Post exercise collapse

Its no secret that I’ve some kind of energy problem. What is less known is how horrible the effects can be, or how plain weird the pattern is. People see me manage the motorcycling, the mountain biking or cycling but they don’t see what happens afterwards.

My current working model is that exercise generates some kind of toxin. That toxin builds up in the body and its effects peak around 24-28 hours after the exercise that generated it. The symptoms of that are best described as “flu like”, lethargy, feeling cold, a brain fog, inability to concentrate, feeling washed out, muscle and joint pains, tinnitus, teeth nerve pain and general mood changes. Those feelings can go on for around 2 weeks. There is no respiratory side to it and it never seems to be actual flu.

How serious is it? At its worst, after two days of motorcycling I collapsed semi-conscious and was out of it for 18 hours. My body had run so low on energy it lost the ability to regulate its temperature properly (thankfully I collapsed onto a duvet).

Whatever the toxin is, it appears to attack the nervous system, hence the various joint/muscle pains, tinnitus, teeth sensitivity and so on. If I’ve kept going and not given in to it either (through shear willpower or pain killers) I ended up with a permanent hand/limb tremor. Thankfully I also discovered biotin (Vitamin B7) appears to accelerate healing of that and after around a year, I managed to stop shaking, a major win.

The closest thing in medical knowledge that matches is paracetamol overdose, the key match being the timeframe. You don’t see symptoms of that for 24-48 hours after overdose. This lead to the realisation that its treatment also seems to help me. Its treated with NAC (N-acetyl-Cysteine) which is thankfully freely available and is a non-essential amino acid so its comparatively safe with low side effect risks.

Have I talked to a doctor about this? In short, yes, a lot. They have run a ton of tests over around a decade and there are few types of specialists I’ve not seen at some point. There are a ton of things we know it isn’t and some abnormalities. They don’t match anything they recognise. The two interesting data points are that my liver is unhappy about something (always raised GGT and sometimes raised ALT/AST/ALP) and prolactin is elevated. No idea about the prolactin (a story in its own right) but the liver fits the toxin poisoning model.

Its taken me that decade to figure out the pattern and to come up with the current coping strategy which takes the recovery from two weeks to 2-3 days. At one point I felt like I was accumulating damage (the tremor in particular), I’m pleased to say that it feels much less so now.

There are swings and roundabouts as the NAC appears to help a huge amount but may expose/cause other vitamin deficiency (B2?).

I personally suspect there is some genetic glitch somewhere, not enough to threaten life but enough to mean backup pathways which are less efficient are being used. There is solid science behind NAC increasing levels of Glutathione which is a master anti-oxidant and the way the body cleans up toxins. B2 is needed for recycling Glutathione and biotin is being studied in nervous system disease.

I guess I’m putting this out there in case it helps anyone else or that someone with knowledge of biochemistry could give any further insight into this.