Monday, July 5, 2010

Temporary Setback

Shortly after my June 26 post, I felt like moving around and decided to try taking a bike ride.  David put the bikes on the back of the car and we drove a mile to a lovely, wooded bike trail running along the scenic Kokosing river.

Cautious Me said "Let's turn around at the 1/2 mile marker."  And so we did.

But when we got back to our starting point near the parking lot, I was still feeling good and Incautious Me gave into the longing to ride over to the old railroad bridge overlooking the river.  So off we went.

I counted each pedal push.  One two three four....keeping a steady pace and reaching about 120 (I no longer remember--but it was the next 1/2 mile marker), and, after imbibing the view with delicious delight, turned around to head back.   

Filled with excitement, Incautious Me remembered having read recently about the benefits of alternatingn 30 sections of intense activity with restful activity, and forgot all about Cautious Me's intention to take it easy my first time out.  I pedaled as hard as I could and coasted.  It felt wonderful!  I pedaled fast again, and again, covering the last 1/2 mile to the car in a state of absolute joy. 

Still energized at home that evening, I congratulated myself.  I told a few friends about my stupendous accomplishment:  "I didn't feel sick at all," I bragged.  "I haven't been able to do anything fast since the summer of 2007! This Trivedi has truly worked a miracle!"  I even fell asleep that night with ease.

End of miracle.  I woke early with huge swollen glands.  I had PEM (post exertional malaise).  I ached all day,  rested as much as I could, and by the end of the day I had a teeny tiny bit of energy.  But it was still downhill from there.  Sleep was nearly impossible for the next two nights.  My glands remained continually swollen for the next 3-4 days until I graduated to intermittent swollen.

Eight days later, I still have enlarged glands. And they hurt whenever I tire.  So much for starting a regimen of regular bike rides! 

What I think is going on is that exercise causes the virus to multiple.

For example, look at this study in Psychosomatic Medicine 63:891-895 (2001).

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of stress and spaceflight on levels of neuroendocrinehormones and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)–specific antibodies in astronauts.

METHODS: Antiviral antibody titers and stress hormones were measured in plasma samples collected from 28 astronauts at theirannual medical exam (baseline), 10 days before launch (L-10), landing day (R+0), and 3 days after landing (R+3). Urinary stresshormones were also measured at L-10 and R+0.

RESULTS: Significant increases (p < .01) in EBV virus capsid antigen antibodies were found at all three time points (L-10, R+0, and R+3) as compared with baseline samples. Anti-EBV nuclear antigen antibodies were significantly decreased at L-10 (p < .05) and continued to decrease after spaceflight (R+0 and R+3, p < .01). No changes were found in antibodies to the nonlatent measles virus. The 11 astronauts who showed evidence of EBV reactivation had significant increases in urinary epinephrine and norepinephrine as compared with astronauts without EBV reactivation.

CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that physical and psychological stresses associated with spaceflight resulted in decreased virus-specific T-cell immunity and reactivation of EBV.

Of course, a little bike ride is nothing like the stress of a journey into space, but all exercise raises norepinephrine and epinephrine (noradrenaline and adrenaline).  And lots of studies now show that any kind of stress raises EBV levels, reactiving the virus.

I suppose it is the same thing with Coxsackie B3, the virus for which I had the highest antibodies when checked in early May.  Of course, scientists don't make these suppositions without testing them...

Although I'm not a scientist, I googled Coxsackie B3 and stress and got a lot of hits, including a few showing the mechanism (protein kinases) which is activated by stress and which causes Coxsackie virus to multiple and spread to new cells.  I'm guessing my swollen glands are evidence of my immune system's attempt to fight the new viruses.

Let's hope the immune system wins the fight!  I am trying to be cautious about rest and food.  I am taking a product called ProBoost, thymic protein A, which helps T cells mature quickly so they can diffuse through the blood stream and do a great job of hunting down free viruses.

I also picked up Chinese herbs from my acupuncturist in Maryland.  Shuang Huang Lian (a combination of honeysuckle, skullcap, and forsythia) has been shown in many Chinese medical studies to be quite effective against the Coxsackie virus.  My acupuncturist added another 10 things to "protect the heart, support the immune system, support elimination" and several more things I didn't get through her broken, accented English.  I did get the names in transliteration and will check them out.

But I should have called this blog Temporary SetbackS, because I managed to create a major challenge for my immune system tonight:  I accidently made David's whole wheat pasta for my dinner instead of my brown rice pasta (same shape, penne) and I ate about 1/3 of a bowl before I realized my terrible mistake.  I grabbed four Glutenzyme enzymes (they supply the enzyme that helps digest gluten).  Then I swallowed two Wobenzyme tablets (general pancreatic enzymes) and then an Interfase (enzymes that help digest various forms of carbohydrates.)  By taking all these enzymes, I figured I'd take the strain off the digestion in order to maximize the ability to digest gluten peptides.

For those who don't understand gluten sensitivity, what happens is that the gluten peptides are presented to the immune system as if they were "bad guys" like viruses or bacteria.  The immune system then goes about making antibodies to the gluten peptides (called gliadins).  So it's a waste of my immune system resources to fight the harmless gliadins.

Also, any kind of immune system activation increases the stress response.  I can already feel it in my body as chest tightness.

Three years ago I got a smaller amount of gluten at a restaurant in Aruba where the owner assured us there was no 'wheat' in the cornbread.  There was!  I spent the next morning in closest proximity to a toilet.

I'm trying to take a yogic approach and see this mishap as "for the best."  So far I'm not hugely successful.

Yet despite the bike ride and its aftermath, I did have a very good day today.  I found myself spontaneously cleaning out a cabinet, actually two cabinets, this morning when I went to put something away.  I was active for nearly an hour, although seated a good portion of the time.  And I marveled afterwards that I'd had the energy and motivation to do this somewhat abhorrent task!  I also washed the breakfast dishes and went to two stores.  Then I was ready to rest and stay off my feet for the remainder of the day.

I have a good feeling that, even if tomorrow is awful, I'll bounce back in a few days and continue to improve.

In the meantime, it could be a few days before I get the chance to respond to comments and e-mails.  I need to take it easy for a while longer.


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