I’ve got rhabdo…don’t be jealous.

September 23, 2011

in CrossFit

Here’s what you’re missing.

Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down rapidly. Breakdown products of damaged muscle cells are released into the bloodstream; some of these, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure. The severity of the symptoms, which may include muscle pains, vomiting and confusion, depends on the extent of muscle damage and whether kidney failure develops.

Since I’ve had 4 of these

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And my hand looks like this because it’s holding an IV port…….

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…..I’m having a hard time typing.

So what happened?? I did too many pull-ups and freaked out my arm muscles and they started breaking down and sending me on the express train to renal failure. Most cases are found in NEW CrossFit members, not experienced people like me. What did i do wrong? Tried to improve my pull ups by using a less supportive band while putting a lot of extra stress on my body with marathon training. As my dr put it…”you can’t ride two horses with one ass”. Yes, he did say that. I can do both—marathon train and CrossFit—but I need to maintain in one while trying to improve/gain in the other. Once the race is over, I can return to basic mileage and then try to knock out some strength goals in CrossFit.

How did i know I had this? My trainer. One of the reasons I love CrossFit is because we have one-on-one training even in a small (1-10 people) class setting. Over the weekend, I did my 13 mile long run. I rested Monday. We did the Fran workout Tuesday which involved 21-15-9 reps of pull ups and thrusters, and I have done this workout a few times over the past year and half.  I was sore Wednesday and knew I had a longer run that afternoon so I skipped 5:30 am CrossFit. I went Thursday and my trainer asked how I was feeling and I just said one arm was still sore. He wanted to see it and check it out. He saw a slight swelling at my elbow and told me to skip all the arm parts of the workout. After class he said to increase my water intake by A LOT and watch for swelling. I did drink but thought nothing of the swelling. It was just sore. Well, by 1pm at school, my arm was swelling by the minute.  I left school early, got to the dr, who took one look and said “rhabdo”. He started an IV and took blood. 2 bags of fluid later, he explained what it was. The saline was to flush out the waste from damaged muscles and dilute them so my kidneys wouldn’t fail. Renal failure happens FAST with rhabdo. When I left, the test was still measuring my CK test. Normal is under 200. When I left at 6pm it was measuring 20,000. He wanted me back this morning early to test again and see if the levels were coming down and get 2 more bags of fluid.

This morning when I got there, he wanted to admit me to the hospital because my ckp test from last night peaked at 46,000. But my liver and kidney tests were elevated, but not near as bad as expected. He would try the fluids and test again. 4 hours later, he sent me home and I have to go back in the morning for the same thing—fluids and test to make sure the saline is working.

So now the question is how long until I can run again. his response: “it will be a long time and I’m not discussing specifics yet. I want you to realize how dangerous this is and how close you came to complete renal failure. People die from this”

So here I am. the only thing really hurting is the arm and port site.

I’m being a big baby about the port. Never mind that i have an arm the size of a rolled up pillow stuff in my armpit, the needle in my hand gives me the heebs and it just hurts :(

So, there’s my adventure. Thanks to a great trainer, I got treatment quickly and avoided the hospital.

EDIT to add: I finished my first marathon 10 weeks later :)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shari B. (FitFeat) January 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Hi Katrina! You commented on my blog yesterday about rhabdo so I wanted to come over here and read more about your experience as well! Thank goodness you are OK. It’s not a fun thing to have and it’s so scary how quickly it can be deadly, without one even realizing that anything is wrong.

I’ll add you to my Google reader so I can stay in touch! Your blog is beautiful, by the way! Have a GREAT day!

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2 MegG July 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

This is terrifying, especially as someone who crossfits regularly and also did crossfit through marathon training. I like to share my story of being able to run and do crossfit at the same time, but I never even considered that this could happen. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been sidelined but I’m happy to hear that you survived this. I wish you all the best and a quick recovery.

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3 MegG July 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm

woops, just read the date, I’m happy to see you’ve recovered well!

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4 Katherine Barron January 15, 2013 at 9:46 am

Hi, Katrina.

Because of posts like yours I was more concerned about arm swelling in my son after he started weightlifting at school last week. Took him to the ER on Sunday and he also had a CK of over 45000. He will hopefully come home today after spending 3 days in the hospital on fluids.

My question is – what now? He’s in a weightlifting class – but I know should not be doing any of that for a while. He also plays golf for a school team and would start training in February for the season. What specifics did your doctor tell you? Or could you point me to a place where I can find out some information about how best for a 16 year old to proceed.

Thanks!
Katherine in Georgia

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5 Katrina January 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Thanks for contacting me, Katherine. My doctor said absolutely no additional activity until my levels returned to normal. I stopped the IV fluids after they got below 2,000. I think I went for IV fluids for 5 days. He then said wait at least 2 weeks before returning to running and absolutely keep my fluids up. As far as doing weight-bearing exercises, I waited 2 more weeks after I returned to marathon training. However, I did NOT return to full pull-ups for a while because I was still marathon training and still wearing down my body. I did more supportive bands and fewer repetitions at first. I think he will be good for golf in February. Weightlifting is going to be tricky with timing, depending on how or what movement broke down the muscles so fast. I would definitely talk to his coach and see if he has any knowledge about rhabdo. What I found alarming was the number of people/interns/nurses my doctor brought in with each IV visit so they could see first hand what it was. And he diagnosed it within 5 seconds of walking in my room. If you are not comfortable with the coach recommendations, I would look next to a sports physician. The main issue is determining what movement (usually a repetitive) caused it and then modifying that movement gradually.

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