Rhabdomyolysis: The Silent Exercise-Induced Killer!

On Friday January 3, 2014, I went to my CrossFit class and did a WOD that consisted of 42-30-18 Ring Rows and 21-15-9 Barbell Back Squats, alternating between RRs and Squats. Prior to this I hadn’t done any upper body strength training for about a month because of some nerve issues, and I actually thought this workout would be okay for me. Little did I know how wrong I was!

After (and now that I think about it, even during) the workout my arms were immediately sore. It even hurt for me to take a shower! I figured, “Hey I just did a tough arm workout, of course my arms are sore!”

By Saturday I could barely straighten my arms and they started to get swollen and puffy.

Sunday my arms looked like this:

On the inner side of my biceps my arms were puffing out! This is when I decided to do a little bit of research on Rhabdomyolysis (Rab-doe-my-o-lie-sis). I heard about it from my CrossFit coach when he posted an article about it a few months back. During my research I came across this article: http://fitfeat.com/blog/2011/06/03/rhabdomyolysis-if-you-exercise-read-this/ written by Shari. Shari if you’re reading this… THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I cannot thank you enough for you writing about your experience and it really helped me take the initiative when it came to my health! You might have just saved my life!

After reading her article my boyfriend and I drove to the ER. After a 4+ hour wait… I told the doctor I did CrossFit and I thought I had Rhabdo. He checked my Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) levels and normal is < 200. I was at 8000. I was admitted immediately, hooked to an IV and was in the hospital for 4 days. I didn’t plan for any of this to happen and it came out of nowhere! Even after I was in the hospital I was STILL in denial.

They put a liter of fluids in me every 2 hours and I was peeing round the clock! Within 2 days I gained 20 pounds of water weight. Trust me when I tell you that this was seriously disturbing for me, especially since I’ve lost 20lbs and was still in the process of trying to lose weight!


Welcome my 20lb. water baby!

Here are my CPK levels as the days went on:
1/5/14: 8030
1/6/14: 10,416
1/6/14: 11,858
1/6/14: 15,645
1/6/14: 16,191
1/7/14: 12,100
1/7/14: 13,013
1/7/14: 13,090
1/7/14: 12,463
1/8/14: 10,186
1/8/14: 11,004
1/8/14: 9,639
1/9/14: 7,749
1/10/14: 3045

The first couple days my levels kept going up! Could you imagine if I was still at home or at work? My numbers could have been much worse!

Two weeks later I took another blood test…
1/22/14: 129
Halleluyer I’m normal again!!!

WTF is Rhabdomyolysis??!

Now that you heard my story, I bet you’re wondering, WTF is Rhabdomyolysis??!

According to medical dictionaries and the interwebs:
Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage.

Some symptoms of Rhabdo include:

  • Dark, red, or cola-colored urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • General weakness
  • Muscle stiffness or aching (myalgia)
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Weakness of the affected muscles

If you are experiencing muscle stiffness, pain, weakness, swelling then go to the ER! DO NOT WAIT! Especially if your urine is dark, coca-cola colored. That means blood is in your urine and your kidneys are failing.

I write this as a way to let those who exercise know that Rhabdomyolysis IS out there and it IS dangerous. Though it is a rare occurance, it can happen to anyone. Someone in the military, CrossFitters, even those working out at home can get Rhabdo. I read about a situation where a person got Rhabdo from doing 20 sit-ups every day for a week. Another case happened when someone took a cycling class ONE time! It can occur in your arms, legs, back, even abs. It can happen to athletic people (like me) or to someone who hasn’t worked out at all and is just getting started!

Post-Rhabdo

As far as my post-Rhabdo experience, I haven’t lifted anything heavy or even attempted to work out. I will post what I’ve done to get back into the swing of things, and if I will return to CrossFit. As of right this moment, doing CrossFit is definitely not an option for me. I dont’ know if I’ll ever be a CrossFitter again. Going through this experience has definitely traumatized me a little bit. I will be questioning my body every time I lift and wondering if the next workout I do will be okay. I don’t know how long mentally this will last, but I just don’t see myself going back to CF anytime soon. Right now I want to work out SO bad but I need to understand that I need to start off SLOW. Like my doctor told me, “No Pain, No Gain” does NOT apply here!

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6 Months Doing CrossFit!

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As of today, I have been doing CrossFit for 6 months since my ONRAMP. I have been enjoying every bit of it so far! I have increased my weights, finishing WODs faster, and my physique has changed a lot. I’m more toned, but I still have at least 10-15 more pounds to drop.

Last year (before surgery) I had a body fat percentage of 30-31%. Today I am at 24-25%! I have also lost 4″ in measurements over the last 6 months. I am so happy with my progress and I can’t wait to see where I am next year!
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I thought about doing Paleo, juicing or a meal replacement to get my weightloss going again. I haven’t decided what I want to do just yet but it definitely will be healthy. I cannot wait to get to the 150s! I’m 5 pounds away! I can do this!

My CrossFit Experience!

Last week I finished my 2 weeks of CrossFit On-Ramp classes. These classes are designed to teach newbie Crossfitters (like me) about Olympic lifting, form, and gives you a scaled down version of what a regular CrossFit class is like. I learned a few things after these classes.

1. I LOVE weight lifting! Being able to lift a barbell over my head is a rush. I love strength training and the feeling of completing my reps is so awesome! I am even developing muscle definition on my body after only 2 weeks! Crazy.

2. CrossFit is HARD. This is no picnic ladies and gents. CrossFit pushes your body to its limits and it never gets easier. Whether you want to increase the weights you lift, do your reps faster, or increase your reps, your workouts will always be tough. ALWAYS.

3. I’m scared to take regular classes. I only got a small taste of what regular classes are like and to be completely honest, I’m terrified! I mean, doing an 18 minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) is scary! Lifting weights over 100lbs and doing exercises I know I couldn’t even do one rep of…. I can barely do ONE pullup! I mean seriously, my upper body strength is abysmal.

I am going to my first CrossFit class tomorrow and I’m so scared. I don’t want to let myself down and I want to be able to keep up with others. But this leads me to the fourth lesson I am still in the process of learning:

4. You are only in competition with yourself! Yes there is most likely someone in your class who is stronger, faster, and overall more athletic than you. Yes you might end up being the last person to finish. But you have to remember that you are only in competition with yourself. You can’t compare yourself to others because their level of physical fitness is different than yours. Just think that finishing your WOD (Workout of the Day) dead last is still miles ahead of people who are still sitting on the couch!

I am an extremely competitive person and I am hard on myself all the time. So finishing a workout last or struggling to keep up is something that is really hard on my ego. BUT I know that with each workout I am only getting better, stronger, and faster. That’s the internal battle I am struggling with right now.

I only have 14 classes left on my Groupon for CrossFit and that will determine whether or not I signup for a membership.

Any CrossFitters out there have advice for a newbie like me? Thanks!

Weight Loss Challenge!

Hi everybody! I have been slacking in my blog posts lately, but I’m back and so is my exercise routine! Just a few updates on where I’ve been the past few months.

Late last year I was diagnosed with having a Cerebral Spinal Fluid Leak coming from my skull and leaking through my nose. If not treated it could have lead to Meningitis. I had to go through numerous doctors appointments, CT scans, dye injection into my spine, and finally surgery on my skull through my nose. I’m glad to say that surgery went well and I am leak free! I feel good and I’m back to my normal self. *yay*

Luckily without working out for almost 5 months I only gained 3-4 pounds. W00t! Now I’m ready to lose the rest of this weight!

I recently signed up for a Groupon deal for 20 classes of CrossFit. I am also involved in my friends’ weight loss challenge as well as their Fit Camps held every Sunday! So my schedule looks like so:

Sun: Fit Camp
Mon: Rest or Cardio day
Tues: CrossFit
Wed: Rest or Cardio day
Thurs: CrossFit
Fri: CrossFit
Sat: CrossFit or Rest Day

I am currently fluctuating between 168 and 171 and my goal is still to reach 145 lbs.

I am motivated more than ever to lose this weight! Let’s do this!

Oh! Also if you have any tips or advice on meal plans I would LOVE IT! I need to figure out what foods to eat and what meals to make.

Thanks for listening!

CrossFit

I’m not gonna lie. I want to join CrossFit not now… but RIGHT NOW. I LOVE lifting weights and pushing myself to my maximum potential. I want to do hand stand push ups, dead lifts, overhead squats, all of it! But unfortunately joining CrossFit costs $150/month and that’s too expensive for me right now.

I wish I didn’t have a car payment, student loans and a ton of miscellaneous bills, but I do. And I have to focus on paying those off before I can do what I want.

Hopefully one day I will be able to join CrossFit and get in the best shape of my life! One day…

But for now, I just have to push myself with whatever work out I do and strive to get as fit and healthy as I can!