Meet Our Family
We love our respective families and wouldn't feel complete without displaying them on our website. Family includes Sheldon's children, four grandchildren, and sister, and Ginat's two sisters, nephew and two nieces...
It all started when...
Ginat began practicing macrobiotics in Jerusalem in 1980 following seven years of vegetarian and vegan living in Israel and her native US. By 1982 she had completed all three levels of study at the Kushi Institute, the world’s leading center of macrobiotic studies, located in Brookline, MA. She scribed for health consultations conducted by Michio Kushi, the leading international expert in macrobiotic practice and traveled with the Kushi Institute’s cook referral service to cook and care for clients. She co-owned and managed Satori Natural Foods Restaurant, in Boston, MA during the 1980s. Ginat graduated from the Kushi Institute’s Level IV study program of advanced counselor training in 2002, and holds their certification as Macrobiotic Teacher and Counselor. She is also certified in shiatsu massage therapy, and has practiced palmistry since 2001.
Ginat and Sheldon are frequent contributors to Macrobiotics Today magazine. Ginat has written for Non Credo e-zine, lectured at the Kushi Institute summer conference, the French Meadows Summer Camp in California, the One World Festival in England, the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference and numerous macrobiotic seminars in Israel. She has written a book entitled “Food, Faith and Healing: Forty Macrobiotic Accounts of Faith and Healing” based on three years of research and interviews.
Sheldon discovered macrobiotics in 1984 during a 10-year hiatus in the US after moving to Israel in 1964. He soon realized the effect of fifty years of a standard American diet and lifestyle as his weight plummeted uncontrollably and doctors discovered a tumor between his bladder and spine. Careful macrobiotic practice for many years without medical intervention reversed the condition completely, and today he enjoys full health. Sheldon specializes in numerology, teaching and consulting internationally. He is the author of “Getting to Know You: A Numerology Textbook,” a user friendly and abridged version of a two volume “Numerology: The Complete Guide” by Matthew Oliver Goodwin, and “Personality and Numerology: The Collective Behavior of Peoples from 21 Countries” based on an analysis of over 4000 numerology readings of leaders from each country, seeing them as representative of their nations.
Both Sheldon and Ginat have the particular wisdom that comes with self-healing. They founded the Rice House of Macrobiotic Study as a home-based consulting practice offering a wide range of macrobiotic, numerology, palmistry, shiatsu, and life coaching services. These include health consultations, cooking lessons, and study courses in macrobiotic theory, health diagnosis, shiatsu, and palm healing. They offer a residential experience of macrobiotic living in a comprehensive program of learning and practice. Sheldon offers personal and group numerology readings, and classes in numerology training.
We support the stated mission of the Kushi Institute: “To teach, guide and inspire individuals towards greater personal freedom, health, happiness and peace by using the principles of macrobiotics.” This has been our life goal and passion since the early 1980s, from the time we each discovered the macrobiotic way of life.
Ginat's Cancer Healing Story
“It can’t happen to me.” So I thought when I developed breast cancer in April, 1999. I had been practicing macrobiotics devotedly and guiding others in this way of life for over twenty years, advising people daily how to deal with the illness I now manifested. Imagine my shock when I felt a small lump on my breast. I instinctively felt that it might be a big lesson for me, but I didn’t know how to make it happen.
I consulted with my macrobiotic advisor who saw no reason for concern. When the area began to hurt, I arranged for a medical examination. Palpations and a mammogram proved inconclusive, so my husband and I continued with our macrobiotic lifestyle, thinking it enough to tighten up our practice to a more precise healing diet.
Nine months later a second medical checkup showed a whopping thirty-percent growth in my tumor! An alarmed examining surgeon performed a painful needle biopsy that sent me home in tears. I was surprised that my macrobiotic counselor concurred with his recommendation for immediate surgery. He further recommended chemotherapy for the initial shock it would give my body, but cautioned against the standard protocol of long term drugs such as Tamoxifin. I felt powerless in my slide toward the medical world so foreign to my normal health perspective. I had never been ill before! I could only be grateful for all the years I had enjoyed good health without medical intervention.
In holistic terms cancer results from the stagnation of energy. Amelioration requires time, and the tumor growth was rapid. Shocked and tearful, I agreed to the surgery to help me open up physically until I had time to do so spiritually. I recognized that I was living my life with unresolved relationships, resistance to change and the contradiction of desire, all cases in point.
My mastectomy revealed the cancer to be confined to my breast with no growth beyond the chest cavity. Two lymph nodes were found to be cancerous. I accepted a chemotherapy treatment of four sessions administered at three-week intervals. This procedure of slash and poison was a debilitating experience of dehydration and illness entailing emergency hospitalization with intravenous transfusions three times. The oncologist admitted that he might have overdosed the drugs, so he cut down the individual dosage and added a fifth chemotherapy session. My opposition to the invasive medical treatment was strong, and I was sicker than the horror stories I’d heard from so many well-meaning survivors. It was the lowest point of my life.
I hesitated to reveal my condition to the Jerusalem macrobiotic community, projecting their condemnation of me as if my illness proved macrobiotics a failure. I feared I had let them down. Contrary to my expectations, my illness actually united people. The phone rang constantly, locally and internationally. By week's end our bedroom looked like a flower shop. So many people who we had helped in the past were returning all that they had received and more. Despite the misery of my condition, these personal outpourings of love raised my hopes and frame of mind. Thoughts of gratitude filled my heart as the upside of my cancer became increasingly clear.
With deep self reflection I realized that there are no guarantees in life. I determined to take personal responsibility for my illness and focus on my emotional and mental needs. Even though I was awash in the world of hospitals and doctors, I considered medical intervention as adjunct to true healing. I actively sought programs that would help me release acknowledged anger, impatience and guilt.
I worked with a superb healer between chemotherapy sessions, met with an osteopath specializing in mind-body therapy regularly, and began yoga classes with an inspiring teacher and friend. My stint with the hospital psychiatric services was seemingly less successful—I found the staff psychiatrist to be lacking compassion and personal warmth. But I realized that saying no to him was actually a sign of inner strength. I frequently turned instead for reassurance to a clinical psychologist friend. I joined a prosperity workshop to repair my relationship with money, organized an anger workshop and joined a meditation group. I learned healing visualizations to release resistance. These avenues of spiritual growth eased my anxiety about the cause and cure of my disease.
One of my most rewarding healing experiences involved a workshop based on the teachings of Louise Hay. This ten-session course coincided with my scheduled fourth chemotherapy session. I knew that I could only manage one or the other. The strength and support I garnered from these gatherings set me firmly on the path of recovery. I found it empowering and reassuring to be making changes that could affect my future. The value of my medical treatment and my ability to survive it was becoming doubtful in my mind. Still, I suffered great personal anxiety in the face of heavy medical and family pressure to continue.
Finally I understood that it was up to me. Chemotherapy had jolted my system out of its chaotic growth pattern. Now it was up to me to initiate deeper healing. I made the brave decision to take charge of my own health regardless of protocol, pressure or personal fear. As I discovered the power of my mind I began to love myself more. Little by little the gifts of my illness were beginning to shine through. So many doors had been opened, and I knew now that I was in charge of my life.
In reviewing the story of my illness for this anthology I was delighted to realize the progression in my thinking. Before I got ill I was caught in my belief that diet was the cause and cure of health. This thinking kept me a prisoner of my kitchen, fearful to eat what I wanted. Today I believe that my tumor was created from a place of emotional vulnerability. While food and sentiment are a single continuum, the greater imbalance was on the side of emotion. I had left unresolved a dysfunctional and emotionally abusive personal relationship several years before. Then I married into a family that was still healing its own divorce trauma, living as a bride with my husband and step-daughter whose role as Daddy’s housemate I had usurped. With her I recreated the emotional abuse I had just left behind.
In addition I worked long hours advising people how to recover their health and solve personal issues. I remember a dream in which my students were pushing me up against a wall and I couldn’t escape. My husband and I were realizing that our orthodox religious practice didn’t satisfy our spiritual longing, and took the bold move of adopting a more universal expression of beleif, risking both patronage and friendships. My older sister was recovering from breast cancer, still another spotlight on the big C. All of this added up to a sense of helplessness and lack of control. In fact, anger was my abiding issue—I would erupt with frustration at things that didn’t go my way. It was a position of powerlessness.
I owe a great part of my recovery to Jerry and Esther Hicks and the teachings that they channel through Abraham concerning the law of attraction. I have learned to manifest my desires by allowing and letting in the well-being that abounds universally. With seminars and recordings I have steadily retrained myself to seek positive aspects rather than dwell on the negative. I have been able to see my difficulties as wonderful avenues for joy and freedom.
I finally can understand my dis-ease as a reflection of my life choices and know with confidence that I can command my health. I surrender my arrogance about my invincibility and my magical thinking that it can't happen to me. I realize that I am entitled to be unwell even to the point of serious illness. My empathy for sick people has deepened. Thanks to this experience I have healed deep emotional trauma and resentment that I would never have admitted. I am so grateful for the supportive environment of my loving husband and wonderful friends. Best of all is the wonderful relationship I cherish with my new family, particularly the step-daughter who was such a mirror for my growth. She and I share a closeness that provides me the joy of a mother-daughter relationship, something precious to me. The more I self reflect, the more my spirits rise.
Today, thirteen years after my surgery, I have no symptoms of disease and abundant evidence of well being. My energy is vibrant and my mood upbeat. I am happier than I have ever been and truly grateful for the opportunity to change life patterns. Knowing myself better than ever, I use food, thought, breath and movement to fashion the experiences I desire. I affirm my ability to create my own personal health and happiness. These represent the most profound expression of life and the ones that I treasure most. To the degree that I can conceive health, I am well. To the degree that I can know God, I am whole. I have great gratitude for my experience of illness as a powerful new opening and for radiant health now. I am so grateful for the opportunity to expand my understanding of these issues in writing this story. I can truly say, “Thank God I had breast cancer!”
Ginat's Type 1 Diabetes Story
A Frenchman, a German and a Jew are walking down the street. The Frenchman says, "Je suis verry thersty. I must have some wine." The German counters, "Ich bin sehr thirsty. I must have some beer." The Jew responds, "Oy, am I thirsty. I must have diabetes."
The first time I ever had a major illness was in 1999 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was shocked. I raged, "How can I, a 20 year faithful practitioner of macrobiotics and experienced health counselor and guide, develop cancer?" There was denial, shame, guilt, confusion and fear. It took my writing a book, Food, Faith & Healing: 40 Macrobiotic Accounts of Cancer and Illness to come to terms with being fallible and imperfect.
In 2011 I was faced once again with a diagnosis, this time juvenile diabetes. I had always thought that diabetes is diet-related, and my diet was exemplary after 31 years of macrobiotic practice. I laughed when the doctor told me I had high blood sugar...until she tested me in front of her and showed me the results--a blood glucose level of 444. Normal blood sugar is in the 100s.
My education in diabetes was about to take a quantum leap. I was right that diabetes is almost always diet related. In fact, 95% of all cases diagnosed in the US are due to diet and lifestyle, called Type II diabetes. But my kind of diabetes is called alternately Type I, "insulin dependent," "juvenile diabetes," and possibly "LADA"–Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults–a.k.a. "Type 1.5." That last one is not clear to me as I don’t fit the classic paradigm of a gradual onset of symptoms. Whatever its name, at age 60 my lifestyle took a drastic turn.
Like the joke, I was so tired–I remember sitting down in the middle of a hike and telling my friends I’d wait for them there. I was super thirsty–my mouth was like a cotton ball. I could barely finish a sentence without taking a sip of water. Of course I was peeing all the time since I was drinking so much. I kept losing weight as my body consumed itself looking for energy sources now that glucose was no longer available to the cells. I remember that I couldn’t find a belt small enough to hold up my pants. Who goes to a doctor for getting slim and being thirsty? I thought maybe turning 60 really did mean over the hill. My vision was blurry and my heart raced at times, but I didn’t pay much attention. I suffered painful calf cramps in the morning when I woke up, and severe vaginal itchiness. What saved me was accompanying my husband, Sheldon, to a doctor’s visit for some tightness in his calves when he walked. I mentioned my symptoms and by the next day I was on insulin. It was that fast.
The Mayo Clinic explains the symptoms I had like this:
Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in the bloodstream, fluid is pulled from the tissues. This leaves you thirsty. As a result, you drink — and urinate — more than usual.
Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your cells, your muscles and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers intense hunger that may persist even after you eat. Without insulin, the sugar in your food never reaches your energy-starved tissues.
Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, you may lose weight — sometimes rapidly. Without the energy sugar supplies, your muscle tissues and fat stores may simply shrink.
Fatigue. If your cells are deprived of sugar, you may become tired and irritable.
Blurred vision. If your blood sugar level is too high, fluid may be pulled from your tissues — including the lenses of your eyes. This may affect your ability to focus clearly.
Type 1 is considered an autoimmune disease that cannot be prevented and whose cause is not known. Most researchers believe that the disease develops when a virus or environmental toxin damages the pancreas, causing the body's immune system to attack its own organ in an autoimmune reaction. As a result, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin.
At the end of the summer in 2011 we were moving from two decades of living in Jerusalem to a small apartment in the Carmel mountains along the northern Mediterranean shores of Israel. We were also getting ready for our usual summer trip to teach at the UK OneWorld Festival, an activity we love. In addition, we were hosting two preeminent macrobiotic teachers, Simon Brown and Melanie Brown Waxman, on a teaching tour of Israel. So there was a lot going on, but if there was stress, it was stimulating and exciting.
During the week of our move to the north of Israel, we ate out for the first week while we set up our kitchen. In the UK I went on a week-long macrobiotic dessert binge with a friend who was sampling goodies for a proposed cookbook. This extravagance may not have opened the door to the virus that decimated my pancreas since the symptoms had already manifested, but it also didn’t help. In addition we were passengers in a car accident that summer, another indication of imbalance, but not a cause.
Initially there was a lot of experimentation going on as to what kind of insulin suited me at what dosage. I experienced massive frontal headaches that lasted for months. I could barely move my head without searing pain. I had a chronic low grade fever and accompanying body-ache as I adjusted to the artificial insulin I needed to inject. I’d only feel better for about an hour during and after eating, and then become weak, dizzy and headachy again. When that finally subsided I started to tremble, which, like the headaches, is one of the emergency symptoms of very high blood sugar. This shaking was accompanied by a rapid heart rate where I could hardly catch my breath. I also discovered that even the smallest wound was slow to heal. Not to appear a martyr, but when you’re in the midst of a situation, you deal with it. Eventually the symptoms subsided.
It wasn’t easy to transition from a healthy macrobiotic diet to a low carb regime. After three decades of a grain and bean diet, carbohydrates were now potential minefields of sugar highs and lows. In normal people, the pancreas automatically secretes the right amount of insulin to balance the glucose found in carbohydrates. Diabetics have to do this manually with injections of insulin according to what we estimate that we’ve eaten. I had to learn to measure my food and count my carbs. Christina Pirello, the award winning TV diva of natural foods, was of tremendous help as I stumbled my way through "low carb macrobiotics," an oxymoron to me.
My primary macrobiotic counselor is Michael Rossoff, a gem of a man both intelligent and wise. He told me, "You are the first macrobiotic person I’ve ever met in 40 years of practice who has developed diabetes. For this you must utilize western medicine." Michael explained to me that I get most of my energy now from fats and proteins rather than the sweets found in carbohydrates. He told me the story of a young man during the early days of macrobiotics in America when sweets and desserts were frowned upon. Michael caught this fellow, a type I diabetic, drinking oil from the bottle one night in the kitchen. His energy needs were not being met in any other way. Michael suggested that I have chicken soup, a revolution in my thinking. After so many years of rejecting my mother’s pleas–"For me," she’d say, "Just have a little!" I bought organic chicken, and actually, I found it delicious!
My day was taken over with diabetes care, a full time occupation. I was overwhelmed with the paraphernalia of needles, vials, test strips, injection pens, and blood checking devices. I needed to check my blood sugar numerous times during the day, beginning when I awoke in the morning and continuing throughout the day. Every morning I took a injection of long-lasting insulin called Lantus. I timed myself after each meal to inject units of quick-acting insulin called NovoRapid according to an approximation of how many grams of carbohydrates I’d eaten, an inexact science at best. I injected the insulin in my belly, rotating around at random from one side and area to another. I never would have thought I could do it, but it's surprisingly easy. The needle is short and very thin, so I’d hardly feel it unless I picked too lean a spot on my body. The needle stays in for 5-10 seconds, and it's done. The post-meal injections usually went into my thigh. I got to where I can even do it through my jeans.
Any time I went out I had to carry with me an insulin "pen," needles, test strips to measure my blood sugar, lancets and lancing devices, and two kinds of food in case I experienced low blood sugar–I’d need something sweet to immediately raise my sugar count in a hurry, and some kind of baked flour product to keep it from plummeting afterwards.
Physical exercise is instrumental to helping the body absorb insulin, so I added almost daily visits to the gym to my routine. I experimented with acupuncture, reflexology, shiatsu and Chinese herbs, and saw a dietician regularly along with a naturopath for food supplements. Unfortunately, the health fund dietician never heard of miso and thinks tofu is something akin to marshmallows. I didn’t dare tell her I had hiziki with dried daikon for lunch along with sweet rice and aduki beans. Even though I speak fluent Hebrew, some things just don’t translate.
Luckily I didn't have to give up Twinkies as I haven’t eaten such things since childhood. I tried eating less food more often, eating at set times like clockwork, eating more and eating less. Food habits are not so easy to change, and I found these methods largely inconvenient. At the advice of a friend, I decided to experiment with a diet popularized in the UK for diabetes. It’s something like a modified Atkins’ diet in that there are very few carbohydrates and an emphasis on animal products and non-starchy vegetables (basically avoiding anything orange). I would eat a measured ½ cup of cooked barley or 1 piece of bread for breakfast along with an egg, my usual miso soup and greens. That would be my only carbohydrate for the day. Lunch and dinner rotated among fish, chicken, cheese and soft dairy products. I hadn’t eaten these foods for 30 years.
This regime worked well, and my insulin needs fell to next to nothing. I continued with a minimal dose of the long lasting insulin in the morning, and needed short-acting insulin only rarely. But there were two problems. First, there is something called a honeymoon period for type 1 diabetes when the pancreas is still manufacturing the last bits of insulin before it all gets used up. So I still had these reserves in my body. Second, I missed my macrobiotic food. I was eating so much fish that my husband Sheldon considered building me an aquarium at home. Although the new foods were interesting, I didn’t like eating large quantities of chicken and dairy. I wasn’t even sure how healthy they are in the long run.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was our annual trip to the US for the Taste of Health macrobiotic cruise. Suddenly surrounded by hundreds of macrobiotic friends and counselors so intent on plant-based nutrition, I felt like I was swimming upstream, a traitor to the cause I’d preached for the last 30 years. I wanted to jump overboard before we even set sail. For 7 days I watched the most delicious macrobiotic food being served while I struggled with standard ship fare that I had rejected years ago. I was not a happy sailor.
Travel abroad required me to bring along a glucagon injection set for low blood sugar emergencies, a cold pack in which I can carry my insulin on ice packs, and lots of extra supplies so I don’t run out of anything. Anything can go wrong, and although I’m an "it-won’t-happen-to-me" type, almost everything has. Things break, don’t work, or simply run out. There’s no option of not being prepared. "Insulin dependent" means I have two hours to find a solution.
Eating my own food is tricky enough, but eating out is really an undertaking. If I miscalculate the amount of carbohydrates that I’m eating and consequently take too much insulin, I’ll suffer hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Symptoms are brutal and can come along very quickly. It’s a terrible feeling of trembling and shakiness, weakness, fast heartbeat, anxiety, lightheadedness, insatiable hunger as the body tries to zap up its sugar level. and in extreme cases, cold sweats (it happened to me once). The diabetes clinic gave me some artificial sugar water to carry with me all the time, but I found that small aseptic packs of apple juice or raisins could do the trick. I'm getting more intimate with my body than I ever imagined. If I overcompensate for the hypo with too much sweet taste, my blood sugar level will soar, and I’ll flip into hyperglycemia–too much sugar in the blood.
For example, one time I took a big glass of warm carrot juice before I went to bed, a beverage I had often enjoyed. At night I woke up with numbness in my fingers and a racing heartbeat. It lasted over a half hour, and was scary. I hadn’t realized how much sugar there is in carrots, particularly when juiced, and especially when heated. Now I only drink juices when I need to quickly counter the effects of low blood sugar.
High blood sugar can come about during stressful times or illness, but usually it results from taking too little insulin for the amount of food I’m eating. For example, it’s impossible to know what commercially prepared foods contain hidden sugars, wheat based fillers, starches or corn syrups. Symptoms like thirst, increased urination, or blurred vision usually come on slowly and can go unnoticed until I check my blood sugar with a tester strip and inject more insulin. Long term hyperglycemia effects the kidneys, heart, eyes, but one doesn’t feel much on a day to day basis. There is a blood test called A1C which portrays a three month average of blood sugar levels. It's used to diagnose diabetes and assess treatment. An A1C value of 6.5% or more is a sign of diabetes. So far in the first year and a half of diabetes I have had many hypers- and hypos and my A1C has been 8.7. A serious condition called ketoacidosis can occur when blood sugar is high and there is not enough insulin circulating in the body for an extended period of time. This happened to me once, and I was treated in the emergency room with an intravenous insulin solution and hospitalized. It took four days to regain blood sugar balance.
Last summer I graduated from manual insulin injections to an insulin pump. This is a major improvement in my quality of life. A small box-like device holds an insulin vial, and a mini-computer calculates how much insulin I need for the amount of carbohydrates I estimate that I’m eating. I still have to guess my carb intake, but it eliminates manual injections in my thigh or stomach with each meal. I don’t have to remember to leave the house prepared with an insulin pen in case I decide spontaneously to eat out. The pump is lightly inserted into my stomach or buttocks, connected by a thin tube to the box that sits in my pocket or hangs from my belt. It makes life that much easier.
Still and all, the pump is not foolproof. A lot can go wrong, and much of it has. I had a steep learning curve of the many steps to set it up, change the insertion site and replenish the insulin every 3 to 4 days. I remember on a trip to Belgium arriving late at night and needing to replace a depleted insulin vial. In my fatigue and incompetence I ended up stabbing myself with the insertion needle and bleeding all over the mattress and down the hallway. It was not one of my better moments.
I’m so fortunate to have a continous glucose monitor. This small device inserted into the abdomen alerts me to hyper- and hypoglycemic blood glucose levels. It helps me eliminate the swings in blood sugar that I too often experience by alerting me before they worsen.
I'm blessed with wonderful support. Sheldon and his family offer ongoing compassion, care and love. Sheldon is my rock, an extraordinary support for me in all aspects of my life. Medical care in Israel is accessible and subsidized, rendering the doctors’ bills and equipment costs minimal. It’s a good thing we don't work, because the medical appointments take up a lot of time, and Sheldon comes to every one of them with me. At the beginning I found myself at one doctor or another daily. I’m fortunate to have top quality care in a diabetes clinic with top endocrinologists, nurses, and dietitians who work together to coordinate appropriate care measures.
Thank God for artificial insulin! Less than 100 years ago diabetes was a death sentence. The treatment was a very strict diet with minimum sugar intake. At best, this bought a few extra years. In some cases, the harsh diets even caused starvation. Artificial insulin is one of the all time biggest medical miracles, meriting a Nobel prize in 1923. Although it’s not a cure, as long as I keep getting insulin, I can live an almost normal life.
I’m not alone either. Any club with Mary Tyler Moore in it can’t be all bad. At least I joined at age 60, and not in my preteens, another blessing. All in all, life is sweet.
Sheldon's Healing Story
In the early 1980s the world of health and diet was opened up to me. To supplement our income, my ex-wife and I began distributing health products. My personal lifestyle until that point entailed eating anything and everything even resembling food as long as there was plenty of it. I suffered from Jewish Mother Syndrome: "Eat, eat, if you love me." I was a dutiful child, and I ate. I entered a roller coaster of dieting and bingeing that left me bloated and frustrated. Fortunately, my strong constitution enabled me to escape many of the illnesses of my peers. Aside fromchronic bladder difficulties, I considered myself relatively healthy.
A client sent me an article that described a miraculous recovery of terminal cancer through macrobiotics of Dr Anthony Satillaro. This strange diet had made the difference for him where conventional medicine had failed. I was fascinated as I recalled similar testimonials attributed to nutritional supplements. A connection between cancer and diet seemed logical. However, not having cancer myself, I considered the issue personally irrelevant.
About a year later I responded to a local health food store flyer and tasted my first macrobiotic meal. I fell in love with the food, its effect and the philosophical concept supporting it. Several of the dinner guests made the food preparation sound manageable. Seeking a pastime related to my growing awareness of health, I decided to take up macrobiotic cooking.
I applied myself seriously from the start. At a health consultation with a macrobiotic counselor I was surprised to learn how "yang" I was. It sounded ominous even if I did not understand it. I was informed that most of my digestive organs were malfunctioning—so much for alleged good health. I followed his dietary recommendations closely and noticed physical and mental changes almost immediately. My thinking became clearer and I began to lose weight.
Unexpectedly, my weight loss became rapid and uncontrollable despite chronic overeating. I began discharging foul odors from my mouth and body. My skin color rotated through cycles of brown and yellow. Sexual energy vanished. Instead of feeling discouraged, however, I enjoyed renewed surges of (nonsexual) energy.
In eighteen months my weight plummeted from 175 to 105 pounds. My clothes hung on me like a scarecrow. Friends passing me on the street didn’t recognize me. Along with the weight, my muscular system deteriorated. To climb steps, I had to grab my slacks and dig my elbows into my sides to lift my legs. I could not pick up my eight year-old daughter.
I had great pain and difficulty urinating and ultimately became incontinent. I had to wear diapers to bed. I developed deep tingling sensations on my left side. Two toes on my left foot turned black, and urination became nearly impossible. I finally agreed to consult a doctor. He immediately hospitalized me when he determined that my bladder was about five times its normal size. The surgeon ordered routine diagnostic tests before operating. A CAT scan showed a deep-seated growth between my bladder and spine. Michio Kushi, as well as my macrobiotic counselor and an oncologist who later saw my scans confirmed that the growth was malignant. Michio later affirmed that the cancer may well have spread significantly had I not made serious dietary changes when I did.
The scheduled biopsy and probable chemotherapy treatment frightened me more than death itself. The morning before my scheduled biopsy, I discharged myself from the hospital. I was confident that I would cure myself without allopathic interference. Thus began my long hard road to recovery with macrobiotics. I did not disclose the nature of my illness to my mother, sister or any of my three daughters. It was the only way to avoid their unwanted pity and well-meaning pressure to seek the conventional medical treatment that I abandoned.
During the following four years I prepared all my own food with little family support. Fortunately my job entailed little stress, leaving me the time I needed to focus on my healing. Unfortunately, my wife and I clashed openly over my macrobiotic habits and their "negative" influence on our kids.
I underwent regular shiatsu treatments in Manhattan. My Japanese therapist encouraged me, adjusted my diet and explained the many bodily transitions taking place. I discharged sugar for about a year and a half—longer than she had ever seen—with ugly wart-like discolorations on the back of my hands and forearms. I was nearly deaf for weeks until accumulated mucus slowly drained out of my head. For over a year the skin on my hands was dry and cracked around the nails and joints. The resulting infections took months to heal. Worst of all was the cold that racked my body, particularly my hands and feet. I couldn’t bear air-conditioning, something hard to avoid in the summer.
In 1990 I separated from my wife and relocated to Jerusalem. I had a final CAT scan before I left the United States that confirmed what I already knew—I was well. The tumor was completely gone. I soon regained enough weight to look and feel human again. About seven years into my macrobiotic practice I went through a spiritual awakening that lifted me to levels of joy and peace I never knew possible. I was able to put aside all the anger and pain of my unhappy childhood and marriage, and approach higher levels of consciousness in my daily life. Today my understanding of health revolves around the smooth flow of energy without resistance, the joy of being surrounded by a loving spouse, and children, and the knowing that all is well.