I am in the hospital. When they pumped in more Dilaudid a few minutes ago, I instantly rocketed back into the upper stratosphere I often visit while dallying with narcotics. My first thought (after GAAAHHHH MY FACE IS MELTING) was that I should ride the Highmobile to Sleepytown, but when closing my eyes resulted in some wicked swoopy feelings and opening them made me think my bed was a jack o’ lantern leering in the darkness, I decided it would be a better plan to take to the Internet.
So, hi! Also, SO HIGH.
Winter training has been going very well. I’m feeling strong on the bike, visiting the gym religiously, eating well, stretching, and doing everything I can to baby my problematic back. Other than some occasional pain, nothing has seemed out of the ordinary or particularly concerning.
I wrapped up a rest week on Sunday and started the new training block with some intervals this morning. The ride wasn’t great; my legs hurt, I felt shitty overall, and it was a struggle to keep my power output in the right zone. It was frustrating because I’ve had such great rides lately, but I punished my uncooperative body with an extra interval and wrapped up the workout with hopes for a better tomorrow.
Going into work after the ride, I felt less than excellent. My body hurt overall in an unspecific, unpleasant way, and my coworkers were quick to ask why I looked so deflated and creaky. I had donned compression tights under my dress capris to expedite recovery (and because I enjoy looking ridiculous at work), and those left me uncomfortably hot and fidgety. I felt so out of sorts that on my way to the conference room for a meeting, I debated about whether to walk under the maintenance man’s ladder in the hallway in hopes of, like, reversing my luck or some shit like that. Because that works, right?
The plan was to finish my workday and then hit the gym for a quick session of SUPERFUN, but as the dreary day worn on, I decided to knock out the gym during lunch instead. My reasons for this were as follows: (1) Tequila (2) Dread (3) Coffee (4) Crankypants. I could try to explain, but it’s more fun to leave it at that little word cloud of my brain. And that was before the narcotics started. You wouldn’t believe the shit going on up there now. It’s all cupcakes and asteroids and explosions of feelings.
So I went to the gym, did my warm up, and started doing squats. It felt fine. I wasn’t in pain. Overall I still felt sort of like ass, but it wasn’t anything specific. I’m being honest here – while I’m a stubborn cow about pushing through rough times in training, I was not ignoring warning signs. It came as a complete shock when, at the bottom of the third rep of the third set of squats, it felt like my sacrum exploded.
Instead of dropping the weight bar, I racked it quietly to avoid drawing attention. Instead of asking for help, I sat on the squat rack and quivered in agony and then, tiny bit by bit, hobbled my way to the locker room to get my stuff and keys. Instead of calling for an ambulance, I inched out to my car and called my mother to beg for a ride to the hospital. And why? Oh, right, because I was embarrassed. This is so shameful it must be confessed. I was embarrassed, so I crawled out of that gym like a little bitch and cried in my car. Every step I had to take while my back melted down was the price I paid for being too proud to admit failure.
We made it to the ER, an attendant collected me from the car in a wheelchair, and then the agony of sitting upright in that chair left me bawling at the check-in desk. That made the pain even worse, which made the hyperventilating start, at which point the crusty old lady behind the desk coldly told me to stop or I was going to pass out. I don’t remember my exact words, but I think it was somewhere along the lines of, LOOK BITCH, IF I COULD STOP, I WOULD.
It took a while, but I was finally given my first of what now totals something like six doses of Dilaudid (along with some other painkillers, a steroid, a muscle relaxer, and the sexiness that is a stool softener). Don’t worry, though! I totally checked WADA’s website, although I must admit that even in my soberest moments, their banned substances list is a cluttered eyefuck, so in my addled state, I’m pretty sure I was reading the lyrics to Gangnam Style. But I checked! CLEAN CYCLIST HERE.
Now I’ve been admitted to the hospital for the night and tomorrow will hopefully include some tests to figure out what went wrong. If there is a transplant list for backs, I want on it. This sucks a big one; I have known I’m perpetually on thin ice while weightlifting ever since the last back injury exactly two years ago, but I thought I was being sufficiently proactive and careful. Apparently not. Now I’m hurting and frightened by the possibility of facing a setback now or a future of recurring problems.
But I know one thing for certain. This will not do me in. I will get the tests, take the drugs, do the therapy, and negotiate a peace treaty with my back. It looks like that means no more weightlifting in the future, but I can work around that. I can adjust my training and work harder to take care of my body and protect my weak spots. The only thing I cannot and will not accept is defeat. Cycling is my dream. It is my life, my heart, my safe place and my wildest passion. Relationships take work and I will do whatever it takes to make this one succeed.