Friday, May 19, 2017

My Ten-Day Water Fast

Yes, I fasted for 10 days.  "What will-power!" someone said.  Thanks!  There is a thing called "orthorexia" about which Timberline Knolls says:

An orthorexic may avoid numerous foods, including those made with:
  • Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Pesticides or genetic modification
  • Fat, sugar or salt
  • Animal or dairy products
  • Other ingredients considered to be unhealthy
Well, yeah, what intelligent person wouldn't?  I suppose the modern way is to pathologize everything that is different.  Despite this silly main "symptom" of orthorexia, the fact is that it is hard to eat healthy, and my ken was to eat a lot less, so I welcomed my friend's suggestion to follow his fruitarian diet.  And now that I read a little more about orthorexia, I'm not worried about it.
About three weeks into eating only fruit (and a little bit of veggies, but not much), I had a blood test because I have essential thrombocythemia, a disease in which the megakaryoctyes that make platelets make too many of them.  Do I have a normal number of over-productive cells or too many normal cells?  I think the latter, because my oncologist (yes, ET is a mild form of cancer) confirmed his suspected diagnosis with a blood smear from the marrow in my hip.  In the smear, I think he told me, he found more megakaryocytes than there should be.
After he punched a hole in the back of my pelvis, I drove home with a bandaid on my butt.  On the way I got a ticket for not stopping fully at a red light when I was turning right.  At the court appearance, they asked me to sign something and I stupidly agreed.  Don't cooperate with people who demand that you sign things.  Scream instead that you're being coerced.  Sorry for the diversion.  I think it's here for a reason, but I can't find it yet.  Maybe someday.
I actually have been getting a blood test about once a month for almost two years to make sure my platelet count doesn't go too high.  Dr. Yeh gave me a prescription for hydroxyurea, also known as "Hu". Hu is the same molecule as urea - yes the stuff in our pee - except that Hu has an OH- ion where urea has a H+ ion.  It's a carbon bond.  They can pull that kind of crap, the little buggers.
The first test before I started eating only fruit showed my platelet count at 553. It was about a week later that I stopped eating animal products and most veggies - so fruit only. About two weeks later I had another test and the number was 503.  I concluded that meat contributes to me having too many platelets. Two weeks after that, I had another test and the number was 419!  On that same day, I scrambled myself four eggs and some cheese in an omelet to celebrate. I ate half of it for breakfast.  Then I went to see Dr. Yeh because I was considering doing a water-only fast.
My fruitarian friend gave me a book called Fasting and Eating for Health by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Clearly, it inspired me.  Dr. Fuhrman wrote in that book about what the body does when it doesn't have to spend any energy on digestion.  One of those things is to metabolize extra cells that are not needed.  I thought maybe whatever biological calculation had evolved might recognize my extra megakaryocytes as such edible extras.
I told Dr. Yeh about the book and that it recommended a 14-day fast under the supervision of a doctor - for people with chronic medical problems like diabetes, arthritis, obesity, high blood pressure, etc.Dr. Yeh said 14 days was too long and even ten was too long.  I pointed out that Dr. Fuhrman suggested that fasting patients taper off all their medications, but Dr. Yeh told me to keep taking hydroxyurea. We agreed that I'd stay on the Hu and fast for five days and then get another blood test to see how I'm doing.  He'd then have the chance to call me and convince me to break my fast.
When I got home, I ate the last half of my omelet and finished my raw milk, and stopped eating.
Five days later, I got another blood test and found that five days of consuming nothing but water reversed the trend in my platelet count.  It was back up to 476. My best guess is that since the body begins getting rid of toxins (like Hu) when you stop giving it food to digest, the Hu was having less and less effect on my bone marrow.  I have not yet discussed this with Dr. Yeh, and I think my next test is in a week or two.
My blood tests measure lots of things, and since I started taking Hu, many of them have been a little lower than normal (White blood cell count, red blood cell count, hemoglobin, etc.).  All those levels improved after five days of consuming only water. I patiently waited for a call from Dr. Yeh to see if I should break my fast.  The nurse called instead and said my platelet count looked fine.  I asked her if she knew I was fasting and she didn't.  We discussed the book and she thanked me for the information.  I asked her to let Dr. Yeh know that I'd be consuming only water for another five days.
I broke my fast with a bit of watermelon about 8 hours early.  I also had a little blueberry cream custard at a voluntaryist meetup, and mostly fruit after that.
I had a plan to eat meat and everything else I want only on Tuesdays because that is the day of my weekly dinner with some friends.  The rest of the time, my plan was to eat just fruit.  Then I had a dream.  I went to bed late, so in the morning I was sleeping in, and that usually gives me some dreams.
I met someone for a business deal outside my house.  That was peculiar because I usually meet people for business in more public places.  He came in a truck and had his son with him.  He suggested that we go to the bank because he needed to get some cash there, so I walked to the passenger side and got in.  He set the vehicle moving, but was no longer in it.  I was kind of alarmed and curious, so I looked over at the driver's seat to confirm that it was empty and there was his son, driving.
The son drove us straight where the road turned left, right up onto someone's porch and nearly hit their front door before finally turning.  I woke up from the adrenaline rush. I was prepared for another dream-crash and tried to go back to sleep so I could dream lucidly.  It worked!
My dream picked up where it had left off, and we were now driving up the hill that came after that left turn.  It leads to a T intersection.  I braced myself for more bad driving and looked forward to the exciting crash in my dream.  He was headed for a shrubbery across the street, and once again, wasn't going to turn in time.  Though I was prepared, the adrenaline rush woke me up.  Perhaps it was also an epiphany of sorts that helped awaken me.  Someone, I deduced, had taken me too far, and my brain said that twice.  In a row.
During the previous few days, I had spoken with two friends who were both fruitarians, though perhaps not very strictly.  Fuhrman's book pointed out that the human body is capable of making everything it needs without eating anything but fruit.  He still recommended grains and legumes and one other thing I can't remember.  A third friend pointed out that while the body can make all that other stuff, it doesn't have to; we can just eat animal products that already contain it.
A fourth friend related to me that one of her friends had done a long-term fast and it aged him in a way from which he never fully recovered.  I very strongly believe that the dream was my body telling me to eat more than just fruit, and I've listened.  I've been meditating for ten minutes a day for a few months, and my body and I have had some interesting discussions about trusting each other.
I stopped eating bread a few months before I started this whole fruitarian thing, and that made me lose about ten pounds. Before my fast, I lost another five while eating only fruit, and then ten more during the fast.  I'm gaining it back slowly, on purpose.  I am a bit too thin now, but, thanks to mild orthorexia, I will expand myself in healthy ways.

There are two main theories that I'm testing regarding essential thrombocythemia.  One is that it is precipitated by gluten.  The other is that it is precipitated by something commonly found in meat.  I lean toward the second, and perhaps, after my next blood test, I'll start eating bread again.  I do kind of miss it, but that want gets weaker all the time.

It was my friend Mike who inspired me to read the book, and also to create this post.  Thanks Mike!  You may have helped me cure my disease.


I finally had a blood test today (5/31/17) - my first after the fast.  My platelet count was 476 on May 2nd. My 10-day fast ended on 5/7. My prescription is for 5.5 grams of Hu each week, but for at least the last two weeks, I've been taking only 4.5. My platelet count is 387 today.  Can words convey my joy?

If and when I have established a new dosage and stable platelet count, I might to another 10 day fast to see if the effect of that is more generally a permanent reduction in platelet production (I'd assume through metabolization of the extra megakaryocytes).  I am excited.  I'm tired too, as I expected to be, because Hu suppresses the normal functioning of bone marrow activity ("myelosuppressant" is what that's called) and (apparently) I've been taking more than I need to.

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