Wednesday, December 28, 2016

5 Months (154 Days)

I wouldn't say it was a tough decision, but maybe a necessary one.

I ate some "real" food.  On Christmas.  It wasn't much, just mashed potatoes, turnip, and squash (not really solid); but I knew if I kept this going, I would have eventually reached my pre-Crohn's diagnosis skin and bones body.

I had tried some soup a few times leading up to Christmas, and my body was very thankful.  I'm not sure if it was a physical response or mental celebration for something other than a smoothie, but I took it as my body telling me it was ready to reintroduce food into my life.

The weird thing is, after I ate on Christmas, I didn't really feel any better.  Still (like I hope I've been since July) the same Dave being Dave.  I've had some scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, and french fries since Christmas, and again I didn't get the "Oh my God how did I go 154 days without you?" feeling.

Weird that I enjoyed the soup more than the food, or maybe that's my Crohnsy intestines telling me they prefer something in liquid form.

The other weird thing is that after eating these real foods, I've needed a nap.

So, I'm not sure how often or what form this eating will take in the future, but I'm getting ready to hit the road in February and want to be physically and mentally ready - guessing a more "regular" diet will help me get there, but I will see in the coming weeks how my body reacts to the transition, and if I decide to transition back to all liquid.

I, like many, would have bet that this strike didn't change the world, but to me it wasn't just about that.

It was about making a statement and doing something (instead of nothing) about the state of the world.  It was to show people that you can do whatever you put your mind to.  Food doesn't really (and shouldn't really) be a source of happiness - there are so many other ways to be happy that don't involve stuffing your face.  So many told me "I could never do that." - Well, if you think that, you are correct.

I know it's a cliche, but the "If you say you can or you say you can't, you are right." is so true.

I know I could have gone a full year with this, I chose not to for a few reasons.  And I'm not dismissing the future choice of going back on it.

Thanks for following, there will be more at some point...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thanksgiving, 4+Months, Love Boat Captain

I've been doing this for over 4 months now.

I started it because I wanted to make a statement, I like pushing my limits, and I like showing people that you can do whatever you put your mind to.

I realize it doesn't make sense to a lot of people (How does what your doing change anything, why are you punishing yourself, are you still doing that "thing"?), but I think those are the people who limit themselves with statements like, "Oh, I could never do that" or "I could never give up...".  Yes.  Yes, you can.

I went to see my Crohn's GI doctor on Election Day, and found out I've lost a little over 20 pounds.  Not too surprising, but I know if I adjust my intake, I can get some of that back.  My intestines are loving this, even though I'm definitely napping more than usual (fatigue is a common Crohn's symptom).  My doctor was as supportive as he can be, and was very sympathetic to my job/housing situation. I was just glad he didn't say "I think you need to stop immediately".

At Thanksgiving, I was seated at a table with my younger sister and cousin.  They both were making jokes about my empty plate, which was exactly what I needed...I'm not sure how many people even noticed, but I made it through without a single mashed potato.

I thought since the theme of this blog is Peace and yesterday was the anniversary of John Lennon's murder, I would share this Pearl Jam song, which references the Beatles' All You Need Is Love.  Love, the opposite of war and violence.  The solution to every problem if it spreads everywhere.

"Once you hold the hand of Love, it's all surmountable..." -Love Boat Captain

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Day 100

Yesterday, I made it through my 100th day of this protest/experiment.
It was a weird day with proud, happy, fun, and sad all rolled into one, but I made it through.
I started the day speaking for 15-40 at a Tufts Health office.  I love being around other cancer survivors, and feel so lucky when we get to share our experiences while also teaching others the lessons we learned along the way.  So powerful, so empowering.  It actually gives me a reason why I have Crohn's and had brain cancer.
Then I met my friend E at the Nu Cafe in Worcester and had a "Muscle Machine" smoothie with Cacao , peanut butter, bananas, milk, flax seed, and whey protein.  Very yummy and had a fun time hanging out with E.
Work was the not fun part of my day because I got some bad news.  Will go public with what it was at some point, but I will just say it shocked me and I'm still reeling from it.
Luckily for me, after she had dinner with her brother, E was able to come over and cheer me up.  Thanks E, you're the best!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Day 75: Hockey, Insects, and Star Wars

Since I started doing this, people have been asking me how long I plan to continue my strike.  I tell them my goal is at least one year, but I really want to make it three.  It pales in comparison to being force fed for 16 years, but to me it represents the amount of time Viktor Frankl was in Nazi concentration camps.
These 75 days have been tough at times.  Last weekend, at my Father's 70th/Brother's 40th/Surprise Birthday Party, there was food in every nook and cranny of my Aunt's place.  It all looked and smelled really good, and my aunt asked me if I was going to "cheat" just for the party, or put some of the vegan cake in a blender. She laughed as I assured her I was going to stay on my liquid diet.  I came with a Naked juice and two Vitamin Waters, but ended up really partying it up and drinking two Cokes.  My uncle said he could tell I had lost weight, and I told him I agreed but didn't know how much because I stupidly didn't weigh myself before I started.
Just as challenging as being around all that delicious food, playing hockey is getting more difficult each week.  I've noticed my stamina during play has declined and when I get back to my apartment after I am crashing harder and longer.  I'm still enjoying playing though, and have no plans of stopping anytime soon.  I have an appointment with my Crohn's doctor coming up (also something I should have planned earlier), and I'm hoping blood work will help us figure out how I can get more energy for hockey. 
Even before I started this strike in late July, I began an experiment to be more peaceful this summer.  I've been vegetarian for over five years now, but never thought twice about killing a fly, mosquito, bee, or any "pest" flying in my general area.  I wanted to see if changing my behavior towards insects impacted how they reacted to me, and I think it worked.  I know I've probably involuntarily killed some insects by driving in my car, but all summer long I didn't purposely kill any insects.  Believe it or not, they left me alone too.  It makes sense to me, though, because if I am projecting a peaceful energy towards a living thing, regardless of their intellect, I think they can pick up on it.  When I told my uncle about this, he thought I was crazy and should "keep it to myself", but I had only one mosquito bite all summer and it made me a believer.
I do think everything in the universe is connected, no matter how massive or insignificant.  People think that the earth is huge and so important, but in the grand scheme of the universe, it is nothing but a pale blue dot (see Carl Sagan video).  The idea of everything being connected first came to me through Star Wars and The Force, and people think I'm nuts to tell them (aside from moving things with your mind) The Force is real.  Everything on earth, and everything in the universe is connected. There are forces of good and forces of evil, acts of love and acts of hate, and everything in between.
I love Star Wars, and over the years had amassed quite a collection of figures, t-shirts, and other collectibles.  To me, it was proof of my love.
When I started my t-shirt blog, I realized that it wasn't all these Star Wars "things" that made me happy.  What made me happy was watching, quoting, and talking about Star Wars with my friends and family. So, I sold my just about all of my Star Wars things to raise money for the first Skating for Hope. Now, my collection is down to 3 figures: Lando, Vader, and The Emperor.  Soon it will be down to two because I am giving one away tonight.  I've never met this person, but she is a huge Star Wars fan and I want to make sure it goes to someone who will appreciate it.  May The Force be with you...always.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dear Potatoes, I Miss You...

57 days in now, and I'm really missing potatoes.  Potatoes fill me up, are good with my Crohn's, and taste as good as whatever crap you put on top of them (ketchup and sour cream is what I usually go with for fries or baked).

I was wondering if I could make a smoothie with potatoes that would mimic the taste of french fries.

I didn't find any recipes online, but I did find this one for a sweet potato and banana smoothie:

Very easy to make (I microwaved the potatoes), and tastes really good!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Day 50: Questions, Kaepernick, Cravings, Restaurants, Relationships

I'm 50 days in without any solid food, and I feel good.  I won't say great because I'm still napping more than usual (fatigue is a common symptom of Crohn's Disease), but other than that my Crohn's has been the best it has ever been.

Some questions that have come up along the way:
How long do you plan on doing this?  
I've answered this question differently. Sometimes I say I'll stop when it stops being fun, sometimes I say I'll stop when I can't play hockey anymore.  Viktor Frankl is one of my heroes, and he was in a concentration camp for 3 years, so part of me wants to do this for three years.  The real answer is I don't know, but I will know when I'm ready...If world peace happens tomorrow, I will stop tomorrow.
What do you miss the most?
My friend Matt asked me this one and he laughed when without hesitation I told him Five Guys fries.  I know that might seem a bit ridiculous, but I freakin' love french fries and right now Five Guys are my favorite...they must be wondering if something happened to me because I would go in at least twice a week.
Why are you doing this/isn't there a better way?
I know "fasting" or giving up solid food on the surface might seem to have nothing to do with promoting world peace.  Each news story about violence sickened me more and more, and I knew I had to do something...and something told me to do this.  I can't really explain it other than that.  It feels right to me, so I'm doing it as long as I can.  At the very least, it has opened up conversations with people in my life, and short of world peace happening, to me that means I'm doing something...

Which brings me to Colin Kaepernick. So many have criticized him for his anthem protest for many reasons, but I'm behind him.  I get it.  He is using his position to make a statement, and I applaud him for that.  Does not standing change a thing about the way some African Americans are being treated? No.  But, it opens up a conversation about the current situation for many people in this country.  And it celebrates our freedom to make such statements.  I will say that I think his police/pig socks are crap and need to go.  They do not help the situation at all.  Are some cops dicks? Of course.  But you can say that about any job/group of people.  There are monsters who are Catholic priests, there are teachers who are fucking assholes, and there are even people who work in non-profit that are jerks (trust me).  Focus on the good people, Colin...The great cops far outnumber the bad ones.  

Cravings have come on stronger the deeper I've gone with this.  I've been to Casa Vallarta a couple times with friends and not having any chips and salsa was pretty friggin' hard.  The staff there is great and don't give me a hard time for not ordering anything, which I appreciate...maybe one of these days I will tell them that it has nothing to do with their food.  What I usually say is I already ate and I'm just there to keep my friend company...they smile as they give me an O'Doul's.  If you live in central Mass and like Mexican food, I highly recommend this place.

Most of my relationships have not been effected by my strike on solid food.  My older sister has been my biggest supporter, and I can't thank her enough for helping me make sure I'm still getting nutrients.  Anytime I see her on the weekends, she makes me an awesome breakfast smoothie, and she makes sure I have a steady supply of protein powder.  

What I'll never understand is why anyone would let someone's diet choice interfere with their friendship/interactions.  I've been vegetarian for five years now, but that's my personal choice and I don't let it effect my relationships with all of the omnivores in my life.  The second you think your way is "the way" (whether you're talking about diet, religion, politics), you are creating a divide, killing conversation, and putting others down. I like watching  Joe Rogan's JRE podcasts, and recently he had Chris Kresser on to talk about diets.  Even though Joe has made fun of vegans (see below, it's hilarious), he made it a point to ask Chris about supplements vegans could look into to make sure they are getting all of the essential nutrients that plant-based diets might lack (see this JRE #842 here). My friends make fun of my vegetarian diet (and now my liquid diet), but we don't let it get in the way of having a good time.  Funny is funny, even if that humor is pointed at your beliefs / decisions.  I would love to be a guest on JRE, I wonder if Joe would be up for a 24-hour podcast episode?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

One Month In: Positives and Negatives

It has been one month since I started this hunger strike and although I would say it has been a positive experience for me overall, there have been some drawbacks.

1. I feel healthy, and have lost a little weight.
2. I'm paying  more attention to what I'm putting in my body, especially protein.
3. It has started conversations with people that wouldn't have started before.
4. I am now aware of who my true friends are.
5. My sleep has been more sound.
6. It has reaffirmed my belief that if you put your mind to something (any diet, project, idea) you can accomplish it.
7. It has helped me keep my Crohn's Disease in check even more than usual.
8. I have felt strong each time I face temptation to eat when I see/smell something that looks/smells delicious, especially when groups make dinner for Hope Lodge.
9. I'm not spending as much money on food.
10. I have still been able to have fun spending time with friends including: Spending two different weekends on The Cape, seeing Pearl Jam at both Fenway shows, walking around Boston College, going on a harbor cruise, and to a Red Sox/ Yankees game with an old BC friend (and one of my favorite people), going to Burlington, VT and playing in a 32-team wiffle ball tournament - finally beating my brother's team (although later eliminated in the playoffs against my brother's team), and laughing non-stop when I went to see Sausage Party.
11. Have been able to fulfill all my Hope Lodge duties.

1. Mentioned in the last post, someone I was close to told me "I just can't watch you wither away" and has chosen to stop talking to me. This hurts, but also makes me realize each time this person said "I love you", they were just words.
2. My recovery time from playing hockey is longer including post-exercise naps.
3. Facing daily temptation has been difficult at times.
4. Feelings that I am being judged for what I put in my body, while I've never done that to others and don't want to, until they question me. (Conversations have gone something like this: Person to me: You need to eat real food / get protein / stop this. Me: Are you still eating meat? Person: Yeah. Me: I think that's wrong, so until you're going to stop that, please back off.)
5. There is still violence and war going on worldwide. Sad, but I still plan on doing this for at least another month.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Day 19: Awkwardness and Support

I'm almost at the end of my third week without eating any solid food, and physically I feel great.  I actually think what I'm putting in my body is better now than when I was just eating whatever without really thinking about it.  

The most difficult part so far has been the emotional aspect of it.  In the beginning, I had concerned family and friends wanting to make sure I was okay.  I still have friends who disagree with what I'm doing, and some of them still support me while others have said they can't deal with it and have stopped talking to me.

The awkwardness has entered when I've met up with friends at restaurants.  They've all ordered meals, and I've sat there and had a drink while they eat. Some friends feel "weird" about this, some don't care, some try to be up in my face about how delicious the food is, and some just make fun of me (which I think is my favorite option and probably what I'd be doing if I had a friend in a similar situation).

Last week at breakfast, one of my friends decided to announce to our waitress before she ordered that, "He's not eating, but I'm going to have...".  I think it was her way of making fun of me and letting everyone in our vicinity know I wasn't eating.  

At dinner last night before the Red Sox game, my friend and I went to a Mexican place near Fenway.  They brought out chips and salsa before we even ordered drinks, as many Mexican restaurants will do.  After getting our drinks my friend ordered her burrito, and I told our waiter I wasn't having anything.  He then told us that the chips only came as part of ordering a main dish, and I told him I had no problem paying for the chips and salsa...which they didn't end up not putting on our bill anyway.  

One of my friends told me about a woman who just ended her 16-year long hunger strike.  She was arrested after tarting her protest, being force fed through tubes, and stopped after a judge granted her release.  While I admire and am inspired by her strength and determination, I don't see myself as keeping this up for that long or even to the point of being force fed.  

Like I've told everyone who asks me about this, I live to test my limits.  I love pushing my body and mind and seeing what both are capable of.  As soon as I feel this hunger strike is getting in the way of my health and/or happiness, I will stop.  I believe that day is at the very least months away, but we will see.  

Thank you to all who have supported me, talked to me about this, and opened up conversations that wouldn't have happened had I not decided to take this journey.  

(More on my week with Pearl Jam at Fenway and Red Sox / Yankees later)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Day Ten: Masters of War

One of my favorite anti-war songs:

Pearl Jam Masters of War on Letterman (I thought it was just Eddie when I first saw?)

Original Dylan:
Yeah, fuck war.

Monday, August 1, 2016

One Week In

It has been a week since I ate any solid food, and the reactions I have received, for the most part, have been similar.

The first is usually asking me if I am serious, or "Are you really not eating?"

The second has been "You know World Peace is impossible, right?", or some variation of that, to which I respond, if that's what you think, then you are correct.  I believe it is, and if enough people believe it is, things will change.  Good or bad, things that we bring into reality start with ideas, and I think world peace is the best idea.

Some have asked me why I don't pick a "smaller" or "easier" thing to hunger strike for (such as gun violence in the US), but if you know me you know I'd rather take a stand against the biggest and baddest (see also: cancer).

Others have suggested organizations I might want to contact, such as The Elders that I wrote about before or this weekend the Peace Corps was mentioned to me.

It's been a little awkward at times (at work or with friends) this past week when people are all sitting down eating a meal and I don't join them, but I think that will lessen with time.

Regardless of reactions, my hunger strike has started conversations with family and friends that weren't there before and will challenge my conceptions of what I actually need to be happy and know I'm doing something to make a difference or shed light on an issue I feel passionate about.

I don't know how long I will keep this up or to what extent I will lessen my calorie intake, but I know this for sure: I love testing my limits and at the same time I will know when it is time to stop - my body will tell me, and I will listen (most likely when I can't play hockey anymore).

Thank you to my sister Carolyn and friend Gina who have helped with powders to make sure I'm getting enough protein!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 3: Hockey

I was contemplating whether or not I should play hockey today, because most of the research I've done on hunger strikes says you should limit the amount of physical activity.

But, I figured if there was any time during this strike to play, it would be during the first week.
So, I skipped my usual pre-hockey skate, and played.

I didn't really notice any difference in my energy level until about an hour in, and at 1:00, my body told me that was my last shift.

When I got back from the rink I actually felt better than I had the first two days of this, but I crashed pretty hard and took a nice nap before work.

I'm hoping I can continue playing hockey throughout this strike, but will listen to my body and stop when I know it's time (seeing stars when I'm skating is usually my first clue).

Today: Coffee, Gatorade (mostly during hockey), Ensure, Half V8 Fusion, Water, Coffee 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day 2, Sorry If I Wasn't Specific Enough

If my video upset you, good.  The world upsets me, and I wanted to capture that.

But, I wasn't specific enough with how I am carrying out this hunger strike.  I am not simply just drinking water right now.  I want this to go on as long as it can (or world peace is achieved), so I have thought about it and planned it out.

I am no longer eating any solid food.  Yesterday, I had a Snickers latte from NU Cafe, and a bottle of V8 Fusion.  Today, I'm almost finished with a smoothie from NU that has protein in it.  I am not simply starving myself.  

Not surprisingly, my family told me they were worried about me.  My uncle came to visit last night, and told me about Dick Gregory, who went on several hunger strikes himself (he's 83 now).  Today, my sister came to visit me because she wanted to see me and give me a hug (I think the total was 8 before she left).  I assured her that I wasn't planning on going anywhere, and that I was making sure I got what I needed without solid food. Like every other idea or project I had, she told me she was going to support it (this one by getting me some protein powder, for one).  My aunt came along with her for the ride, so I gave her about 4 hugs as my sister left.    

I am so lucky to have family that loves me and supports me no matter what I decide to do, while also being honest with me about their feelings. I love you all. 

Peace, everyone.