LooseCrew-JeffO: Not very bright


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Friday, January 12, 2007

Not very bright

Several years ago, I had Guillan-Barre Syndrome. It's where a virus in your body has protiens in its skin similar to your own nerve tissue. Your own immune system coincidentally attacks your nerves along with the virus. Even after the virus is gone, the white blood cells are still there, still eating away. I was nearly a quadraplegic. My hands and feet were useless. I could barely move my fingers at all.
I recovered, but this is the best analogy to describe what happened and my current state...
Say you have a multi-strand wire - like 50 fine wires inside some insulation. It's hooked to a light bulb. Now you start taking the wires away until the light goes out. If you have a 50-strand wire, and you take away half the wires, you probably won't notice any difference in the brightness of the bulb. Take away 45 strands and you might notice some dimming, but maybe not, still! Take away 48 strands, and you will notice.
The difference between removing the 1st wire and the last is profound.
So saying "I've recovered" is a relative thing. It could be said that I've only got about a 5% permanent loss, but that doesn't mean I have 95% of my nerve tissue rebuilt. It's the analogy-equivalent of rebuilding maybe three of those 50 wires, and the result being a 5% dimmer bulb.
I've lost most of my nerve tissue. I'll never have that nerve tissue back. I'll always be weaker no matter how hard I try.
When it's cold, when my electrolytes are low, when I'm dehydrated, I can feel the strength ebb in my hands. Since I don't use my feet for very dexterous activities, I don't notice, but the same thing must be happening there, too.
It's amazing how rarely I think about this, even though it's always there, always trying to limit me.
When I was recovering years ago, everyone gave me sympathy. I hated that! All the messages I got were that I was lucky and it was too bad and I shouldn't push myself too hard. That was horrible advice and I'm glad I'm not easy on myself. I pushed myself as hard as I could - and I still do.
Realistically, I can consciously say I don't think I'll ever win a race, but the type-A reptile part of my psyche doesn't heed those messages. I'm only going to find out what I can achieve if I concentrate on how I could win a race.
There are personal trainers who've ridiculed me for not training right or hard enough, and for sure if I tried harder, the concept of winning a race would be more realistic, but I'm not willing to sell my soul for it. There's a certain balance that has to be maintained. If any one, single thing dominates your life so totally that it destroys the other parts of you, it defeats the purpose of "winning".
But without losing sight of balance, I intend to keep on refusing to be realistic.


Post a Comment

<< Home