Digging out of a hole

Getting sick is never fun. But it’s a great way to reset the ego and appreciate the fragility and beauty of life. I got the flu some time in the first week of November. The symptoms weren’t fully showing, but I could tell I caught something. The next week I would be traveling out of state with family, and I was busy with getting things squared away at work.

So I slept less than I needed, but I was on fire and getting up early every morning to punch in my training sessions. Right at this time, I was also progressing well with squats. I increased to all five sets of five at 155 by this time, and though there was no soreness, I could feel the extra burden. I was eating more and feeling a bit more tired in the mornings. Still, I was feeling strong.

On the following Monday, I got up early as usual. I knew this bug was getting stronger in me, but I thought I would shake it off with a good training session and food. It was cold, much colder than the previous couple of days. I had some coffee and proceeded to my training area. Barefoot, I could hardly stand the sting of the cold ground. I’ve done swings with numb feet before, but this day I felt weak and didn’t muster up the willpower to take the pain. After a couple of warmup squat sets, which did not warm me up, I ran inside to grab my Vibrams. That made things much more bearable, and I finished my session of squats and deadlifts. The whole time, I felt the cold creeping in through my skin, to the bone. I knew I was taking a hit, so I packed on some sweaters and tried to eat more than normal.

On Tuesday morning, I got up and could feel the bug still trying to take over me inside. I felt my immune response building, that faint but ominous tenderness, and knew I needed to bolster my defenses. I took some C with a lot of water. Again it was cold, possibly colder than Monday. I pushed through training, but felt the cold overcoming me. The heat within wasn’t pushing out the cold. As I worked that day, my immune response increased. I was regressing into that miserable state of man cold. Unwisely, I continued to work, as I couldn’t afford to leave my duties unfinished before leaving for my trip. I was so busy I failed to eat anything. By dinner time I was on the couch with shivers, body aches, and fever, and physically tired from the aftermath of my training session.

I spent the night in a state of dizzy delirium, unable to eat, stand, or even really communicate with my wife. I tried to puke it out, which has made me feel much better in the past, but even with the most invasive gouging of my tongue nothing would come out. There was no relief until I finally fell asleep.

Early the next morning, it was go time. Whether I felt alright or not, we had to get to the airport. I made coffee and packed, weak and crouched, but determined. Somehow I thought drinking apple cider would be a good way to get some fast calories. Unfortunately, I’m quite intolerant of high doses of sugar. On an empty stomach, it was a finisher. I had cramps the rest of the day, walking through the airport like a bent zombie. The only thing keeping me functional was the adrenaline response to the tasks at hand. Get our bag checked, get through security, keep the baby and our belongings secure, and get on that plane.

Fast forward a week, and I’m still recovering from the bug. I took enough C to resolve the virus, but not sleeping enough and staying busy did a number on my system. I could feel my kidneys aching from the stress, and my energy endurance was zero. I could still put out power, my neuromuscular structure was intact, but I couldn’t hold up for more than a moment. In the mornings, I would have to take breaks on the couch between making coffee and putting the dishes away.

I actually got to a psychological state where I thought I would never recover. I’m used to getting over bugs in a day, with some vitamin C megadosing and a good nap. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t able to get in a session the next morning. So when this episode of suck persisted beyond a week, I got a little morose. I thought that getting in a training session, as soon as I got a bit of strength back, would snap me out of it. Like a kick start. So mid-second week of my malaise, I got up early and dragged my ass through two very painful sets of swings and getups. I certainly felt better at first, but later that evening I got a pounding headache and more fatigue. It was all I could do to keep my moral up. I had to beat this thing.

I figured out that I needed to eat frequently, in smaller amounts. Normally I eat two big meals a day, at midday and dinner. With the extensive drain on my system, I had to change it up to regain my baseline metabolism. Following a pattern of eat, rest, eat, rest, I slowly got better. I could feel my kidneys relax. Soon after, my liver softened up. I held off on training until I could wake up and not feel fatigue. At the end of two weeks, I was able to put in a couple of sets of squats and deads.

While the sets felt fine, the rest periods in between were wretched. I mostly sat, doubled over, until I caught my breath. Day by day though, I got a little more energy. I also started to get my spirit back. At the end of the third week since getting overcome by the virus, I finally had the strength to complete a full set of Simple & Sinister – 100 swings, and 10 getups. It was a landmark day. I was humbled by my mortality, and convinced of the resilience of my strength.

I’m glad I’m past the dip, and I can’t wait to get back the progress I made earlier on fives. I also can’t wait to see progress on S&S. At the same time, I’m going to be a little more conservative with recovery when I feel that next bug hit me. And I think that’s about it. It’s good to be alive, and as small as this episode of illness is in the grand scheme of things, for me it was a reality check that’s going to stick for a while.

Cold, hot, sick, well, I hope you find the strength to get out there every day and punch in a session.

Live powerfully,

Steve

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