I Have Rhabdomyolysis

Yup, I have rhabdomyolysis.

Wait. What’s rhabdomyolysis?

According to my doctor’s note it is: a health problem in which dying muscle cells cause the toxic buildup of certain substances in the blood. If the condition is not treated, it can cause life-threatening damage to the body’s organs, including your kidneys. It can be caused by variety of things, including severe muscle injury, medicines such as statins, flu, certain blood infections, and drinking alcohol. Symptoms may include muscle weakness, pain, stiffness, fever, and nausea. Your urine may also be dark. Rhabdomyolysis is treated by stopping the cause of muscle cell death, when possible, and by giving fluids and treatments to protect your organs. Treatments to help the kidneys remove the buildup of toxins and other chemicals, such as providing plenty of fluids, are also important.

So, wait what? What’s going on?

Yeah, it’s kind of a long story. So here we go.

I started CrossFit earlier this month because I’ve been wanting to be active again. I thought CrossFit would be perfect to get into just because you’re always trying a new workout and you don’t get bored of it. I’ve been just hearing a lot of great things about it from a few friends. Sarah and Daniel mainly.

If you don’t know anything about CrossFit, it’s basically intense cardio doing natural movements with weights for one hour. Every CrossFit gym makes you take this beginners course so that you are aware of form when using weights and such.

So my first day of CrossFit was crazy. It was so much fun but so painful. I’ve never worked out so much in my life that I was actually sore on the day of my work out! I’ve never really experienced that kind of pain of soreness and body trembling before.

Even though I was in so much pain, I went back the next day to continue my beginning classes called OnBoarding. My second day of class wasn’t any easier as I was working out with pain all over my body. Luckily, I survived because I’m a survivor, I’m not gon give up, I’m not gon stop, I’m gon work harder! Ok, that was a Destiny’s Child reference if you didn’t get it…

So that weekend, I questioned myself the meaning of life because I was in so much pain. I wasn’t able to brush my teeth properly or put my hair up in a pony tail. It was so bad that when I grabbed dinner at a restaurant with some friends that Saturday, the waiter told my friend that I looked like I was in a lot of pain. A stranger was able to notice how much pain I was in! A stranger! Not embarrassing at all…

The following week, I went to CrossFit two more times to finish my OnBoarding classes. On the last day of Onboarding which was on a Thursday, I was still sore but had to push myself through just so I could graduate from the OnBoarding course. Luckily, I survived again.

But. That night after CrossFit, I went home, showered, and ended up getting buff on my right arm like Hulk physique. I thought to myself, “Wow, CrossFit does work that quickly, huh?” Just kidding, ish. Ok, I didn’t get buff. But my right arm sure did get abnormally swollen. It was so swollen to the point that you couldn’t see my elbow. In general, I have stick arms with no muscle but suddenly that night my elbow was covered by some baby fat. I thought to myself, “This is weird. I’ll let it be for now…”

Swollen Arm on Friday.

My arm is abnormally round when it should be edgy. You can see how big the swelling is by comparing the width between my forearm and wrist. Thank you CindyxBindy for taking the photo.

The next day, my arm was still abnormally swollen. My right hand started to get cold and I started to lose mobility as I was typing at work. I talked to my sister-in-law who’s a nurse about this swelling and she was thinking that I had a blood clot since only one arm was swollen. She told me to go to Urgent Care immediately before it got worse. A part of me was thinking, “Eh…Maybe the swelling will go down by Sunday.” My sister-in-law urged me a few more times to go to the doctor’s immediately. She was saying that if it is a blood clot and if I don’t get it checked asap, then I may have to go through physical therapy in the long run. After hearing that, I got a tad bit scared and said I’d go to the doctor’s.

An hour after talking to my sister-in-law, my left arm started to get swollen. At this point, a few coworkers were saying that my arms looked like Pop-Eye’s. It looked pretty bad. So after work on Friday, I went to the doctor’s and he said it was definitely not a blood clot since both arms were swollen. He said to do a blood test to see if everything is ok, take ibuprofen 3 times a day for the inflammation to go down and if it gets worse come back. Afterwards, I popped a pill. Few hours later my legs ended up getting swollen!

Weekend comes along, I took ibuprofen here and there. Swelling on my arms worsen. Monday comes, somehow the swelling went down but was still there. Went to the doctor’s again but this time, I was assigned to a different doctor. This doctor said that the swelling could’ve gotten worse over the weekend if I had salty food which I did. I had seafood. Guilty… She also said that my legs probably got swollen because of the ibuprofen which has a side effect of swelling in them legs! Everything was starting to make sense. Ish.

After my first blood test, everything looked a-ok. But the doctor suggested that I do another blood test and ultra sound for a blood clot since my arm was still a tad bit swollen. So I did another blood test on Tuesday. Ultra sound appointment ended up being cancelled due to some confliction with the scheduling at Kaiser.

Wednesday, I felt completely fine physically. Swelling was nowhere to be found. I was able to see my boney elbow again. No more Pop-Eyes arms. I thought to myself, I guess no more doctors, yay! But I celebrated too early. The doctor called me that afternoon saying that I have to rush to the ER because my blood test resulted very poorly. Once I heard that, I was thinking, “Uh..can this wait? I’m at work.” I honestly felt completely normal. So normal that I could go for a run. Emergency Room? Uh, no thanks! The doctor seemed so concerned that I guess I had to be concerned also. I ended up leaving work early and headed less than a mile down to Kaiser.

Next thing you know, I was in the ER lying on a hospital bed with a needle in my arm. The nurse took about 7 to 9 blood samples for more testing. She hooked me up to some IV Fluid. I ended up getting 3 liters of IV fluid in. This was to ensure that all the dead muscle toxics in my body flushed out. What the doctor was concerned the most about was my Creatine Kinase (CK) Level. CK is an indication of muscle damage. A normal CK level is between 100-200. I was at 11,710. So that’s why I had to go to the ER…heh.

My Instagram Picture.

I was so bored that I made a picture collage of my experience in the ER.

While I was waiting for the 3 liters of IV Fluid to stream into my arm, I was SnapChatting, Instagramming, Facebooking, and checking my emails. I was on my phone for hours since I was bored and had nothing else to do. I wasn’t going to call anyone to visit me at the hospital because I wasn’t in a critical state. Like I said, I felt completely fine but that blood test didn’t say so! I thought it was actually quite humorous that I was in the ER because who would’ve thought that I’d be there! I’m sure I scared some friends through SnapChat and Instagram because of the pictures I posted of me being in the hospital. Sorry if I scared anyone! I know it looked bad but it wasn’t that bad at all. Thank you all for your concerns though.

After 3 or 4 hours of finishing the 3 liters of fluid, my doctor told me that I had rhabdomyolysis from CrossFit and for not drinking enough fluid. He told me to drink a lot of water, Gatorade, and to not exercise or do any strenuous movements. And! Don’t go to work for the rest of the week! Woot, woot! No work! So after hearing that, I was out of the hospital.

So I had a 4 day weekend and it was the weekend that the iPhone 5s was coming out! I thought it was a sign from God that I should stand in line for the iPhone 5s. I’ve been wanting it for awhile because my iPhone 4 of 3 years is not recognizing my human touch and won’t let me go Home anymore! Well, it’s just that the Home button doesn’t work.

Ok so, I ended up not standing in line even though I wanted the iPhone 5s badly. But you know, health is kind of more important than the iPhone 5s.

So for the 4 day weekend, I didn’t do anything. The only active thing I did was stare at a wall and not move. Just kidding. I went online shopping…

Did another blood test for a follow-up on my second day off from work. Blood test results definitely improved from 11710 to 3220 for my CK Level! Praise the Lord! I still can’t exercise just yet. Not even run! I almost feel so paralyzed from being restricted to just even go for a run! I still feel completely fine though. I probably have to do a few more blood tests until my CK level goes down to the normal range.

Now, what I have learned from all of this? Um…I’m a beast! I didn’t know I could work out so hard like that! Geez, I deserve a pat on the back or some kind of protein shake. Just kidding-kind of. Well, I learned that I should never work out as some friends have said:
Anna's Response
Chelsea's Response

Honestly though, I personally think it’s hard to not overdo it when you’re doing CrossFit. You see everyone working so hard and pushing themselves, and how could you not push yourself intensely like the others? So, I gave it my 200% even though I was super tired. I really didn’t know my limit so I just kept going at it like a beast and telling myself mind over matter. But as you have read all of this, everything I did should have been more controlled with better judgment on some things.

So will I re-join CrossFit? As for now, no. I really want my CK level to go down! If I were to go back into CrossFit, I know I would push myself again even after rhabdomyolysis because I can’t help it. I could let my instructor know that I had rhabdomyolysis but I really want to be part of the group and not have to be an exception in this matter of working out.

In conclusion, rhabdomyolysis is real as that one article about Uncle Rhabdo from Medium.com that’s been spreading all over Facebook has said. Now that I’ve met Uncle Rhabdo, you can tell all your friends that you know someone who has met Uncle Rhabdo and had to go to the ER but is fine now. I’m only sharing this in my blog because I want to remember this because it’s so ridiculous. And so that some people may know the whole story of why I was in the ER when they saw pictures on Instagram, SnapChat, or heard from word of mouth. And so that you future or current CrossFitters are aware of this issue.

Note to everyone. You don’t need to meet Uncle Rhabdo to be a beast. But just know that I’m a beast.

Thank you,
Tina

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6 comments

  1. Whoa, Tina! That is a craaaaaazy story!! I’m glad you’re getting better!! Take care of yourself!!

    You know, I was just reading this article about how working out with others can help you like workout more easily/overcome the “walls” and tough times of working out. Maybe in your case you have to work out alone lol. Jk but do listen to your body!!

  2. I, too, did Crossfit. Two of the fundamentals classes and I, too, have rhabdomyolosis. I was in the hospital last night into this morning. My CK level was over 36,000 and that was 4 days AFTER I did the second class. My arms are still very swollen. I want them to go down soon. Pushing fluids at present.

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