BS2018 – RD6 Monday

Pain 2
Mobility 5

I managed my first outing yesterday by car, Nicole drove me to the gym so I could spend a few minutes with my girls and all in all it went pretty well. I am stable on my feet mostly due to the fact that my leg was already improving before I went under the knife. That said, my stamina is in the toilet and I am not sure I could spend more than an hour on my feet at this point. Other things to note, the pain is very localized to the incision but can still hit the pain meter at a respectable 5 or 6 when I move awkwardly. However, when I am standing still like I do to write these posts there is barely a perception of pain other than a dull ache across my low back and my leg. I still don’t have any feeling in the medial side of my leg from mid thigh down to the ankle. The strength is coming back very slowly but it’s hard to push it at all when I have to be so cautious. These are the dangerous days though, the times when every day brings big improvements and my confidence in my ability starts to build again. These are the days for supreme caution.

On the technical side of things these posts aren’t making it to facebook and I am not sure why. Twitter is getting them no problem but for some reason the connection to facebook isn’t working. I managed to fix the issues with the gym facebook link, maybe I just need to update the plugin here too… After some digging around I find that Facebook has disabled direct posting from wordpress. Thanks jerks.

It’s still early, 1045am and I am thinking of trying to reach Tim’s today. It is about 2.2km away and after yesterday doing almost 1.5K I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility. It is day 6 and after surgery 2 I made that trip (albeit in the sunshine and warmth) on day 5 while still dealing with the remnants of drop foot which is probably the most scary thing I have ever encountered from these issues. Not being able to control my foot was terrifying to be honest and something I would never wish on anyone.

It is now 220pm, I went for a walk in the +4 balmy afternoon sun and although the terrain was a little iffy at times I managed a healthy 1.8km. I opted not to go to Tims although I walked very close by so I am firm in my conviction now that getting there tomorrow should be a piece of cake. The snow is melting which makes for a treacherous outing in places but once I can get out to Walmart to buy a new pair of winter boots then I will be all set. I know I should have probably done that before the surgery but it was the one thing left on my list. I will be visiting the gym again tonight, something that as a habit I need to reinforce even if I can’t actually work yet. There is nothing worse then allowing yourself to plateau or become complacent in your recovery and although I don’t mean to overdo things I also want to keep my foot planted gently on the gas pedal and ensure that my recovery and my stamina are increasing on the daily. My walk today was as fast as usual which is to say requires a calendar more than a stopwatch however I was not as fatigued. In the evening I decided to venture out to the gym to see my girls and see how my body would stand up to, well, standing up. I spent a couple of hours on my feet ambling around the gym talking and observing and at the time it felt OK. It was tiring I must say that, but it wasn’t too painful and moving around even across the uneven surfaces was just fine. My leg although weak in comparison to my other is still just fine for walking on and with the exception of sharp hip flexor pain occasionally when I stand, it seems to be working. Tomorrow morning will be the judge of whether or not this was a good idea. I am going on what happened last time and if I am right then tomorrow morning I should feel a little sore but just fine. Time will tell.

BS2018 – RD5 Sunday – The Rollercoaster

You can live with dignity you can’t die with it.

-House, M.D.

A side note first. I am glad I worked in a hospital for 21 years. It has given me an insider appreciation for what the medical staff go through on a daily basis. Having major surgeries gave me an appreciation for the end product but having worked inside those walls gave me the knowledge that every person who comes into your room be they custodial staff or department heads is there for one reason only and that is to support you in your journey to wellness So many patients don’t fully appreciate the commitment that all the staff have you as a patient and the weight that they carry in the awareness of that commitment.

Yesterdays yellow alert had a very familiar feel to it, I knew I had seen and felt these symptoms before and after some diligent searching through my personal documents I found that indeed this had happened at almost exactly the same point after surgery 2. I had determined at that time that it was due not to the medication directly but to the fact that the medication had stopped up my system causing constipation and an inability of my liver to process enough waste. I am not sure that it’s the truth, but there must be a combination of issues when you have to lay practically motionless for a few days, not eating or drinking much and taking high levels of medication. The fact is that just as quickly as it was here it is now gone, I am a perfectly normal colour again today, not even a shadow of yellowing in my hands and I am equally happy to report that the bathroom is no longer an issue with things progressing fairly normally.

It is currently 139pm and zero degrees with clouds, so I went for my walk hoping that snow would stay away and I would be able to make my goal for the day of 1.2km. I am not really bothered about my speed at this point, my walk is more for the development of my nerve pathways and the strength in my leg than doing anything reckless. However I am acutely aware that the human body is designed for movement, from the most delicate hands of a concert violinist to the gross motor developments of the powerlifter the essence of the human experience is movement. There have been very few mistakes in my life that I truly regret, however one of those was the underestimation of my ability after my first surgery. In some respects I feel as if I may never have had to experience 2 and 3 had I not screwed up my recovery after number one. That said, I do have degenerative disc disease so maybe that’s an overstatement. But.. if there was one thing I could go back and fix in my past my recovery from surgery 1 would be high on the top 5 lists of things to do over.

My walk today was 1.33km surpassing my goal of 1.2 and at a blistering pace of 15 minutes per kilometre. My leg feels fine today although after the walk I can sense the lack of muscular development and the weakness sensation in my knee is something that will probably take a while to come back. However I am firmly in my seat on the rollercoaster now and the ups and downs are as close to any thrill ride you will find. I posted in my previous recovery (which, I am sure I have linked before but can be found HERE) ¬†that day by day I felt like a new person. 2 days ago I couldn’t face getting out of bed to use the bathroom and yet today I was gleefully able to sit in my recliner and watch TV while able now to walk up and down stairs like a normal person using both legs. The rate of recovery is staggering but it’s also a double edged sword. In both my previous recoveries I have had relapses. One was painfully to admit my own fault and the other was an accident where I fell down and through the basement stairs tearing my leg up in the process. I am glad to say that I am firmly resolved not to have such episodes this time and I have resolved to maintain the mentality of a recovering surgery patient for the full 6 weeks until I see the surgeon again rather than behaving like someone who had a hangnail removed and can’t wait to get back to the gym.

I do have to say one thing here. This is my third surgery and for those of you who are concerned over my ambition to get better or my need to increase my activity I will say just this. Have spent my whole life being hyper aware of my body, be that due to being a fat kid or an elite athlete it doesn’t matter what does matter is that I know myself all too well. Yes mistakes happen and judgements are sometimes off course but believe me when I say I am more than familiar with what it takes to get through recovery successfully. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the concern because I do, but trust in me when I say that there is nothing more valuable to me than my health and the thought of one day being able to walk down the aisle with my beautiful daughter rather than have her push me there in a wheelchair. Of course I will be careful, of course I will take it slowly but I will also give my body what it requires as far as motion and nutrition in order to get me through this.

With that said it is time for a rest and some food so the dog and I will be on the couch with steak if you need us.

BS2018 – RD3/4 Friday and Saturday

Pain 8, Mobility 2
I woke up early, pain about the same and have already been ambling around the house trying to get some energy into my legs. It’s really hard when every move you make causes intense pain and yet your desire to get back to normal requires that you do so. I haven’t been doing much to be honest, I walked another 650m today but have yet to break 1km which I should already have done. Sadly I think I would have if it were summer and Tim Horton’s was my intended destination. That said, I am trying to keep going and plan on hitting that 1k before Sunday night. Friday was uneventful but I have scaled back on the pain killers since my biggest fear is a repeat of the addiction I suffered after my first surgery when I was given enough percocets to fill a Christmas Smarties container (yes the 3ft one). I was fortunate that I went to Australia but had to endure 5 days of withdrawal which in retrospect was almost as hard as the surgery recovery itself. I just checked and it was 39 days after my surgery that I went to Australia. That means I was on percocet almost constantly for over a month. That’s terrifying. In comparison to my second surgery where on day 4 I was already walking to Tims and testing out my ability to lift weights again (I know, probably not smart but one extreme to another seems to be how I do things).

I am not one to compare since this time I have had double the surgery as last time but on this day after surgery 2 I was feeling so good… well, this is what I wrote…

By the evening, I felt so much better that I decided to go to the gym to see the girls and have them explain in their own words what happened at competition. All I can say is that is went badly. Very very badly. A hard to swallow end to a very challenging day.

As a side note, this is a day that has lived in infamy with Liza, Elissa and me. It has been five and a half years and we still talk about that evening. We talked about their competition results and what had happened at the previous weekend (my only missed competition in 15 years coaching) and let’s just say it wasn’t a pleasant exchange of viewpoints.

Pain 4 Mobility 4

I am definitely moving around much better and I am happy to report that I haven’t taken any painkillers today and it’s already 130pm. The reason for that isn’t great because when I went to the washroom this morning I was shocked to see Homer Simpson in the mirror. My face and hands were almost completely yellow yet my eyes where still bright white. This is a very disturbing thing to see when you aren’t really awake and I decided I would check WebMD where everything is cancer to see what was wrong. Oddly enough I seem to remember this happening to me before but I can’t remember when. I am working with the assumption that due to lack of food and drink that my system is being overwhelmed by byproducts of my medications and the bilirubin count is skyrocketing. Although cleansing isn’t a thing, your body does require liquid to process anything through the kidneys and liver and I think that trying not to drink too much in order to avoid going to the bathroom wasn’t a quality decision. It is now after 130pm and I feel like my colour is pretty normal and even the yellowing of my hands is almost completely gone.

The benefit of all of this is that I am not completely disabled while not taking any morphine. I can’t say I am conformable in any way but the pain is manageable save that few seconds getting out of bed which is basically hell on earth. Here’s a fun experiment for you all, get someone to put 23 staples in your back and see how much fun it is to do some yoga..:)

I am going to try to get out and walk this afternoon, determined to hit my 1000m goal today but although my confidence is high my realistic expectation is that I will get to about 700 and call it a day. I did manage to make $500 on selling some old snow tires so today has been a good day in some respects and my mood is pretty good considering it’s a snowy landscape outside and I feel a little trapped.

Back Surgery 2018 – Day 0

It is very odd going into major surgery feeling OK. Usually I am in agony on a gurney or at the very least struggling to be mobile enough to move around This time however things are different. The injury I sustained just 2 short months ago was serious enough that another incident will give me permanent damage in most of my right leg. So it is with understandable trepidation that I set off on this journey once again.

In reviewing my last posts about the surgery I find that it was too much writing and not enough fact. I am starving for details about how I felt and what I am going to expect in the coming weeks. So this time I will try to expand more on what I am feeling and how my progress is going.

I sat in the most bizarre waiting room in any hospital in the world, remembering that 5 years ago I felt exactly the same. If you have never been to the surgical waiting room at St Mikes it’s a mixture of baroque paintings and classical decorations that make you feel like you are on a set of a period film rather than waiting for surgery. As they wheel you down the hallways to the OR it becomes even more odd with pictures of small children petting cats and oil painted landscapes fit for a stately home. The waiting is the worst part, hanging about just napping and wasting time until the surgical suite is yours. I sent about 4 hours on a bed waiting to be taken but once they came for me that familiar feeling of the bottom of the initial hill on a rollercoaster comes to mind. There was no turning back, terrified or not there was no getting off the ride and as the car crested the hill the plastic mask went over my face and a tear rolled down my cheek.

The relief on waking was something I will never forget. This time I had been having doubts, probably from my advanced age, that things might not go OK but as the fog lifted from my brain I came to the realization that I was in fact still alive. I revelled in this miracle of a revelation for about 3 seconds until I felt the first hit of pain. It has been a long time since I have felt pain like that, and other than the nerve pain of actual spinal cord damage there is nothing quite as excruciating as the pain of a deep incision in your body. I lay very still for as long as I could stirring only to try to drink or to soothe my throat with ice. The intubation had made my lips and throat raw and the surgery had left me incapable of any movement without tsunamis of pain washing over me. I drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the day with Alyssa the nurse managing my pain and my hydration for me. Nicole and Elyse turned up right after I woke and it was really nice to see familiar faces and eventually taste some real food and some coffee. My memory of the rest of that day are sketchy at best but I do remember being frustrated at not being allowed to try to stand or walk.

Recovery Day 1 – Wednesday
Pain 10 Mobility 1

Wednesday was discharge day and although things moved quickly it was a long and involved process to get out of the hospital. I had to get assessed by the physio who, by the way, was the very same lady as 5 years ago. My ability to walk confirmed and my desire to leave increasing I managed to get dressed and be ready for the long walk to the car. What I can say is that I am glad I was asleep for the surgery because the car ride home was probably what it would’ve felt like. Every bump, every swerve every turn and braking sent bolts of pain through me and it was an excruciating 45 minutes until we were in Aurora at which point I was able to look out of the window and see… snow. Seriously? Snow. The rest of the day was spent in bed or walking gently around the kitchen and family room trying to get my balance and strength back. Nicole was kind enough to go get me some supplies from the health store including a grabby tool and a bed bottle since it is still a very involved and excruciating process to get up from bed. Most of the day was spent watching TV in bed trying to get used to any position that reduced my pain and trying to remember not to cross my legs or twist my body at all. Let me tell you it’s hard to be still at the best of times… The basics are this, I can’t move my back at all, I have to remain straight and aligned at all costs. I can’t bend, twist, rotate, lean or contort in any direction otherwise I feel like my staples are going to explode. It is one thing to keep your back straight while lifting but it is a whole other game to remain completely still while trying to do things. The day passed in a haze of morphine and sleep but I am still waiting for the first dreaded trip to the bathroom. I haven’t really been eating so I am not entirely surprised it hasn’t happened but there are a couple of things at play. Morphine is known to cause constipation and as of yet I don’t have my stool softener which has me frankly terrified in case the need arises to go. So I am not eating. I don’t really need to since I am bed bound most of the time but that will pass and the details I will likely not share here.

Recovery Day 2 – Thursday
Pain 8 Mobility 3

I am definitely getting better at moving around. My confidence in my mobility is increasing and I am getting better are moving while not moving if that makes sense. The big news today was that I was able to get some pans on and go for a walk. Even though it was freezing cold I still managed about 500m outside discovering that I need new gloves int he process. The walk was slow and painful but I was happy with my progress since my last recovery journal (which was luckily in the summer) had me walking on day 2 also. Since this was a slightly more involved surgery I would expect to be a bit behind but if I can walk again on Friday I think I will be really happy. The walking itself is very slow and I took my cane although I didn’t need to use it. However by the time I got back home my leg and back were in pain and I was ready to get back to bed. It wasn’t bad for my first outing and gave me a lot of confidence in my recovery however I also know the past 2 surgeries I have had a relapse which I am desperate to avoid this time. So I will be sensible and cautious and move at a human pace in order to prevent any unnecessary injury. Nicole and Elyse have been out and about most of the day which is probably best since I have 3 furry guardians looking after me right now. I have everything I need, I just know it is a matter of time until I improve to a significant degree. I am optimistic but impatient…


Big Week Coming

December 31 2002
April 24 2013
November 12 2018

This coming week is a big one. I am selling some snow tires tomorrow morning so that’s nice but then I have to go to the hospital one last time to drop off my signed release and confirm my exit from my Senior Network Engineer position. After that it is to my family doctor to check my blood pressure and refill as many of my medications as I can in case I can’t make it back for a few months. Once that is done it’s off downtown yet again for anesthesia testing before my surgery on Tuesday.

Then it’s the big day. I am at St Mike’s at 6am in case there are any early openings with the schedule so I can get in as early as possible. After that who really knows what may happen but I am committed to document my recovery this time since my recollection of my last surgery HERE is a bit foggy by now. I do remember that my recovery from surgery 2 was significantly better than after surgery 1, something that I will try to expand on a little.

My injury history started at age 14. I was playing rugby and since I played as a prop I was on the front row of the scrum and habitually ended up at the bottom af a large pile of humans as the scrum collapsed. This time however I took a nosedive into the floor and was folded in half like a playing card which caused significant injury to my lower back. This was to be the first in a long line of disc ruptures that would eventually lead me to having my first surgery. It was a delightful time of life, being a kind of fat kid at 14 wearing what was essentially a corset for half a school year was great. At least I was big enough that bullying was never really a factor but then again since when did that stop kids bagging on each other…

Fast forward to my early 30s. My back had never really been an issue for the 16 years since that rugby injury but I should have known that in the end my ego and my arrogance would catch up with me. I remember it vividly, it was October 22 1998 and I was new at my job at the hospital. I was recently 30 and my ego was still as out of control as it was in my late teens. I had been doing leg press at the gym and stupidly thought that 12 plates a side would be an attainable goal. I had done 10 a side before, a total of 950lbs but this was to be a new record for me, 1130lbs and the congratulations and plaudits from nobody since nobody cared. In my mind I assumed that I was the coolest guy in the world but in reality I came to understand over the years that in fact nobody cares, nobody is watching and admiring and in fact most people are so wrapped up in their own ego maniacal lives that their only concern is the fleeting glances they give themselves in the mirrors. The following is what I wrote after the fact (which is why I have kept journals for 35 years now…)

I sat under the ego trip I had maniacally built upon the leg press and with one fluid motion the weight sank to my glutes with the delightful popping of cartilage and bone being compressed like an old scrap car. Then came the pain, as the surgical instrument entered my skin, exposing the spine to the elements I knew it was over for the day. The steel clamps twisted my spinal column into a knot of twitching pulsating nerve ends, the searing pain engulfed me as the nerves were stretched, strand by strand around the instrument then like spaghetti from a pan, they elastically snapped apart from each other, the ends left dangling. I crawled out from under the stack of weight and began methodically removing the plates. Stumbling down the stairs I limped my path back to the lockers knowing the heaven and hell that awaited me there. The hot tub and the socks.

I had endured some back issues before, slight pain, localized and never radiating down my legs but this was far, far different. It would still be 4 more years until I went for my first surgery but that 4 years was peppered with the same issues, my back would go out I would suffer incredible pain for a week while laying on the floor trying to recover. I didn’t know what to do, what would help or how to make myself any better and if you do as much research as you can nowadays you won’t find much online that is any different. Eventually I discovered Arthrotec, something that would take my recovery window down from a week to 2 days and enable me to get back to life with much greater haste. As time went along the issues cropped up more and more frequently from once every 6 months to every couple and then each month. It was at that time that the big problem happened that led me to surgery 1. Sadly there was no big event, my back was sore, had been sore for a while and then one day I was unable to walk. Sadly I believed that it would only be a matter of time until I was better regardless of the fact that I now had radiating pain down my leg again. It was Christmas season so I was determined to rest over the holiday and be back good as new in the New Year. The pain got worse, my back went out again and I lost a large amount of mass in my leg. Waiting was a decision that I regret to this day. New Years Eve 2002 I went into surgery and spent the next 3 months regretting my delay.

I spent most of my time on the couch imagining that rest was the key to success. It is not. If you ever have back surgery let me tell you 1 inalienable truth… Mobility is healing. Walking is the best thing you can do no matter how slow or laboured. Had I known back then what I know now I would have been up every day walking as much as possible but instead I ended up with an inequality in my healing due to the amount of time spent on my side watching TV. It sickens me to think of it now.

I am going to publish this now, it is day 1 of recovery and my adventures down memory lane will have to wait.

Catastrophic Failure

My back has been sore for a few weeks. It started at night when I would wander to the washroom in the dark and sit so that I wouldn’t pee on the dog. When I stood up I would get a sharp twinge in the base of my spine on the right, an all too familiar pain that usually indicates an oncoming storm of pain and medication. It didn’t get any worse, I spent weeks with a new pain that I wasn’t too familiar with, a shooting pain but with no radiation down my leg. On Thursday night, all that changed. During the week I had twisted getting out of bed and the pain had become worse and despite my taking my painkillers and very strong anti inflammatories (diclofenac) I was unable to get the pain to stop. Friday morning, of course the day Nicole was out of town at a conference, I woke up and as I stood up the familiar 50,000 volt bolt of lightning went from my back to my feet. This was no ordinary back outage, this was unfamiliar in the degree of pain and immediate lack of mobility. I am not ashamed to say I lay back on the bed and cried, partly due to the frustration of my body failing me again and partly because the pain was so intense I couldn’t breathe.

This is something I never wanted Elyse to see, but she had a front row seat to my pain and it visibly shook her. She was very good to fetch my phone and my medication and after taking my pills I lay there waiting for one of three things. First for the pain to subside, even partly, enough so I could stop sobbing and control my breathing. Second for Nicole to come home so I could call an ambulance and get to a hospital. Third if necessary for death to stop the pain that consumed me. I am not suicidal by any means and I have, thanks to my back issues, and extraordinary tolerance for pain but this was a whole new level of agony that I hadn’t experienced before. Not only did I feel like I had a knife in my spine but I felt like I had acid running through my veins, burning my leg from the inside out, igniting every nerve producing a concerto of pain orchestrated for the sole function of creating a hell on earth. As time passed the pain got worse, Nicole got home and called the medics and once they arrived I admit I snapped. I couldn’t handle the pain, it was simply too much. I panted like a dog on a hot summer day while shaking like I was being electrocuted. I went in and out of consciousness, they were unable to give me any more pain killers due to the percocet I had already taken, thankfully at the hospital the story was a different one.

I don’t really remember the ride, the medic was trying to be as encouraging as he could while trying to keep me conscious. It must have been quite a sight seeing someone of my size crying like a baby, sobbing uncontrollably and shouting what I assume was utter nonsense about not feeling my leg and not wanting to be paralyzed. Things get more hazy as we got to the hospital, as usual the nurses were shocked at my tolerance for painkillers and after the equivalent of 40mg of morphine they left me in the hallway to settle down. I was given hydromorphone and something called ketorolac trometh which apparently is an anti inflammatory that will put even diclofenac to shame. I have to say that it worked in quite an incredible fashion. Fast forward to the next day at home and I have no pain in my back. I don’t know if that is the amount of morphine flowing through my veins or the fact that the impingement itself is gone but if it is the latter then that’s not an anti inflammatory, that is a miracle in pill form.

The rest of the day is a morphine tinted haze, I lay at home drifting in and out of consciousness contemplating why and how this had happened and trying to imagine the next steps the most obvious of which would be another trip to the hospital for my third spinal surgery. As of now, Sunday, I can walk carefully with my cane, the pain has returned to my leg but as of yet not to my back itself. The nerve pain in my leg is significantly different than any time in the past which indicates that the damage suffered by the nerve is worse then any previous time. Whereas in the past I have lost feeling in my shin below the knee, now the sensation includes my adductors / groin, all my upper thigh muscles and my knee itself.

I am not sure what the next steps will entail but what I do know is that I need an MRI to confirm if the bone has grown back and then a decision as to what type of surgery I should have. I am still of the mind that initially I should have had a fusion done, I think it would have prevented any of this follow up incident and if I have the choice I think this time that is what I will push for. I can’t have another surgery¬† another 10 years from now and I can’t live with this pain.

As an aside, my blood pressure issues are well documented and when they took my blood pressure at the hospital they medic warned me it would be a little high due to the stress of the pain but even he wasn’t expecting 208/101. Just as the woman at the blood donor clinic was panicked by what she saw the medic did the same and immediately informed the doctor of the reading. As far as I can tell that is about as close to a stroke or a heart attack as you can get without your organs actually exploding.

Gives a whole new meaning to a broken heart…

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.

11 Things I Learned From Competitive Gymnastics

Many children do gymnastics for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is that a child has too much energy and the parents want to tire the kids out, however, that is not how I started gymnastics. No matter how a person starts gymnastics, they learn the same things and hopefully the same life lessons. I do not know who I would be without the 11 things gymnastics taught me growing up.

1. Friendship

Gymnastics teaches kids how to be friends. In gymnastics, you need to cheer on your teammates and encourage them to get a skill. A gymnast also spends at least 12 hours a week in the gym so they are always around the same people, so naturally you become friends with the people you practice with.

2. Patience

A gymnast learns patience from a very young age. Gymnastics skills take time to learn and perfect so a gymnast learns that they have to wait to get the skill. Patience is also required so they do not get angry when they do not get the skill that they are trying to get.

3. Never Give Up

Gymnasts never give up on anything. Gymnasts are taught to keep trying no matter how tiring and frustrating the sport gets. No matter how many times a gymnast falls or does not complete a skill, they get back up and keep trying until they can complete it successfully over and over again, basically until it becomes second nature.

4. Trust

Trust is a major component of gymnastics. A gymnast needs to be able to trust their coach. This coach is responsible for ensuring the safety of the gymnast. If the gymnast cannot trust her coach, then she will not have productive practices and gymnastics then becomes more difficult.

5. The Love of the Olympics

Most sports have a major championship or what could be considered the “Super Bowl” of that sport every year. Baseball has the World Series every year, football has the Super Bowl every year, hockey has the Stanley Cup every year, etc. Gymnasts have their “Super Bowl” every four years: The Olympics. When the Olympics roll around, you can bet most gymnasts will be stationed in front of the TV to see who is going to win gold in every event, all around, and the team, whether it is men or women.

6. How to Handle Fear

Fear is one the biggest obstacles a gymnast will overcome. Fear is presented in every skill that is done. If a gymnast does not have fear they are doing something wrong. It is also normal to have fear as a gymnast because it is not normal or natural to be flying four to eight feet off the ground or to tumble on a four-inch piece of wood, like the balance beam.

7. How to be a Stronger Person
Gymnastics teaches a valuable life lesson by teaching a gymnast to become a stronger person. Not only does gymnastics teach physical strength, it also teaches mental strength. The mental strength a gymnast has in uncanny. Gymnasts get frustrated very easily but this frustration comes from wanting to be a perfectionist, so when gymnasts work through the frustrations they encounter it helps them to become a much stronger person. Gymnasts also work through sore muscles and injuries. No matter the amount of pain someone is in from gymnastics, that person is usually still working because those are the days that being a stronger person is taught.

8. Time Management
Gymnasts are some of the best at managing time. Gymnasts practice anywhere from two and half hours to six hours a day depending on the level. The average time a gymnast spends in the gym each day is four hours. Not only does a gymnast have practice, they also have school work to stay caught up on. Most gymnasts go to school for seven hours then go to the gym for four hours then they still have to do homework and eat dinner while also finding time to shower. Some gymnasts also do more than one sport or activity so they have to find time to do those activities as well. Also, do not forget about finding time to hang out with friends and family. Being a gymnast definitely involves some late nights and basically living in a car all the time, especially during the week.

9. Healthy Habits
Gymnast have some of the healthiest habits. They eat healthy and are working out three to six days a week. Gymnasts know that being healthy is the easiest way to be successful at gymnastics, besides practicing of course.

10. How to Deal with Disappointment
Disappointment is a big part of gymnastics. Whether it is having a bad meet or not finishing where a gymnast thinks they will or not getting a skill when the skill is wanted. Disappointment is something that gymnasts have to work through. Disappointment happens all the time in gymnastics.

Gymnasts learn respect from the first day they enter the gym. Respect is very important in the sport of gymnastics. Not only do gymnasts need to respect their coaches and other athletes they also learn to respect the sport they learn to fall in love with. Whenever you come across another gymnast you automatically know what they are going through so you know to respect them, especially the elite gymnasts.