I began 2011 injured and out of action, not knowing at the time that I was destined to finish it in a similar state.
After suffering a sprained ankle at the end of 2010 I was left to navigate the following months on crutches, remaining mostly confined to the house, and more specifically the couch. I don’t recall how I whittled down the hours until I could walk and then finally resume training again, but it is safe to assume I went a little insane.
No sooner had I returned to the gym that I re-injured what I believed to be one of my hip flexors which had been a problem the previous year. I resigned myself to squatting deeper with lighter weights and devoting even more time to stretching, resting and remaining mobile. My training around this time consisted of high rep goblet squats holding plates of up to 40kg on my chest, barbell hip thrusts, single leg band resisted back extensions, suitcase deadlifts and so on.
Then suddenly one morning in late February I woke with the feeling that my eyes were crossed and was so dizzy that my stomach churned violently, unable to vomit anything up. The dizziness subsided enough to let me sleep again until I was awoken much like before. A short trip to the hospital revealed...nothing, only that the dizziness might be caused by an underlying inner ear infection. At the time when this happened I was still in Finland, but a few months later I returned to London to unload all of my problems onto each of the general practitioners at my local surgery in succession.
Every time I visited the doctor, my blood pressure was measured and found to be elevated, although initially I was reassured that this may simply be a reaction to the stress of being there.
After much stalling I was eventually prescribed medication to help combat the the dizzy spells which had made the precious months a blur of disorientating discomfort. Due to protocol, I had to wait one month during which I would take the medication before I could be seen by a specialist.
Still none the wiser as to the cause of my vertigo, with my problems common knowledge between all four doctors, they decided to call a round table conference on my behalf.
The outcome of this meeting, besides making me feel special in some obscure way, was that it had been decided I would undergo a series of tests to hopefully shed some light on what may be behind my symptoms.
Lacking any definitive diagnosis outside of being labelled a young hypertensive, a number of tests later I am still no closer to being treated, let alone cured. I have had a blood test, two urine tests and an ultrasound scan on my kidneys, I have worn a 24 hour blood pressure monitor on two different occasions, and lastly had an echocardiogram and worn a heart monitor for a further 24 hours. I am currently waiting to see a cardiologist next week.
But as if all that wasn’t enough, as a precaution before being referred to a physiotherapist about my persistent hip flexor/leg pain, the doctor ordered an x-ray of the hip area. A couple of weeks later I would be notified that a fracture was found on the right side of my hip near my pubis.
I racked my brain but couldn’t recall any falls within the last year, which left me thinking that it’s likely I have been training with the fracture for some time, and may even have begun weightlifting after the fracture was originally incurred.
Cue more hospital visits and a second x-ray. I was seen by a specialist in wrist fractures who pointed out that I have impingement in the hip due to the femoral head being convex instead of concave. No mention of the fracture at all, but as I write this I am waiting to be seen by a specialist in hip fractures at the end of the month.
All these setbacks forced me to put any thoughts of training as far out of my mind as possible, so much so that I have sometimes thought that I will never train again, and have often felt like the fox in the story of the sour grapes. Because it is not that I don’t wish to continue, it’s that it has been really difficult to adjust to having such a big part of my life pushed seemingly further and further away over the course of a year.
But I am back to thinking about, writing and reading about training again when I’m not actively doing it. Some might say I am ‘living it’, and after a period of almost two years I have just begun training rings and gymnastics conditioning again.
Having gone from training rings only, to squatting heavy and rings conditioning at the same time, then to purely leg work, I look forward to a time when I’ll be able to do both again, although I am prepared for the possibility that I may not be able to incorporate leg/hip extension exercises into my routine until next year.
Whether I undergo multiple surgeries this year, or whatever the outcome may be, I hope to return with just as much enthusiasm to become stronger than ever, but more importantly I just want to be able to move without fear again, to feel that same sense of freedom I have felt in the past, when running, jumping and climbing.