Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Same Old Tired Story

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Same old story.
It's been four days since I've been on my bike. I did take the Beach Bike to Safeway to pick up a couple of cheese rolls. Other than that, I have been feeling a bit peaked. Well, not really sick, just tired.
Come home, turn on the TV, fall asleep on the couch tired.
Why? I'm not sure. Work has not been overly stressful; I seem to be getting enough sleep. I don't think I have tired blood.
I am getting my supplements regularly:

And you thought the Epogen thing was a joke.
Well, I actually am powered by Epogen.
The thing is, I think I felt better when I wasn't. Okay, not really.
My hemoglobin levels are maxed out. Maxed out for someone on Epogen that is. For you normal folk, your hemoglobin levels should be at 14-18 gm/dl (that's grams per decilitre, for those of you who like to know) for men and 12-17 gm/dl for women. My level is at 11.7 gm/dl (it used to be as low as 10.2), which is right below the maximum recommended by the clever folks at Amgen, manufacturers of Epogen.
Since Epogen is considered a performance enhancing drug (PED), especially for those athletes involved in tests of endurance, it seems ironic to me that Amgen should be a major sponsor of the Tour of California bicycle stage race. Actually, I don't think racers are taking Epogen anymore, CERA is latest boutique PED. Wiki has good explanation here. Basically, CERA is EPO that lasts longer with lower dosages. I believe the overall effect is that it increases the amount of oxygen carrying red blood cells thus allowing athletes to sustain and/or recover from strenuous efforts. In my case, Epogen allows me live a normal(?) productive life.
That's the good part.
The bad part is that you can die from it.
Since folks abusing this miracle drug have been dying, Amgen has recommended that people using Epogen not exceed a hemoglobin level of 12 gm/dl. Apparently, not only does it increase the number of red cells, but it also thickens your blood.
So much so, that if your heart rate gets too low (like when you are at rest or sleeping), it may cause your heart to stop. Sort of the thing that may keep you awake at night don't you know.
What does all this have to do with my lack of energy?
I don't know.
There are times when I wish I knew what it would feel like if my hemoglobin levels were closer to normal. Would I feel stronger on the bike? Would I be able to climb those hills a bit faster and with less effort? And the big question: would I be faster?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I do know that I wouldn't mind trying to push my hemoglobin levels up to "normal" to see if there is any difference in how I feel and perform.
Then again, I like waking up.
Even if I am tired.

Note: In no way does The Flat Tire staff encourage or condone the abuse of any prescription drug. The writer is prescribed the above drug while under the care of a qualified physician.

No comments: