A Triathlete’s Journey to Manage Symptoms and Meet Goals
by Rob Carter
A little about me:
My name’s Rob Carter. I’m a 25 year old triathlete and physiologist living & training out of Ketchum, Idaho. I am working my way towards my ultimate goals of gaining my triathlon pro-card (racing middle-distance 70.3 mile/100km), and winning a professional race. However, I’m currently a patient at a post-concussion care center in Richmond, Virginia. The care I’m receiving is intense and substantial and has me spending roughly 5 hours a day attending a multitude of appointments. We are utilizing neuro-stimulation devices and doing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) based physical therapy, with the end goal of rewiring nerves and repairing scar tissue I developed. This is all due to sustaining 10 major concussions over the course of my life.
However, I'm currently a patient at a post-concussion care center in Richmond, VA. The care I'm receiving is intense and substancial and has me spending roughly 5 hours a day attending a multitude of appointments.
While being an athlete, proud nerd and a grinder in my work and training, for the last 4 years of my life I have also suffered chronic migraines lasting 3-5 days, cluster headaches, recurrent seizures, PTSD, and many other related physical and mental health conditions. There have been periods of improvement during this time period, but despite all of the lifestyle interventions and consultations with the best doctors on the West Coast, I continued to suffer from extremely recurrent symptoms so severe at times that I could not cope and perform my day-to-day tasks and obligations.
However, as I write this (April, 2023) I am about 2 months into the current rehabilitation program with the team of doctors and therapists here in Virginia. I still have 6 months of work to go but I’m seeing great progress and feel the best I have in 4 years. Many of my previous providers seemed to write me off with irreversible “brain damage”, as evidenced by narratives surrounding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) — but I’m both seeing results and have the conviction to believe that I can work towards my goals and will NOT be held back by this process.
A little about how I’m using temperature regulation:
Due to physical exertion and/or neurological stress, our bodies can reach a point that leaves our metabolism working much harder than baseline: this can lead to inability to fall asleep, decreased sleep quality, mental fog, significant physical fatigue, and more.
Our bodies dump heat as one key mechanism to aid in metabolism. This can be measured by elevated skin temp (as shown in my personal whoop data) indicating an ‘overworking’ metabolism. Palmar (palms of hands) cooling rapidly speeds this heat dumping process. Our palms & face are two main areas of the body where heat is expelled in an effort to control body temperature, and the efficiency and effectiveness of these areas is profound.
This is an anecdotal experience, but recently, I experienced a cluster headache that came after a period of high training volume & moving apartments (stress!!). This combination of physical and mental stress are what I *suspect* led to the onset.
After specific breath-work and deploying palmar cooling with the AVA Cooling Technology device for roughly 20 minutes, my headache soon subsided and I recovered within the same day. By ‘recover’ I mean I was able to significantly improve my mental and physical state that same day & for days following. This is not the usual recovery pattern for me after cluster headaches.
I’m fortunate to be working with specialists who aid my day-to-day responses and I have the space to take that time to recover. However, this use case is unique in that I decided to use a palmar cooling device as part of the treatment of my headaches. A self-experimentation approach to treatment is one that is still tried & true when it comes to recovery so long as you’re not experimenting with a medical device. As long as it has significant scientific evidence/validation, improves how you feel or your measured data, and there are no shown negative consequences of it; why not try it?
So far, enhancing how my body dumps body heat seems effective for treating issues that have typically been hard to manage. This tool is powerful for improving training at all levels, recovery for both brain and body (they’re one in the same!), and it reinforces the importance of focusing on and listening to your body. I just wanted to share my experience in case it helps someone else who may be looking for another approach to treating severe headaches.
If you want to improve your performance, recovery, and balance as an active human, give palmar cooling a try. And, for less money than a pair of shoes AVA Cooling Technology is a tool I truly recommend.