Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Crap That Runs Through My Head

imagesCANSJ7J9Such as...

“What if this weren't a hypothetical question?” 

And, stuff like the following little conundrum.  On Wednesday I took my handcycle for a ride. I felt strong. I covered 2.6 miles with only a couple of stops. This is a very modest distance for a healthy person, but trust me, for a person in my condition it was impressive. The ride invigorated me, and set the stage for a relatively energetic day.

Then I went out Saturday morning and only covered 2.1 miles, and had to stop about 10 times. The ride did not invigorate me.  In fact, I never completely recovered from it until the next day.  What changed?

As I was finishing up Saturday’s ride, I started to ponder that very question. What changed?  I approached the problem in a systematic fashion. The cause of my weak handcycling performance could have been due to differences outside my body or differences inside my body. Let’s consider the outside first.

Was the course different? No, I followed the exact same course (a little shorter on Saturday though).

Was the weather different? No, it was sunny and about 70 on both days, with light winds.

Was the bike different? I don’t think so, although I didn’t inspect it closely.

Time of day?  Nope.  9:00ish on both days. 

Overall, it doesn’t appear that any external factors were responsible for my disparate performances.

imagesCABNUU8S So what was different inside my body? Two possibilities come immediately to mind: what I ate and how I slept.

On Tuesday night, before my Wednesday morning ride, I slept about 7 hours, which is my average. On Friday night, before my Saturday morning ride, I slept 8.5 hours, which was very unusual.

On Tuesday, I consumed 1,722 calories. Remember, I’m counting calories these days to try to lose weight. On Friday, I consumed 1,976 calories, which included 2 lite beers in the early evening.

Was it my menstrual cycle?  Nope.  Last time I looked I have only male reproductive parts.   

I can’t think of anything else that I did differently on the days before my morning rides. Was the combination of more calories and more sleep on Friday the difference?  Did Friday's modest alcohol consumption have such a profound effect on Saturday's handcycling performance? 

Another possibility is that there were changes inside my body other than diet or rest. The obvious candidate is MS. Remember though, I have PPMS, which means that my health doesn't change much from day to day. I don't have those classic good days and bad days like people with RRMS do.  But maybe having a chronic, disabling disease causes me to constantly walk a fine line, where even the slightest changes in variables either external or internal to my body have a profound impact on my ability to function.

Or maybe I just need to stop thinking so much. A less analytical person might consider the same experience and say, "hmm, I wasn't nearly as strong today as I was on Wednesday. Oh well, it's probably nothing."

What do you say?


  1. It was only 3-4 days ago you cycled 2.6 miles?
    (I'm in menopause - does that count as no ovaries?)

  2. I think you are just as normal, in the case you brought up, as anybody else. Everybody has good and bad days. I think you better think about good stuff. BTW how is the Liberation treatment treating you? feeling any different?

  3. kicker,

    ya, I ride my handcyle still. I have a hyperlink in this post to my full "handcycling" post.


    you're probably right. i'm overthinking, but i can't help but wonder "what's different?" I'll probably never know. for my latest ccsvi treatment update, check out my June 8th post.

  4. I'm the in pondering what I did or didn't do the day/day before to warrant a better/worse day. And I believe that's pretty typical of PWMS.

    Personally I find it really does seem to matter what I eat or drink. Wine or spirits of any sort almost always leave me with some sort of residual effect, other than copping a buzz that is!

    I think it's great that you get out there on a handcycle..looks like fun..!

  5. I bet there's a Nobel prize for you if you figure out what causes fluctuation in energy levels for PWMS!

    Sucks when you can't rely on yourself to be consistent from day to day.

    I suppose even Olympic athletes have good and bad days - and their diet, exercise, and sleep patterns are likely tracked with great detail and efficiency.

  6. Well, you are an engineer! And, it makes perfect sense that you would scrutinize every aspect to find the reason for the difference. Good grief, it is frustrating beyond words to lose access to the "control panel" you had in the old days.

    I'm betting it's part of the wonderful world of nerve function....which goes by its own rules. My husband has lived with a brain stem injury for 21 years.....We see differences in function (even in his vision) occasionally when nothing we do is unusual.

    Ginny F., Sterling, VA

  7. I think you are over thinking it but in your situation I might too. I would say that Sat. wasn't bad, just not as good as the first ride. You'll never really know why. I think that you are still handcycling is amazing! Keep up the good work!

  8. I am wondering if you have gone hand-cycling since the 4th of July, and if so what happened?

    My first thought on the matter was just that it takes us people w/ MS longer to recover from any expenditure of energy. My second thought was that it had something to do with your biorhythms being different due to sleeping longer.

  9. Webster,

    My street has been torn up for weeks for construction, so I've not been out on my bike at all. Should be done next week.