I’ve known Denise for 7 years, she began as a home health aid for me, and later became a good friend. She wrote an essay about what she has seen me go through; this second installment is about how I began to recover through the twin tools of fasting and eating like a bear.
A couple of years before the fast in August 2019, Jackie decided it was time to start walking, even if her body was not going to cooperate and she could not feel her feet. Jackie started “walking with kitties”. She had detailed these walks as they occurred. In the beginning they were very short – part way out the lane, a short distance, until she got to the cattle guard. Eventually she figured out to put a small piece of plywood over the cattle guard in order to cross it. At that point in time there was no thought of trying to cross it without something covering it. As mentioned, the walks were short, only on the lane, and didn’t involve much. Over time, and I honestly don’t remember how long, she eventually was able to walk in the cow pastures beside the lane and cross the cattle guard without anything over it. To this day she continues to take long walks in the pasture, she can feel her feet, and uneven terrain presents no problem.
We would go to a local state park with a small lake; we have several in our area. It would be an accomplishment to walk from where we parked to the lake’s edge. Then we’d sit. That small of an endeavor was quite an undertaking. It took a long time to do, but she did it. And while it was more than she had done for years, it left her frustrated. She wanted, needed, to do more. She wasn’t satisfied with short outings, which were way more than had been done for many, many years. That wasn’t enough.
We went to Hershey Gardens. Sprawling gardens spread out over quite a few acres. Along with a small butterfly house. We’d walk, slowly, for ten, fifteen minutes. Then look for the nearest bench to sit and rest, most times for the same amount of time we had just walked. Over the course of several hours we did traverse all of the foot paths around the garden and toured the butterfly house. The outing took all afternoon, but it got done.
Once a week, we tried to get out and do *something*, no matter how small. For about two years this is what we did. It wasn’t enough.
Dr. Jason Fung, and Eat Like A Bear:
I won’t get into the details, first and foremost because I just don’t have all the exact medical lingo and Jackie has done that on her various sites. I will say, though, that these ARE the two main things that gave her her life back. She did tons of research spring, early summer of 2019. And decided to go for it.
Starting that spring, we had been going to one particular lake. The path around the lake itself was about a quarter of a mile. The goal initially was one lap around that lake, without stopping. It did take a handful of outings to be able to accomplish that goal. But she did. Next goal, two laps around the lake – without stopping. Which took us into summer.
Her first fast was the beginning of August. And again, the details of that are written by Jackie on her sites.
I honestly don’t remember if the next goal was three laps around the lake or what was called the Nature Trail, which was about a mile long. By the time we got to those goals Jackie was in the fast.
One day after a very rainy spell we decided to do the nature trail. The trail itself was a bigger loop around the lake. It was pretty steep in some parts, some long hills to walk up. It was also NOT very well marked the direction we chose to hike around it. This did create some pretty substantial problems. We ended up going off the trail, and followed some barely discernible fishing paths that were at the edge of a stream that fed into the lake. And, did I mention, we had just had a very rainy spell, after over a year of unprecedented rainfall??? So, yeah, it was wet, swamped, and boggy. We had gotten to the farthest point out, and were about halfway back, when the footpath just disappeared. Literally. Right into the stream, which had plenty of runoff draining into it and making the whole area muddy. And… A large tree had come down across the only place that was somewhat dry enough to get to the spot where the path disappeared. It was about two and a half feet tall, with a very large circumference. Not something you were just going to step over.
I told Jackie I was going to climb over it to go check out the area where the path was gone. I wanted to see if it was decent enough to hike up from it to go around. As I got close to that spot, I turned around to check on Jackie. Be darned if she wasn’t straddling that tree and following behind me!
What we came upon was a smaller stream feeding into the larger stream that we had been following beside. The area uphill where it was coming from was impassable. There were thorn bushes, small trees, and the ground was covered with water. In other words, it was a swamp. The only choice was to cross the stream; we were three quarters of the way around the “trail”, turning back was not an option. Even with taking large steps, you were going to have to take at least three steps in that water. It wasn’t deep and there were some rocks a couple inches under. But there was one spot where there was nothing but water, probably around five or six inches deep. So we went. And we each got a foot wet from water going into our shoes. Fortunately after that we *only* had to go through a few more very wet and muddy spots until we got to the main trail that we had somehow managed to get off of way back in the hike.
Frankly, I was amazed. Still am. Just a month prior there would have been no way Jackie was going to get around that trail. And I dread to think what we’d have done getting off the trail like that and getting to that stream crossing. I know I would have had to go get some kind of help…
It’s been around a year and a half since that hike. I’ll never forget it. Jackie has gone on to accomplish so many more things. We have walked and hiked a number of other places. To go a couple of miles, with hills, is no problem now. Quite honestly, there have been a number of times that she has fared better than I.