Monday, January 19, 2015

One more hiccup

Some good news would be great for a change, right? RIGHT?! Sorry to disappoint, dudes, but you can leave now if you wish. A few more shitty weeks like the ones I left behind and I call it quits. And I'm NOT a quitter, but struggling day in and day out it's getting on my nerves.

I took the stretches seriously, I was working on those like a champ. Was anything getting better? Less pain in my legs or glutes or hips while rolling, stretching, smashing, wrapping? Of course not. Less tightness in my knees? Yeah, right. I GET IT, it takes weeks and months and years... maybe an eternity to feel perfectly fine. But I am tired of trying... Aaaaarrrrghh!!! Can we go back to my body of 2 years ago, please? But I'd like to keep the Ironman if you don't mind.

If only you could hear me screaming inside. It's all muffled and it makes my ears bleed, but it's there. I need a pillow to let it out so I don't scare my kids. Hey, speaking of which, my son told me the other night that he heard me making sounds like in The Exorcist while I was trying NOT to scream too loud while I was in pain with a nerve pinched in my back, and everything else tensed and spasming like I was possessed. Say what? But of course, let's rewind...

Two weeks ago it was all about the bike and body maintenance. I went to 2 spin classes, really tough ones, and I felt really unmotivated to do any strength training, as my quality time with my roller was constantly making me aware of all aches in my body. Add even more pain to the mess? Thanks but no thanks. So anyway, come Wednesday of last week and I finally got out of my frightened stupor and decided to do a strength workout, and even better, make it count. More weight, more reps, it's time to feel the burn again!

I won't lie - I struggled. Right off the bat, I had a pretty hard time finishing my first set of "Dumbbell Alternating Shoulder Press and Twist" with 10lb in each hand. But hey, I had been doing these exercises for 3 months, I figured that maybe it was time to be able to complete a set.
If I remember correctly, the most reps I had done with this weight before was 10. But for the first set, I tried maxing it out at 12. The last 4 were a torture. I also had "Plank with Alternate Arm Extension" on the menu:
I did 12 extensions with each arm, up 2 from the previous time. The last 4 were also a killer. I felt like going into child pose and staying there forever once I finished those.

Then I did some side leg raises, where I also increased the reps by 1 from the previous session. Those were not too difficult, but they definitely made my glutes remind me how weak they are.
Then I did some "Bear Crawls", which I also maxed at 15 (up 3 from 12).
In case you don't know how these work, you crawl into a pushup position, then you lower yourself all the way to the ground, take a breath, then you push yourself back up and rewind to the starting position (upright, not shown in the picture above).

In total I did 3 sets of these 4 exercises. In the second and third attempt at the Dumbbell Shoulder Presses, I used 8lb and 5lb respectively because I figured 10lb for max reps was too much. The rest of the sets remained unchanged. It felt hard and I was pretty proud of myself when I finished it. BUT... because there is a BUT...

Right afterwards, I also went on my bike trainer to do 1h of easy spin. I do this all the time on Saturdays with the tri club - that's why they are called StrengthSpin classes after all. Really easy, nice cadence of 90+ rpm. But, because of the late start, I ended up finishing my workouts after 10pm and I decided to skip the maintenance and go straight to bed. And as soon as I lied in bed, I felt the pain on the side of my back like someone just stabbed me. I decided to ignore it because "meh" - for sure it'll be gone by the morning - and I didn't think too much about it.  I didn't have the best sleep that night for sure and in the morning, the pain was still there.

It went worse and worse throughout the day, to the point that I had to go to see the doctor at my workplace, who sent me back to my desk with a Robax Platinum. I kept on taking muscle relaxants that evening and night, because the pain even woke me up in the middle of the night and it was pretty unbearable. Went back to work again, but on Friday night, as I went to bed again, it hit me like a wrecking ball (cue in Myley Cyrus licking a hammer) and all hell broke loose.

Within 1h I could no longer breathe. It was like someone was stabbing me on the side of my abdomen with every. single. freaking. breath. Have you ever been stabbed? Me neither, but sure I never want to. It was the worst pain I've ever been in. If I recall properly, when the nurse asked me how painful it was from 1 to 10 I replied "fuuuuuuuck". That bad.

So Zin took me to the Emergency, where 2h later was given an IV of morphine, along with Gravol and a bag of Saline. I must have spent 2h in drug-land, barely conscious, talking about passing out over and over again... I don't remember much. When all the blood and urine tests came back a-ok around 4am, I was given 2 Tylenol 3 (w/ codeine) and Naproxen to go and that was it.

I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch, aside from a dinner at Queen Mother Cafe, downtown Toronto with Carol and her boyfriend - which I managed to handle pretty well thanks to being heavily medicated. Needless to say, I skipped the alcohol, but I had an amazing dessert.

And here I am again. Waiting. My massage therapist confirmed a shortened QL and nerve impingement, that miraculously went back to normal since. I am not allowed to do any exercises that twist my upper body, including shoveling snow or starting the lawn mower. I feel completely beat up after the treatment and stayed in bed today. Tomorrow may be a better day and maybe one day I can go back to swimming, and biking and running, you know.. all the stuff that keeps me happy. Sounds like a plan?

And kids? Don't try this at home.


  1. Hey!

    The trials and tribulations of an IM athlete! Thanks for sharing and best of luck on the recovery.

  2. I know I am fitness uneducated and just plain unfit but I do have an opinion that is probably worth as much as you are paying for it so here goes. It seems to me like you are beating yourself up both physically and mentally. It makes me sad to see you in such distress. Have you ever considered taking a break for a whole year? No competition with yourself or others? Bike for fun, swim for fun, even run for fun. No tracking distances or time just the joy of being out and active.Also take up some meditation for the restoration of your mind as well as your body. This whole program you have taken up has ceased to be fun, beneficial or healthy. Just a crazy idea. Hope you feel better soon!

  3. Wow that sounds horrible. You are right, you can't catch a break! Sorry to read all of this Irina (though no shoveling or lawn mowing is kind of a good thing). Kidding aside, you must be so frustrated for sure. I hope that this is all over soon and you can move on. My fingers are crossed..hang in there xo

  4. I am so sorry to read this. Really hope that you recover well and strong again!

    I know it is probably the last thing you want to hear but patience will be the key....something that I know I am shocking at!

  5. I'm so, so sorry to read this. At least its January and not May with its beautiful weather! Feel better soon!

  6. I think it was that first exercise. Maybe work up really gradually - like even start WITHOUT weights at first. That's a lot of twist for muscles also bearing weight!

    1. Grace, I have been doing these exercises for 3 months now. I actually started all without weights and worked my way up. This time I increased the number of reps from 10 to 12 per side. Overall I increased the reps to the max that the program demanded. I figured that after 3 months I should be able to do it... But not yet, apparently. ;-)

  7. Oh man, I'm sorry to hear this!!! BIG BOOOOOOO HISSS. That's what I have to say about that. I hope you feel better soon!

  8. I would very much like to give you a hug, but that might hurt your back. Hopefully a virtual hug won't :) Get better soon!