Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Leg and speculation

I went for a run today with my lovely wife, basically a repeat of the previous route to the power lines. I had the same problem as before with the atypical toe friction, the one I had previously attributed to improper sock deployment. This time I tightened up the running shoe laces on that foot and it seemed to resolve the problem.

I had a terrible but short illness in October 2003, followed by the most wracking cough. The kind that leaves your whole body sore. I mean, truly. My hips were sore from all the coughing. A co-worker from India suggested the remedy he says they use:

before bed
heat one cup of milk as hot as tolerable
after heating
add around 1 TBSP (or more) ground black pepper

I only drank half of it. It was not so bad, kind of like coffee. But I don't like coffee. You only have to drink it once, not every day. Amazingly, this remedy suppressed my cough and allowed me to sleep. I had been coughing for long periods whenever I lay down (or stood up). It also suppressed the cough during the day. OK, I had a occasional mild, wheezy cough, but nothing like the convulsive spasms I'd had before. You can call it coincidence if you like, but I think the Indians are on to something. My theory about why it works is that the pepper is basically a toxin which the germs cannot abide. It's the same reason people tell you to drink a spoonful of honey, or gargle with salt.

Anyway, it was not long after that when I fell down the stairs at work and hurt my left foot (not the ankle). The fall was October 23, 2003. It made me unable to walk for a day or two, and pretty inactive for a few days. But I recovered fast, in about a week if I recall. And I started jogging to my car in the parking lot when leaving work, as a way to get my foot used to running again. It was at that time that I noticed a certain lack of spring in my left leg. I attributed it to the foot injury and subsequent period of disuse. And although you might think I now attribute it to ALS, I am not so sure. My foot does not feel that sort of flat non-springy feeling now. So maybe it was just the fall on the stairs.

But then a few weeks later, in mid-December, I noticed the generalized problem with my left side that rapidly led to the MRI and all that hooey.

Now, the shoe which I tightened the laces on today was adjusted to be pretty tight before the time that I fell on the stairs. Both of them were. I remember specifically that they were a bit too tight to easily slip into, but that they felt fine when running, so I decided not to bother re-lacing them. So at that time, in early- to mid- October, it was tight, and it was fine. Today it wasn't, and I needed to tighten it more. This supports the idea that some atrophy of my left foot occurred shortly before, or sometimes after, the Oct. 23 fall on the stairs.

Which leads me to think that the major ALS symptoms (left side impairment) may have advanced a lot during the period of the illness and awful cough, and subsequent brief period of disuse after the stair fall.

Which, in a way, is encouraging. Because it means that, if certain things can accelerate my impairment, there is power in knowing that, and mitigating the effects, rather than just letting it happen to my ignorant corpus. If I get injured again, or sick, I need to do my best to pamper daddy and make sure he still gets some mild exercise and motion.

Actually, I already am injured. Sort of. When I did the 100-yard dash last week, I strained my right calf in a mild way, and got over it by the next day. Today, when my wife and I went on the power-line run, I noticed a strain in my left calf once we had gotten up to the lines. We walked back, because it hurt a little. I believe that this is the first time I have "injured" myself in an ALS sense by over-working a muscle. It is a mild soreness but it gives me pain when running. It does not feel like a usual or normal strain. It reminds me of that time when I was a freshman in college and started running for the first time. I would go every single day, for really hard runs. I got to the point where I was unable to walk, because I had over-used my muscles so much. This strain feels like that strain. It's a different sensation from a normal soreness or normal pull.

So I plan to cut out the power runs for now, let the leg recover, start some minor jogs again, and continue working out in the gym. I need to assume that the muscles of a person with ALS need a little more recovery time and pampering.

By the way, my performance in the gym is getting better and better. I attribute that to the fact that I am working out regularly, and to the DHEA. I am off of the creatine right now as part of the three weeks on, one week off plan.
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