Anvil or Hammer

So far

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 30, 2008

So, how’m I doing?

Physically, good, well, pretty good. The last few days I have awoken with little pain in the morning. I have debated whether I should or should not go for the ibuprofen (I take 2 four times a day). I always did just to stay on a schedule and because I had to sit at work all day. Yesterday I actually awoke with no pain, for the first time in months. At work I am doing decent. I take ice packs and rotate them 30 – 45 minutes on then the same off. It manages the discomfort. I’m sitting on the couch but it a semi reclined position most evenings. It’s not “normal” but it beats lying on my side on the floor like I was for weeks.

When I first heard the suggestion that it was a herniated disc I pretty much dismissed it. I figured “I’ll let her do the MRI and we won’t find the disc but maybe we’ll find some other problem we can fix.” Boy was I wrong. Then when I saw what was clearly a herniated disc on my MRI I was really disappointed, depressed really.

For the last 48 hours I have been googling every combination of herniated disc I could think of. There were a lot of people who made it sound like they checked out of life after that. That was depressing me further and kind of ticking me off. I’ve come too far to just go and quit. I’ve always said that living life was more important that training but, what I haven’t said is, some training was also important in living my life. The idea of not being able to move my own furniture or carry a suitcase is an awful one.

I did get a couple pick-me-ups though. First, talking to my PT, someone who has seen her fair share of ruptured discs, seemed to feel that with some patience and time, I should not feel like I can’t enjoy life quite a bit. She also indicated that there is still a piriformis issue that we will work on. That’s ok by me, gives me something to do to feel like I am actively working on it.

I also came across an article on Dragondoor that I found relevant. Brian Copeland an RKC had two herniated lumbar discs and through stretching and kettlebells is back to full steam. He’s a personal trainer in the Denver area. I emailed him to see if he had any thoughts on the topic, given his experience. He got back to me in a matter of a couple hours and has been really helpful.

Your best approach is to:

  1. Find a Z Health certified person, preferably a Level 4 or Master level person and have them work on you.
  2. Buy the R Phase DVD and manual off of my website if you don’t have a Z person near you. There is a link on the left sidebar if you scroll down.
  3. Practice your Z Health with the intention of “not moving into pain or startle reflex” to reeducate the nervous system
  4. Practice your kettlebells in the exact same way.
  5. Do Windmills, Get ups, swings, deadlifts, perhaps even working to imperfect round back deadlifts with very light weights to start. All of these must NOT send a pain signal. If they do then make the range of motion smaller and move slower. You will reeducate your nervous system not to send a pain signal.
  6. I have written in the past about some stretches to do. The stretches are fine but remember that you must not feel pain from them. You must not get overly tight. Think a mild stretch.
  7. Us guys have a hard time with this concept, deal with it as it is your best bet for a quick recovery. How quick? I have seen pain go away from litterally one repetition of a Z Health movement and I have also seen it take a little while. I have done this with my clients who have back pain and they couldn’t touch their toes and a few windmills done in this fashion and they are touching the ground with their knuckles.

Brian Copeland, RKC

I thought and thought and obsessed and obsessed. My poor wife has been a good sport the last 48 hours as I have had little else on my mind and she’s heard more permutations of what I could or should do. I settled on a few things and I’m still thinking about other things.

  • Strongman – over. Let’s face it, the weights involved were stupid and begging for an injury. I mean 800lb yoke walk, no thanks. I can’t say I’ll miss it a lot either. I liked some of the odd objects and stones but I could leave the super heavy stuff and be just fine.
  • Powerlifting – over. At some point I may add some squats and deads back in but those are the highest risk maneuvers I can do with a herniated disc so when I add them back, they need to be done with sensitivity and not with an emphasis on highest weight possible. When they are added back there will be rules. Currently I’m thinking bodyweight or maybe 300lbs eventually, but rules, whatever they end up being.
  • Sandbags – These will take a break but they’ll come back eventually in small pieces.
  • Kettlebells – These, I think, will be my primary modis operandi in the future, but it’s gonna be a little bit before I start in on them again.

I still have a doctor’s appointment this coming Tuesday that will be very telling but from what my PT has said, this doc favors the nonaggressive/noninvasive approach which is exactly what I would like to see. As I mentioned, I’m still under going PT for the piriformis business but it seems to be improving, I’ve had probably 5 “good” days in a row, I’m just trying to not change the momentum right now. I’ve got a couple other emails out to people Jim Bathurst regarding bodyweight training and Mike Yuhaniak about Z Health training.

I still have a lot of info to gather in the coming weeks. Training will be cardio, stretching and recovery. 

who’s never seen a herniated disc before?

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 29, 2008

here’s your chance
herniated disc
a closer shot
close up herniation

Diagnosis Moida

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 27, 2008

I headed to the specialist today to get a different view on my injury. of course, right after I had booked the appointment I started to feel better. I considered canceling but I figured i had back slid before and i didn’t want to be kicking myself in a couple weeks. I would rather go in there and waste an hour of her well paid time than drag this out. I may be glad I did.

I got there at 2, filled out my info then stood around until 2:30. I tried to sit, as I was feeling pretty decent today. Unfortunately they had those terrible waiting room chairs that everyone has. These are the chairs I sat it that really set this injury off and made me miss those first days of work. So I literally stood around.

At 2:30 I was led to an examine room and given a gown. Then I waited 15 minutes. The doc (she’s a nurse practitioner really but, you get the idea) came in, ran down my complaints as laid out in my paperwork I had filled out. She ran me through the same basic maneuvers as everyone has: no pain on touching my spine, I can bend forward, I can’t bend backward very far. She declared it was time for an x-ray. I hadn’t really expected and x-ray for a muscle issue but, it turns out, she had something in mind.

I went in and did 3 x-rays: standing with my back to the plate, standing with my injured side to the plate and lying with my injured side to the plate. Then I hung out while they checked the x-rays, we shot one a second time just to make sure it was the right contrast. I was shuffled back to the room and changed back.

The doc (NP) came back and announced that we didn’t have a solution but might be closer to one. Then she popped the X-rays up. First the front shot. I couldn’t see a whole lot of anything. The good news is that there wasn’t a whole lot to see, nothing broken, chipped or anything. Then she popped up the two side shots. Between each vertebra is a gap, they appear more pronounced in the standing image. Just above the first lumbar vertebra above the sacrum (L5 I guess) the gap is about 1/3 – 1/2 the thickness of the other ones near it. This she says is indicative of a ruptured disc.

I must confess that I was and am skeptical. Maybe I’m skeptical because it’s a hard truth to swallow. I think, though, that I am skeptical because I feel like the stretching shouldn’t have caused more discomfort with a ruptured disc. Maybe because I feel like i shouldn’t feel a difference after therapy sessions and I do. I dunno.

She told me that she couldn’t possibly make a complete diagnosis based on an x-ray alone and gave me a prescription for an MRI and instructions on who I should book it with an how. I’m booked for tomorrow afternoon. I get to take the images in when I’m done with the MRI, I’m hoping they aren’t sealed so I can look at them.

She gave me instructions not to lift weight and to keep taking ibuprofen and sent me packing. I’ll know more after my next appointment.

I’m the luckiest one

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 25, 2008

First, business. No training this week, the week started ok but went downhill from there. Thursday’s PT session didn’t go much of anywhere. The ruling coming out of the session was, don’t stretch for a while, it’s maybe aggravating things (which is basically what Stephen said the same day in a comment). I made a big change in that, I have used hot pads up until now to mitigate muscle pain. I switched to cold. I did this under the assumption that my PT and Stephen were on to something, the nerve was inflammed and that problem needed to be addressed more than the muscle problem. I also did it in response to the fact that I had used heat that day then got some at PT and felt like my entire sciatic nerve had broken out in a rash.

The switch to cold was awesome. I rotated an hour on and an hour off all day on Friday. I had to stay at work all day, no excuses. The cold got me through. I used some more that night when I woke up in the middle of the night like I have been. I also did not stretch for those days. Then on Saturday I didn’t use heat or cold (partially for fear of using cold too much and reirritating the nerve, like I did with the heat. I’ve been in a good place since then. It still bothers me to sit too long but I’ve been able to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. I’ve been able to be comfortable in positions other than on my right side, which is a good thing because too much of that was becoming uncomfortable. In short, I think I have found something that works. I stretched a little bit today and had not discomfort, tight yet, discomfort no.

I had a moment driving to work on Friday where I was thinking about the comments that you all have posted, the support I’ve received from my in-laws and how much my wife has totally handled this like a champ. I’ve told her repeatedly that she has been awesome throughout this injury and how it has majorly impacted our lives and her life. I’ve mentioned a couple times that I’ve appreciated the support form you all. I just had a moment though where I was just really appreciating it all. So I want to say to all of you again, thanks. You are awesome people and it makes me feel like I actually want to not only get healthy but like I may actually still have the desire to lift when I do. It’s cool to have folks like you all. So thanks.


Last, I just found this on YouTube. I think you will all enjoy it but it’s especially for Brent.

This picture was taken while I typed this entry 🙂
Everyone at rest

Adventures in the Chrome and Ferns

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 18, 2008

Well, this week has gone ok. It started off pretty bad, I couldn’t stay at work for even half a day on Monday and Tuesday, so I ended up working from home through Thursday. It didn’t help that on Monday I had a PT session that I basically wasted. We tried to see if there was a different point we could apply the heat, pressure and stim to get my recovery rolling along. I ended up throwing her a bit of a red hering. I could tell in a couple hours that I had totally wasted her time and mine. So on Thursday we went back to the place we have been working on but changed the order of events. It seems to have helped quite a bit which is good cause I was headed toward the end of my tether.

Friday was my first day back at work again, it went pretty well. No real difficulties until 2:30ish, it was headed toward being an issue by the time I was headed home. I did go to Dumbarton on Friday night. I got on the cheap elliptical they have now and turned the resistance down to near zero and did that for fifteen minutes. Then I stretched, that seemed like a mistake at first and I was really feeling the stretch more than I had expected when I was done. I made my way back to the elliptical and started to work that again, eventually things sorted themselves out. I was due to do a military bench contest so I knocked out a couple token lifts and called it a day.

Saturday was nothing, well nothing other than me being excited because I felt pretty good, which is something. It was also me trying to not repeat whatever I did last weekend that took me so many steps backwards. I had told my co-workers that I planned to be at work like normal next week provided “I don’t do something stupid like last week.” They asked what they could do to prevent that and I replied “I think it’s a terminal condition with me.”

Today I lazed about a bit more, it’s mostly what I do these days. I was able to make and eat breakfast like a normal Sunday (pancakes at the table) so that is good. I also was able to put together a piece of Ikea furniture although it was at half speed and with a constant mind to, am I going to regret this tomorrow. Then I headed to the local gym and got me a membership. The gym I went to is the Express one that I talked about Laura joining a while back, it is all cardio with some token, rubberized dumbbells on one side. I had considered joining then but chose not to. I decided with this injury, it’s still going to be a bit before i can lift like I’m serious still but I need to do something. I also think this gym could be a valuable recovery tool, Stephen has had it right all along and I’ve tried and failed to follow along, I need to do better in future. That’s how I avoid this stupid crap.

So, I have a new home of chrome and ferns, and yes, they have fake ferns. The chrome is out in favor of gun metal grey paint these days though. I headed over and did my paperwork and then went straight to the elliptical. These are fannnnncy, they each have there own TV with remote and I could plug my headphones into the remote and watch Jerry Springing, Ren & Stimpy, David Letterman or whatever is on, in stereo. I turned mine off. Ellipticals are good for that kind of gadgetry, you can’t get hurt very easily on them and you can’t go all out very easy on them, they seem perfectly designed for a low to moderate pace, which is why they are my rehab weapon of choice. After I get back to normal, I’ll work back in some rowing, biking and running but I’ll still keep the elliptical in the catalog for recovery days, especially after especially hard sessions.

This week looks promising, I’m feeling decent, I have a date to the gym on Monday at least and we’ll make some other days too. I have PT on Monday and am looking forward to a repeat of Thursday. I’m also scheduled for Thursday but will have to see if I can move it to Wednesday. I have to be in good shape this week, we get a new manager and i have to show him the ropes on Thursday and Friday all day, I can hardly be ducking out an hour early because it hurts or taking a 30 minute walk to wait for my ibuprofen to set in.


Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 10, 2008

This week has gone better than the last which was better than the previous. Improvement is good.

I was going to try to cardio on Monday and Wednesday and maybe do some kind of light dumbell workout of Friday.

Monday didn’t happen for scheduling reasons, my one real world class decided to have the final a week early and to mess with class start time. Long story short, I walked the dog and took my exam.

Wednesday I was going to try again at the cardio. I tried rowing, this was out for two reasons. The monitors on the rowers were all dead but also, it was pretty uncomfortable. I tried an elliptical but anything beyond a slow walk was uncomfortable. In hindsight, I wussed out. I never gave it a fair chance.

Friday s Dumbarton day. To be honest, I didn’t want to go. I was getting in a really foul mood. I hadn’t cared what I ate or how much for days. I wasn’t feeling good. Just a bad mood. I got there and couldn’t talk myself into benching. I roamed around for a bit. I found that the requirement that I stay for two hours forced me to do something.

We recently got in this sorta eliptical type thing. I got on that, turned the resistance all the way down and consigned myself to just doing that for the rest of the time. Oddly, it kinda started to feel good. After five minutes I was feeling better mentally, emotionally and physically. I kept going for 15 minutes total. Then i put the wraps and gloves on. 4 round of 3 minutes each on the bag. I’m no golden gloves, that is for sure, but i enjoyed it, sweat a fair bit. it was good. I also did a lot of stretching.

Today, I’m feeling a bit better for the wear. I wouldn’t say I have had any pain today, some tenderness but no pain. Then again I haven’t done anything.  I have two more session next week. I have to make myself do this cardio thing, if only for the blood flow. Right now, I just want to get off ibuprofen and not hurt.

Monday Morning Weigh-in: 230.2

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 5, 2008

Man, I didn’t want to do this. I knew it was going to be 231, maybe 232, with the way I have been eating this weekend. I’ve been hungry but also eating all weekend and it wasn’t all clean eating at that. Nope I got one of the least clean things I know of, Totino’s Pizza Rolls, and eat some and they tasted awesome. You can almost hear the squeak of unhealthiness as you chew on them. So the fact that I’m not training combined with feeling like I’m not eating right has me really wanting to skip this weigh in. I guess I figured that was the best reason to do it though. So hooray.

Back to normal working hours this week, more or less. I still have PT appointments. I’m not really training yet either. I’m going to try rowing today but that will be a matter of how it feels. I’m thinking I’ll just go nice and slow for about an hour and stop at any point where I don’t like how it feels.

That said, I’m light years better than I was a couple weeks ago.

Gimpin’ on a Friday Night

Posted in Gym Strength,Rest and Recovery by Mike on May 3, 2008

I’ve been doing all my stretches and going to PT and taking my ibuprofen all week. I’ve begun the process of backing down dosing. It’s a very good thing. No training happened until Friday, even then I knew there were huge limitations.

Jump Rope 5:00

Some T-bar row
90, 135, 225 (minus apparatus) X 5
Nothing heavy here, I was just taking it easy and warming up slowly.

Military Bench
135 X 5
225 X 4
275 X 3
300 X 1
225 X 8, 8
My leg was starting to bother me and I just didn’t have the drive to do a third set. It was a decent set of benches for me. An hour had passed.

3:00 Jump rop

From this point on I spent a fair amount of time working on the heavy bag, I didn’t time it, I wasn’t doing anything in particular. I also did my stretches while I was at the gym, this is the first time they gave relief rather than causing more pain.

My appetite is coming back and I’m fighting hard but I fear I am losing. I weighed myself a few days ago at 230, I’ve got to be 231 by now. so things go. I’m injured, I have plenty of time to come back, it’s important I do this right.

Totally unrelated, I’m thinking about migrating my blog back to my own hosting account…..more later.