Hello everyone. I'm Cat_Fish, I'm a 19-year old college student and I have a story I want to share with you. It will be pretty lengthy, but its something that I really think will help anyone who wants to get motivated for the gym, and possibly life in general.
When I was 18 in my senior year of high school, I was 5'4″ and 175 lbs. of out-of-shape-ness. That January, I came to the conclusion that it was time to make a difference in my physique and life mind-set. I decided to get the jump start on my fitness goals through our school's ski trip, which ran from January 21st to January 24th. The plan was to take a bus to Vermont from New Jersey and snowboard all weekend on various mountains. It was my last time on the trip and I was excited to beat the hell out of myself on a mountain.
Now I ask: Do you remember where you were January 21st, 2010? I do.
I was coming up to a bend, where out of nowhere another skier cut me off. I had no choice but to avoid collision. However, my stop wasn't clean and shot me down the slope horizontally. I went off the trail, and hit my right leg on a fallen, dead tree. Instead of hitting my boot, it hit right above it, shattering my right leg. After an hour of screaming for help, a respiratory therapist found a scared, raspy-voiced boy. After being rushed to the hospital, and getting these gnarly X-rays, and going straight into surgery, I woke up about 17 hours later to find that my leg had 4 screws and a metal rod in it. Now conscious, my surgeon came in to check on me and asked me to wiggle my toes. I wiggled them down successfully, but coming up didn't happen. My surgeon got nervous and, after checking over and over again, I had developed Compartment Syndrome. Basically, there is a compartment in our right shin just off to the right that filled with so much fluid, it choked my nerve and killing off a chunk of muscle in my leg (NOTE: I tried taking a picture of this, but couldn't get a clear one at the moment.). To counter the compartment syndrome, they made a six-inch incision on the compartment, releasing the pressure that was destroying my leg. This was my 2nd surgery in 3 days. I do not remember anything of day 4 unfortunately, but on day 5, I figured out why my leg was in so much pain still.
On day 5, my surgeon came in and notified me they had to “clean my wound”. I was completely baffled,”What the hell do you mean you have to clean it?” And then, I saw it: underneath my splint was a completely open wound that had been sitting there. I saw the muscle and everything. I was in so much pain because the swelling had not settled yet and the incision that was made was unable to be closed in the surgery.
Fuck my life.
2 more surgeries occured in the following 4 days, but nothing was like the hell I wasn't prepared for on my last night. You see: The doctors were basically feeding me Percoset. I was dependent on them to sleep somewhat soundly, but I hadn't eaten in 4 days and it was making me sick to my stomach. I quit all my narcotic pain meds cold turkey my last night. Welcome to hell night. I endured cold sweats, 4 vomiting fits, 2 panic attacks and 0 hours of sleep. Oh, did I mention I was going into surgery the next day? So no food or water. After vomitting up nothing, being dehydrated, anxiety attacks, cold sweats, and exhaustion for an entire night, I was wheeled into my 5th and final surgery to close that open wound on my leg.
Thankfully, it was successful.
I woke up from the surgery happy, clean, free of pain and pain meds and eating my first meal in 6 days: spaghetti and meatballs. Absolutely delicious. Afterwards, my mom and I drove back straight from Vermont to New Jersey in one shot, where I had the most delicious burrito of my entire life.
But wait, the story continues. 3 Months later…
I'm finally back in New Jersey, on crutches, with a cast.
After being in a massive, bulky, heavy cast for so long, it was opened to reveal that my right leg was at a 45 degree angle. My surgeons had not rotated my leg back when they put in the metal rod, causing a HUGE problem. If I did not fix it, I would never be able to run again, and a 95% chance of getting arthritis in my knee and hip, as soon as the age of 30. What could I do to fix something like this?
I had to give consent to another surgeon to re-break my leg, twist it back, and insert a new metal rod into it.
Great. Another surgery. This one, however, was successful after one surgery. It was a clean, one night stay at the hospital and I was on my way.
Fast forward 8 months of physical therapy 4 times a week, and I was able to finally support my own weight successfully without limping, just in time for college!
On my first day of college in september of 2010, I met a kid named Dan. Dan was a well-built kid with beaming confidence and a unique ability to rally everyone to have fun. Perfect best-friend material. He pushed me to start going to the gym with him as soon as I had felt ready. I took the last 3 months of 2010 to get my legs back to where I felt comfortable to lift.
On January 3rd, 2011, I performed my first squat. It was 60 lbs. I was sore for 3 straight days. Dan, however, performed a 175 lbs. squat. I told him that, one day, he will see me rep that much weight as well.
He held me to it.
I went to the gym with Dan 3 days a week and hung out with him 7 days a week. We went from total strangers to best friends in a matter of months. He was there for a lot of firsts in my life: such as my first time lifting seriously at the gym and including my first time smoking marijuana. We went to tons of concerts and generally just chilled all the time.
After 4 months of lifting, it became a lifestyle change for me. I had lost weight, gained substantial muscle, and gained more confidence than I ever had. The only person I had to thank was Dan.
My squat weight was up to 135 lbs.
At the end of the year, I was excited to be able to hang out with my friend over the summer, but it was postponed. Dan had suffered a seizure back at his home in Pennsylvania which side-lined any driving for him for a while. So in the mean time, I went to the gym rather casually (due to distance and work) and enjoyed some time at home with my friends and family.
No problem though. He recovered over the summer and we hung out again once school started up.
Back at college in September of 2011, me and Dan went right back to our usual way of hanging out all the time. We continued going to the gym and hanging out with all of our old floor mates and friends.
Everything was completely normal, although my squat had totally plateaued at 150 lbs.
Fast forward. On November 18th, 2011, Do you remember where you were? Because I do.
I had started my internship and I was leaving work at 2:30 P.M. on a rather chilly November afternoon. I had made plans to go to another concert with Dan and mosh all night. But it was interrupted. I received a call from an old floor mate of mine asking if I had heard what happened to Dan. Confused and concerned I asked what happened to him.
I was informed that he had attended a concert and suffered another seizure afterwards. Complications from the seizure took my friend's life that pervious night.
I honestly cannot put into words how I felt at that moment, nor the weeks and months that followed. It destroyed me from the inside out.
I had entered a serious state of depression. I felt convinced that there was nothing in this life worthwhile. I felt almost suicidal. I sat in my apartment, lethargic, feeling like I'm just waiting for death. I was completely miserable. Days felt like blurs and I was a void of motivation and happiness.
But I couldn't live like this. I knew that this was an insult to Dan's memory and lifestyle. He lived life to the fullest and made sure that he, and everyone around him, was happy. I realized I couldn't just sit here on my couch and feel like I'm just waiting to die.
I got up and started hitting the gym again, harder than I ever did before.
What this comes down to is that on December 18th, 2011, I squated 175 lbs. I had fulfilled the promise I had made to Dan. I was nearly in tears at the gym, by myself, at the squat rack.
It is the memory and life of my lost friend that I do anything anymore. I knew I had to get up and start living because, at any moment, you could have your life taken from you. He embraced life and ran with it. I cannot tell you how much I miss the kid. It still bothers me months later, but I am stronger because of it.
I can honestly say I am happy and healthy again. I changed my routine and I go 5 days a week now. My legs are actually MUCH stronger now than they were before my snowboarding accident. I made a promise to myself to live the absolute fullest life I could, because I know that was what Dan would have done.
R.I.P. Dan, you were the best of us.
TL;DR- I broke my leg snowboarding after wanting to get in shape, took about a year to rebuild the strength back, met my new best friend, and started lifting and getting into the best shape of my life. In November, my friend passed away. His death taught me I could not sit around and just wait for death. I needed to start living. I promised him I would rep 175 lbs. on my squat, and about a month after he passed, I did it.
Sorry for such a massive text wall, I tried to make it as easy to follow as possible.
EDIT: If anyone has any questions about anything, or holes in detail, I will be more than happy to answer them. However, I am going to sleep soon. But nonetheless, I will answer anything unanswered tomorrow.