It wasn’t an easy decision to cancel two 2012 Harvest Festivals, Las Vegas and Ventura due to my less than perfect health. Kathryn and I have exhibited at almost every Harvest Festival for over 28 years! When I had cancer surgery in 2001, I missed the Harvest Festival that weekend, but was back at the show, stitches and all the next weekend.
We will miss our customers and friends in Las Vegas and Ventura, but hope you come to those shows to see all the other wonderful exhibitors. And, perhaps you can come to one of the other Harvest Festivals.
Exhibiting in those two environments would aggravate my conditions, putting other shows at risk.
And, it wasn’t an easy decision to announce that this year will likely be our last year at the Harvest Festivals. But, I have to put more of my focus on healing myself in 2013. Uncovering the source of my ill health and resolving it, plus preparing for and exhibiting at the 2013 Harvest Festivals is more than I can realistically do. For the past 10 months, I have spent almost half my time searching for the cause and the solution to regain my normal health.
You all, customers and friends are like family. We have seen some of you when you were little girls and your mothers bought you your first earring, one of our earwraps. And now, you are mothers yourselves, bringing your daughters for theirs. Thank you! We will truly miss you.
When we are young, we think we will live in good health, forever. Age creeps up on us and one day, we realize we are not immortal and those temporary aches and pains have now found a permanent lodging in our body.
I have always considered myself to be extremely fit and healthy, especially for my age. So, when I am less than that, I am not happy about it. I have always had great balance. I skate boarded and roller skated up and down the amazingly steep San Francisco hills with no problem at all. In fact, Kathryn’s and my first date involved me chasing her all over San Francisco on roller skates and her teaching me how to skate down those hills BACKWARDS!!! Yes, backwards… she learned how to do that from a master skater and she showed me… WOW did heads turn when we whizzed by!
So, it was a huge surprise and disappointment for me when, my sense of balance failed me in the first third of the 2011 Harvest Festival season with shows 9 to 10 hours per day, four days a week almost every week. I dealt with it, very few people noticed, since I was adept at recovering from starting to fall, having done that for so many years as a skate boarder and roller skater. After all, skate boarding and roller skating are really just a controlled form of falling. You go off balance and you recover, over and over.
What happened? On October 8, 2011, I awoke with a start, sat up in bed and the entire room appeared to be spinning. I felt as if I had a gyroscope in my head, so when I attempted to stand up, my head went one way and my body another. I felt weak. Was it a stroke? a heart attack? Kathryn called the Fire Department and an ambulance took me to the Emergency Room, where I was told it was Vertigo. I spent the night being observed and by next morning, the Vertigo was gone. I was released without the Vertigo, but with an off balance gait, an imbalance, somewhat like a mildly drunken sailor. Disconcerting to say the least, but not insurmountable.
It was the Harvest Festival season and I am a trooper, the show must go on and so, I put on a smile… “It’s show time!” I felt the imbalance the most when setting up and breaking down our display for each show. I had always jumped around like a monkey on our displays to set up the lighting and the photos. Now, I was slowly kneeling and climbing, holding tight to a support pole, so I wouldn’t tumble four feet to the concrete floor.
I also felt the imbalance when trying to walk through the crowded aisles at the Harvest Festivals. It took a huge effort on my part to not bump into people, like an out of control bumper car.
I have always been up for a challenge and at T. Harv Eker’s “Enlightened Warrior Training Camp”, I learned the warrior’s credo, “Bring it on!” to any challenge, so, after the shows ended in early December, I dove into the process of seeing one doctor after another after another trying to determine the cause of the imbalance and how to alleviate it.
None could determine the cause, in spite of poking prodding, blood and urine tests, MRI’s CT scans, X-Rays, etc. I was on a mission to find out the cause and eliminate it. I had to, not just for my sense of who I am as fit and healthy, but also because in February of 2012, I was planning on Stand Up Paddle Boarding while at our home away from home on Maui. I would need my balance back to do that!
In early 2011, I was running and jumping in a Parkour class and keeping up with 20 to 30 year olds. I was darn proud of myself, especially since I was 65 at the time. And now in early 2012 it is very different. I am just now beginning to come to terms with becoming eligible for and receiving Social Security and Medicare. OMG… I never considered that!
At my age, in tribal societies, I would have the title of Elder, which sounds so much more dignified and respectful than Senior Citizen.
In trying to tease out what was causing this imbalance, before I left for Maui, in February, I ordered a panel of blood tests from the Life Extension Institute. It was a wider range of tests than my insurance cost conscious doctor would order. When the test results came in, something else was amiss…
I had “way off the charts” inflammatory markers. My immune system was acting as if I had some really bad infection. Further testing determined that wasn’t the case. My immune system was attacking me. What was it like? My joints ached so bad, I could barely get out of bed to have Kathryn take me to the doctor. Every night, I was having fevers… 102 to 103, then chills. I would lay on the couch with wet face cloths and towels that we put in the freezer to bring down the fever so I could sleep. I couldn’t eat much, just drank a lot of iced fluids.
The doctor prescribed a Cortico-steroid to suppress the inflammatory immune response. It worked, but by the time it did, I had lost 18 pounds. Since I am usually around 125 lbs, an 18 pound loss was severe. And since I had almost no fat on my body, the loss was muscle, mostly in my legs. I became even weaker, in addition to my imbalance.
In prior visits to our home away from home, we usually walked our beach, (it’s not really ours, it’s a public beach, but we walk it as if it were ours) twice a day. Once just after Sunrise and once just before Sunset. It’s an over two mile walk, so we would walk four miles a day at the most beautiful and colorful times of the day.
This year, however, I could barely walk a mile a day and that only with a lot of pain.
As I mentioned, I am not one to walk away from a challenge and even if I wanted to, this was one I couldn’t walk away from, literally!
Since the doctors couldn’t tell me what was causing the imbalance and the inflammation, I searched online for possible answers. What was supposed to be a fun and adventurous vacation punctuated with some design and other work time had turned in to puzzle to solve. In spite of the beautiful location right on the beach, at times I felt like a convalescent in a nursing home.
Looking in the mirror was a shock. Over a few weeks, it looked like I had aged 10 years!
Insurance covered most of the costs, but I personally have spent over $15,000 on traditional and alternative diagnostics and treatments. And, now, 10 months later, the imbalance and the inflammatory response persists and in spite of seeing more than eleven medical doctors, both specialists and general practitioners, several chiropractors, and seven alternative health practitioners, I am only slightly closer to understanding the cause or the remedy. In spite of CT’s MRI’s, blood tests, etc., I and the doctors only have an idea of what it wasn’t. It wasn’t a stroke, it likely wasn’t due to a bacterial infection.
I know many people have far worse ailments than I have. I have developed a deeper understanding and compassion for them through my facing my challenges.
I am in what is called “The Third Age”. “The First Age” is about acquiring knowledge. “The Second Age” is about acquiring wealth and material goods with the knowledge learned in The First Age. The Third Age is about acquiring wisdom and knowledge of the self. When one is no longer occupied with acquiring material goods, one can pause and ask oneself, WHY?
I am better than I was earlier this year. A combination of non-traditional treatments have led to the improvements, but I still have a long way to go. A good part of the treatment involves multiple natural supplements and a very specific mostly raw green diet, three times a day. Very challenging when on the road at the Harvest Festival. But as I said, before, I am up to challenges, so… “bring it on!”
I look forward to seeing you this year at the Harvest Festivals! Click here for the Harvest Festival Schedule and Discount Coupons. Don’t worry, I won’t look sickly. I actually feel pretty good. It’s just that I don’t think I have the endurance or the stamina I had in the past for the four long days and nights.
In 2013, I hope you will visit us online and in San Francisco at our PIER 39 store.
It is my intention to get fit and healthy again! —Harry
to be continued…