Saturday, August 10, 2013

Borrowing Energy

One thing I have noticed in the past couple months is how tired I get. Not need-a-refreshing-afternoon-nap tired, but true fatigue. Now, I'm not sure that this is all because of the MS.  I've been bone tired well before my diagnosis. I am a single mom that works full time. Most working moms I know are exhausted.  But I have a feeling that the disease isn't helping my energy levels.

I can't really remember a time when I haven't had trouble sleeping. I can fall asleep in a matter of minutes, but staying asleep is difficult for me. And if I wake up in the middle of the night, going back to sleep is nearly impossible. My doctor has told me how important it is for me to get sleep. She also told me that MS might be the root cause of my insomnia. MS--the gift that keeps on giving. 

Lately, I feel like I lose my mojo really quickly. I notice this at skate practice. I'll be moving along fine one minute, and the next minute I will feel like someone pulled the stopper on the drain. I can feel the energy spinning away.

I think there are a couple reasons for this. The first one is totally on me. I am really out of shape. I work on my skating skills, endurance, and overall fitness every day. And I'm getting better, but I can't go from couch potato to mash 'em, bash 'em derby girl overnight. However, there are some other things that are affecting my energy level. The bright flash of light in my right eye--the one that originally drove me to the doctor--is still there. It makes it hard to sleep sometimes. And the medication I take makes me very tired, while simultaneously making sleep even more challenging. So, there are several forces sabotaging my energy levels.

Today at practice, we learned assists. Biz and the other coaches taught us Whips and Pushes, two of the most basic moves in Derby. The Push is exactly what you are picturing: a teammate skates behind you and shoves you forward to get you moving. When performing a Whip, a teammate extends her hand behind her. You grab her arm, and while you pull yourself, she swings you around her and shoots you forward like you are a rock in a slingshot. It's pretty fun, actually.

The great thing about these assists is that, in essence, you are borrowing someone else's energy. You are able to leverage your teammate's momentum to move forward. While we were practicing these moves, it occurred to me that I couldn't think of many other sports where someone else can boost you forward. In most other sports, while you are working as a team to accomplish a task, you  rarely are able to literally draw strength and power from another member of your team.  That is one thing that makes Derby so special.

It did occur to me later today how that is a life lesson we should all learn. Giving your all to something is great. Working together makes things easier. But being able to rely on the people on your team--your friends, family, loved ones--to give you an assist when you need it is a truly special thing. To be able to fill your life with people that can whip you around the obstacles in front of you, when you just can't do it yourself, is something amazing. 

Thanks for the Push, Derby team. Thanks for the Whip, Life team.


  1. Two thoughts:

    1. Your MS-like fatigue prior to diagnosis was probably MS, too. Remember that you didn't get MS at the moment of diagnosis, you already had it.

    2. I'll have to go dig up the paper on this that I found, but the upshot was that even asymptomatic people with MS have a longer adaption curve than fully myelinated people. Give yourself more rest between workouts and just understand that it's normal for it to take you longer to get into shape than others might expect. It will still happen, so don't give up! And improvements in cardiovascular conditioning and strength can have a significant beneficial effect on fatigue.

  2. I'd second Katja's points. The 1st one is a little harder because prior to the flare which lead to diagnosis, your neural pathways probably had work around to get signals through. However, it's like a road system in a major city. The first crash doesn't change the commute times for everything. However, with multiple crashes, suddenly everything is having trouble getting through. One can look up complex systems theory for how it works (or doesn't) So what was abnormally tiring before now become exhausting.

    I think my problem with my MS is while I have some team members/family waiting to give me a push or a whip forward, I am too conscious of Newton's Third Law: "When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body." I hate thinking of myself slowing down my family and friends. I'm trying to boost them not slow them. I don't accept help well.

  3. I am the same way about accepting help. Maybe that is the silver lining about this MS nonsense. Not that I am learning to accept help, but that I am learning to be part of a team. Thanks for posting your thought! Loved reading them.