Man, it’s been a LONG LONG LONG time, you guys. A long time. Where have I been? Well, a lot of the usual places. School, my home, my bed, crossfit, my school’s gym. So why haven’t I been posting? That is a very simple answer with a very complicated backstory! Read on for the longest explanation ever. Spoiler alert: there’s blood, bones, injury, emotion, and a shitload of photos, after the break!
I was already behind by 5 posts back at the end of February and the first few days of WODing in March. On March 5th, I went in to do a split “Jackie,” where we did 2, half rounds of “Jackie” back to back, instead of going straight through. So instead of 1000m row, then 50 35lb thrusters, and 30 pull-ups, we did 2 Rounds of 500m row, 25 35lb thrusters, 15 pull-ups. I was exhausted, and didn’t get much sleep the night before, but I was so excited about being able to Rx another WOD, so I went in at 5:30pm. In the strength portion pre-WOD, I did 6 rounds with 4 HSPUs to 2 ambats every round, and I felt freaking invincible. I started my first round for the split “Jackie” and things were going well. I PR’d my 500m row, flew through the thrusters without any rest, and got on the pull-up bar.
I knocked out the first 4 no problem. Dropped down, shook out my hands, and jumped back up. I kept the normal overhand grip because I wasn’t feeling like my grip was fatigued enough yet to need to change to a mixed grip of one over one under. On my 4th pull-up of my second set of 4, I gave that last kip knowing I was about to jump down and shake out my hands again before the next set, and went to get my chin over the bar. Except that never happened. Out of nowhere, without any warning of fatigue or strain, my hands flew backwards off the bar as my hips traveled upwards, causing my head to travel downwards below the level that my hips were at. I smashed my head on a metal rack that was behind me, and came down hard on my fully-extended left arm.
I hit the ground, and immediately knew something was wrong, more than just my bruised ego. I quickly forgot about how silly I must have looked, because I realized that my head was bleeding everywhere, I couldn’t feel my left arm, and I started to black out. I yelled at myself inside my head that I needed to handle my shit and blacking out and losing consciousness was NOT an option right now. Next thing I knew, the two trainers who were coaching were right in front of me asking me questions and quickly assessing what was going on with me, while two other trainers who just happened to be participating in the WOD picked up flawlessly in their place and kept everyone focused and running the WOD. They were both very concerned with my head wound. I’ve bashed my head a lot. I’ve had to have staples in it before, I’ve had concussions in soccer games, and I am no stranger to the feeling of getting knocked out. I knew that my head wasn’t going to be the issue. By the time I realized this, one of my fellow crossfitters, who happened to be an ex-EMT, started doing a concussion check on me. I looked at him, choking back my tears, and I said to him “I don’t have a concussion, but there is something seriously wrong with my arm.” It was still cranked back behind me, and I hadn’t seen it yet. He somehow was able to work it around to the front of me, get it bent up at about 90 degrees, and put me in a triangle sling, all while the other coaches stopped the bleeding on my head, cleaned some of the blood off of me, and figured out what to do next.
I kept asking Erika if my arm looked weird. All I knew was that something was wrong, it hurt worse than anything else I’ve ever experienced, and I was absolutely freaking terrified that it was broken. She kept me at ease and just responded that it looked really swollen and that it would be okay. She packed up her baby, who was probably only (if not less than) a month old, my stuff, grabbed my wallet , keys, and phone from my car, and we went to the hospital.
I was admitted almost instantly, probably because they were worried I was concussed, and from there they gave me morphine and did their best to take x-rays while I was literally screaming at the poor x-ray techs because moving my arm and elbow hurt so badly. The more experienced of the two came out before they took me back down to my room, and told me it looks pretty badly dislocated, and that I probably won’t need surgery, and to not tell anyone that he told me that. He could tell that I was really upset and nervous about what my prognosis would be, and hearing that really helped calm me down. Then they looked at my head, and realized that I needed 4 staples to shut the wound. A staff doctor put the staples in, and it freaking hurt. I hate head staples.
The surgeon on duty checked out my x-rays, and determined that it was dislocated, but that there was also a piece of bone that had broken off on impact. The bone had ligaments attached to it, but he was confident that it didn’t need to be addressed yet. They gave me more morphine, eventually knocked me out using Ketamine, and set everything back in place. I woke up with a HUGE splint on my arm, lots of pain, and the biggest craving for chocolate, candy, and soda I’ve ever had in my life. Tyler showed up at some point and brought me all of these things, because he’s the best, and I overindulged for sure.
The next weeks were a nightmare. I couldn’t dress myself, I couldn’t bathe myself, I couldn’t pull my hair up, I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t wear real pants. I was in constant pain, and existed solely on Percoset and 800mg Ibuprofen. I cried most days, at least once, because I was so disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to participate in the Open. I also cried because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t workout. It’s amazing how emotionally and physically stimulating just working out 3 times a week is. I never realized it before this. Here is a facebook status that I posted, that 100% sums up my feelings for most of the first 3 weeks.
I need to remember this moment, this feeling of not being able to do the one thing that brings me the most personal satisfaction out of ANYTHING I have ever done. When I am healed up and back into routine, I never want to forget what it feels like to be sitting here, barely able to put an effing shirt on by myself, let alone snatch or do HSPUs or even squat. I want to think back to now, on those days where I have too much going on, a lot of homework, am feeling lazy, or just can’t be bothered. I want to think back to now, and KNOW that it could be taken away from me any week, any day, any second. And I need to make the most out of every single opportunity that I have, because I love this shit, and I feel completely lifeless and empty without it to look forward to. Working Wounded, next week, I’m coming for you.
(Just added these pictures, and remembered that my right arm flew off the bar and hit me in the face, resulting in a sweet black eye, as seen above.)
I got my splint off after 10 days, and was put into a restricted movement brace. I looked like a robot. After two weeks in the brace, on March 27th (3 weeks and 1 day after the accident), I started a Working Wounded program at my Crossfit box, with the owner, Brian Wilson. He created a template of 4 workouts per week (for 4 weeks) for me to do, after assessing my movements, strength, balance, and capability. I followed his template, but ended up adding way more volume for GHDs, single arm front planks, dumbbell front squats, and dumbbell deadlifts. It was amazing how much getting my blood pumping helped….everything. I no longer felt the need to cry and dwell on every single wall I hit (both figuratively and literally, ha), my swelling and bruising decreased dramatically, I felt strong, and I felt like I was actually going to make it through this injury (which I know sounds dramatic, but I’ve never so much as broken a toe before). It also helped me to feel less alone. For some reason, I felt this crushing sense of solitude during my initial healing. I think I just expected more people to check in more consistently about how I was doing, mostly because I’ve never broken a bone before and to me it was THE END OF THE WORRRRRLD, and I was just in a very selfish mindset. Tyler helped me through this more than I ever could have asked him to, and I owe most of my success through this to him.
For 4 weeks, I did 3 workouts at crossfit, and one at my university’s gym. No excuses. 4x a week, for 4 weeks. I literally didn’t think I was capable of that. At the end of the 4th week, my brace was removed, and I was able to take my first real shower. Holy shit. What a defining moment that was. I was jumping up and down in the shower (not even a little bit safe) with the biggest smile on my face. I was able to wash my hair really well on my own. And most importantly, I could start slowly incorporating myself back into real WODs. I am now working on regaining my full range of motion for elbow flexion and extension. My extension is maybe only 10 degrees away from full extension, but my flexion is probably about 30 degrees away from max flexion. Stretching it is painful, but I HAVE to get my range of motion back. Right now I am unable to lift. I can back squat and hack squat, but that’s about it. So every single day I focus time on it, because I NEED to be able to Clean and Jerk again. And to Snatch again. And to do HSPUs again.
It’s slow slow progress, but every day it gets a little bit better. It’s been 8 weeks since the injury, and everything is settling in just they way they want it to. The alignment of the bones in my elbow is perfect with no gaps or weird misaligning, and the broken bone with the ligaments attached to it has been pulled down close to where it came from with scar tissue and is allowing everything to operate properly. I have pretty extreme pain in my biceps while flexing, presumably because of this bone. Everything else is perfect though. I’m just taking it day by day, and doing my best, because if I’ve learned anything through this injury, it’s that life is about comparing yourself to your best you, not anyone else.
Now, without further ado, yesterday’s WOD post!!!
Monday 4/29 WOD at PFC
- Back Squat 5-5-5-5: 105-105-105-105. Still trying to take this a little easy, because I’m worried about having to ditch the weight and it yanking my arm in a funny direction. The last two sets pushed me, but I would like to have gotten to failure. Last time we did 4×5 BSs, 105 was a HUGE PR for me, and I was extremely proud of getting it. So I guess the fact that today I used 105 as a heavier but safe set shows promise.
WOD for Time: 8:58
5 Rounds of:
- 5 Front Squats (Subbed Crossed-Arm Front Squats): 65lbs, Level I weight because it was only my second time ever doing them that way and my balance still isn’t super great with them. Could have done the Level II weight at 80lbs if I could have done normal FSs.
- 10 Toes-to-Bar (Subbed GHDs): Rx Reps…maybe Rx+ for GHDs instead of TTB? I think they use more core?
- 25 Double Unders: Rx. Killed these. In our warmup I strung together 47, which I think is a PR as well. Rounds 2, 3, 4, & 5 were all unbroken, and 1 just had one split midway somewhere. It felt so good to have such awesome rhythm going with these.
One last thing. The support I’ve had at my box has been completely incredible. The coaches constantly check in with me when they see me, people who were there when I fell came up to me the first few days I was back and told me how glad they are to see me back in there, and complete strangers who I’ve never spoken with before have been hounding me about how I’m doing and how my range of motion has been improving, and helping me wherever I need it. I’ve made a lot of new friends through this, and honestly it’s just one of the many unexpected positives I’ve been able to see that has come from this shitty, terrible, horrific experience. I am just so happy that this happened at my box with my incredible coaches, wonderful support system, and superior programming, or else I don’t know what kind of shape I would be in right now. I wish I could thank every single person who has flashed me a smile while I was working out doing my own WODs with my brace on, or carried my 70lb dumbbell back to the rack for me, or helped put away my gear, or asked me how I was doing or what happened or just made any contact with me at all. Seriously, you guys got me through this. And without Tyler and my parents, I’d have dropped out of school, given Crossfit up completely, and gained probably about 20lbs by now. I owe everything to them. Ugh. I am so lucky. And now I’m emotional, so I’m going to go have myself a little cry in the shower. I love everyone and everything right now.