Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Re-Feeding--Days 3, 4, and 5
Today (February 1) is the feast day of Saint Brigid. Saint Brigid appears to have been born around 450 to a pagan father and a Christian mother. It is believed that her mother was baptised by Saint Patrick (d.461) and that Brigid heard and was deeply influenced by the preachings of that great saint. From a very early age, Brigid wanted to enter an convent and dedicate her life to Christ. Her family was fairly well off and people would often knock at their door and ask for food or other assistance. Brigid never hesitated to give what was asked, and once when they were out of food she apparently gave her father's jeweled sword to a leper. This last incident seems to have convinced her father to allow her to enter a convent.
Saint Brigid received the veil from Saint Mael of Ardagh and, by 470, she had founded a double monastery (one for monks and one for nuns) on the plains of Kildare (Cill-Dara), or the Church of the Oaks, where she had a cell underneath a large oak tree. The Abbey of Kildare became became one of the most prestigious monasteries in Ireland, famed throughout all of Christian Europe. The Abbey was also the very first monastery for women in Ireland. Again, she became known for her self-less hospitality to visitors and travelers, and there always seemed to be plenty of everything to provide for the needs of everyone, and no one was ever turned away empty handed. Her generosity is represented in the writings on the scroll in the close-up below (to care for the poor, to lighten everyone's burden, to comfort the suffering):
It is said that she performed many healing miracles during her life and became widely known as a saint while she was yet living. One of the sweeter miracles that has been passed down through the ages (whether fact or fiction, the story nonetheless contains truth) is this: One evening, the holy abbess was sitting with a blind nun named Dara. From sunset to sunrise, they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. St. Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara’s eyes. All at once, the blind nun’s eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkled with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to St. Brigid and said, “Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul.” St. Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.
Well, I am sorry to report that the past three days of re-feeding have not gone well at all. I have not been able to get the foods I need, prepared the way that I need, when I need them. I did okay for the first two days because I made my own food in my room and was able to steam the veggies to the right softness. But then the staff told me that I could not prepare my own food in my room because it created to many smells for my apartment-mate (who incidentally did care). I ended up trying to make due with under-cooked vegetables and some light (under-cooked) soups that had spices in them and this was a huge mistake. The staff subsequently told me that the kitchen would prepare anything I needed. I told the doctor that I had been requesting zucchini for the past three days and the kitchen did not have any. I told him that I had given the kitchen a recipe for some well-cooked vegetable soup with the vegetables I knew were safe and they never made it. That is when I asked them to bring me the vegetables and I made it myself. But then the next day they did not have the vegetables I needed to repeat the process.
So, the long and the short of it is that I ingested something or several somethings that has made my body extremely unhappy. My intestines are inflamed and ache, my throat has been burning for the past three days, I have glop at the back of my throat, and the lymph nodes below my ears are extremely tender. These are all symptoms I have had in the past (I don't need to have been on a fast to get them) when I try to eat things that my body does not want. They do not offer much in the way of fruit beyond bananas and melons, neither of which I can eat. I made the decision to come home yesterday so that I can have more control over the re-feeding process. I am not real happy about this part of my experience at TrueNorth Health. If I was to do it all over again, I would just have juice for 4-5 days and gain my strength back enough to come home and not even try to start re-feeding there. I absolutely loved the care I got while on the fast and would recommend them in a heartbeat for that, but the whole re-feeding thing has been a complete nightmare for someone like myself. Clearly, these problems I have experienced would not be true for others who can eat melons (which is such a perfect food to break a fast with if you can eat it). I have no doubt that many other people have wonderful experiences at TNH, and I will still highly recommend the facility. The main caveat I can give is to definitely make your needs known to your doctor (not just the kitchen) and insist that they get you what ever you feel would be best for you. By the time I figured this out, I decided it would be easier for me to just come home.
I am back home now and had a celery juice this morning, but even juice does not feel good at this point. I may need to actually go back on water for a few days in order to get back to even and then start over with reintroducing food the right way for me. I am so happy with the way the fast went and all the benefits that will flow from it, but coming off the fast is equally important (if not more so) if those benefits are to be maintained for the long term. I am feeling a little demoralized and depressed about the way things have gone for the past few days, as I do not want to mess up all the good work that has been accomplished. I will post again in a few days, after my body has had a chance to settle down (and I am in a better mental space), and let you know how it is going.
On a positive note, I will also add that in spite of feeling bad and having negative reactions to some of the foods I've tried, I actually look surprisingly good after only five days of re-feeding.
To love someone is to see him as God intended him.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian Novelist