- Workout Date - 02/13/2016
- Q In Charge - Perry Mason
- The PAX - ¯_(ツ)_/¯
- AO -
0 PAX joined YHC for a chilly solo post at The Station on Saturday. There is not much to say about the workout. I ran around Greer. I did some merkins. There was 1 set of train burpees. There was an elderly couple staring at the weirdo doing burpees by himself.
The solo workout afforded me some time to reflect on something that has been weighing on me for a while now. I know we were down a few men due to the convergence, but I was thinking about the declining numbers at several workouts around Greer (RIP Swamp Rabbit Hank). This got me thinking about what motivates us to post in the first place. Or, more to the point, what motivates me to post. Explaining that requires a slight detour into the past.
I realized the other day that 2016 marks a rather ignominious anniversary for YHC. This year makes 15 years since I had back surgery to repair disc damage in my lower back. It marked the end of what was (and hopefully remains) the worst period of my life.
At 22 I went from feeling invincible to feeling like an invalid. I was finishing up my 1st year of law school when I started having disc problems. I was in constant pain. The swelling in my back was affecting my sciatic nerve, which made it difficult for me to walk comfortably or straighten up. This left me bearing a striking resemblance to Montgomery Burns. It was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning, get dressed, and lug my books around school. I was popping Lortabs just to make it through. Once my classes were done for the day, all I wanted to do was to crawl into bed. However, relief was hard to find even laying down, as I could only rest comfortably in one position.
The next academic year started without any resolution. Over several months, I saw a number of doctors who prescribed conflicting treatments. I was told that my MRI did not show damage consistent with my symptoms (turns out scheduling the MRI first thing in the morning, when the swelling was at its lowest point, was a bad idea). A neurosurgeon recommended PT. An orthopedist said PT was a terrible idea that would only make my problems worse (which was correct). I was stuck not knowing what to do or if there was anything that could be done. I finally found an orthopedic surgeon who thought he had a 60-70% chance of helping me with surgery. I agreed without hesitation. I honestly think I would have gone forward if the odds were half that, given how miserable I was.
I was pulled out of the anesthesia by the sharpest and most searing pain I have ever experienced in my life – pain that dwarfed anything that had led me to that operating table. For the next day or two, I suffered muscle spasms that only magnified the pain from the operation. But from the moment they first made me get out of bed, I was overjoyed due to the simple fact that I could straighten my back all the way for the first time in months. A few weeks of recovery and I felt like I had been given a new lease on life.
Thankfully, I have not had any back problems in the intervening years. But that does not mean that the episode had not left its mark. The surgeon told me that my spine looked like it belonged to an old man, and it was very possible that I would have problems again in the future. For years afterwards, I considered my back to be a ticking time bomb. I generally avoided strenuous activity, because I lived in fear of re-injuring myself.
This is where F3 has been a blessing to me. In the gloom I have tested myself in ways I would not have even imagined a few years ago. I went from getting drenched with sweat from the effort of carrying a backpack for two blocks to running the Blue Ridge Relay. I have my F3 brothers to thank for helping motivate me to be better than I was on my own.
These days, I rarely think about my back on a conscious level. I might have a fleeting thought about my form or whether I need to audible on certain exercises. But even if I do not obsess about it anymore, I know that my prior experience is very much tied up in why I keep posting. My back is part of why I feel guilty on days that I am physically able yet choose not to get out of bed. I feel that guilt because I know that future health is not guaranteed. I feel it because there are men that did pull themselves out of bed waiting on me and the other PAX. I feel it because I do not want to leave room for the jester to steal a march on me. I feel it because I passed on one more opportunity to demonstrate how indescribably thankful I am to be physically able to post at all.
That last point is one I know that I do not contemplate enough – all the things I have to be thankful for. I am grateful for my health. I am grateful that the girlfriend who once stood beside me during my lowest point is now my wife and the mother of my 3 wonderful children. I am grateful that gutting out that part of law school has led to a satisfying career. I am grateful that after those events I reached a place where I was ready to accept Christ as my savior and hope (“[I]f we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself”).
We have all been blessed beyond measure. We need to be more purposeful in reminding ourselves of those blessings and living each day in full appreciation of all that God has provided. So next time that alarm goes off and you think about hitting the snooze, just remember that there is no guarantee that you will get to make it up another day. Think about how your family depends upon your strength and your health. Think about the freedom you possess to exercise as you see fit. Consider those men waiting for you in the gloom, how they lift you up, and how they rely upon you to motivate them. Think about those things and be grateful. Then, with gratitude, get out of bed.