Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Monday, July 16, 2012

On Camping and Trying to Pinpoint my Crash Threshold

The family and I went camping with friends this weekend at a spot on the coast just north of Santa Barbara, called El Capitan.  It's difficult to get a reservation at El Capitan because of its unique location on a wooded bluff overlooking the Pacific.  But due to Mrs. Calvin's foresight and quick-draw keyboard fingers, we secured a coveted reservation back in February.  So despite my hesitation, we decided to go for it.  Part of this decision was that I also wanted to test my theory that camping might be an ideal "activity" for a moderately ill PWME.  After all, the whole point of camping is to go into the woods and just chill out.

Well, the weekend turned out great ... until we returned home Sunday evening and I crashed.  But, the good news is that this crash may help me pinpoint my crash threshold.  

We arrived at the campground on Friday morning and, over the next three hours, took our time leisurely setting up the tent and the rest of the camp.  Although this activity involved brief spurts of intense energy, I went about it slowly and rested between tasks.  No problem.  I felt fine that evening and the next day.

On Sunday morning, however, we had to pack up the camp more rapidly because we'd made plans to leave at the same time as our friends and meet for lunch in Santa Barbara.  This packing process was essentially the same process as the unpacking process, only in reverse.  So theoretically, it should have  taken about the same amount of energy and thus, no crash.  The difference I believe was, this time, I crammed the whole process into about an hour.

As usual, I felt fine during the activity, but as soon as it was over and there was a letdown (i.e. getting in the car and sitting down), I could tell I'd overdone it.  I felt extremely weak.

By the time we'd parked the car on State Street in Santa Barbara, I'd recovered a little.  We did meet our friends for lunch, and I'd regained some energy.  I was hoping that whatever I'd felt in the car had been just a false crash.  But any hope of it being a false crash was extinguished about an hour after arriving home when I went into full crash mode, with aching, flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath.  I woke this morning in an even worse state.  So, I think I may have learned a valuable lesson about pacing, namely: 


DO IT!

I should mention that there are a few other possible causes of this crash, although I think they are less likely.  Nevertheless, I want to record them for my own future reference:
  • I switched from Famciclovir to Valacyclovir on Saturday night when the Famciclovir ran out.  Could this be a start-up reaction?  Probably not.
  • Both of the babies on the trip were sick, and C once sneezed directly on my face.  Could this be a regular viral illness?  
  • I forgot my B12 supplementation on Sunday.  Could that cause a crash this severe?  Doubt it.



    

9 comments:

  1. Sorry about your crash but glad to hear you managed camping. We camp, too. We have a pop-up camper, and my husband and sons handle the heavy work, so I manage pretty well. I find it so peaceful and relaxing - no phone, no electronics, no to-do list!

    In fact, we just returned from a 3-week long road trip with our camper.

    Have you tried using a heart rate monitor? it really helps to gauge when you are going past your limits and need to slow down and rest. here's a post I wrote on it:

    http://livewithcfs.blogspot.com/2011/02/heart-rate-and-post-exertional-crashes.html

    It has helped me, along with beta blockers which have helped tremendously - I am able to do so much more now!

    Oh, and perhaps it is a viral-induced crash, too - those are always the worst for me and can come on when I've been exposed to a virus, even if I don't catch it.

    I hope you recover quickly!

    Sue

    Live with CFS

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    1. Sue, this is GREAT information. Thanks much.

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  2. The art of the crash. I'm always learning something new about my threshold.

    Like for Sue above, a big factor for me is heart rate. I can do activities that involve walking, like 3 hours of hiking or golfing, without a crash. As long as my heart rate doesn't get too high I can walk that fine line and not crash.

    But play 30 minutes of tennis? Oh yeah, it's crash time. Sucks cuz I'm an awesome tennis player:)

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    1. See, this is good for me to know what other PWME's can do without crashing. I've been wondering about whether I could pull off Golf without crashing, because that seems like a pretty low key sport. I'll have to get out there on the links again and try in one of these days.

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  3. After two years of this, I find that the crash point is a moving target. But I have used generalized rules like: I will only do three things in one day, I will alternate staying in one day with running an errand one day, always lie down for at least 20mins after a shower, etc. Its kinda tricky but you'll figure it out. The biggest thing is listening to your body. This is easier if you aren't eating sugar or caffeine which can temporarily alter your exercise tolerance real time but you still pay with the crash the next day.

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    1. Baffled, I think I know what you mean about moving target, because I've tried to implement some generalized rules like you, but they don't always seem to work. It just depends on what's going on with me at the time. Like you said, "listen to your body." That's good advice.

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    2. Rules are short term. It depends upon not just physical health but mental and emotional health also. Anything and I do mean ANYTHING that stresses your system will add to lowering the crash bar. Getting in a fight with spouse, having a bad driving day, eating the wrong foods, waking up grumpy for no reason, having a bad night's sleep. Even talking on the phone wears me out at this point. Just be flexible. I have "taken a vacation" from appointments/obligations for a week or more if I feel I need to cut back on activities and rest.

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    3. So true on the mental part taxing the body. I think we all have a learning period of where the crash line is, and how to keep from going over and paying the price. I would say it took me a year before I really learned this....that a combination of physical and mental energies can kick your butt if not careful. Really interested in hearing how your methylation panel comes out. Curious if your insurance covers these tests. Conventional docs really don't know about some of the tests we need. You are lucky to have the resources your describe so close. Even Mayo clinic here in MN sees ME as something they won't really treat. Frustrating.

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    4. Unfortunately, the Methylation panel is not covered by insurance. I have to pay for that myself and it's something like $250, which I know sounds outrageous, but I REALLY want to get as much information on this thing as possible. I don't know, maybe it's a foolish waste of money, but I justify it because there are so many other things that I don't do now that used to cost a lot of money. So I can spend a little extra on health care.

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