Friday, November 30, 2012

Diet and Neurology Management

Last week I ripped my calf muscle and will be incapacitated all winter. I have a wrapped leg, boot and a walker to get around. Some days the muscle is in such spasm, I can barely move. As a result, our schedule has changed completely. I now do rehab in the pool very day for 60-90 mins, always with one of the kids while the other is in school. That is a very long time for a little body (theirs) to be in the pool. Yesterday, we unintentionally did an interesting experiment with food, partially due to our new schedule. I have always suspected that what Alex eats affects his neurological function, far beyond the sugar highs that parents recognize in their children when they eat sweets. Since Alex's first seizures, we have tried to keep him on a higher fat, lower carb diet. It is hard to attribute behavior changes to food intake, but observationally, the change in diet seems to work. Yesterday, we proved it further, this time with such certainty that I am now the world's greatest proponent of high fat diets in kids with brain injuries. Although I packed a healthy high fat diet for Alex's lunch, I also included popped chips and other high carb options. Throughout the day, he consumed mostly high carbs, low fat foods, and had spent over an hour swimming hard in the pool. Around 2pm, the minute we walked into the house, he started to melt down. The meltdown lasted a good 30 minutes and he was totally out of control. It was one of those meltdowns that appear neurological, as though Alex has lost all control of his brain. I thought about what he had eaten that day, and decided I better feed him some fat. I cooked two eggs in 2 tbs of butter, and added half an avocado with olive oil and salt. Still sniffling and fussing, he devoured the meal, along with a glass of whole milk. Within minutes, he returned to normal. Our sweet, peaceful Alex came back and he went on with his play. We didn't have a single other issue all day. I recently learned of a grant application with the NIH to examine the effect of exercise and nutrition in children with traumatic brain injuries. I hope the NIH funds this one, even though I feel any parent who has tried diet and exercise to improve physical and neurological function in their child with TBI needs no study to prove their positive discoveries. It would be nice to have a study to document the benefits of non-pharmaceutical therapies in children with neurological challenges. I wonder how that might change school lunch programs and PE, for all children.

Ironman Arizona and Ironkids Arizona

The Ironman went about as well as it possibly could have, given he bare minimum that Erik and I had trained for it. We finished, long after dark and into the cold, but we raced the entire race together. We had lots of time to catch up with each other on the run. Nothing like a 6 hour run to give you alone time with your spouse. Not all of the spouses racing together that day crossed the line holding hands, but Erik and I did. With hands held high and tears in our eyes, we crossed the line and listened as Mike Rielly announced our names and donned us an "Iron couple." Pretty moving, and one of those moments we will have to think about as we grow old and decrepit. The day before, Alex and Izzy participated in the Ironkids 1 miler. Tis is such as great race for the kids. We saw tremendous improvements in both of them over the Ironkids race they did in Utah in May. For one, Izzy participated this time. Ad second, Alex ran the entire race without walking, a sign of his increased endurance. As always, we tell our kids they won because they participated. They got awesome medals. Alex brought his to share day this week and had the chance to tell about his great race. What a confidence builder.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On to Arizona

So much has happened in the last two weeks, and here is a very slim recap. The Big Brad Ultra 50 Miler was BRUTAL! Only 10 people finished, which included 2 women (I was not one of them). The first woman hammered the race so hard, I am in complete awe and wonder what she eats for breakfast. When I hit mile 35, I was past the time limit for that stage and so was pulled off the 50 and entered in the 35 mile race, in which I took second, behind the woman who won the VT 100 last year. We both had gotten lost on the 50 mile course, repeatedly, and so she dropped out at 35. I barely hobbled across the line at 35, and had no intentions of going another step. Then Hurricane Sandy hit us hard, here on the CT shore. Our shoreline was crushed. Made the downpours during the Big Brad Ultra look like nothing. We were fine since we sit on 14 foot stilts. We are thankful, and respect our good fortune. Now we are headed to Ironman Arizona, most likely our last race of the season. This is Erik's first Ironman and we hope to finish, safe and sound, together. I am going into this race incredibly undertrained and will be just cruising on my happiness for simply being our there on a long course. Hopefully the legs will hold up with my good humor. Alex and Izzy will race the Ironkids one miler the day before, which is always a highlight of the weekend. Our values this week are Optimism and Determination. I believe we will need a heavy dose of both.