Broke Back Poutin: When an Injury Sidelines a Fit Gal

September 6, 2013 · 6 comments

Today’s guest blog is from Selena, a Boston gal who I’ve worked with in the past on the marketing side of things with PopChips and also UnReal Candy. When I found out she broke her back earlier this year, I asked her to talk to you guys about her struggles going from a 5:30 am spin class attendee to learning how to walk again on her own. Here is her story:

Be thankful for what you’ve got because you never know when you’re going to loose it.

It wasn’t until I lost all mobility in a freak fall this past spring that I was able to gain a new gratitude for every physical activity from burpees to the basics…like getting out of bed unassisted.

I was in my sister’s backyard babysitting the kiddos when I felt fatigued and leaned on a wooden fence. BAD IDEA. The fence was rotted. It gave out, so did my legs, and I fell through the fence and off a ledge landing on my back. OUCH.

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In less than two hours an ER doctor would casually stroll into my hospital room and utter “Looks like you fractured three vertebrae, “ and without even skipping a beat she would begin running through the rehabilitation options for recovery. I’m sure there was some important information exchanged and I believe I asked some questions but the whole conversation was fuzzy…could have been the IV pumping a very high dose of liquid morphine through my veins.

The next few weeks were tough. I couldn’t do anything on my own. I needed constant observation and assistance. I needed the paramedics to show up at my home when I passed out on my boyfriend in the shower and got stuck laying down in the tub…NAKED.

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It was humbling, it was miserable, and it was HARD.

I cried, a lot.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”…shove it Kelly!

A freak accident left me with three fractured vertebrae, a boatload of medical bills, and the pounding fear that I wouldn’t be able to work out like I used to (4 times a week, burpees, push-ups, 5:45am spin classes, sweat and burn!). BUT it also made me more thankful for those small things in life like being able to hold a side plank for only 30 seconds. Thankful to be able to blow-dry my own hair (gotta have goals, people!) and thankful for those family and friends that shower you with attention, love, gifts…and just plain help you shower when you really need them (thanks JR).

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So the next time you don’t want to get up in the am to hit the gym, the next time you don’t want to take the stairs, or the next time you hit that fitness goal STOP and be THANKFUL for your body because…you know where I’m going with this?!

Now, who wants to help me train for my not so first, but my back’s first 5k? Oh and Kelly, I take it back. I’m adding you to my running playlist!

Goal: Complete the Electric Run in October, marking 5 months since I broke my back.

After reading Selena’s post, I had some follow up questions for those of you that might be reading this who are also currently sidelined with an injury.

Sarah: Being a big fitness buff, did you find it challenging to lay low or was there a part of you that didn’t mind the break?

Selena: It was a HUGE struggle not being able to workout. Spin class was my ME
time, my stress release, my sweaty meditation (too much?). Loosing this
outlet was a disappointment and there was nothing I could do which =
mounds of frustration! It’s a waiting game but the desire to be 100%
outweighs the desire to spin again. I’m not going to risk permanent injury
& more pain for one 45 minute ride on that bike. A recommendation of what
NOT to do? Don’t go out and buy shape, or self or fitness
magazine…emotional cutting for people unable to work out.

Sarah: What are you doing now as you are easing back into activity?

Selena: I’m easing back into activity…slowly, like dial-up internet slow!
Everyday is a new day where I can test my physical strength little by
little. I’ve been working with a physical therapist (Tim @ Bay State
Physical Therapy, South Boston) twice a week to rebuild my core strength.
I’m set up with a daily routine of light stretching and simple core
strengthening moves. While it’s no spin class, I stick to the routine and
celebrate every physical accomplishment….like my first 30 second side
plank!
Photo 3
Sarah: After your injury, what was your first step towards moving back to your regular workout routine?

Selena: I still feel like I’m light years from my normal routine..again the
struggles, frustration and more emotional cutting (“browsing” the new
merchandise at city sports). So my first step was to STAY MOTIVATED and
try to keep whatever part of my routine I could. For me that was
continuing to get up as early as I could. It took a lot of training to get
my body used to rising between 4:30 & 5:00am and that was something I
could maintain even with this injury. Once you’ve got one small goal in
place take it one day at a time. Relish in the daily accomplishments (a 1
mile walk, a plank, a 15 minute bike ride) and don’t push yourself too
much!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jon Ham September 6, 2013 at 8:12 am

Hang in There Selena! You can be back to 100% in time, just be patient and keep doing your daily PT to get better and try to be patient.
I actually broke my neck and I am fortunate to be able to walk and not be paralyzed. I can relate. Best of luck with your recovery, and keep at it!

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2 sherice@foodieluvsfitness September 6, 2013 at 10:12 am

I really needed this. Like you I was a 5 day a week workouter! then Bam.. 2 dics bulge in my lower back.. out of the workout scene for a yr now and slowly recovering. Time sucks.. it’s the only thing that I’ve got and I have NO patience. I miss my workouts, my martial art class and being able to do burpees!!

Thanks for the great advice!

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3 Lindsay September 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

I’m so sorry Selena! What a difficult thing to go through. I’m so inspired by your goals and your determination. I had a freak accident myself a month ago. I was riding my bike with my son in a bike trailer behind me and his trailer hit a curb and flipped us both over and the sprocket of my bike ripped through my leg. I was so upset that I had been doing the right thing, working out-taking care of myself and this happened. It was humbling though, and I was grateful for the little things, like bending my leg for the first time and getting up and downs stairs. I can’t imagine hurting my back so badly though- you can do it! Thanks for sharing your story :)

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4 Heather September 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Wow, Selena, I am so sorry this happened to you! Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like you’re recovering well and although you aren’t anywhere near your pre-injury self, its wonderful that you weren’t paralyzed! Keep up the hard work and best of luck with your first post-break 5k!!! :)

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5 Livi September 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm

such an inspirational girl. get it!

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6 Emily @ Sweet Summer Smiles September 8, 2013 at 9:23 am

Wow. What an inspiring testimony! In February I injured my leg to the point to where I couldn’t do much exercise and I remember how differently I looked at my body afterwards. You don’t really appreciate how much your body can do until you can’t do it anymore, and when you see others running or working out it you just want to tell them that they are so blessed to have healthy, functioning legs, arms, back, etc. to be able to workout. Hang in there Selena! You will get through this!

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