Back from the Abyss
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I was very proud of the progress I had made in my session on Labor Day Monday. I had accomplished a basketball practice session, a hike on the C & O Canal, and finally, a good lifting session in my sunroom. I remember feeling a slight twinge of pain in my left pectoral during the lifting session, but I did not give it a second thought. It did not bother me though the rest of the session, and I did not feel any discomfort the next day when I played basketball.
On Wednesday morning, I was brought from my sleep at about 4:00 AM by a powerful pain emanating through my upper left quadrant. For a split second, I was not worried about the source of the pain. Then I remembered that men are sometimes brought out of sleep by impending heart attacks. I immediately brought up various web pages that listed the symptoms of heart attack. I reflected; chest pain on left side: check. Numbness or tingling on left side: check. Sweating: nope. Vomiting or nausea: nope. The pain was worse when I took a deep breath and when I lifted my arm.
I called my ex-wife and asked her opinion. We debated whether or not I needed to call 911. I knew doing so would open a world of hurt: getting lessons for my students ready, bills from ambulance companies and emergency rooms not covered by insurance. I had been carried out from school by EMTs twice in two years: once for chest pain due to a lung infection, another due to a pulled groin muscle. The pain of those issues equaled or exceeded what I was feeling in my chest. I decided not to call but to get through breakfast and get dressed, but I did pop a single aspirin in the event I was experiencing some sort of acute coronary syndrome. Basketball was out for that morning.
Once I got to school, I decided to visit the nurse. She asked if it hurt when I took a deep breath or moved a certain way. I said yes. She said my discomfort was most likely from a muscle pull. I took a deep sigh of relief. Over the next few days, the pain continued to subside. I even played basketball on Thursday and Friday, and while lifting my arm to guide my shooting hand was painful, I was able to run, defend, and even sink a few shots.
It was easy to skip working out with weights for two weeks, but I wanted the pectoral muscle in question to heal fully. I knew I would lose some muscle mass and some strength in my workout. Last night was my first session with the weights since Labor Day. I went back to 20 pound bicep curls, and I finished with 25 pound pectoral flies. I still did weighted crunches for abdominals and quadriceps press for upper thighs. I picked up one pound this morning since I always have a whey protein shake after lifting. Basketball today was rewarding with a total of 12 points in five games, which may be a career high.
Sometimes we look mortality right in the face, but we always seem to come through it. I have been taking omega-3 supplements for heart health, and I am going slowly to rebuild my weightlifting progress. Hopefully, I won't pull any additional muscles and the weightlifting will improve metabolism as well as strength on and off the basketball court. May I have many more years to work on it.
to Basketball Diaries