How A 3-Day Juice Cleanse Landed Me in the ER.

After eating a dozen cookies and having a conversation with my friend about eating the dozen cookies, she gave me the “great” idea to go on a juice cleanse. Unbeknownst to me, when most people say they’re detoxing, they usually mean only for a day. I honestly think it was an adverse effect from being all sugared up and under quarantine for so long, because nothing else could explain why I was so excited to starve myself for three days. In actuality, I’ve been wanting to try a juice cleanse for years, but I didn’t have the patience to keep cleaning a juicer and I didn’t have the funds to spend on something so frivolous.

Alas, these are weird times and I forked up the money to buy a 3-day juice cleanse from a local SF company. I figured it would be easier under SIP since I didn’t have the temptations of eating out or free snacks and lunch at work. I looked up side effects of a juice cleanse just to be safe, and felt like I could handle the headaches and feeling hungry. I chose the Classic Cleanse, which comes with the following juices at the following times. This is what Day 1 looked like:

8:00am Lemon Ginger Juice: Tastes like the lemon, ginger, turmeric water I used to make in the mornings
9:00am Green Juice: One of the better green juices I had, but still green juice
10:30am Nettle Tea: Not bad, but the color was an off putting dark green/black
12:30pm Carrot Ginger Soup: I opened up my fridge excited for this bland carrot soup, because it almost felt like I was about to eat real food. Before closing the fridge, I looked at the eggs, veggies, cheese, fruits and various other solid foods inside and in a singsongy voice said, “I’ll see you all soon my pretties!” It was about this time that I started to feel fatigue.
2:30pm Grapefruit Mint Juice: This was delicious! I could easily drink it on a hot day while tanning on my lawn next to my pool that doesn’t exist. The fatigue hit harder, and I decided to take a nap. I rarely take afternoon naps, not even when I’ve only slept for four hours.
5:00pm Green Juice: Again, not too bad. However, I started feeling extremely fatigue and my headache was turning into a migraine. I started to watch Contagion on Hulu, but my head was pounding and I started feeling nauseous, so I laid in bed instead.
7:00pm Cardamom Almond Milk: I was really looking forward to this one since Rach said it was delicious, and it was. Too bad I threw it all up shortly after. In between the green juice and almond milk, I started having the BGs, chills, and threw up several times. I felt like I was hungover with a migraine and food poisoning. I felt so weak, I drank the almond milk on my bedroom floor.
8:00pm Chamomile Ginger Tea: I managed to move from the floor at the foot of my bed, to the floor next to my nightstand where I could only drink half of Juice 8 before running to the bathroom once more. I fell asleep soon after.

Day 2 was thankfully better. No throwing up, but it still felt like someone was punching my brain behind my eyeball. I took a sick day, but continued the cleanse with caution – I ate a piece of toast for breakfast and then ate a handful of nuts throughout the day. For dinner I added a shake.

It’s Day 4 now, and I’m typing this fresh out the ER. On Day 3 of the cleanse I drank up to juice 4 and couldn’t stand to look at my laptop screen. My never ending migraine seemed to have increased in intensity, and I went to bed around 5pm with the chills. My temperature was 100.4°. Thirty minutes later it rose to 101.4°, so I took some Tylenol and went to sleep. When I woke up, I had a heavy 0-1feeling right below the middle of my chest and above my stomach. It didn’t hurt, but it was a bloated feeling and extremely uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel right. I got up to go to the bathroom, and a wave of nausea, cold, sweat, and pins and needles came over me. I’ve had food poisoning before and this wasn’t it. I pooped, and it was solid but very small. I threw up, but nothing really came out and when I got up to rinse my mouth, I felt the wave again. I must’ve passed out, because the next thing I remembered was being on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor. I got up to throw up again, and the same thing happened. This time, I landed butt first (I only know this, because my left ass cheek is still a little sore) and then on my back. I started hyperventilating and I couldn’t feel my hands or feet. I yelled for my boyfriend who was in the living room, but when my hands started to cramp up (think of how someone looks when they’re having a seizure) I asked him to call an ambulance. 

I spent the next 17 hours in the hospital, during which my fever peaked at 104°. They ran several tests on me including one for Covid (Negative btw, and the swab test wasn’t so bad. Just made me want to sneeze). Everything was fine, but they ran a CT scan and saw I had an inflamed gallbladder. They diagnosed me with acute cholecystitis and said I needed to have surgery that same day to get it removed. WHAT THE FUCK? I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR SURGERY. I thought they were just going to pump me with fluids and let me go home. I’d never had surgery before and even though this was a simple one, I was terrified especially since no one else was allowed to be there with me (thanks ‘Rona).

Luckily, they ordered me an ultrasound first to check for gallstones. Oddly to everyone, it came back not only negative for gallstones, but negative for inflammation as well. At the same time I was getting my ultrasound, the OR called to admit me into surgery. Had I not gotten the ultrasound, I’d be sans a gallbladder and still in the hospital right now. Both the surgeon specialist and ER doctor couldn’t figure out what happened. I wasn’t in pain, had no blood in my urine, or abnormal discharge, which trumped all of their other prognoses. Since they couldn’t determine the reason why I had such a high fever, the doctor didn’t feel comfortable releasing me, and wanted to keep me under observation for the next 12 hours. Since I was feeling no pain and my fever had gone down, I chose to go home, which is where I’m typing from right now. 

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So what the fuck actually happened? I think it was either a) a bad batch of juice or b) my body had an extreme reaction to a hardcore juice cleanse. I found it weird that no one that worked at the hospital seemed to think the juice cleanse had anything to do with it. I was completely fine prior and almost immediately felt sick as soon as I started it. I even read about other people who’ve had similar negative experiences, which is the reason I continued the cleanse against my better judgment. After getting sick, I found this excerpt in an article about acute cholecystitis and it adds up.

“However, low-calorie, rapid weight loss diets should be avoided, because there is evidence they ca disrupt your bile chemistry and actually increase your risk of developing gallstones. A more gradual weight loss plan is best.”

It’s been two days since I was in the ER and I’m much better, but still feeling pretty weak. This crushes my soul a little bit, because I just found my stride with yoga, boxing, and feeling healthier than I’ve felt in a while. I can’t even eat all the yummy things I was looking forward to eating post-cleanse like Julie’s coconut passion-fruit cookies, or Tita-Ella’s bicol express and adobo, because I have to eat bland food for a while. The irony of it all. Imagine doing something to boost your health, only to have it do the exact opposite. 

“If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”

Above all things, I’m feeling grateful. Grateful that it wasn’t anything worse, that I have health insurance, that Ryan was there for me, and that I’m back home. But I’m not going to lie, I also feel really, fucking STUPID. I paid hundreds of dollars to get myself sick and in the hospital, and will now have to pay even more money in medical bills – when nothing was wrong with me to begin with! I also feel defeated. This is petty, but I still had three more juices to finish and now feel like I’m weak for not completing the cleanse. I now feel incredibly dumb writing that thought out loud. 

I’m not telling you not to ever try a juice cleanse (well, kinda). There are plenty of people that have successfully completed them without any crazy side effects. But I hope my gnarly experience reminds you to:

  • Do extensive research before doing anything extreme to your body. When I Googled “Juice cleanse side effects” I only found stories about headaches, feeling hungry, and diarrhea. Once I searched for “Sick from juice cleanse” I found a whole bunch of other stories that probably would’ve deterred me from trying the cleanse … had I found these articles sooner.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Don’t let your ego or pride decide anything in life.
  • Believe them when they say that a well balanced diet lifestyle trumps any diet – PERIODT.

I wish I had a more triumphant, inspiring ending for you, but this is my story. The silver lining in all of this, is I have never been more proud and protective of my body. I now know my limits, and am excited to get back to my regular scheduled program of yoga and veggies with the occasional sleeping in and lemon-raspberry cookies in between. I am even more focused on my health journey and taking it day by day. I might’ve failed the juice cleanse, but my mind has never been more clear. 

 

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