Have you heard of the saying ‘all good things come to an end’? It is true, especially of your strength athletics career. Right now, I am feeling the burden of this saying. I am seeing a glimpse of the end.
Two weeks ago, I prodding around my abdomen and ended up pushing on a spot that caused a lot of pain. It was gushy and felt very uncomfortable, but the pain subsided as long as I kept from touching it. However, the protrusion did not go away, so I went to see the doctor. He diagnosed me with an incarcerated umbilical hernia, which means that essentially part of my intestines are protruding through a hole in the layers of muscle and other tissue. They have been locked up, in muscle prison. The only cure is surgery.
If you live in Ontario, you will know that waiting for a surgery date can take months. Sure, there is no out of pocket expenses for the surgery, but I have to sit in strength training purgatory until a date is set. Adding recovery time to this, it will likely be at least four months until I can get back into any strength training. If I want to keep this problem from reoccurring, it will be even longer until I can get back to full strength.
My doctor’s recommendations are to cease all strength training. No deadlifting, no log pressing, and, definitely, no competitions. Continuing to train and compete could lead to strangulation of protruding tissues, which becomes a medical emergency and could cause permanent damage or death. As I have been reflecting on my symptoms, it has lead me to believe that I likely have had this hernia for a while. My lack of pain and navel caressing, along with the size of my power belly, has kept it hidden.
The good news is that my competitive career isn’t over, it is just on hold. This is a glimpse of the end of my competitive career. In a way, I feel lucky knowing I will have another chance to battle again. In another way, I am deeply depressed to be sidelined. I already had to miss out on Ontario’s Strongest Man due to other injuries and, potentially, this one as well. Now, I will not get a chance to battle at Woodstock this August either, a contest I have been fighting to win for the past 5 years. It also means that my strongman season is over before it really started this year and that is a very hard pill to swallow.
Reflecting on this has been emphasizing the fact that everyone will have a day when they are no longer able to lift, train, or compete at a desired level. Hell, sometimes we have those days every week, but they come and go. Even I will be fortunate enough to train heavy again after dealing with this issue. However, the day will come when you and I will not be as fortunate and the decision will either be made by us or for us that we can no longer lift weights how we want.
The message I want you to take away from this is to enjoy the journey and make the most of it while you can. This lesson applies to any journey you take in life, not just your strength journey. Be thankful for the people you meet, the lessons you learn, and the opportunities you have to lift objects. If you find yourself in a similar situation as I am in, remember that it is just a glimpse of the end. Use it to foster your journey and better prepare yourself mentally for the true end. We don’t know when it will come, but we know that it’s coming.
By Tyler Desplenter
Tyler is the founder of Norther Warrior. He competes as an amateur strongman and powerlifter in Ontario, Canada. He is working towards his PhD in robotics and control systems including the study of biomechanical modelling of human motion and control of wearable assistive devices. @strongbear89