Life on lockdown

It is a crazy time right now. Back in January a new virus was discovered, a new coronavirus called Covid-19. Since then the virus spread from China around the globe and has cause a massive pandemic causing governments around the world to close towns, force people into at home lockdown and basically halt the economy. Here in Ontario we were forced to close on the eve of our March Break camp causing us to have to refund $2000 in fees. It has been almost 2 weeks since the lockout and there is no end in sight. We had hoped that we would be able to open April 4th however it looks like that is optimistic now. The schools are out and in an unprecedented move the Province is thinking about cancelling the school year. The football season across the world is suspended with all major sports events cancelled including the 2020 Olympics. It seems like a cheesy horror film to say that all the schools and stores are closed and people aren’t allowed to leave the house but that’s the reality now. The Government has promised aid for us as a business since we are missing almost $50K a month in revenue every month we are closed. There have been almost 1000 infections in Canada with a few deaths however the virus is extremely contagious as they found in Italy Spain and China and now in the USA where Trump, asshat that he is really didn’t take it seriously to start out and now is the most infected country on the planet.

Bizarre is the best way to describe things. Elyse is home from school every day now and the gym is a ghost town. We can’t go to LA Fitness because everyone except essential services is on lockdown. We spend most of our time working on the gym to prep for opening again but there is only so much you can do. Big projects like painting are going to have to be done and cleaning out the pit however we can’t have anyone in to help so it’s gonna be a bit of a job for me to get that all done. Our landlord has told us he may be able to give us some rent relief but if this goes for more than couple of months things will start to look bleak. The only thing we can do is hope that if there are casualties of the sickness on an industry scale that we are not the first and we can pick up some much needed business from the ashes. It’s a crappy thing to say but when there is a bear chasing you all you have to be is the second slowest to survive…

The Speed of Life

It is incredible to me to think that it’s been 13 months since my back surgery especially when I know just how much difficulty I have reaching things on the floor. Not only that but I am almost back to a fairly normal routine with my shoulder now 6 months post surgery. It’s odd to think that only 5 months ago I couldn’t even reach the push to start button in the car my shoulder was so bad. After getting out of the sling my recovery was painful and painfully slow but since at my age time just spins out of control it seems like no time since then. So how am I doing? Well, my cardiologist says my heart is getting better, the thickness in my heart wall is down and while I still have protein in my urine and less than optimal kidney function I am getting slightly better. That said, my legs are still immensely painful, I have random cramping of my right leg due to the nerve damage and my left leg is suffering due to the inordinate amount of work I ask it to do making up for the lazy one. I can’t really reach the floor very well, I can only just manage to put on my own socks and I really need to find a way to increase the flexibility of my back and legs without risking injury which is the ultimate catch 22. It is now winter and the snow outside makes it treacherous for me to be out and about, I have slipped and almost fallen a couple of times on ice and I actually did fall getting off the ladder after putting up the Christmas lights. Although that sounds dramatic the truth is I caught my chunky running shoe on the bottom rung and keeled over like a sleeping cow being tipped landing softly but embarrassingly on the driveway. I am still sleeping on the recliner in the living room and even though I tried last weekend to sleep in bed I am terrified that I will roll over on my shoulder and rip it apart. At some point I will have to try to string a few nights together and see if I can get back to sleeping like a human again.

Oddly, this is now becoming a list of reminders of when things happened for me since my memory is presently absolute Swiss cheese. I rented a man lift to replace some lights in the gym and by some I mean we have 28 arrays of 6 lights each and were running with a total of around 65 lights instead of the full complement of 168. So I put in about 30 more brighter lights and the place looks so much better for it. Now I am known for not being afraid of much in life given what I have endured but let me tell you being 20ft up in the air at the top of a cherry picker is unbelievably scary for someone of my size and age. Logically I knew the thing couldn’t tip over but it swayed like a drunk on New Year’s Eve and felt like I was about to be catapulted into the abyss. It’s not something I am dying to try again but in all honesty the lift was fun to drive around the gym and with the exception of repeatedly hitting my head while going through doorways and on the frame of the lift itself while entering it was a very fun experience. Terrifying but fun. I am also of the realization that I will probably require painkillers and muscle relaxants for the rest of my life given that my ambition to get stuff done is not dulled by my knowledge of the pain that will follow.

Oh, you didn’t know?

So I am shocked and ashamed to see that the last time I posted here was back in December of 2018. Well, a lot has happened since then and I can tell you it’s been a hell of a burden.

The year ended OK with me trying to recover from my back surgery and all was going quite well however the damage to my leg was significant and even now (September 11 2019) the strength isn’t back much more than it was post op. I know it’s a slow process but it’s been almost a year since my surgery and I was expecting some of the mass and strength to return.

There was a massive glitch in my recovery and I will be short with it here but it has been a terrible ordeal for me and I am certain I would never be able to do the process justice here. Some time in April I was taking out the garbage that we had produced at the gym from installing the new carpet rolls we had been given by U of T Gymnastics. They had donated 6 rolls of 1.5″ carpet which we snatched up and managed to replace most of our 1″ areas and carpet the concrete areas making the gym so much better in the process. Our neighbour who I had repeatedly asked not to park his damn trailer outside our back door had once again put it in the way so I was unable to get my car back into the loading dock to throw the carpet pieces in. (As an aside I also got a new car in March but more on that later). In the process of jumping into an out of the loading dock taking the garbage to my car I fell off the dock landing on my shoulder. The fall was painful but I was able to move my arm and I had thought maybe I had broken something or strained something, little did I know how badly I was hurt.

I called my lovely wife who was napping so I had to drive myself to the hospital to get the requisite xrays etc. I was told to return in a couple of weeks to see if the xrays had cleared up or if I needed an MRI. Long story short I needed the MRI to discover that all 4 rotator cuff muscles had completely detached from the bone. At this point I was told I would have to make a decision on surgery but to wait a few weeks to see how it healed. It was actually going quite well however since the capsule of the joint now had no stabilizing muscles and would likely wear itself out in a matter of months I finally decided to go ahead and have surgery. So on July 31 almost 3 months after the fall I went under the knife. It is also worth noting that I had other injuries from the fall including bruised ribs that made it almost impossible to sleep or breathe once I lay down. I must have scared the crap out of Nicole and Elyse gasping for air laying in bed literally struggling for breath. It was an absolute nightmare.

So here I am 6 weeks after surgery having endured some of the most painful days of my life and having to get used to doing everything with my weaker arm. The pain was in some respects worse than the pain from my back surgery and the first 4 days I was in so much pain that I literally got zero sleep regardless of how many times I took my pain meds. I am now supposed to be out of my sling for the first time and I am very relieved because the sling was causing me significant back pain from having the bolster keep my arm so far away from my body. My arm is incredibly weak my shoulders have atrophied to an unbelievable degree and the pain when I move is still significant. So it’s a new day, I have my arm back although it’s more like Deadpool’s baby legs but it is a start.

On the upside we were able to take a cruise in July on the Allure of the Seas to the Bahamas (before they got destroyed by hurricane Dorian) and it was a great time and improved my leg strength a little due to the amount of walking back and forth to the kids club and the buffet. I had my blood pressure medication increased to try to get my bp down into reasonable territory since apparently it’s still a little out there and the summer has simply disappeared in a haze of pain and day camp. So that’s all for now, I will go into more details about the Subaru Ascent later, maybe…

BS2018 – RD16 – Pain with a side of pain.

So the last 3 days have been a real shit show, please excuse the language but honestly I can’t think of a more appropriate description. It is the pain. It has been so bad I have resorted to being back on painkillers to function and although it is only temporary it really bothers me. the problem is the increased mobility in my back. It has been almost 8 weeks since my trip to the hospital and so a very long time since the fine and gross motor muscles of my back have had anything to do. Anyone who has ever broken anything and spent weeks in a cast can attest to the pain that accompanies the first few days of use. The problem with your spine is that every single thing you do from breathing to putting on your shoes involves your back. Last surgery I had issues with my hips. The pain was excruciating and kept me from sleeping for several days at a time. This time it’s the muscles of my lower back that are the issue and the pain is just as intense as the trip to the hospital. In case you are wondering just how painful that is imagine being in so much pain you beg someone to knock you out. Imagine the worst toothache you have ever had (since that is often nerve related) now multiply that by the ratio of your body to your tooth, or approximately (since the average tooth is 1g) 100,000x. It is for all intents and purposes impossible to imagine. Since having my staples out I am able to use the heat which has helped but still the pain comes in ever increasing waves each time I go from one position to another.

On the upside I know the pain is from an ever increasing degree of ability, the more I can do the more everything hurts but it’s now Sunday (day 19) and after spending the day at a gymnastics competition yesterday I am happy to report that the pain is starting to subside. Not only that, it’s 5 degrees today which is a welcome change from the cold and snow we have been having and it also means that next week I should be able to resurrect my walking schedule. But first let’s talk about what all this mobility means in real terms. I can now put one sock on by myself. I can actually do both but the left foot is a real challenge and getting the sock on straight is a pipe dream. Getting into the car is a lot easier now, I don’t have to go bum first any more I can go one leg like a human. I can’t really reach the floor yet. I have tried but unless what I am reaching for is pretty tall it is just not happening. Which means that when I drop anything in the kitchen it’s immediately dog food. Standing for long periods is tough as is sitting but since I managed to pick up a VR headset for black Friday I have been able to do both with regularity and it helps to move between positions as often as possible. So generally speaking things are improving steadily once again. I do have to be very careful about twisting too much and of course with little pain I forget to reach for things with great care. But as I often tell people I am less than 3 weeks out of surgery and I am almost completely functional again so I really can’t complain too much. I haven’t had the chance to go back to the gym to do legs yet because I am waiting an extra week to sit and do the extensions that will tell me just how much strength has come back into my leg. I fear that the answer is very little.¬† After the impingement I was down to less than 10% and right before the surgery I was back up to 25% but now I am not sure. What I do know is that the muscles themselves are nowhere near back to normal, the nerve pathways are still inactive and the muscle is all but useless without those signals. It will take a while to come back, I just hope it’s not a permanent situation like the first surgery was. As for the feeling in my leg it is slightly better, I get some feeling in my quad and knee now which is good but the sensation is very far from normal as of yet.

BS2018 – RD12 – Reflections and Plateaus

Pain 1 Mobility 6

I was checking back over my 2002 surgery recovery journal and even though I know I was terrible in my execution of my rehab I had forgotten just how badly it went due to my own idiocy. Not only did it take me 11 days to start walking outside but the first 2 months were rife with relapses. I had forgotten just how many times it happened but as I read back it appears as though there were at least 5 incidents where my nerves were impacted during my recovery. Not only did this make my recovery so much longer but it also ended up impacting my long term recovery in a very negative way. I know that in comparison I only had 2 such incidents during my 2013 recovery one of which was 100% avoidable and my own fault and that my restoration took significantly less time and was infinitely more successful. That said, both recoveries had a big plateau component to them which I am passing through right now. It isn’t that I don’t feel better it is more that my recovery is slowing down as I get better. The days of improving leaps and bounds are over and I am left with incremental improvements that are only noticeable 3 to 4 days at a time. I am also experiencing the usual muscular tightness around my incision and across my lumbar spine. This is totally normal but a real pain because it makes me more aware of the movements I am making and now requires attention to fix. Typically as you start to rehab an injury it takes a while for your body to adapt to moving again and as my spine flexes and twists more as the pain leaves so the muscles have to adapt and start to load up again causing soreness.

I had a rough patch this week, after stopping the painkillers on Saturday (Day 5) it took a week to get the shakes, nerves and emotional catharsis out of my system. For anyone who hasn’t experienced withdrawal from painkillers it’s not fun. Irrational emotional mood swings, cold and hot spells mostly overlapping and of course intense digestive distress together with a headache that feels like someone is driving a car over your face. Yes it’s all fun and games until you have to stop…

As for the pain, I am starting to get more muscular pain ghte more I stand and move. I have been sitting a little and that has caused so much more pain while the muscles adjust. I am now at the point where I have extreme pain when I have been standing for a while and have to sit or lay down. In fact¬† it is painful no matter what I switch from and to and this is something I expected. I just didn’t expect it to be quite so painful.

End of Summer Update

Just a little update since it has been a long while since I wrote anything here. I was talking to my mother the other day about my stress levels which are currently just north of Pluto and part of what she said, not in so many words, was that my updates could serve as a mitigation strategy for my stress. I don’t really talk to people about my issues and regardless of what my doctor says I don’t think I am the type to benefit from seeing a psychiatrist (although I think maybe I will at some point do it just to prove him wrong) so my writing, at least in the past, has been something of an outlet for me. Not having that pressure valve of being able to vent to my computer may have taken a larger toll than I had imagined and so with that I will make a concerted effort to update on a more regular basis than I have.

I am also keenly aware that my workouts must be getting stale since I really haven’t made any changes in quite a while. I have fallen into the maintenance of doing gym workouts and keeping my weight steady and let’s all just be honest for a second and understand that the whole function of my workouts is to keep my weight in check. As long as that is working I have no reason to change until I get bored. I haven’ been getting bored because I have so much going on with the other gym that my workouts are processional in nature and require very little in the way of change to be successful. it is certainly true that owning the gym has come at a high cost to my free time and my creativity. The fact is that I am up every day at 530am to get to work then back home from work to work out, grab some food and go to coaching which ends with me getting home around 9pm. They are long days for sure and it’s hard to stay productive and energetic with so much physical demand but also hard to address my stress situation while balancing workplaces.

On the other hand the gym is running smoothly. Summer camp has been absolutely amazing with rave reviews from everyone involved. We recently did a whole gym rearrangement and everyone who has seen the new layout loves it. The place looks very professional and like a serious gym. We are transitioning to a new software system too, something that the parents can use to see their child’s progress and that we can keep much better records of families and payments. The groups are running smoothly but we are getting to the stressful time of year when we realize that summer is over and competitions are right around the corner and we are already behind…With everything going on it has been a busy and very stressful summer but visits from the family and the advent of a new dog have served as reminders that not everything in life has to be so stressful and that happiness is everywhere if you look closely enough.

There is an elephant in the room however, and that is my blood pressure. Since seeing my cardiologist my BP seems to have gone from an in office 180/105 to last visit when it was 140/85. However I have been having episodes recently of splitting headaches accompanied by very high BP again. I was tested at Occupational Health the other day and my BP was once again 182/101. I am really not sure what is causing these episodes, it’s not every day but probably once every couple of weeks that it happens. On the upside my heart rate is down, I am able to do cardio at the gym to help offset the BP and I am still able to maintain my weight at around 235. I think that this year I should try to get down to a stable 220 and see how long I can hold that just to see if a few pounds also makes a difference. As a related note my kidney function is slightly impaired, they think that is due to the high blood pressure so she took me off the BP med with the diuretic and left me on coversyl regular.

I admit it’s pretty scary having these episodes and knowing that my BP is so high that it’s impairing my function is something that needs immediate attention so I am working on a plan to make things better. Eternally hoping of course that it’s possible to make it all better.

Off My Chest

We live in a world where controversial news stories are force fed to us 24/7 and the more debauched the story the greater the thrust. The current climate has us inundated with sexual misconduct allegations from every field from teaching to coaching to Hollywood producing and it’s making my life and the life of all the other responsible authority figures so much more difficult. It’s important to note that it’s not just men, that there are many stories of female teachers in particular being accused of sexual crimes against children and frankly it’s making me sick. Are we really living in times when these crimes are rampant or is it a case as with the Catholic Church that these things in the past have remained buried with the victims remaining silent through fear of retribution? Whatever the case may be it’s having an effect on how I feel I am viewed while doing the one job that is my true passion, that of gymnastics coach.

I have been coaching for almost 15 years now and I have been lucky to have met some truly wonderful athletes some of whom I am happy to call my friends and whom I have had the absolute pleasure in seeing grow from tiny humans into confident, intelligent and purposeful women. It breaks my heart to think that someone would take advantage of their position in order to manipulate or coerce a child into doing something that they know is wrong. Sadly these things have come to light in our sport and as a male coach in a female dominated sport I can’t help but feel scrutinized for every action I take. It’s cast a sad shadow over the sport and the people I love but I will not allow it to poison the passion I have for gymnastics coaching.

Since the very start, I have committed myself to trying to educate and coach my girls not only in the sport of gymnastics but also in life skills, to give them the tools to handle the stress and competition they will face out in the real world. I think it is critical that we prepare them as they go on, using the drive, commitment and dedication that gymnastics requires to face the rest of their lives with the kind of determination that can make them successful in anything they choose to do. The girls I have coached have touched my heart in so many ways, and although I know I can’t protect them from the inevitable heartbreak that life will bring in all it’s forms I hope that I have given them the strength to get back up and carry on.

I can’t stop being who I am as a coach. I can’t stop caring about these kids just because other degenerates have chosen to abuse their power and position and I refuse to allow sensationalized news stories to steal what should be the greatest experience of these kids young lives. What I can do as a gym owner now, not just a coach is to ensure that we do everything we can to provide a safe environment in which these kids can flourish. There is nothing that fills my heart with pride more than watching my girls go out and tackle life with the passion and aggression that they show in the gym and I will be damned if I let anyone take that away from me.

December Update

It has been a very hectic month or so for us, with the gym up and running, coaches meetings, theme weeks, Elves on shelves and finally managing to get the security system to cover everything we need. We have had boys going to qualifiers and doing very well and the rec program is running almost at capacity with another full winter session coming up. With the change in my hours I have been able to get to the gym on a regular basis making maintaining my weight and conditioning a bit easier. After the summer run I was down to 236 at around 17% BF which is down a little from during the year. I spent a lot of time around 18-19 so dropping just 1% was quite an achievement. That was before the carbs came back of course. Have I mentioned that I hate the carb reload that I do every year? It’s my chance to relax with my food a little and try to put on a bit of strength that I typically lose on Keto. However, this year it’s had some really weird effects that I am not happy with, mostly it has made me strangely emotional. It is supposed to be until Christmas, but to be honest I really don’t like what I am feeling so I think enough is enough and I am done with the reload. It is hard to explain the difference it makes to me but I will try.

Every day I eat the same food. It’s irrelevant to me. I don’t think about it, I don’t look forward to it, I don’t even consider it a treat or an event, it just is… However, bring some carbs back into my life and suddenly I can’t wait until 11am to eat. I can’t seem to control how much I eat and I am constantly hungry, a feeling that I just don’t have any other time of the year. I am up every couple of hours during the night to go to the bathroom and therefore I am short on sleep which makes things so much worse. The worst part of this is that I am targeting carbs which means that I am only eating them at certain times and I am keeping them under 100g and it is still messing with me. I want to say also that the carbs I am on are only yam, oats and blueberries so it’s not like I am eating sugar or grains but still the effects are very noticeable and like I said for some reason this time I find myself irrationally angry and sad at the strangest things.

So I think I am done, I still want to go for sushi before I stop but after that it’s over and back to keto and my emotionally stable life. And sleep I hope.

As for my gym performance I was able to bench 400lbs again last week which is a really good sign that my shoulder that was bothering me for a few weeks is finally getting better. I still feel a bit of a sting when I overhead press but I suppose with any shoulder injury that will take time to go away. At least now I am able to get back to weighted dips and flat bench which is a relief. I have also been working on the hack squat in an attempt to change the shape of my lower thigh area, something I think I lack. I know after my back surgery that my right leg won’t ever recover but it would be nice to have a little more size around my knee which I think may be working. It’s actually really embarrassing doing a new exercise because my weights are very light but to be honest a little humility in the gym is good for me.

I had my last heart ultrasound this week and I am still waiting on the results. The tech wouldn’t tell me the results because I suppose they aren’t supposed to and probably aren’t actually qualified to make a diagnosis. Once I get the results I will put them here but so far from the holter test, the stress test and the first echo they haven’t found anything wrong but they keep going back to the same question about if I ever had a heart attack which I find disturbing. Hopefully this last ultrasound will tell them exactly what it is they think they see in there.

As usual my conclusion is that I should probably be doing more cardio. And by more I mean any. Probably 10 minutes on the stairmaster would be a good start and it’s not that hard but it’s about the most boring thing I can imagine and time seems to slow down to a snails pace. I hate cardio. Hate.

Owning The Future

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here, and for good reason. The last couple of months have been extremely busy with us completing the purchase of the gymnastics club where I worked. The process has been slow and difficult but we are almost across the line. Since this blog was never really about my personal life but more about my fitness journey I did’t think it was particularly interesting to talk about the gym. However, now I am happy to say I have a massive facility that I can work out in any time I need to I can finally tie in the whole event. In fact, as I am getting older it may be time to transition from my lifetime addiction to weights and being as big as possible to a system that will take me past 50 and beyond. I know I talk about this all the time but never manage to follow through and over the last few months I have been taking a more volume approach to my training with less focus on weight and more on movements. I can’t say it’s as fulfilling as throwing massive weights around but I am still under 240 and around 18.5% fat so my body seems reasonably happy.

The other big story about my health is my heart. I started having palpitations and while they seem to have subsided for now I did go through a lot of testing and they found that I do have some damage to my heart. They don’t know what it is or when it is from but it seems like something happened. I still have to go for an ultrasound but the stress test was clean and so far I have been given a clean bill of health. I should probably figure out a way to get more cardio in to my life but I really really, reallllly hate cardio.

I am going to try to post more, to try to get back into the habit and stay up to date with anything I am doing at gymnastics and at LA Fitness. I am still doing keto, have been since the start of the summer, I didn’t opt to go for the targeted keto this time around and the net effect has been the same as when I did. Seems that carbs at the right time are OK for me but I just don’t like the fact that when I take that approach that I do still suffer from cravings.

For now my diet is extremely simple. 4 egg cheese omelette for breakfast around 10, 350g of chicken and cheese for dinner and snacks of various things like nuts and pork rinds with Costco dip. Lots of heavy cream in there too but I am trying to reduce the amount of coffee I am drinking so not as much as before.