It takes a village…

So many people have asked why I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I can assure you it is NOT from lack of stories, gains, struggles, or required stuffing of the face.  Unfortunately I had a pretty major setback that started about a month ago which finally culminated in the past few weeks and forced me to deal with it.  Along with my attention it also temporarily held my creative writing juices captive.

About a month ago I woke up one morning with an insane headache and a sharp pain in my neck.  I assumed it was from me falling asleep with a bun on the back of my head (#fitgirlproblems) so I just waited for it to “work itself out”.  Well four chiropractor appointments and five intense 1.5-2 hour massages later it was ten times worse than it was and had now radiated down my arm.  My left shoulder felt like there was a knife in it, my bicep felt like it was on fire from the inside out, my forearm was constantly throbbing in pain, and my thumb and index finger were completely numb.  The pain became so intolerable that I literally had to run out of work one day in tears because I could not physically or mentally deal with the pain any more.

Luckily that same day an orthopedic doctor friend of mine was able to get me in for a MRI which revealed a bulging disk between my C5 and C6 vertebrae in my neck.  The bulge was enough that it was putting pressure on my nerve causing all of the pain (see picture).  He instantly recommended I go see a very well respected spine surgeon in Houston and actually got me an appointment the very next morning in Houston (2.5 hours away).

During this appointment we decided to try a steroid injection directly into the disk to see if we could get it to shrink rather than opting straight for surgery.  HE made some phone calls and got me in the next business day.

Needless to say I was an emotional wreck.  I had already come so far in just a month and was able to keep up the diet and workout regimen to a “T” despite the pain I had been experiencing.  What if this injection doesn’t work?  Can I live another day with this pain?  What if I have to have surgery?  What if I’m out for 6 months to recover and lose all of my gains?  What if I lose mobility?  Hell, what if they nick my spinal cord and I am paralyzed from the neck down?  So many questions and so few answers at this point.  As scared as I was, it seemed Monday could not come fast enough.

Arrived at the hospital more nervous than ever but desperate for some relief.  After 3 tries to insert the IV in my hand (fml) I was ready for the injection.  When I woke up from the sedation I didn’t feel any pain but was warned that was from the narcotics they had given me and not to be surprised if the next day it hurts worse than it did.  I was told the steroids could take up to 2 weeks to work and to be patient.

Not gonna lie, that was the first time in over a month I felt no pain and I seriously could’ve gone streaking through the halls of the hospital in pure joy and celebration!  For those of you that have never experienced chronic pain, you honestly forget what it’s like to NOT feel pain and start to develop a tolerance to where you don’t actually realize how much pain you’re in… until you’re not.  I slept like a princess in a Disney movie all the way home and most of that day.  It was glorious… until the next morning.

I woke up like I had been in a cryogenic freeze for over a hundred years only to be instantly greeted with a pain that made my previous month seem like child’s play.  It was paralyzing.  No position offered me relief and no over the counter pain medicine even touched it.  I was absolutely miserable and quite literally ready to cut my arm off (like knife in numb hand ready).  Still today I honestly don’t know if it was actually that much worse than what I had previously experienced or if it was simply the fact that I had tasted a pain free existence and lost the tolerance I had built up… either way it was absolutely kicking my ass mentally and physically.  However, for the record, I still followed my diet that day and actually worked up the fortitude to go to the gym and complete my workout (don’t worry… it was cleared by the doctor) but I was feeling more defeated than ever.

The next day came like molasses but to my surprise did offer some relief.  The pain was in no way gone but either my tolerance had built back up or it was subsiding.  Didn’t really care which, this was a win for me and my spirits began to lift and reluctantly even my hope.  Over the following week, each day offered less and less pain and I was able to return to the things that I was able to do previously with little thought… like sit.

Today, a little over a week later, I am sitting on a plane with only a small amount of pain and numbness in my fingers writing this blog.  I may not be out of the woods quite yet but I am back in control with little limitation.  I pray that over the next 5-6 days the pain and numbness goes away and I can stay the course.

All of this to say, this whole ordeal has really made me appreciate the people in my life that have rallied behind me in support of what I am trying to accomplish.  Some expected and some not.  It’s been an absolute blessing to see so many people go out of their way to help me and support me in a goal that I have set for myself.  A goal that has nothing to do with them and offers them absolutely no benefit.  I have also been unbelievably amazed as to how many people I have seemed to inspire simply by never giving up on my own goal.  Seeing how contagious the motivation is just continues to feed the machine, motivate ME, and continue the cycle.  They say it takes a village and for this I want to take a minute to shout out to all of my village people and let them know how much I appreciate them for their role in this circus ride.

Andrew Morlock – the Hubs – for always supporting me in my crazy endeavors and not even flinching when I let you know about the investment in time and money we were going to have to make… and for limiting the shit you give me about my “macros”.

Gretchen Quast – trainer/Houdini – for obvious reasons that will be made more and more apparent when I start posting progress stats and pics.  Thanks for pushing me and investing in me as I have in you.

Josh Louviere – chef/motivator – two words: fish tacos!  I met you literally the week I took the leap to pursue this goal and your unending support and motivation has had me absolutely floored.  Not to mention the countless nights that you have come over to cook in order to shorten my evenings and break me free from the chicken and peppers monotony.  Also for understanding that every teaspoon of every ingredient counts and not giving me shit about “being that girl”.

Bonnie Self – LC Bestie/lifting partner – for challenging me every day and making my workouts much more enjoyable by bringing the entertainment.  Also for constantly encouraging me and celebrating in my successes in a real way.  Not just lip service.  And of course we can’t forget about the fact that you give me a booty to aspire to everyday!

Jonathan Armstead – masseuse/pain inflictor – for meeting me late in the evenings to allow me to complete my workouts and working on me until it is “fixed” rather than until the “time is up”.  Also for taking the time to research my condition and learn new techniques to try and help.  Your concern and constant texts to check in are so much appreciated.  (Quick plug… if anyone is in the Lake Charles area and have any kind of ailment or pain… or just want a good massage… definitely give him a call… 337-912-4199).

Dr. Scott DeRouen – chiropractor – for working his magic and keeping the pain tolerable even during the worst of it.  You go out of your way to make sure I walk out of the clinic with as little pain as possible and have managed to keep your scolding of deadlifts and squats to a minimum.  (Another quick plug… if you are in Lake Charles and haven’t seen a chiropractor or need a good one… give him a call 337-502-5303).

Dr. Dan Butler – orthopedic/friend – for pulling favors and going out of your way to help me find answers and relief.  Also for letting me and my girlfriends crash your place, drink your amazing champagne and tequila, and take your jetskis out… not necessarily in that order.

Dr. Jeffrey Kozak – orthopedic surgeon – for recognizing the dedication I have within me and appreciating what I am trying to achieve and for pulling favors to help me find relief ASAP so that I can continue the path I am on with little to no disruption.

I truly appreciate each and every one of the people in my camp that have helped me get through this.  And for the rest of you… don’t you worry… the anecdotes are on their way back!

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