I've been competing in the sport of Olympic weightlifting for 3 years. Within this 3 year span, I have performed well over 10,000 repetitions of the classical lifts, more if you want to count squats, and have competed in more than 30 USA weightlifting sanctioned meets. My point in saying this is that I am no stranger to the inevitable stress that is inherent to performing the snatch and clean and jerk under extreme pressure.
The 5th Annual St. Patty's Day meet at ChikaraSport started off like all the previous ones. I completed my first and seconds attempts with ease.
What happened next will change my life forever.
After applying a liberal layer of chalk to my hands, I walked up to the bar with my normal stoic demeanor. I took one last moment to completely relax my body before squeezing the bar off the floor. Once the bar reaches my hips, I finish my third pull violently, and pull myself under the bar. I caught the weight a little off balance, and I knew I would have to save it. With thoughts of a gold medal bouncing around in my head, I stepped forward to try to save the lift. And that's when it happened.
It sounded like an egg being hit by a baseball bat.
I drop the weight. I sit down on a chair as my coach approaches me and tells me to follow him outside. I tell him that i'm fine. I didn't want to look at my shoulder out of fear of what might have happened, but the look on my coaches face told me that it wasn't just a simple sprain. He's looking at me like he'd just witnessed a murder. I look at my shoulder, and can see that my arm is 3 inches below where it's supposed to be, that is not normal. I have succeeded at dislocating my shoulder.
He's looking at me like he'd just witnessed a murder.
I haven't touched a barbell or treated a patient since. The past 16 days have tested my spirit like never before and will surely continue to do so for the next 6 months as I recover. There are no words that can even begin to describe the emotional storm I've gone through. My identity as an athlete and a practitioner was taken away from me in a blink of an eye. In the absence of these two, I am left with nothing. But, I've done my grieving and have come to terms with my injury. I'm going to be out of commission for a minimum of six months after my surgery. This will be followed by a slow and steady road to recovery, which I am positive will be checkered with frustration that will put my willpower to the test. Although this was a very unfortunate accident, it has renewed my faith in humanity. It has shown me the resilience of the human spirit, and the strength that can be cultivated by the support of a positive social network. People from all different parts of my life offered their support. My girlfriend in particular has been paramount to my recovery. Without her help, my apartment would be a mess, and I would have starved to death within days of my accident. My weightlifting team has rallied behind me, offering their words of encouragement and by coming up with creative ways in which I can work out around my injury. For this, you all have my appreciation.
Although this is not a life threatening injury, it has reminded me of a lesson I learned when I knocked on death's door not too long ago. Not being able to be an athlete or a practitioner for the foreseeable future has strengthened my belief that you must fully take advantage of the time you have in this life while you have the ability to do so.
At the end of it all, the most important fact of the matter is this: Take full advantage of all the beauty your life has to offer with all of the beautiful people around you while you can. Life at your present moment is an extremely precious gift, and you do not need to have life altering injury to reveal this illuminating fact to you. You've got one body and a very limited amount of time to occupy it. Every second that passes by can never be taken back. It is in your best interest to spend those seconds, no matter how little, doing what you love, with the people you love. Like it or not, we all have an expiration date that will inevitably come to pass. Reconciling this fact can be the most vulnerable yet empowering thing you can do for yourself. Tomorrow is too late, and if you live every day as if it were your last, one day it will most certainly be.
Leave me a comment below and let me know if you've had any life altering injuries, and how you recovered from them. You can contact me on twitter, facebook, or instagram as well! And as always, you can subscribe to my newsletter for tips on how you can stay inspired, fit, and healthy. See you guys next time.