January 7, 2010

Injuries and Perspective – Part 1

Filed under: General — Gillian @ 7:49 AM

It’s been a long time since I have written a blog entry.  I have thought of many things over the past month that I wanted to say but have not been able to bring myself to sit down and share in a public way.  Interestingly, I wrote in my training journal everyday – a task as habitual to me as brushing my teeth.   However, my training journal is merely a collection of raw data.  I never truly get into the emotional and psychological aspects of sustaining an injury and coping with the aftermath – I just write down my workout (sets, reps, weights), time of day, location, who I am with, and a few words on what my body feels like.

Today is 4 weeks since I injured myself.  On Thursday December 10th I was warming up for my first set of back squats and bent down to pick up a 25lb plate.  As I lifted the plate and extended it slightly in front of me to place on the bar, I felt a pop in my back and excruciating pain and numbness spread through my chest, upper back, right shoulder, right arm, hand, and the right side of my face.  I dropped the plate, stood paralyzed by shock and fear and then tears started to roll.  I knew that I had sustained a disc injury.

Long story short (I am new to blogging so I have the tendency to write a novel, maybe if I blogged more often the entries would be shorter :) ), a nurse that came upon me thought I had a stroke and insisted that I go in an ambulance – that got me even more upset.  I refused and my sister took me to HSS (Hospital for Special Surgery) in NYC.  I knew that I needed to get the best possible medical treatment.

That 30 minute drive was the longest and most painful 30 minutes that I have ever spent in my head and body.  Filled with fear, all of my thoughts were negative.  What if can’t workout ever again?…What will I do for a living?…What if I can never feel my hand again?…Who am I if I am no longer the physical self that I used to be?….

Fast forward a little.  My diagnosis was cervical and thoracic disc herniation – hopefully not rupture.  The doctor gave me prednizone and valium and sent me home.  She told my sister that I was absolutely not allowed to move for the next few days.  For the first time ever in my life – even if I wanted to move, I couldn’t.  I spent the first 72 hours awake and sitting.  I could not move myself into a horizontal position.

A week later the MRIs confirmed that I had herniated my C5,C6,C7 and T1. I was told that I would feel better within 6 weeks.  What does feel better mean?  Does that mean that I could go do heavy deadlifts?  Somehow I knew that wasn’t what the doctor meant. Patience and listening to my body would be crucial to my recovery.  I would have to put my ego and exercise dependence aside and actually REST!

Rest was the only option by default the first week.  I could not drive, pour a glass of water, wash my hair – you get the picture.  But, as I started to feel better, rest was a concerned effort. I kept wanting to test it.  I needed to know if I was going to get better.  Thankfully, once again I had a very strong support system.  The people that cared about me watched to make sure that I didn’t screw up.  They kept my spirits up when I was inconsolable.

In the next blog entry, I will tell you about the cause of my injury (obviously the 25lb plate was only the straw that broke the camels back) and the warning signs.

The 3rd and final blog entry of this series will address what I have learned and how it could be useful for helping others.  I will also talk about my road to recovery and where I am at one month post injury.

As a note I want to thank my sister, Mac Ward, my parents, Pat Manocchia, Dr. Jen Solomon, John Alsop, Dr. Marcus Forman, and Dr Rob DeStefano.  These people were all critical in my physical and emotional care.  I want to thank my friends as well for keeping me occupied when I couldn’t workout.

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