On May 21st 2019 I was sitting on the couch with my then two-year-old son by my side. He looked up at me quietly with his hand on my thigh as I spoke to the 911 operator. I’ll never forget his little voice, “you okay, Daddy.” Of course, I wasn’t...
Moments before, I was trying to tie Wade’s shoes and knew something was wrong because I could not remember how. I became incredibly dizzy, was sweating buckets and was having difficulty seeing. I called 911. As I was explaining my symptoms to the operator, an intense pain began to build in my chest as if my heart was expelling through my sternum. I looked at my son and asked him to take my hand, which he did immediately, almost as if he was aware of the serious turn our morning had taken. Most mornings once our shoes were on, a walk around the neighborhood ensued with our dog, Winx. I told the operator I was alone with my son and that it felt, from my perspective, like I was having a heart attack.
“You okay, Daddy?” Wade repeated.
I took his hand and told him I would be, though at the time I was completely unsure. EMT’s arrived and graciously took my son from the couch to play with him and his toys while the rest of the team attended to me. My heart rate was 175 beats per minute (sitting on my couch) and my blood pressure through the roof. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where I stabilized. After a battery of tests, we were left with more questions than answers, as sometimes this is the case. One clear problem was my non-fasted, meaning I had eaten, blood sugar was in the 40’s. The normal fasted range is 65-99mg/dL.
I will go into more of the details and the other factors that I believe led up to this strange and scary handful of days of my life in the future. For now, it’s important to know that I had walking pneumonia and was not aware. I had likely had the infection since late 2018.
When I went to my primary care physician, I reported back pain that bordered my scapula. I thought I had injured myself somehow training or possibly even lifting Wade. Those with children know they are always on the move! Additionally, I was losing weight. My appetite had been down considerably, but I was losing more than I thought appropriate based on previous experience. In hindsight, it was likely an infection that had persisted for such a long period, contributing to these issues. I never developed a persistent cough, just decreased gym performance and decreased appetite for months. I was having trouble getting enough air between sets and attributed it to poor aerobic fitness.
I thought it was possible with my work, school, and fatherhood responsibilities, that I was just more fatigued than usual and would take more time between sets. Fast forward a few months... More Time between sets wasn’t helping and the pain in my back seemed unrelenting despite multiple therapy modality attempts, partner-assisted stretching, massage, ART, dry needling, cupping – the works – with no improvements.
I consciously decided to discontinue training. The break in training has lasted 17 months, the longest time off that I have ever had since I had started training consistently 19 years ago - more than half my life. Without an impending bodybuilding contest, my good habits have fallen to the wayside and I’ve made poor dietary decisions over the past year.
Fortunately, I have hundreds of patients I interact with daily that are changing their lives for the better and have inspired me to make a change. I have had to ask myself,
“what opportunities can you find in these obstacles?” and “how can I better help others?”
The time out of the gym has given me an opportunity to reflect on those past experiences and decisions I made that I would approach differently if I “went back in time.” The truth is with such a long time off, I have an opportunity to do that; To attack the areas of my program that lacked, and I believe contributed to my injuries, poor recovery, and diminished progress.
In some ways by not practicing what I have preached for so long, I have felt hypocritical. I know most of our patients have experienced the burn out, loss of focus, low libido, decreased recovery, and performance themselves. Thus, the reason my patients are a major motivating factor for me. You prioritize yourselves and take control of your health.
As Eric has often said to me, “You have to give yourself permission.”
With that in mind, I will be making some changes to my dietary and exercise routine – starting one. Over the next few weeks and months, I will be documenting my process along the way. My genuine hope is that I can provide information through my experiences both positive and negative that can help you maximize your health and performance.
Best in health,
B.S. Community Health