We want to believe that macrobiotics protect us, that a natural, healthy lifestyle will magically make us immune to disease and natural disasters. Maybe not everyone thinks so, but I definitely thought so. I thought that since I was cured of cancer thanks to macrobiotics (in my case, it was a moxibustion treatment), I have guarantees that I will live the rest of my days in peace and quiet …
In our family, 1998 was called … “the year before hell.” There are those years in everyone’s life… those years when you literally count the days until they end… even a macrobiotic lifestyle does not guarantee immunity from such years.
This happened in April. I worked a million hours a week, if I could work that much. I cooked privately, taught private and public cooking classes, and helped my husband, Robert, run our business together. I also started hosting a cooking show on national television and was getting used to the big changes in my life.
My husband and I came to the conclusion that work has become everything for us, and that we need to change a lot in our lives: more rest, more play. However, we liked working together, so we left everything as it is. We “saved the world”, all at once.
I was teaching a class on healing products (what an irony…) and I felt some kind of arousal unusual for me. My husband (who was treating a broken leg at the time) tried to help me replenish my food supplies when we got home from class. I remember telling him that he was more of a hindrance than a help, and he limped away, embarrassed by my displeasure. I thought I was just tired.
As I stood up, placing the last pot on the shelf, I was pierced by the sharpest and most intense pain I had ever experienced. It felt like an ice needle had been driven into the base of my skull.
I called Robert, who, hearing the obvious panic notes in my voice, immediately came running. I asked him to call 9-1-1 and tell the doctors that I had a brain hemorrhage. Now, as I write these lines, I have no idea how I could have known so clearly what was going on, but I did. At that moment, I lost my coordination and fell.
At the hospital, everyone crowded around me, asking about my “headache.” I answered that I had a cerebral hemorrhage, but the doctors only smiled and said that they would study my condition and then it would become clear what was the matter. I lay in the ward of the neurotraumatology department and cried. The pain was inhuman, but I wasn’t crying because of that. I knew that I had serious problems, despite the condescending assurances of the doctors that everything would be fine.
Robert sat next to me all night, holding my hand and talking to me. We knew that we were again at the crossroads of fate. We were sure that a change awaited us, although we did not yet know how serious my situation was.
The next day, the head of the neurosurgery department came to talk to me. He sat down beside me, took my hand and said, “I have good news and bad news for you. Good news is very good, and bad news is also pretty bad, but still not the worst. What news do you want to hear first?
I was still tormented by the worst headache in my life and I gave the doctor the right to choose. What he told me shocked me and made me rethink my diet and lifestyle.
The doctor explained that I survived a brainstem aneurysm, and that 85% of people who have these hemorrhages do not survive (I guess that was the good news).
From my answers, the doctor knew that I do not smoke, do not drink coffee and alcohol, do not eat meat and dairy products; that I always followed a very healthy diet and exercised regularly. He also knew from examination of the results of the tests that at the age of 42 I did not have the slightest hint of a haplatelet and blockage of the veins or arteries (both phenomena are usually characteristic of the condition in which I found myself). And then he surprised me.
Because I didn’t fit the stereotypes, the doctors wanted to run further tests. The head physician believed that there must be some hidden condition that caused the aneurysm (it, apparently, was of a genetic nature and there were several of them in one place). The doctor was also amazed by the fact that the burst aneurysm closed; the vein was clogged and the pain I was experiencing was due to blood pressure on the nerves. The doctor stated that he had rarely, if ever, observed such a phenomenon.
A few days later, after the blood and other tests were done, Dr. Zaar came and sat down on my bed again. He had answers, and he was very happy about it. He explained that I was severely anemic and that my blood lacked the required amount of vitamin B12. The lack of B12 caused the level of homocysteine in my blood to rise and cause a hemorrhage.
The doctor said that the walls of my veins and arteries were thin as rice paper, which again was due to a lack of B12and that if I don’t get enough of the nutrients I need, I run the risk of falling back into my current state, but the chances of a happy outcome will decrease.
He also said that the test results indicated that my diet was low in fat., which is the cause of other problems (but this is a topic for a separate article). He remarked that I should rethink my food choices as my current diet does not match my activity level. At the same time, according to the doctor, most likely it was my lifestyle and nutrition system that saved my life.
I was shocked. I followed a macrobiotic diet for 15 years. Robert and I cooked mostly at home, using the highest quality ingredients we could find. I heard… and believed… that the fermented foods I consumed daily contained all the necessary nutrients. Oh my god, it turns out I was wrong!
Before turning to macrobiotics, I studied biology. At the beginning of holistic training, my scientific mindset led me to be skeptical; I didn’t want to believe that the truths being presented to me were based simply on “energy.” Gradually, this position changed and I learned to combine scientific thinking with macrobiotic thinking, coming to my own understanding, which serves me now.
I started researching vitamin B12, its sources and its impact on health.
I knew that as a vegan, I would have great difficulty finding a source of this vitamin because I did not want to eat animal flesh. I also eliminated nutritional supplements from my diet, believing that all the nutrients I needed were found in foods.
In the course of my research, I have made discoveries that have helped me restore and maintain neurological health, so that I am no longer a walking “time bomb” waiting for a new hemorrhage. This is my personal story, and not a criticism of the views and practices of other people, however, this topic deserves serious discussion as we teach people the art of using food as medicine.