Training setback – worse than I thought

While I am very thankful that I am still alive and my organs are functioning, the events of the last three weeks have been even more of a physical setback than anyone thought. We, including myself, all knew I would not be as strong as I had been before my hospitalization. But everyone thought that I would bounce right back, and it would probably only take 2 weeks for me to return to full strength again.

After I lost all the water weight from all the edema, I found that I had lost all the muscle I had worked so hard to put on over the last few months, and more. I find myself in a far weaker state than I have been in years. I have lost all the muscles on my upper body, my left leg muscles had gone, as well as my usually very strong right leg. I was incredulous that my body could have wasted away so quickly. My weakness is definitely not the result of just a few weeks of bed-rest. I am pretty sure that the muscle loss is a thing that happens when you have massive organ failure/ blood toxicity etc. (I have heard of that happening in that context). Basically your body is dying and it is using all of its resources to focus on staying alive, so the muscles are among the first to go (not sure if you metabolize them to maintain energy, or if it is that the cells die because they aren’t getting nutrients). It did not help that I didn’t have much body fat going into this.

It is incredibly disheartening to be unable to do the most basic of exercises (e.g. lift feet to the bar you are hanging from or even simpler leg lifts), be struggling on 5.9’s. I am trying to be positive, but some times it is hard to do so.

I came across this paper about the topic. I didn’t realize Intensive care unit—acquired weakness (ICUAW) and muscle wasting in critically ill patients with severe sepsis and septic shock was a thing. While this paper talks about patients who were far more ill than me, I am experiencing the same effects. Actually, this paper on Sepsis-induced myopathy is probably more accurate in my case.

All this has made me very anxious about preparing for these climbing competitions. Clearly, there is no way I will be in any shape to compete at the US Adaptive Climbing Nationals in the second half of June. But, if I decide to compete anyway and try to win a spot on the team, will I be ready for the World Championships in September? Does it even matter?? It was sobering to find out that sepsis has a mortality rate of 53 percent. I was fortunate enough to fall in the other 47 percent.

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