Thanks for the official welcome, guys!
About the thread title. It’s based on an old nick given to me by a dear lifting friend. It was implied that I’m a tad … ah… intense? Imagine that!
Actually, I was the kind of person who used to roar through each day like the Tasmanian Devil. I had a long list of “to dos” that I tackled with such ferocity and determination that I either irritated most people or pushed them away.
Or so I’ve been told. I was a wee bit of a control freak and somewhat of a perfectionist. Wait. I’m sure that’s an understatement. I was a micro-manager and an over-organizer. Heck, I got kicked out of Girl Scouts for being too prepared.
I discovered the hard way that some things simply can’t be controlled by sheer willpower alone. Like health, for instance. Oh, you can lift weights until you become very strong and look great … perhaps even better than some … and still not have any control over your health. And you know what they say about good health …
Today, I’ve got nothing but time. I had to retire with 100% disability the year following my third spinal operation. My team of docs never even broached the idea of my returning to work.
Instead, they preferred to tap dance around the subject of my future, which I learned much later is typical in a situation gone horribly awry. Look in a medical dictionary under ‘complications’ and you will find my name.
Everyone on my medical team hinted at how fortunate I was. I had been blessed with the extraordinary strength and fortitude to survive a very dangerous ordeal and managed to come out the other side still able to do a few simple things for myself. Well, I don’t mean to sound like an ingrate; I felt lucky to be alive yes, but my ‘can do’ list was pretty darn short.
I spent spring and half of the summer of '97 in and out of the hospital. I had to wait a year before they would let me begin any type of rehab. A year. Remember that prognosis the next time your doc tells you to lay off the weights for a few weeks. Between each operation I forced myself to walk.
A true overachiever, I built up to several miles a day. Each time I had to start over using a walker. I couldn’t feel either foot and the left leg had drop foot, which meant I didn’t have it’s full cooperation.
Can you say stumble? I lurched like a drunk. Some days it was brutally hot, but I’d strap myself into a heavy fiberglass body brace, grab my cane and walk. At least this had all the makings of a true aerobic workout; blood, sweat and tears!
I won’t bore you with the gritty details, but for several weeks I pondered the fate of my basement gym. I refused to drape laundry over the useless equipment, but I did wonder if I ought to just suck it up and have big sale.
Deep down I knew I’d be back, and when I eventually did succumb it wasn’t pretty and I didn’t have the blessings of anyone. Nobody knew. Not even my husband. It was just me, the iron and the pain. What could have been more fun? Perhaps getting beaten with a baseball bat!
I was outed eleven months later when I was sent to a physiatrist in another state. (Spinal specialist) He was supposed to design a special rehab program for me.
He took one look and he knew. Those guys are pretty sharp. He told me he couldn’t do anything for me that I hadn’t already done for myself. Then he had my husband come in. He said in most cases like mine the patient usually goes home with a wheelchair.
Right. Over my dead body, I thought. For the first time in a year I actually felt good about something. It was a big victory, but little did I know it was the only silver lining I was ever going to get.
I went back home and picked up where I left off.
Starting all over again is humbling. Ego, fear, pain and pride can stand in the way of progress. Anyone who has ever contemplated the possibility of failure will tell you there’s a moment of truth when you must face the obstacles that have the power to make or break you.
If you’re strong enough to defeat the thought of failure, you’ll move forward. If you can’t, you’ll stay stuck. Much of the battle with Iron is won or lost in our head before we even touch the weight.
Lifting isn’t always bucket load of fun for me. There’s a lot of discomfort that goes way beyond the normal realm of lifting pain. I had my little “prove yourself” fling with strength after I got up and running, but I haven’t had the desire to do anything that remotely resembles such foolishness since.
I could probably still hit some old PR’s and I did set some new PRs in things I never pushed prior to my demise. That’s good 'nuff for me.
Thankfully (all things considered), the pursuit of extreme strength has never been my gig. If there is anything worse than wanting something you can’t have, it’s losing something you once had.
There’s probably nothing worse than the lifter or BBer who is unable to train due to a career-ending injury or health issue. What happens when he ends up having to give back his physique or strength? He gets caught in the “Twilight Zone,” especially if he can still train to some degree.
Most of these guys will spend years and go to great lengths to try to avoid calling it quits. Some risk and/or get reinjured time and time again, while others pretend they can still cut it if they just beat the crap out of the parts of their body that still work.
And many an injured lifter ends up feeling like they have “unfinished business.” There’s no closure for them and never will be. Most can’t learn to just walk away. Some can, but most just can’t let go. I didn’t want to end up like that.
I used to tell myself I’d be OK if they said I couldn’t lift or if I had to cut way back. At least I’d have the satisfaction of knowing I reached most of the goals I set out to achieve.
Well, sitting on the other side of that fence I can tell you that if you’re a true lifter at heart it’s never going to be OK to have to quit lifting. Never. Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I don’t think so. Lifting ain’t about love. It runs deeper.
BJJ = Brazilian Jiu jitsu.
MT = Muay Thai
KA = Kung-Fu/Karate
PGDL = Parallel grip DL (Trap bar)
7-7:40 AM barn chores. Had to clean and carry 4 bags of gain from garage to barn. (50# each). It’s about 75 yds. The rest of chores were the norm: pushing a heavy wheelbarrow uphill, carrying hay, shoving big animals around. Ho-hum.
7:45-8:30 Powerwalk (treadmill) progressive incline.
11-11:45 Kata/defense practice
5:00 Spin. Intended to do 30 minutes, but got into sprints at that point and went a full 40. I should preface this by saying I HATE spinning.
I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than spin. Today I rode at a moderate pace broken by standing and climbing for 2 minutes every 5 minutes mark. Then closed with the sprints.
5:45 Barn chores.
Was thinking about yesterday’s MT class. It was the first time since I started that I felt like I’ve made real progress. My speed has picked up and I’m thinking and reacting faster. I don’t get as flustered when I screw up rather, I just correct myself, make note of what I did wrong and move on.