you with this quote (taken from Dr A’s panchakarma info sheet):
The doshas, the dhatus, digestive fire and excretion, when balanced (along with) a happy soul, senses and mind, then the person is called healthy. —— Vaghbhata ——
(Sama dosha sama dhatu samaagni malakriyah. Prasanna atmendriyamanah swastah ityabhideeyate.)

And this (gruesome) image:


I hope I look better than this come March…

* see Luke Coutinho website for details