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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I Can Barely Move!

On Saturday I went on a bike ride with my boyfriend. We were out there for almost 4 hours and went 35 miles!!

Sunday I met up with some friends and we did a group boot camp workout!

Today… OMG my whole entire body is sore!! Quads, hamstring, triceps, back, shoulders, everything! I feel great knowing that I can workout that hard, but OMG does it hurt to move.

I’m taking a break today because frankly, I NEED it. And my 5k is in 6 days! Ahhhhh! I don’t know if I’m ready for it, but I will give it my all. Hopefully my body doesn’t feel like its been beaten by 1000 bats by then.

Frustration!!

I’ve been trying to train for this 5k, but I’ve been running into shin splints issues (no pun intended lol). I took a break from running most of last week to heal my shins and then I decide to run a mile on the treadmill yesterday. I was feeling slight pain in my shins afterwards, and now this morning they are worse! What the f*ck?!

I am never going to be able to run a 5k if I keep getting shin splints like this. I may need to take advice from you readers and get fitted for shoes! I HAVE to. I cannot stand having this pain anymore and all it’s doing is setting me back from running.

I am going to go as soon as possible! This is so frustrating!

Shin Splints!

As I was running on the treadmill on Tuesday I felt SHARP pain on the inside of my lower legs, between my calves and shins. The pain was intense and throbbing. I tried to walk it off and then try to do interval sprints but the pain was too much so I had to stop. FREAKING. SHIN SPLINTS. Because I have shin splints right now I haven’t been able to do my leg press workouts or run for the past 2 days. *sigh* This has set me back a little and it’s frustrating. I guess my body is telling me that I need to rest. I’ve also been icing it for the past 2 days.

What’s even more frustrating is that I haven’t officially lost any weight. Have I gained muscle? Aabsolutely. I’M BENCHING 100LBS NOW! My theory is that as of right now I’ve replaced fat with some muscle which is why my weight hasn’t gone down. Even though I haven’t lost weight, I am going to start taking measurements and see if I am losing inches.

Gotta keep moving and stay motivated!

OWWW My groin!

As I was doing my Tabata Method sprints on Monday afternoon, there was a lady walking her huge dog. So to avoid her I changed direction and in doing so I pulled my groin muscle. Owwie! What is a groin pull you may ask?

What is a groin pull?
A groin pull is an injury to the muscles of the inner thigh. The groin muscles, called the “adductor muscle” group, consists of six muscles that span the distance from the inner pelvis to the inner part of the femur (thigh bone). These muscles pull the legs together, and also help with other movements of the hip joint. The adductor muscles are important to many types of athletes including sprinters, swimmers, soccer players, and football players.

It’s funny you don’t realize how often you use your groin muscle until it is sore/in pain! Moving my leg inward is painful and doing certain things hurts, like crossing my legs for example. I’m going to continue to ice it as often as I can and I hope be back to normal soon. It wasn’t too severe of a strain and I do feel a little better. I’m going to try to do my sprints again today and if I feel any discomfort or pain then I’ll stop and rest it again.

…………………………………………………………………….

So the bf was taught in his class that to build strength you should do 3 sets of 5 reps at 90% of your max weight. And if you do this for 12 weeks you will definitely see improvement. You should probably increase your weights every 2 weeks or when you feel that the weight you are at is getting too easy. This won’t get you HUGE and muscular, but will definitely get you stronger.

Right now my max and 90% weights are:

Max Leg Press: 335 lbs.   90% = 320 lbs.

Max Bench Press: 90 lbs.    90% = 80 lbs.

This was tough, and it gets really tiring, but I feel good today! Because of all the workouts I’ve been doing the past 2 weeks, I’ve been sore almost every day! Gotta push through though!