Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009: Before I completely settle back into work and my normal routine in San Francisco, I want to review what happened during my three weeks at the Optimal Health Institute. First, there was a surprising amount of physical activity every day. My morning started with a vigorous, hour-long work out including a mile walk as well as exercises designed to wake the body and release toxins. Then, late afternoon, there was a yoga class that I attended regularly. The combination of these two classes kept me alert throughout the day.

Other basic routines were meals—three them, all vegan and all raw food—and classes. Meals were communal and could be eaten outdoors on most days since the weather in San Diego in late February was usually warm and balmy. Meals were a chance to visit with other people at the Institute, to get to know who they were and why they had come to OHI. The socializing aspect of the place really worked for me. I met people that I liked very much and plan to stay in touch with. The classes delivered well-organized information about nutrition, diet and digestion as well as breathing techniques and helpful guidelines to bring all of this new material home for regular consumption. The teaching staff at OHI are gifted at presenting their materials, and clearly, they believe in the virtues of wheatgrass juice and a green diet.

Also, there were programs for massage, colonics and chiropractic healing. I didn’t use the chiropractic services but I did have my first colonic treatments and found them effective for getting rid of toxins. The massage program was run by a woman named Evangeline, and I really connected with her. If I were to give her a title, it would be: Touch Intuitive. After a half hour of invigorating massage, Evangeline would then move into an hour of highly perceptive questioning about life issues. In my case, we started talking about my cancer then moved into my early childhood molestation and how the two issues were related. It was very helpful to have Evangeline’s insights during the last two weeks of my stay which covered the time of my Mom’s stroke through the time of her death. Her advice was consistently supportive and pertinent.

On weekends, I enjoyed leaving the compound and exploring around San Diego. The first weekend, I went to the Del Coronado and spent a couple of hours walking along the spectacular beach in front of the old hotel. The next two weekends, I spent at the San Diego Zoo. Normally, I avoid zoos. The confinement and captivity depresses and annoys me, so I just stay away. But in San Diego, the zoo has been embedded in a huge botanical park with enormous, healthy plants. It was like being in an arboretum with exotic animals. I had never seen pandas until my visit there a couple of weeks ago. The sheer variety of interesting critters: raptors, tigers, all manner of feral pigs, gazelles, elephants, flamingos and more was startling and invigorating.

Externally, I felt well served by OHI and the general San Diego area. It’s certainly a different eco zone than the Bay Area as witnessed by the lavish number of palm trees and varieties of eucalyptus that I’d never seen before. Internally, the trip was very timely. I needed to lie in the sun and rest and meet new people and have silent time away from home. More than I had realized previously, the chemo really axed me over the past three months. It had been brutal, but with my almost pathological ability to normalize the abnormal, I had simply weathered through the monthly hospital stays and the aftermath of nausea and fatigue. In the sun in Southern California, I had a chance to appreciate how much the chemo took from me and how much I needed to rebalance.

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