DISCLAIMER: I hate drama, especially my drama.

As some of you may know, I started a journey towards better health a few years back, inspired largely by the character of Roc Wieler.

Not too long ago I was at the gym doing leg day:

6 minutes warm-up consisting of 30 sec sets, no rest – plyo push-ups, sit-ups

That’s also a complete workout I recommend for some people, but as you know, your workout is my warm-up. Usually. I started to feel a bit of throbbing in my head. This may be normal for some but I have had the sum total of three headaches in my entire life. I just don’t get them. I ignored the throbbing in my skull and continued on with my workout, assuming that maybe my cardio levels were off that day so I was feeling the lack of oxygen more than I was used to.

I loaded up the squat bar and did some nice heavy squats, ass to heels. It felt great, but the pressure in my skull was increasing. I took a moment, hydrated as I always do while working out, and talked to my workout partner, M. She was a little concerned because she was feeling just fine. I should’ve been just fine too, so I shook it off.

During the next set of squats a knife stabbed into my head. There was a flash of white light, followed by a loud ringing in my ears. Within a heartbeat the edges of my vision were darkening and my knees were jello. I dropped the weights onto the safety bar and collapsed on the ground clutching at my head which was now experiencing more pain than I had ever known. If you know my history, and some of the injuries I have overcome, that last sentence is saying a lot.

M was awesome, not panicking, talking me through it, then forcing me to quit. I wanted to continue once it went back to manageable levels of pain. I hate not finishing workouts. Yes, sometimes I’m an idiot.

I’m 43 years old so I did what most men my age would do. I ignored it. The headache persisted for a week. Any exertion at all was unbearable and resulted in me curled up in that same fetal position. As someone who has taken stairs two at a time for nearly a decade, it became quickly depressing that I couldn’t go double for half a flight without my head exploding. No workouts. No sex. No exertions.

After ten days I finally went and saw the doctor. He was concerned and sent me for a CT Scan right away and set-up an appointment with a neurologist.

Upon seeing the neurologist the week after, the pain had reduced to a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. He asked me a bunch of questions, methodically eliminated possible causes, then had me do some simple coordination exercises. To my utter shock and dismay, I failed one of the most simple tests.

The CT Scan results didn’t help my mental state any. I often wonder how much influence we have on ourselves in these situations. For example, my blood pressure has always been 120/70, normal and healthy. After the attack, my wife took me to Walmart and we hooked up the blood pressure machine. I was well over 200. That of course scared me. At the neurologist office, my pressure was my normal 120. Sometimes the symptoms cause the pain. Sometimes the pain causes the symptoms. To say I was stressed at the results of the tests would be to wonder if I was causing myself new pain.

I’m still not allowed to workout. I was told to take up walking. Like that’s going to happen. I’m currently waiting for a MRI and MRA. Again, given some of my previous injuries, special care has to be taken with these procedures.

I’m doing bodyweight workouts at home, simply to test my current limits while trying to maintain some type of physical conditioning. I use the throbbing as an indicator of when to stop. Most days, my wife makes me wait until she gets home and works out with me. She says it’s because I’m motivating. I know it’s because she’s worried and wants to be there to monitor me.

Why am I writing about this now? Well, to be honest always, I was terrified. Nobody wants to face their own mortality in their forties. I couldn’t process it. I was stuck in my fear.

I needed to tell a few people in person first. I needed to work it through. There are still one or two people that haven’t heard directly from me, but the rumour mill is already in full operation and I’d rather them read it here and yell at me over a phone call, then not hear about it all.

F*ck fear.

That was the net result. I’ve been reminded again of who I am. I am not Roc. Roc was based on me. I’ll get through this. I’m a survivor, a fighter.

I know there are much more tragic stories out there. This one is mine. I had forgotten how much sharing on this blog helps me work things through, even if not in story form today.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for always believing.

7 responses to “OOC:Mortality

  1. Aging sucks.

    I’m a few years ahead of you and discovering that performing physically at the levels I was accustomed to was no longer possible is sobering, to say the least. While I am in no where near in the same classification of performance as you aspire to, to understand new limitations, to be aware of and be accepting of changes that are beyond our control is very, very hard.

    Realizing that my eyes have changed to the point where reading glasses (or similar options) are now required was amusing. Discovering that everyday lifestyle choices 20-30 years ago have lead to irreversible damage to important bits of my internal workings was not.

    Its not how we fall down or how things fall down on us that matter. Its how we manage to continue moving forward that matters.

    I sincerely hope that whatever plagues you at the moment is temporary, and that you can continue to move forward in the style you are accustomed.

    I am certain; however, that whatever obstacles are placed in your way, you will find your way around them.

    Even if you have to drag the Colonel to get there 🙂

  2. Roc – need to start looking at the longer game. The here and now is fine for the younger crowd, but you have loved ones. We FTB more and more as we age (fail to bounce), and while the brain has the capacity for remarkable plasticity, it ain’t the thing you want to have issues with.

    I had a staff member who seriously stuffed a knee. This guy was a mountain, and before the injury, probably the most physically capable human I’d ever met. He became pretty depressed during the long healing process. The problem was that his self image was so singularly based in that physicality. And when it was no longer there, he became a little lost.

    The good thing about being human is that we are multifaceted and capable of redefining ourselves. Don’t limit yourself to that one facet, irrespective of how good you are at it.

    You’re more than the Colonel. More than a composer. And very definitely more than someone who hits the gym hard.

    This is not likely something you can bull your way through. Listen to the experts, listen to your loved ones, but above all listen to yourself.

    Take care. Keep us posted.


    • ++

      This summer I learned the hard way that the peripheral vision in my dominant eye has deteriorated – not enough to affect me in my daily life, but enough that I was barred from driving off road during our race event. I was not happy (going off road was one of the fringe perks).

      But it’s also not something that can be ‘fixed’ – I will have to learn how to work around it.

      And so may you, Roc. You turned around your life once already, by becoming smarter about health and fitness, so I am sure you can adapt to this new situation as well.

      I hope whatever ails you is only temporary, but be smart and don’t give us a one-man rendition of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

  3. I’m going to be blunt since that is usually the best way of conveying a message through text.

    Slow down until you get sorted so that you don’t end up in worse condition. If you end up bedridden, you won’t be able to work out at all. Take it slow and get well soon.

  4. Just yesterday I lost my best friend at 55 years young. Life is much too short. Pushing through that sort of pain is a recipe for tragedy, please don’t.

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