Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exercise or have a beer? Sometimes beer's the wiser choice.

Did you know that exercising too much could land you in the hospital? I had no idea until recently, when that's exactly what happened to my dear friend Kristin.  I'll let her tell you in her own words, written from her hospital bed last month.

How I Got the Rhabdo

Last Thursday, I headed to the gym to participate in a 7pm training session. When I arrived and saw what the workout was, I knew that it was going to be tough. However, just like any other day, I was up for the challenge and gave the workout everything I had.

A little over a year ago, I started a training program called Crossfit. The training sessions are short and intense and I loved them! I saw results very quickly, loved my trainers, and loved going to the gym again. When I first started this new training regime, I remember reading about rhabdo in the Crossfit Journal. I tucked the information away and moved on.

As most of you know, in July of 2009, I lost my job. I was out of work for four months and I took a big hit financially. It has taken me a while to get back on track as a result, so when I had the opportunity to take on a second job earlier this year, I jumped on it. This means that since January, I have been working two jobs, moved into a new place, continue to volunteer for search and rescue, and am pretty much non-stop. Because of this, other things in my life took a back seat. This included my eating habits, amount of sleep, and exercise routine. I literally have zero extra time in my day.

About a month ago, I started to get down on myself about these things. I wasn't feeling good physically and wanted to get back on track. I had been feeling so good with Crossfit, and had only been dropping in at the gym every now and then. I needed to get back into a routine and was excited about it!

 So, last Thursday I headed to the gym and gave that workout my everything. I knew it was going to kick my butt, and when I was done, I was spent. Instead of eating and drinking after my workout, I drove straight home and went to bed.

Thursday's workout (which I scaled because I was getting back into my routine):
  • 50 pull-ups (I used a thick, green band and broke into groups of 10)
  • 40 dumbell snatches (20 on each arm @ 25 lbs)
  • 30 burpees
  • 20 handstand pushups (which I did with the help of a box)
  • 10 deadlifts (less than 100 lbs)
My time on this workout was 14:47.

On Friday morning, I woke up to a little bit of stiffness in my legs and arms. My arms were tender and I couldn't straighten my arms all the way. I was expecting to feel this way, so I headed to job number one. When I headed to job number two later that evening, the soreness was getting a little worse. I work as a rigger for Le Reve at night, which means that this job is a little more physical than my daytime computer job. I noticed that it was difficult to lift and move, but again, I felt as if the soreness was normal.

On Saturday, I met my friend Sarah for a little time at the mall. While we were there, we joked about my stiffness. It was getting more difficult to straighten my arms all the way and my soreness had increased. We laughed as I tried to reach clothes on hangars without being able to extend my arms. It was really ridiculous, but I chalked it up to second day soreness. Later that evening, I headed to job number two and started to notice a little bit of swelling in my arms. They felt a little more firm than normal, but again, I knew that this was going to happen. I started taking ibuprofen, worked, and by the time I went to bed that night, I was in a bunch of pain. I had a hard time sleeping as a result and continued to pop ibu.

Sunday was Mother's Day. It was also unusually cold and windy in Las Vegas. Before leaving the house, I put on a long sleeved shirt and met my mom and some family members for a burger. We had fun hanging out and again, all joked about how sore I was and the fact that I couldn't straighten my arms all the way. By early afternoon, as I changed from my long sleeved shirt to a short sleeved short before heading back to job number 2, I noticed that my arms weren't as sore, but the swelling had increased dramatically. While I was at job number 2 that night, I knew something wasn't right. My arms were so big that they didn't resemble my arms at all. I also noticed a large bruise on my left arm and knew that I hadn't bumped it on anything. During my shift that night as I looked at my gigantic arms, I suddenly rememberd reading about this. I started to think about compartment syndrome and knew that I needed to see a doctor. I pulled out my phone and did a search and ran across the rhabdo article that I had read when I first started Crossfit. As soon as my shift was over, I headed to a 24-hour clinic. When the woman at the front desk saw my arms, she advised me to head directly to the ER. That's exactly what I did.

I'm writing all of this because it's so easy to point a finger and blame Crossfit and that crazy workout. The fact is that I haven't been taking care of myself. My stress has been high, I haven't been sleeping or eating right, and I expected to be able to jump right back into my intense exercise routine as if it were nothing. I am so used to going full on that the thought of easing into things was only a fleeting thought. The truth is that it's difficult for me not to give anything that I approach my all. I now know that at the rate I was going, something was going to eventually slow me down. In this case, Crossfit happened to be the catalyst. I should also point out that if it weren't for Crossfit, I wouldn't know what rhabdo was. I wouldn't have known to pay attention to the signs and symptoms.

So here I am, sitting in the hospital with no choice but to rest. I feel totally normal, which has been the most difficult part of all of this. After the doc left this morning, he told me that my kidneys are healthy and that the muscle fibers in my arms will come back. The swelling in my arms is almost gone as well as the soreness. I'm also able to extend my arms just about all the way. I'm excited about all of this, but know that the important item at this point are my CPK levels.

What are CPK's?

When I worked out last Thursday, I ended up injuring a large amount of the muscle fibers in my arms (a small amount is totally normal). Just like anything else in the body, those muscle fibers had to go somewhere, so they made their way into my bloodstream. These muscle fibers are called CPK's in medical terms.

When muscle fibers are normally released in the bloodstream, the kidneys are able to filter them along with everything else. In this case, there are so many muscle fibers that the kidneys aren't able to filter like normal. The muscle fibers are so large that they end up clogging the kidney's filters. If this isn't caught early, this could potentially lead to kidney failure.

On Sunday night, my CPK levels were at 50,000. Normal is 200-500.

The treatment is high levels of fluid, which explains why I'm on the IV drip. The objective is to water down my blood so that it can help break down the CPK's that are sitting on my kidneys and to make it easier for my blood to continue to move through the filtering process. This treatment has been successful, but it takes a while for the muscle fibers to break down and dissolve. Last night, my CPK levels were at 30,000. The doc says that I can go home when they're down to 8,000.

At this point, I'm playing the waiting game. It's amazing how a 15 minute workout landed me in the hospital for this long. But when I think about it, I have to remember that my lifestyle put me here and there's a reason for it. So this week, I'm practicing a couple of things that I don't normally do - Patience and Rest :)
Fascinating, no?  Have you ever heard of such a thing?

I'm happy to report that Kri is all back to normal and has even had a few life changes (such as a new job that allows her to work at home) that are all for the better.  But, as I've told my dear friend, this all wouldn't have happened had she joined me for a beer that night instead of choosing to exercise. 

The fact is, sometimes beer is the wiser choice.


Hurricane Mikey said...

Glad to hear the Kri is on the mend and doing well.

And here I thought that killing myself with all that walking in the heat was a good idea, too.

Sometimes, sitting around and having a beer *is* the wiser choice. So I'm gonna do my best to be wise from now on.

Anonymous said...

I guess I do not have to worry. I couldn't do all Kristin did in 15 days let alone 15 minutes! God bless her. Glad to see she is recovering so well.

I Hate to Weight said...

i can proudly say that i haven't exercised a day in my life. all my exercising buds have all sorts of nasty injuries, especially as they get older.

(i'm not really that proud. i know i have to move my patootie some, especially as i get older!)

SO glad your friend is feeling better. that sounds really scarey.

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,

I would really really love for you to weigh in or blog about a particular subject. How can I email you to let you know that subject??


raydenzel1 said...

This story was getting scarier by the minute. glad you will be okay.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

@ Anonymous "S": I'd be happy to weigh in on a topic! Just send me an email at linda@bastardhusband.com.

Anonymous said...

I know someone who works in a dental lab on Desert Inn - they specialize in custom dental work pieces, cosmetic, etc. He tells me how they are losing business all the time because dentists are now shipping their orders to China - offering shoddier custom-made pieces with inferior materials that will not last as long BUT STILL CONTINUING TO CHARGE THE CUSTOMER TOP DOLLAR! $$$

gayle said...

That's really scary! Glad your friend is ok now!

Liz said...

Wow! I'm glad Kri is OK! I have been trying to exercise but could never, ever do that workout. So, no need for me to worry. The best I can do is a scaled down version of Zumba. As a full-time beer drinker (still trying to figure out how to fit that on my resume), I'll make sure I spend more time doing that and less exercising! HA

Jamie in PA said...

There are many ways you can develop rhabdo...if you have fallen and have been laying on the floor for several hrs to days...your body starts to break down your muscle mass. Any time thre is muscle damage of a significant amount the development of the disease is possible. glad to hear your friend will be ok.