Walking and social media and a blast from the past

About six weeks ago, I had a gallbladder attack so severe that I had to call an ambulance. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to call an ambulance for yourself but it’s a really hard thing to do. It always seems to be required at 3:30 am when the dark and the silence closes in to make the decision even starker.

Now, I figured out pretty quickly that it must be a gallbladder attack because three years ago, I thought I was having a heart attack that turned out to be a gallbladder attack. This time though, I just put two and two together. Besides, I’d made the horrible mistake of eating an entire bag of Salsa Fresca rice chips that night and I don’t even really know what Salsa Fresca means but to my gallbladder it meant, “Are you #@!! kidding me?”

About a week afterwards, the episode still vivid, and the tenderness of my right side subsiding, I decided to make a few changes. They recommended surgery but I’m kind of a surgery-over-my-dead-body kind of gal. Especially when lifestyle and food choices are the problem. Why convict my innocent, abused gall bladder? How about taking some personal responsibility?

I Googled extensively. I punched in the words gallbladder and liver and all sorts of “natural” remedies popped up.  I settled on assembling this beet, carrot, apple juice, apple cider vinegar concoction which required boiling the carrots and the beets first and then blendering them so as to drink it through a straw (so as not to stain my teeth). I chose to forego the natural remedy that required the ingestion of Epsom Salts but claimed to rid the body of gall stones, in contrast to medical papers that refute such a thing is naturally possible.

I started taking a Milk Thistle supplement for my liver. I stopped drinking alcohol, except if the social occasion and my mood dictated that I felt like one drink. Everything in moderation. Even moderation. I stopped drinking coffee, at least on a daily basis, as a way of not starting the morning with a spoon full of sugar because black coffee is not something I desire to ever acclimatize to. Now I just put on the kettle and squeeze an organic lemon of its juice and drink that first thing. Good for the liver.

I’ve started eating much better, following the philosophy of that guy Michael Pollan and the example of my friend Gwen. “Eat. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

And, I started walking. I bought a pair of Skechers which helps me to feel like I’m walking in slippers. I put on a pedometer (because I’m old school and don’t want to send the money on a Fitbit) and marked off the days that I walked. In August, I walked between 2 and 4 miles, sometimes 5 miles max. on all but four of the 31 days, not including the tiny steps around the apartment, around the block walking.

I also knew I would need some accountability and inexplicably the first person who popped into my head was Gary. It’s kind of weird that I should choose him since I haven’t seen him in 18 years when we met on a trip through the Yucatan and into Chiapas.  We hadn’t even kept in touch in the last decade although I did see him for one day sometime around 2005 when he came to Squamish for an Outward Bound course.


Gary, 18 years ago in Chiapas

He seemed like the perfect accountability buddy to me: super fit and on the other side of the country. He couldn’t really get in my face should I get lazy. I’m sure it seemed alarmingly weird that I should contact him for such a thing but to his credit, without missing a beat, he was ready to play along.

It took just one sentence from him complaining about someone he knew to really drive home my lack of commitment to exercise.  He said, and I quote, “I have to get up and go to work every day and drive, sometimes 90 minutes back fighting traffic and she can’t even spend one hour of her entire day getting some exercise.” Hello! Was he talking about me? He might as well have been. And that’s how it began.

Now six weeks later, I feel like I’ve really hit my stride. Five miles takes about 1.5 hours. The  circumferences that my legs are carrying me is ever-widening the way circles push out from the center when you drop a pebble into a pond. At this point I have to remind myself that I’m not aiming for Forrest Gump wannabe, I’m just trying to get a little exercise on a mostly daily basis and it’s working. At the same time, I’m experiencing the beautiful side effects of all sorts of weird and interesting ideas flowing through my consciousness that seem to be a direct result of the body’s physical movement.

I text Gary when I’m done. “5.1 miles. 10,817 steps. Fav time to walk? Late Sunday afternoon. Just got back” He texts me back. “Wow.”  “That’s great.” “You’re getting more exercise than I am.”

And, of course, we text about more than walking. We’ve learned a lot more about each others current lives in the process. In the meantime, I’ve lost 9 pounds and my gallbladder has been happily silent.


  1. Hi, Gayle, I was shocked to learn that you suffered a gallbladder attack, but i’m very happy to hear about your subsequent decision to change your habits. That was probably a blessing in disguise no doubt. I’m rooting for you!

  2. Hey Gayle. Wow, That photo goes way back. I have to say congratulations to you for not only starting but sticking with it. Glad that I can help keep you on track and I promise not to nag you.

    1. Hey Gary,
      Yeah! Memory lane. But it was quite the crazy trip! Thanks for being willing to be there in this way for me and you have permission to make sure I don’t slack off. That’s not nagging! That’s coaching!

  3. It has been my dream most of my life to leave home and never come back! But that’s probably why I’m being forced to face the lessons of the past few years. Thanks for the book recommendation. Thanx Elaine.

  4. Gayle, this is the best news I’ve heard for a while. You deserve a big hug/round of applause/a few high-gives, and so on ….Keep it up. And Kudos to your friend Gary. He is a godsend I’d say.

    1. Hi Anne,
      Thank you, I think, although I do sort of feel like a first grader who comes in last in the race and still gets the blue ribbon with such kind and ENTHUSIASTIC support. XX

  5. Keep on walking Gayle!! I’m still at it!! I had my gall bladder out at 24:(
    Love reading your blogs;) Hope your friendship with Gary remains….:)

    1. Thnx Catherine,
      24 and gall bladder removed. Did you notice anything different? And yes, it’s been nice to be back in contact with Gary, however remotely. You are the walker of all walkers and not just saying this but k owing your penchant for walk in’ I’ve often thought of you on my sojourns.

  6. This is great news, Gayle- not the gall bladder attack of course, but your response. Keep on walking. Funny, sort of, but I just finished reading a book about a man who walked the length of England – fiction, but a wonderful story. He left home one day to post a letter and never came back – it is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, and I highly recommend it.

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