About a month ago, I did a Spartan race at a farm in Barre with my daughter. It was raining, and I got a sizable rope burn on my lower leg that became infected. I was put on some strong antibiotics, and they killed the leg infection, but gave me a secondary infection that made me very sick. My leg has pretty much healed, and I am finally finished with all of the antibiotics and feeling back to normal. For a person who has always been pretty healthy and felt good and advised others how to live a healthy life, this has been quite an eye-opening and humbling experience.
I was feeling great going into the Spartan: had been running a lot and working out hard and felt I was ready for the race. However, I was unprepared for the conditions, which were very wet and slippery. Following my rope burn, I had to run through an actual mountain of cow manure (yes, you read that right) as well as crawl and run through some pretty thick mud. As a result, my wound was very dirty when I was done, and it sat that way until I got home and tried my best to wash it thoroughly a couple of hours later.
I am not surprised my wound got infected given the conditions I had to run in after my injury. But I am surprised at how difficult my recovery has been. I thought I would get the antibiotics, take a few days off to give them time to work their mystical medical magic, and be back to my old self in a few days.
It didn’t work out that way. I got cellulitis in my leg, which made it swell up and hurt anytime I moved. The wound covered a large surface area and when it rubbed up against my shoe or the skin got stretched out (basically every time I moved) it was painful. Despite my best efforts, I ended up walking differently to avoid the pain, and the muscles in my calf and hamstrings got tight and sore. The antibiotics burned my throat so much that eating and drinking was painful and they also made me feel nauseous.
Just as I was starting to feel better, I came down with a secondary intestinal infection, which made me feel like I had a very bad stomach virus and made it erally difficult to go to work and teach peppy fitness classes. I had to change my diet and eat foods I never even think of eating, such as pasta, rice, and other bland carbohydrates, and give up the salads I eat at least once a day, just to let my stomach get back to normal. All of this has opened a window into another world for me, making me realize just how very difficult it is to exercise, eat right, go to work and deal with household chores when you aren’t feeling well, something some of my clients deal with every day.
The takeaway from all this? We all face our own adversities in life, but some of my clients have illnesses, injuries, and other mountains to climb before they can even get to the workout, and they climb these mountains each and every day. No matter what their mountain is made of (hopefully not manure), all of these amazing people have a formidable spirit that keeps them coming back and working to be their best despite feeling lousy, having pain or fighting a mental battle just to get through their day. Some days are harder than others, and not I realize more than ever just how hard that effort can be, and I am able to appreciate how amazing they are all that much more. Whatever your mountain may be, always remember that it is so worth that climb.