Or, how Grave’s Disease and a nasty stomach virus can really wreck your workout routine.
I had stopped posting these for a while, because I figured no one really cares about it. I would post regularly just as an accountability measure for myself. Rarely, someone would comment on something I was doing. This Fall and Winter, though, I had two things happen that made me really appreciate what I could do before, because I lost almost all of it.
Back in the early summer, my son helped me put up a pullup station in the back yard, and I dedicated myself, every third day, to getting better at my bodyweight/dumbbell workout (I walked and rowed on a Concept 2 ergometer on the other two days). By August, I was doing this workout in about 45 minutes:
Five rotations of:
- 9 pullups
- 18 pushups on blocks
- 18 squats (bodyweight)
- 9 dumbbell (DB) curl & press 35 lbs. (#)
- 18 Medball twists (each side for 1 rep) 12#
- 9 DB upright row 35#
- Plus 5 extra pullups and 10 pushupss
I was losing weight (for myself, mainly, and) for my son’s wedding in September. June 4, I weighed 260 pounds. I had bet my son that by the wedding in September, I could make 230. I made 231. I noticed that even though I was down 30 pounds, I seemed to be getting weaker, not stronger. I had to do fewer reps per round, and more rotations to finish – and I dropped the last 5 pullups and 10 pushups, because I just didn’t have the energy. This proceeded to get worse as I got into September. I also noticed that my legs and arms -and hands- would start shaking if I stood still for more than a few seconds. My capacity for walking and and rowing was dropping off pretty drastically. I would get tired pretty easily, and I noticed that after lying in bed for 20 minutes or more, my resting heart rate was 90 – compared to about 65 normally. I eventually got to where I couldn’t do more than one pullup or more than two pushups. Pathetic.
My wife finally convinced me to go to the doctor and see if he could figure out what was going on. After a consultation and some blood work, the doctor determined that I had something called Grave’s Disease. It’s a condition that causes your thyroid to over-produce the hormones that regulate all your body’s functions. They don’t know what causes it. He said that I’d probably end up taking some kind of medicine for the rest of my life: either methimazole to control the over-production of thyroid hormone, or hormone-replacement after they killed my thyroid gland with nuclear iodine. There’s a 5% chance that it will go into remission or disappear – not very good odds.
I started taking the medicine, and it didn’t take long to start getting better. I stopped shaking, and my heart rate slowed down some. I was involved in a theater production, so there wasn’t much time to work out with rehearsals almost every night. We got to the run of the show, and I got through the first four days, including three shows on Saturday (my understudy did one show in the afternoon). Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:00 AM violently ill. I vomited for five hours, and then had diarrhea for the next eight or nine days. I was able to do my show Wednesday night, and my understudy did the Thursday night show (as planned). I did the Friday night show, and the first show on Saturday. Right after the 10:30 show, I ran straight to the bathroom to throw up. I was miked and ready to do the 1:30 show, but sweating bullets, and feeling terrible. With five minutes to go, the director said it was too big of a risk for me to take the stage, and we should have the understudy to the show. I surrendered the mike to the understudy and found a place to lie down for a while. They have a rescue squad detachment at the church to take care of any health problems, so they came to check on me. They suggested that I go to the emergency room to get checked out. I reluctantly agreed.
My wife took me to the closest emergency room at Henrico Doctors Hospital, and I went through the standard check-in process. I saw a nurse and they started an IV. Eventually a doctor showed up and asked me what was going on. He had me do an x-ray. After the x-ray, they suggested that I should have a CT scan with contrast to see what was going on in my abdomen, because that’s where all my pain and nausea was coming from. Long story short, I drank that nasty quart of fluid and they found I had an ileus, or a constriction of my small intestine that was stopping me up. It was probably caused by the virus, but they didn’t really know. The remedy, said the ER doctor, was “bowel rest” (basically not eating any solid food) and clear fluids. They admitted me, and I missed the 4:30 and 7:30 shows that day. They gave me some morphine for the pain, and fluids through the IV. I was stuck there for at least overnight.
I got a lot better overnight, and they released me at 12:00 the next day. I had to push them to get out that soon. I’ll spare you the details of “getting better.” I went home, took a shower, and got my stuff to go and do the final two shows of our run. This seemed like the thing to do at the time, since I had invested so much work in that role, but I felt terrible after I was done, and for days after that. Needless to say, I didn’t do any workouts of any kind during this period. I think I went three weeks and a couple of days without doing anything. Anything.
I finally broke the ice by walking a couple of miles. I have walked 45 miles since December 15, and started to do a version of my old workout every third day or so. It is lame by comparison:
Five rotations of:
- Row 1000 meters
- 3 pullups
- 6 pushups on the Perfect Pushup handles
- 6 squats
- 6 DB curl & press 30# (started with 25#, because 35 and 30 were too heavy)
- 6 Medball twist 12#
- 6 chair dips
- 6 DB upright row 30#
- 9 delt flys 5# (yeah, I know, pathetic, but I’m trying to get the motion back)
Plus 2000 meters rowing at the end. Total time is 60 minutes. It’s pathetic, but at least I’m able to do something. I figure it will take me a couple of months at least to get back to where I was before. I was taking pictures back in the summer to try and gauge my progress. Being sick, I actually got down to 210 pounds. I’ve gained some back, but I’m still below 220. Here’s a side-by-side of 260 vs. 22o. For losing 40 pounds, it doesn’t look that great to me. I’m hoping this will get better in the coming months, but 40 pounds is 40 pounds, right? (didn’t get the iPhone in exactly the same spot, but you get the idea – there’s less of me).