Overcoming Changed Training Capabilities

There are times when one's training and their very way of life is drastically changed. These life changing events can be the result of things happening in our world and our reactions to them. There are also internal disruptions. Medical events can change our ability to train at previous levels. The athlete needs to deal with the psychological consequences that develop as an internal reaction to this training trauma. These are challenging times to get past and move forward from. The competitive athlete within us has always pushed ourselves to exceed previous levels of personal performance. We accept nothing but giving our very best," leaving nothing "on the table." Constantly striving to be better, faster, stronger. Whatever the game was, second place loses first. Within the last nine months, my life has been forever changed. Toward the end of last August, I went to my cardiologist to discuss the statin that I was presently taking. While at the cardiologist's, I was informed that my resting pulse was 165 bpm and that I was experiencing atrial fibrillations. The following day, I was at Valley Hospital's emergency room. As they were wheeling me through the doors, I commented to Caroline, "I hope this isn't a life-changing event." The doctors who worked on me initially attempted to cardio convert me. This procedure involves electrically shocking the heart back to sinus (regular) mode. This procedure failed. They then proceeded to move forward with cardiac ablation. My body was very beaten up. I believe I had been in cardiac dysrhythmia for almost three months. My reaction to the injectable beta-blocker in conjunction with the anesthesia was not good. They had also had not taken the precautions necessary to handle a patient with asthma. I experienced heart, renal and pulmonary failure. I almost died in the operating room. I was then transferred to critical care during the second day in C.C.U. I developed sepsis from a staff infection that must have been acquired while in the hospital. I had a bluish-green skin color. My temperature rose to 104.3. I was intubated and put into a coma-like state. My dear Caroline was constantly at my side, and I could feel her love every morning when they brought me out of my coma-like state for a few moments. I felt her love while I was heavily sedated and slept. Being Irish and a bodybuilder, I was just too thick-headed to die. I rehabbed myself to the point of decent fitness and muscularity. The doctors' investigation of what brought about my almost death five months prior concluded that I had a severely calcified aortic valve. Within a month, I had open-heart surgery at Weil Cornell hospital. Then a month later, it was determined that I needed to have a cardiac ablation to stabilize my atrial fibrillation further. I had missed or had to alter 8 months of training. My body and psyche had had changed in appearance and had to further adapt to the changed needs and capabilities of the moment. The medications I was taking was making me tired and listless. There were many times when going down the stairs to the gym or going on my recumbent bike were beyond my physical and mental capabilities. I knew that it was extremely important to raise my cardiovascular capabilities. The optimal level of heart function was needed for my health and longevity. I did not like how I looked in the mirror, to raise my sense of self I needed to put back some muscle. My training possibilities had expanded but were still greatly limited regarding how, and how much I lifted. I used to deadlift 400 lbs. I am now making progress deadlifting 150 lbs. Presently I can bench press the 50 lb. dumbbells for eight reps in contrast to the 75 lb. dumbbells for 10. I need to lift safely. My chest was cut open and wired back together 13 weeks ago. My training methods and goals have been forever altered. The game changes when the rules change. Learning from our experiences is a basic measure of intelligence. These experiences left me a very changed man. I now have a very different outlook of the world. I am far more understanding of people and the differences that may lie between us. I was also physically changed from 9 months of significantly reduced physicality. I had lost 20 pounds, a large portion of my muscle, from my lack of weight training. I have gained back 5 pounds I am fighting every day, regardless of how I feel, to do my cardio and get in my lifting. I know my bodybuilding competition days are behind me. I will get back in shape, but my heavy lifting days are behind me. I will have to settle on not being the biggest guy in the room but rather the nicest. My road goes on…… Sometimes staying in the race is secondary to winning the race.……….

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