Posted December 08, 2015
I recently had a brief conversation with a woman who’s been diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). One of the questions she asked was how CIRS had changed my life. In response, I thought to myself, “Gee, how has CIRS not changed my life?” It seemed like a huge question. Over time, ideas popped up and I jotted them down on a scrap of paper.
Given that the Holidays are upon us, I thought now might be a good time to present them in an article as a way of sharing a little goodness with you all. Also, I’m hoping that others will contribute to the list in the Comment section below. I know that everyone has some interesting points to add to this list. I’ll begin my list with the more practical side of CIRS that relates to the essentials for recovery and progress into more esoteric and thought provoking changes that I’ve seen in myself.
Everything Is Cleaner
I clean a lot more lately. It started when we learned our house was moldy and I made the bold (maybe even foolish) decision to remediate the house. We’ll see. The “jury is still out”. All the carpeting came out, fabric furniture went on the curb, we remediated the mold following a detailed plan, and then the emptied house was meticulously washed. This process concluded with flushing massive amounts of fresh air through the building. Proper remediation is a laborious and detailed endeavor that I hope to eventually find the time to write about.
On top of that, given that we live in the woods in Wisconsin, autumn brings on symptoms. HEPA vacuuming, HEPA and carbon air filtering, pleated window filters that clean incoming “fresh air”, and a UV-C air purifier of my own design (more in an upcoming article) is my response to these problematic airborne toxins. In addition, I regularly check the lid and back of toilet tanks, under sinks and appliances, roof flashing including gutters, and so on for even the slightest hint of a problem.
When I was building houses, I used to eat a bag of Doritos and drink a couple sodas for lunch. No wonder I ended up taking naps outside in the middle of winter. I’d lie down and pass out at the base of a wall I’d just put up that conveniently acted as a wind-break. Good golly, I was clueless. Now I eat a tiny amount of carbs (a recent glucose test came back positive for SIBO) and lots of high quality, organic meats and vegetables. When I was a kid, I used to dump tablespoons of sugar on Frosted Flakes. Now I eat frozen sweet peas and pine nuts for a treat. I’m so much better for these changes.
I’m still trying to convince my “sweet tooth” (due to an imbalance in gut flora) that this is all for the better; I still have cravings. For me, diet has been huge and I’m still learning how impactful it can be. Yesterday I had too many sweet potato chips for a treat and consequently walked around in a stupor for the rest of the day. CIRS suppresses MSH and this in turn messes up the gut.
I used to be a “knucklehead”. I worked full time teaching Mathematics at a local High School and built houses in the evenings. I couldn’t work hard enough and for that time, it made sense. Now I’m doing physical work 1-2 hours a day and spend the rest of my time in front of a computer screen. Part of this change is a result of not being able to work at all for years and the entire shift in focus that happens as a result. Since I broke down near the end of a building career, I’m now well into my 50’s, it was time for a change anyway.
I’m sure for everyone this will be different, but I suspect one constant for many is a deeper appreciation for the fact that there’s more to life than work. Having been really sick, I’m so much more sensitive to when I’m stressing out my body by either what I’m thinking (like the go-go-go attitude I used to have) or by over working my body – no more brute force. Stress tears a person apart and I’m careful to be much kinder to this body and Spirit.
My wife and I have traveled the world. The last real work I did was running a construction site in India building a Buddhist Nunnery for woman that were so inspired but otherwise wouldn’t have had a place to follow their spiritual aspirations. In contrast, today I’m careful about the local shops I enter. I make detailed lists so I can minimize my time in stores. When I get home, I change clothes and rinse my short hair.
Over time, I’ve learned which stores are worst and I avoid them. Even still, the chemical onslaught isn’t ever good for me. Ah yes, I’ve gone from shoveling over a ton of molding sand over my head every day when I was in my twenties working in the incredibly toxic environment of a foundry, to taking a different route through the store to avoid the soap isle and being careful not to do too much. Maybe the chemicals always affected me but I sure notice it more and it takes much longer for me to clear symptoms.
Dealing with Naysayers
I had a recent conversation with a dear friend who suggested that maybe I just needed to stop being so wrapped up in my efforts to get better. My response was to ask him what specifically he was referring to and what data he had to support this position. There’s lots of data to support the contention that biotoxins from mold and other sources is a real problem. Dr. Shoemaker has statistically shown that the body becomes inflamed and that this then leads to all sorts of adverse health effects including brain swelling. With all due respect, I don’t think doing less is going to be effective. My approach of rationally asking people to support thoughtless positions such as “a little mold never hurt anybody” seems to be fairly effective. In other words, I quickly point out the fact that they’re just going off of half-truths while my approach is based upon studies and data.
In truth, I think a part of these types of responses is a mostly unconscious way of saying that my illness makes friends and family uncomfortable. I get it; I wish I wasn’t affected by CIRS. The reason I say this is that out of all my friends and family, only my wife and one friend ever took the time to actually study about this illness and offer up well thought out suggestions. From where I stand, if a person doesn’t have enough initiative to actually spend time learning about what’s going on with me, then I’m sorry, but it’s a waste of my time to listen to their lukewarm conjecture. Wading through the various well-thought out approaches to wellness by people that have spent their lives in the field is hard enough. I don’t have time to make others feel OK by expending more than a sentence or two of effort explaining why what they just said is next to useless. Really, a simple hug would be so much more healing than this type of worthless dribble.
I’ve studied about CIRS, and many other health-related issues, for years. From my perspective, it’s very important to learn the details of this illness. Personally, I think it helps bolster resolve and makes sticking to the protocol easier. It doesn’t hurt that you can also respond to thoughtless comments with questions like “How then would you suggest I raise low MSH (confirmed by lab work) as a result of the leptin receptor sites in the hypothalamus being bound by biotoxins”?
Just prior to the “wheels coming off my wagon”, I was reading all about the banking system and the industrial military complex. I was trying to figure out what the drivers were behind 911. I mean, I’ve traveled the world and worked with less advantaged cultures. Everywhere I went, people were kind and generous. What would drive a group of individuals to such extremes? Asking this question led me into some very deep and dark holes. The blinders are off now. I bank locally. I hope to one day get rid of my credit card. In contrast to the big food and big pharma approach, we’re working with a local organic farmer trying to find ways to restore the soil biology.
Diving deep into some of those rabbit holes along with being incredibly sick really altered my thinking. I have to admit that for I time, I seriously contemplated whether all the ringing and various other noises in my ears along with the relentless anxiety was a result of some agency using hidden weaponry against me. I know this may sound strange but I knew I was being attacked; I just couldn’t figure out from where. When I reflect on this, it sort of makes sense. If you look at EMF influences alone, we’re constantly bombarding ourselves with high frequencies that come from everything from cell towers, to wifi, to baby monitors. If you don’t think irradiating your body with electromagnetic fields that are more than a thousand times higher than ambient levels is a problem, I’d suggest you do a little research. It was a weird and paranoid time.
On top of the external assaults, I now understand that I’ve also had a hidden enemy within for a long time. I can remember the start of night terrors in my early teens. I don’t know how many thousands of times I’ve been attacked and killed in my sleep. I now understand that this was my unconscious playing out the physical struggle I was dealing with in my dreams.
Needless to say, when you’re hit hard by biotoxins, chemicals, and heavy metals, the perpetual assault can make a person a bit cautious even to the point of paranoid. It did me anyway. For example, I’ve always built storm/fallout shelters in all my homes. Not surprisingly, the world never seemed that safe to me. I now realize that CIRS and other toxins have been with me for a very long time shifting my thinking.
Sometimes when I’m in a reflective mood, I weep a bit inside for the little boy that I was. I recall a picture taken when I could scarcely walk. I stood proudly grinning from ear-to-ear with a straw broom in hand. I loved sweeping. I so wanted to bring Love and Light into this world. Excessive lead levels, antibiotic use at a young age, CIRS, and so on have muted my efforts. What could I have achieved if this body hadn’t been so overloaded? What could we all have been if we’d somehow been able to avoid polluting our World?
Learn to Let Go
In the face of it all, I’ve had to learn to let go at a much deeper level. In a way, the world is a mad place. Our species is really very young, especially in terms of the evolution of galaxies. We’ve got a lot to learn about living in balance with our environment. I don’t know if we’ll get it figured out in time. For myself, I need to be OK with this. Otherwise, where is the joy in life?
In so saying, I’m reminded of the character George Malley, played by John Travolta, in the movie Phenomenon. For a time, George struggled with his new found abilities to see the world in novel and more expansive ways. It made him frenetic. One day, while madly hoeing weeds in his garden and struggling to come into balance, he reached deeply in the soil just before his attention was drawn upward at the swaying tops of tall trees in the wind. At that moment, a wave of peace overcame him. He closed is eyes and took a deep breath. We all need to connect with a deeper truth; to make our peace with this existence.
I don’t know why this world works as it does some times, but I believe there is a “method to the madness”. After all, if we didn’t have adversity, what would ever inspire us to be more? From what I can tell, not much seems to happen without an impetus to move. Today, I try to see both small and large insults as gifts; they’re gifts from the standpoint that they’re a call by Life to continue to grow.
I have a much deeper appreciation for what it means to suffer from physical and mental illness as a result of CIRS. It’s made me more compassionate. Furthermore, the connection between aberrant mental states and adverse health is much clearer. It’s NOT all in our heads. Mental states are simply the manifestation of physical health. When we’re healthy, we are peaceful, inspired, and balanced. We slough off stressful events easily and readily re-engage with Life. This is normal; this is healthy. When I see over-reactions of any sort, the first thought that comes up now-a-days is what physically is wrong to produce that behavior.
In addition to being able to better hear where other people are coming from, I’ve learned to pay closer attention to my own internal compass. I don’t care if I’m ever great at anything anymore. I don’t need to conquer the world. I’m learning to drop more and more of the socially insane approach to life of ever greater levels of consumption as a way of being happy. Today, I’m always looking in and asking myself how I feel. What’s going on inside; where am I at physically and emotionally? In so doing, I’m able to catch much sooner when I’m getting out of balance and make adjustments. As a result, it’s more about how Life wants me to move and less about my own smallish desires.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
No one wants to be sick, to suffer. And yet, when you look around, you realize that old age, sickness, and death are a big part of this existence. Given this, I would suggest that it’s better to believe in a paradigm that embraces this reality as opposed to one that tries to push it away. I say this for the simple reason that sooner or later, chances are that adversity is going to show up on your doorstep.
So for example, the rephrasing of one’s position toward adversity from statements like “Why does this always have to happen to me” to “I accept this challenge to bring Love into the World” can make all the difference. I would suggest that instead of saying “No” to Life, stretching to embrace Life more fully is not only a more grown-up approach but is in fact, consistent with our inner nature.
I can tell you from everything I’ve learned in these 50+ years that there are a few very basic truths. From what I can tell, one of them is that people carry the seeds of Love. As such, your “job”, so to speak, is to spread these seeds everywhere Life takes you. If you end up in a physical and mental state that is black and seemingly never-ending, know that being human and present to your situation is in itself a manifestation of Love. Know that when you simply pay attention, when you take a moment to listen and see, when you naturally move in a way to bring about greater peace to your aching body, troublesome relationships, the battered Earth, or whatever the arena, that this is all an expression of your inner God given Love. We’re by design built to carry out God’s Love. Our job is to simply realize this simple truth.
Having said this, I’m guessing that there may be questions related to how harsh behavior fits into this view. After all, is it God’s love when a drug addict breaks into my house and steals what little I have? Is it God’s love when I’m wracked in pain and my mind bounces around in a nearly psychotic manner?
To this I offer these two points. First, as suggested, it just makes good sense to make friends with adversity. Seeing adversity as an opportunity to grow or love is going to bring value to your existence. Second, I can honestly say that I’ve never met anyone that naturally wants to do others harm. By this I mean that we’re built for Love. When we fall short, the question that arises for me is why.
Perhaps the person is loaded up on heavy metals. Perhaps they have a genetic weakness that makes them more susceptible to brain chemistry imbalances induced by chemicals. Perhaps they were beaten as a kid because their parents suffered similarly and, in spite of their best efforts, couldn’t break the vicious cycle of violence in their family line. Who knows? What I do know is that a baby that can scarcely crawl will move on all fours to go pick up and hand back a clothes pin that was accidentally dropped by its Mom. Empathy and helping out are natural; we naturally want to engage this world in a caring way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for bad behavior. What I am saying is that adversity is a part of Life. When it shows up, I would humbly suggest that we have all the tools we need to engage it. Embracing a paradigm that includes this simple truth will make Life worthwhile because we will be engaging it in a way consistent with our inner nature. Each of us has the Love of God within us. Realizing this tendency is as simple as paying attention to what is being shown and finding a way to improve the situation. It’s what we’re built to do. It’s what we’re good at. At a bare minimum, it’s our best shot at being happy.