Day 15

I don’t know about you, but my liver is not enflamed.

As scheduled, I visited my doctor for a follow up today,  and nearly everything was in good shape. Most numbers were unchanged from my initial consultation prior to the start of my fast, but that’s not to say that everything was picture perfect. My liver enzymes were elevated, as any of us would have expected. Interestingly, my potassium was a little on the high side, and that’s the issue that caused my doctor to ask me back to monitor again next week.

It only took two weeks to reach hyperkalemia, a word I didn’t know yesterday.

Beer is high in potassium, which is good, but at high levels it can cause cardiac arrhythmia due to changes in electrical impulses in the heart muscles. There are other heart-symptoms, but left untreated, the ticker could stop. That’s probably not a good issue to press, given my storied family history with heart attacks and good looks.

There can also be gastrointestinal symptoms, but who would have thought my stools would be normal at this point? Other concerns include the nervous system, muscle system and kidneys. Some of these provide easy fodder for beer-related jest, but my health and family are too important to me to screw around.

I’ll head back for a check-up in a week’s time and decide what alterations are necessary.

Peeking around to find potassium’s role in a beer, I found that “regular beer” boasts 96 mg. I’m sure my beer has more–because it’s not “regular.” Apparently, drinking 4.23 of these delicious elixirs on an empty stomach for two weeks straight will boost one’s levels.

With luck or intervention from God, the numbers won’t continue to rise to a level of concern in this next week. If so, I hope I can simply dilute my intake with juice, broth and doughnut kvass. It’d be nice (and possible) to complete the 46 days in some liquid fashion, and since I’m already abstaining from more than our Paulaner brothers of yore would have done, I won’t feel bad about simply adding to my menu. My bored taste buds certainly won’t object. Over the phone this afternoon, my doctor indicated that even diluting the beer would help relieve the stress on Mr. Liver, so there are certainly options.

Like I said from the start: I love my family, so I won’t be stupid until the last couple of days, if I can get away with it.


About Wilson

J. Wilson is an award-winning homebrewer, BJCP judge and pretty good dad. View all posts by Wilson

5 responses to “Day 15

  • Amy in StL

    So that leads me to wonder how much water are you drinking a day? I poked around a bit to see if I found an answer on the blog; but I didn’t.

  • Cassandra

    I’ve been a little puzzled with your concern over your liver over the last few weeks. I didn’t think the alcohol content would be significant enough to matter.

    So potassium is an issue. Maybe you should reconsider the monk’s Sunday break-fast. Perhaps eating on Sunday is more important than first thought. I know you said that you didn’t want to break-fast on Sunday because it makes the next three days more difficult, but hey, that’s why Lent is fun. My guess, being Catholic, is that the monks ate more than you speculated in a previous post and knew full well what the next few days would bring. Penance is a key element of Catholic spirituality. In contrast to protestant theology, Catholics acknowledge that suffering (which is accepted and offered up to God, versus fought) can have redemptive value.

    I’m very interested in how you fare on this fast. The fast I’ve adopted over the last few years is no meat or sweets/desserts throughout Lent and on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and the Triduum no food or water of any kind. This year because I’m on medication, I’m allowing water on the fast days. I lose about 20 pounds or roughly one pound per fast day.

    Remember what St. Teresa of Avila said on fasting: people who worry about being harmed from fasting are rarely in any danger of it.

    Fast on, dude.

  • rarebreedlbc

    I heard you on KROQ with Kevin and Bean this morning! I admire your sacrifice for Lent! I look forward to the complete story in book form!

  • Wilson

    Amy-I haven’t been measuring the water, just drinking “lots” all day long.

  • Chris

    I have a neighbor that is a camera man for NAT GEO and has spent much of his working life in the African bush. He’s a vegetarian. He’s told me stories about having to live off nothing but beer for nutrients for days at a time when there were no other safe vegetable alternatives available.
    I am intrigued by and would actually consider a ‘beer diet’ for real if such existed.
    I do have a question though – how active of a lifestyle do you lead? I am an avid runner and am curious if a beer diet would be enough nutrients to sustain energy levels.

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