Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Overcoming Injuries and Obstacles

2016 was an interesting year personally, training and otherwise.  Late last week I sat down to take care of a bunch of paper and computer work and among that was a review of my 2016 goals and writing those for 2017.  I'm actually pretty happy I achieved almost 50% of what I'd laid out (5/11).  Given that a couple were pretty big (purchasing a home and tractor, quitting tobacco) I felt pretty great writing out my goals for the upcoming year.  A couple are staples (write X time per week, read 25 books during the year). Some are hold overs that I didn't complete previously but believe I can in the next (all my training marks), and some are completely new given that my life is not the same as it was when I wrote my goals for the previous year (I have a house to work on now!).  What they all have in common is I honestly feel each of them is attainable if I put in the work and can avoid any major issues.  However, that last part is not always in my control and is what I'm going to talk about today.

For the most part I really can't complain about the previous year.  Sure, it's all the rage to talk about how bad 2016 sucked but for me personally, many good things happened and I feel like I'm in a better place now than I was when I sat to ponder the coming year 365ish days ago.  I can also say that I feel my family is better off today as well which is no small matter.  Personal success is great but doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot to me if my success isn't theirs's as well.  However, for all the good there was also some not so good.  I had my back surgery (microdiscectomy) in December of 15' which required a fairly substantial healing post op. Unfortunately we moved six weeks later and seeing as hiring a moving company was out of the budget, I had to push physical limits much more than I would have preferred.  Thankfully I didn't re-injure myself or suffer any set backs because of my behavior but I also didn't push like that at any other point because life didn't require it thankfully.  I began attending a gym again at the first of March for a few months at which point I purchased a squat rack and some weights off Craigslist and made a small set up in my basement because saving on gym fee's as we adjusted our spending habits became necessary.  It was all good though because I don't have to wait to use anything here and while I don't have all the cool equipment to work with, in the current none of it's required to get a decent workout in anyways.

All was going well as I hit mid summer.  My weight was still up from to prior to surgery but I'd been adding cardio days in conjunction with altering my eating habits and my lifting was going well.  I'd managed to begin some light front squatting and some light rack pulls along with a bunch of accessory lifts and recovery movements and I felt like I was on a good path.  And then I had an accident that set me back in a major way.  One day in July I went behind the house to clear out an old skidder trail I wanted to use to begin hauling my own firewood out and while attempting to take down a dead cherry tree it made a valiant attempt to live up to it's "widow maker" moniker by doing exactly what I would have never expected and thus coming down on top of me.  Now it didn't look overly big but combining the weight and velocity in which it stuck me, it caused a bunch of stress cracks in the helmet I was wearing as well as stretching out all the webbing.  I never lost consciousness nor even dropped the saw but I very quickly knew that I had to get in and have Shawna check me out.  Thankfully Caden was out with me as well in case it had been more serious.

Initially, I'd planned to get the yes/no answer to whether I had a concussion and move on.  I was honestly thinking that I'd be back outside cutting wood before the day was over.  It was the first of many, many mistakes I'd make regarding my injury and recovery.  As I stated, I never lost consciousness (something I have fun mentioning to Caden when he's acting like a tough guy) but within the first hour I began to have issues with my speech, my pupils were acting up, I was dazed, and I was mentally off.  My emotions felt funny and we made the decision that I needed to get checked out.  Following what I realize now was a less than thorough appointment, because nothing was said or done that made me believe my injury overly serious, I figured in a day or two I'd be good to go.  As such a couple days later because I felt mostly normal I went back outside to do some work. Big mistake.  All my symptoms not only reemerged but got worse .  They told me to sleep but I couldn't get more than 4-5 hours at time and I was having trouble napping.  The sunlight bothered me, I was annoyed because my summer work was falling behind which didn't help because stress exacerbates concussion symptoms, and as I mentioned previously, I was an emotional roller coaster.  

There's information all over the web and TV now-a-days regarding concussions but it's still hard to explain what it's like, especially when there are big holes in your memory.  HA!.  Ok, it's not really funny but it kind of is because I have about four months that are foggy at best.  I forgot my cousin got married.  I don't remember coaching half the football season.  I failed repeated neurological exams.  I pushed way harder than I should have during my recovery and therefore extended the duration of my symptoms. And in the end, it healed when it was ready and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.  My second major injury in as many years had knocked me down but it damn well didn't knock me out.

I began working out in the basement a day a week in November and as of today, January 4 2017, I'm on week four of lifting 3 days per week.  I'm writing my own programs (I'll discuss this more deeply in a later post but in my case, there are financial considerations that have required this) and hoping that beginning next week I'll be adding in specified (and varied to keep my attention) cardio sessions again.  I missed lifting for a variety of reasons and am over the moon to be back at it.  Two years ago I was one of those "New Year, New Me" people who walked into the gym.  Two years later the time I've missed has been due to serious injuries but I keep crawling my way back under the weights.  It can be frustrating as hell to keep hitting the reset button but at the same time, each new beginning point is a little farther ahead than in was the previous time.  My dumb bell presses are decent, I'll be beginning to front squat again next week, and I absolutely have more mobility and flexibility now than I did two years ago.  I do not view anything that's happened as two steps forward, one step back.  I see it like some video games.  You're playing along and get killed or fall in a hole, whatever.  You don't start right where you left off, but you don't go all the way back to the beginning either.  You get to begin again from a point on previous progression and because of that, mentally, you're able to keep going and keep working to attain your goals.

The issues with injuries generally hold us longer mentally than they do physically.  I still haven't done much in the way of rack pulls or dead lifting and am still overly careful with my movements when lifting anything for fear of re-injuring my back. Taking down trees causes more stress than it did prior and I suspect that it will for some time going forward. However, the key is that I am lifting again and I am back in the woods.  Rather than quit activities I'm learning from them to better myself going forward.  What are you overcoming and what obstacles are in your way?            

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