Disabled Girls Who Lift

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E61: A New Normal After VAD

April 18th 2022
In this episode, Rachel joins us to share her experience recently navigating life as a powerlifter, speech language pathologist and dog mom immediately after a right vertebral artery dissection. Thank... More
This is disabled girls who lift. We are reclaiming what's rightfully ours. One podcast at a time. It's mary beth Chloe and Marcia bringing you the thoughts and unpopular topics to get you out of that. A bliss comfort zone. Mhm, mm hmm. Alright, fantastic. Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of disabled girls who live. Thank you to the folks that follow us, share us, give us money. Love us like us. Talk to us, ask us questions and support our listeners who ask us questions and then we ask you the questions. So that's great. Anyways, this is Marsha uh in south florida on Seminole Tribe Land. I am a black spoon. Ephram wearing clear glasses. I got my clunky mic and headphone. I'm a little tired but I'm happy to be here in front of my colorful wall pronouns. Are she? They mary Beth is up next. Hey, y'all coming in from northern California sitting on Oh, loney land. I am not energized yet.

Have not had my coffee yet. It's early over here pacific time. Um wearing an olive green sweater, um glasses, black headphones. Sitting in my living room. And we are super excited to have Rachel. Gottfried here today from kuya Hoga Falls Ohio sitting on I believe it's a combination of CASS Castiel land and virile island. So thank you for joining us. Um Rachel is a speech language pathologist, also retired powerlifter. Like many of us who recently suffered a right vertebral artery dissection and super interested to hear how um that's changed a lot of your lifting, How you've adapted to different movements if any. And you know, the passions that you have in speech therapy, Your dogs playing video games.

Yeah, thank you. Welcome. Hi, thanks for having me here. Um before I do the my pronouns are she? And I'm wearing a long black hair, I'm wearing glasses, I'm wearing a green t shirt and I'm sitting on a brown couch. Um yeah, thank you so much for having me tell the people about your fabulous nails though. Oh, I do, yeah, they're black. And then I have like a heart green design since it was just ST Patrick's Day. Yeah, no, those are Waller, I love those. Yeah, so we um, what I mentioned earlier is something that Rachel did. So Rachel went through something that's pretty weird and strange for a young person to go through, I'm sure um probably nobody she knows has gone through and then she messages like, hey, have you ever heard of this? Like what the heck am I supposed to be doing here? I'm a little lost. Um yeah, and then some of you guys answered our stories and somehow Rachel figured something out.

So what did you figure out Rachel? Um I about the dissection, I figured out um basically when you have a dissection you have to really put lifting on pause, it's not really possible until you're fully healed. And even then, um you, um, I have a lot of restrictions still because it's a very serious injury. But I reached out to you guys and I was like maybe somewhere in the world there's someone else who has this who also was a power lifter or also really like bodybuilding or weightlifting. Right. Right. Right. Yeah, it's pretty nuts. So I've had something with my veins in my leg as an elective surgery, like I chose to do that and I planned to do that and you know, I was able to prepare for that and even though it was lost while it was happening, at least there's some sort of like mental framework, was this something that caught you out of surprise out of nowhere, you were just minding your business and then boom, emergency.

Yes. So um this happened over the course of five days at the end of october, So I woke up one morning and I thought I slept on my neck funny and you have to excuse me? Sometimes I still get emotional about it. Of course, it's just dramatic. Yeah, less than a year ago time. Yeah, it's only been like 4.5 months. So I woke up, I thought I slept on my neck funny and then my condition just worsened over the course of five days I was at work and I was like, wow, I couldn't keep my eyes open and I was like wow, I really have a bad headache from this muscle, like cold um because that's what it felt like and um it just got worse and worse and I coincidentally also caught some sort of virus. Um And I was like in bed I had a fever and I just was resting so I but I still had a headache and so I ended up actually going to my physical therapist and I was like hey can you help me? I think I pulled a muscle and um they actually did some like um dry needling and muscle scraping right on the neck which is probably bad but nobody knew nobody could have ever caught this off you know?

Um Nobody would have known. So I woke up on monday to monday morning and I couldn't walk in a straight line. I tried to go to work on Tuesday and I just felt so weird and by the time it was like six p.m. On Tuesday my condition deteriorated so much that I called a friend and I said I think I really need to go to the hospital. I knew I couldn't drive myself. So we went to the er I had what I would describe as the worst headache I've ever seen in my entire life. And so um I waited 4.5 hours at the er until you know they did immediately did a head cT which came up um normal which is great. Um But then when I went back after 4.5 hours were like you need a next C. T. So they did that and that's when they found that um my right vertebral artery. Um tour that's what it means. The section is that it tore and it formed a pseudo aneurysm which basically means like you're there's like a little pouch and out patching that was filled with essentially blood clots.

And so the risk of this injury is that you would have a a person would have a stroke, a brain stem stroke. So we're talking to a miracle right now is what you're saying? What the fuck? I'm glad, I'm glad you're still here. That's a lot right at the neck so close like you know. Yes I can't move. That was almost a week. And then even in the er that was hours long that's something that they would teach us in school is like emergent situation like red flags, red flags and I don't want right now. Yeah I just dealt with that for so long as yikes. So they went in there and they surgically did whatever but I'm guessing you probably have to take what blood thinners for like a hot minute. Yes. So surgically they actually didn't have to do anything. Um Some people when they have a large enough pseudo aneurysm they'll go in and put a stent. That's a very risky surgery and mine was small enough and I was stable enough that they thought it would resolve just with blood thinners and time.

So yeah I was on pretty heavy blood centers for three months and then at my three months TT they took me off of um one of the blood thinners. So now I just take baby aspirin every day. Um So but yeah a lot of people who have this condition do you end up having a stroke? I think it's about 5% of people do die unfortunately. Um But it just varies some people um they tell their left one but not the right and some people they tear their right and their left. Some people tear both. It just really depends, it's very vague and it's not something that you can say, it's like oh well it's because I did this one day I went on a roller coaster and I swear I had whiplash and this is why it happened like it's just one of those things that just it happens wrong one day. Yeah that's what happened for me. Some people like I know of people who the biggest risk is I would think is whip whiplash.

Some people get this from whiplash injuries and then other people, it's from chiropractic manipulation and I was somebody who had seen a chiropractor months before but had stopped and then I was somebody who cracked my next all the time. Like I didn't know the risk at all. Um And so there are lots of people who are like yeah I saw a chiropractor and then I immediately started vomiting and I knew something was wrong or there are people, it can happen from heavy lifting as well. So there are people who are like I did a heavy back spot and I felt something. So yeah, so you regularly you're saying that you regularly cracked your back your neck um just like yeah, on the daily multiple times a day. I was so you know an anxious person, so I was so tense all the time and I saw chiropractors doing it all the time and I saw the people doing it all the time and the instant I didn't I didn't know this, I don't know of this at all then. But now I know the incidence rate of sharing your vertebral artery is one in 100,000.

So I just figured you know yeah, no, you know I'm just doing other people do. Yeah, you'll never know. You never know. But can we just talk about how so many women minimize our pain to a fucking migraine. Thank God he only went one week as opposed to months, you know because it would have been too late or that you got to the er and stayed in the er right? Like how many people there? Like you're good. See you later. I'm grateful for the er doctor because I think people she immediately so the funny thing is she immediately was like, I was like, I'm a power lifter like so they were asking about like what activities I do think that I was like I'm a power lifter and she was immediately like you need a next gt like she was annoyed that they didn't do a next to t immediately. I was grateful that this er doctor had the knowledge about it. Yeah that they went there. That's amazing. Yeah. When I was half the time, whenever I go to the yard it's like well are you under a lot of stress?

Could this just be a panic attack was here earlier in that day and the one person to tell me, I think you're anxious. Yeah. Thanks bud wow. Yeah. I'm kind of wondering if I'm dying. So yes I'm anxious. I think that's an appropriate response. Wait and then when did you have to like check yourself into the er Marciel where they've told you that? Oh that was my first ever ever problem. Um was arrhythmias but I still have the arrhythmias. However at the time I felt them and it felt like world ending. Yeah that didn't go anywhere. That was just like the start of my journey. So that didn't go anywhere. If anything. I have more mysteries. Oh my God but we're not talking about me right now that that's gonna be a couple hours you want to dig into that. But that was like the first thing oh my God and it was um so you went to the er with your friend, I went to the er with my husband who is the number one he talks too much right?

Like he's the guy that talks to the Uber driver and I'm like yo shut up like he talks too much number one and number two he's like talks more when he's freaking out. So this lady this er doc is already on like it's a panic attack you're in stress like he's already into that and he's like telling her all the supplements I take and like I'm like yo why are you talking about? And now so now she's like oh it's the supplements then that's all you take too many that I'm just like why are you talking to her today? Yeah he made it worse. Um Was your friend helpful for you in that situation Rachel? So um my partner was at work and um I had nobody like my family lives about 35 minutes away um from me so they were going to get to me in time and this friend we weren't even that super cleric close. Um But she had been over my house recently and so she was the first person I thought of in the area and I really didn't think straight at all and just coincidentally she was like yeah I'll be over as soon as I can like hang in there I'm not doing I don't have to work tomorrow.

And so she stayed with me in the er until two a.m. Until she physically couldn't stay up. She actually went back to my house, informed my partner what was going on. Got me a snack and came back. Um She really like um I just love her a lot. She really saved M. V. P. Really? Did you can't even downplay that. She literally. Yeah definitely. That's awesome. I'm glad she was there free. I really am. And people like her shout out what's her name? Jordans jordans, we love you jordans you're doing amazing sweetie. Keep it up. Rachel, Rachel is the one that went through it but but Rachel so we're four months later and you said you reached out to the D. G. W. L. Community and what sorts of advice like and feedback did you get that actually has helped you until today? So when I reached out to you guys there was no advice about regarding lifting that anybody could have told me because with this injury for like For three months you can't do any lifting my restrictions are still no more than 10-15 lbs right now.

Um So the best advice I got was from other people who had this happen to them and there's a support group on facebook that I'm a part of. Um And I actually met a few people that I'm close to now from that group and it was essentially like take it easy and rest. Like I know it feels weird. I know you don't want to but you have to rest and so that's what I've been trying to do for the past 4.5 months I do. I started off three months where I just was like going on walks and things like that And then with my three months stan um They told me I was about 80% improved and my aneurysm had gone down so I can do some bodyweight exercises with restrictions. Um Those restrictions include um No like if you don't think about yoga, like sometimes people will be like do yoga and I was like I can't I can't do yoga because I can't put my head in weird positions, I can't be supporting myself with my arms or anything like that.

So it's no um awkward head and neck positions, no push ups, planks, pull ups. Um Nothing isometric heavy holds, anything like that. Um So yeah, there's a lot of like standing movements. Yes, I actually have had to take out, I was doing some like wall sits and dead bugs and that aggravated my neck. And so I said to take those out, I could see the dead bugs doing that. Yeah, and then I took out Bulgarian split squats because even though like I'm upright it still felt too much straining on my neck, so I cut those out, it's just kind of a trial and error. Um Yeah but damn you went back into it super quickly, let's say. Yeah I was I mean how long have you been power lifting? I've been power lifting for about 5-6 years and then Like more like bodybuilding and lifting in general for about 8-9 years. So a huge part of my life and a huge part of my identity. And um it was pretty crushing to lose that.

So I'm trying to find a way. Yeah definitely. That's like the only thing you think of. Yes for now it's not forever. But um yeah I hate when people get blanket advice like that. Oh yeah yoga's good. Like no man there's so much depending on what kind of yoga you're doing right? Like anything where you're putting pressure on your head being upside down hard pass right. Anything that you're holding on your hands. Huh? Heck no there's a lot more there's a lot more isometric in Pilates. We actually probably do Pilates. There's so much ice Pilates is like whatever you felt in dead bugs is what you would feel in Pilates again. Unless they're like standing movements. But I I can't imagine it's like it's the pressure, right? It's like pressure, your heart rate. It's like anything that's affecting. Yeah they really want you to keep your blood pressure with this. Um According to one of my doctors, they've done studies where With Olympic weightlifters and check seeing how their blood pressure like what happens with it when they're in the midst of like a clean and jerk or something like that and their blood pressure could be normal and then it spikes to like 300 or something really crazy and that's why they say heavy lifting after this injury is pretty much impossible because now I know that this could happen again to me and that has happened before and so I can't ever go back to power lifting.

It's not going to happen unfortunately. So they currently have told me if I heal £20 for life is my math. Mhm. Because you did a lot of body building type of stuff beforehand. Yeah. Yeah. But they have to give have to give you some sort of number. But at the end of the day when we lift like the main thing we do is you know, brace val salva, all of that pressure. Yeah, that's an immediate no immediate. No because immediate. No. Is that val salva is just sucking pressure and then you let it go. So it's like you cannot have that intra thoracic pressure, not even raising I think eventually I could brace a little bit better but right now I get nervous brace harder. You gotta be able to really separate bracing in your val salva. Yeah. And right now to like I think about like um like how much I want to go back to lifting and stuff and I'm trying to take it easy but some people with this condition also developed chronic pain which I have.

So um I'm trying to also manage my pain as well. So what is the pain is still that feels like a strained muscle. Yeah, my right now, like in my neck it just feels very very tense. Which actually it's actually shifted. My pain is kind of shifting, which is kind of crazy. And then you get I'm really sorry, I can't say that word. I get really frequent headaches, so I'll just get headaches, especially in the back of my head right where the artery is. Um And I get migraines, so I have to manage a lot going on. Yeah, that sucks. So who do you who do you have to keep up with now for doctors? Yeah. Um So I have a vascular doctor that I see. Um And then I also see a neurologist and I actually had to see. So those are the two that I see now. I actually did genetic counseling. Because there are certain genetic conditions them with connective tissue that could cause a spontaneous dissection. Um I do not have have those um That would be like vascular Ehlers Danlos and Fiber muscular dysplasia are the two common ones.

So I got cleared for that. Um But yeah, vascular neurology than the main ones. I'm seeing a headache specialist soon. Yeah. Not under control. Mm hmm. Yikes. That stinks. So there's not much that you've done that's helped you with that part of it. The pain management part of it. No, I unfortunately I'm still taking um some pretty heavy pain medication, especially at night. Um and then Tylenol, they send you like, you're in the hospital and they have you on like, ivy morphine around the clock for the pain and then they discharge you and you're like, they're like, have some Tylenol, acetaminophen. But I mean like the blood thinners I guess was super important because of the blood clots, but no more blood clots, right? Yes. Should knocks. Um Have I should not, I'm not at risk I think right now for a stroke because I have that managed just with baby aspirin. Yeah, you just have to stay the course with it. That's pretty nuts. And pain management sucks because it's such a hit or miss and everybody has to try something different.

You know, even like, you know, people are like, oh, just do cannabis. Like you can't even just say just do cannabis, okay. Which which strain? Which type, what method? How much? That's not? Yeah, that's not helpful. Or you know, some people are just like, oh yeah, lyric is great for my nerve pain. What dosage? How often do you take it? What time of the day? Like, there's so much fucking um or just trial and error that nobody could figure out for you. You have to like suffer and have the space and what you have to go to work and you can't be like, I'll try this medication that might put me out tomorrow, like. Exactly. And all the stuff that's not funny because that's the funny thing is that like with this condition, some of the you know, we're going to talk about medications, they immediately like get off birth control. That was one there like immediately to get off the blood clot risk of blood clots. And then I was taking Imitrex occasionally for migraines. I had migraines um prior to my dissection there there seems to be some sort of um link but it's not clear between dissection and migraine.

Um So they said no you cannot take that migraine medication. So like I got a migraine last week and I was like what am I supposed to do? Just take time off because they I also can't take ibuprofen because they interact with the aspirin. Oh my god. So there's like a lot of and then a lot of like you know um other medications, there's like a whole list of medications, they're like you can't take this because of blood clotting risk and like what what do I do? And I'm sure there's like um they tell you foods and whatnot, like I know you can't eat licorice, let's say if you're on a blood thinner, I had no idea about that. Yeah, there's some stuff out, there's some weird interactions because I mean something medication is you know, like a very chemical version of food, right? Um Yeah, you can't do licorice. I know my partner was on some blood thinners for a bit and I had to take out the black jellybeans because you just like handfuls and this guy is gonna kill himself there and sort through jelly.

That was my life. Yeah. No, it's that specific. But that that was trial and error, right? Somebody tried it and it didn't work out. Now. We learned from six. It's freaking nuts. That sucks about medication though. Um I would like to ask you how, how it affected your job, but before we switch topics, we just take like a short break and then plug an ad. Alright, fantastic. Uh So let's start over what? Um Oh yeah. Your work? Yeah, Yeah. How has your work been treating you? So my work has been really great. Um and really understanding. Um It has impacted my work quite a bit because um a lot of I work with autistic population and some of my students tend to um pull hair or they might hit you or throw things. Um they might pull on you really hard. And um it's something like this would be very difficult for some of my students to understand like, hey, you can't just pull my hair right now because they're not thinking about that.

They're thinking like I have needs and I'm trying to communicate something with you and I don't know what, how to do that by unless I pull your hair and to tell you what would be really bad for my neck. Um So there's a lot of um classrooms. I can't be as hands on with anymore. Um I do need to take frequent breaks at work. Um If I I can't like lift or move anything. So you know there's a big box and like for example one of my students wanted to see this book that was in a box. I couldn't lift the box to show show them. So I had to go and find somebody else, like little things like that. Um But my work has been very understanding. That's great. That's not everybody has that and that and you don't need extra stress to put your blood pressure up. Yeah. No um So it's changed the way that you work but pretty much whatever you're asking for, they're they're fine with their not like a quote a happy kind of a place. No and I'm on F. M. L. A. So any of my appointments, I don't have the stress of like oh my gosh when do I need to schedule disappointments?

Like I need to figure it out around work, I just pretty much say I'm going to be out this day where I'll be in half a day and then I go um And actually when the whole thing started since it was so sudden it was like all of a sudden I was texting my boss, like I just got admitted to the hospital. Um I don't know when I'm gonna be back and I was out for about three weeks. Oh damn. Um and they pretty much will just were like, okay, we'll help you. Um tell us what you need when you'll be back and we'll get this figured out. We hope you're well. They sent me like some of my students gave me like a card, like a get well card and get well gift. It was very sweet. That's great. That's great. Those accommodations are just so, so important. The FMLA, you can work at this. You could still be working though. I thought it was for like literally leaving. You're not working. So there's like a whole big sheet. I don't know if it's different in each state versus each workplace. I'm not sure about all those girls, but this one it was, it's, there's a checkbox of like you'll be out for this appointment or like they have specifics on there in the form.

Mm hmm. Yeah. I think I've seen people use some as like temper leave as well. As long as they get paid by the state because you know, you need to get paid if the company can't pay you. Yeah, probably. Yeah. I don't know. I don't know about all the specifics. I probably should have gone on short term disability, but I, I was like, I want to get back to work. I have things to do and I want to get back to the gym and I was just so focused on, I want to get back to my life and everybody else, like my family was like, you can't slow down. Yeah, that's rough. That part gets really complicated. Like short term disability versus FML. Well, first of all, you have to work for someone and be like a real employee, right? Just like a real company. You can't be a freelancer. I don't have any of that. Just workers don't get paid. Um, but I don't, the, the state paying you though might depend mary beth I might be a California thing. I don't know. Yeah. Well she's in your, in Ohio, right? In Ohio. But I've seen it happen in California florida.

FMLA just means that they can't give your job away. Like your job is there waiting for. But that's how I've seen a youth, it's like I need a month and a half off because I'm getting a surgery and then you have a doctor sign all this crap or whatever they don't pay you. They just can't fire you. Well, it's not a lot of, yeah, go ahead. Oh, I didn't mean to interrupt. I was going to say that's what it's like in Ohio, they can't, I don't get paid for those days that I'm out. But I also have the job security and that kind of thing. That's the word, it's job security. Mm hmm. Okay. Yeah. And then short term disability at least here is something you have to pay extra for. It's like an insurance, like you could pay aflac or whatever insurance, like a car insurance, like your cars out like, oh, I'm out and then you make a claim and then they'll pay you out. You have to pay for disability insurance in order to apply for disability benefits. Well no, it's, what do you mean disability, You mean like the state's disability benefits? That's something else.

And you, you can't be working on that. No, you have to be like below poverty level to be on that. It's so complicated. It's so complicated because every, every state is so different and they would rather just give up and like just disappear or something. I don't know. It's so stupid. But anyways, that's not your life. You're doing great. Amazing. Yeah. That because that, that ship is infuriating. That would really like there are people that don't get married because they want to keep their disability stuff settled. So that stuff is pretty nuts. So what about daily? So obviously it's going to affect your work. But what about daily stuff? What about grocery shopping or chopping or changing your bedsheets, vacuuming is like strenuous for me, You know when I got my vein thing I couldn't vacuum. Um I'm lucky that I get help. I have help to do that. But for grocery shopping, I mean I've literally people looked at me like I was silly because I was like I can't lift one of the £10.

Like I need somebody to help, like push the cart and then load my car because I, I physically can't um I can't let my dogs out because the yard, like, you have to let them on bony. Should I have not been able to walk my dogs or I have to, we've had a lot of friends come over to let out my dogs because that's become really difficult. I certainly can't lift their bag of food. Um but yeah, I've just, I just, I don't know, I wish I had a clear cut answer because I don't know how I'm getting by. Not anything I know when we had, like, the one silver lining was, we had a really bad snowstorm and I was like, oh, I can't shovel, sorry, I would so help you right now medically, I can't what, I'll just help Sprinkle the ice and Sprinkle and Sprinkle the salt, my next hurting. I really got to sit this one out. So yeah, but yeah, and I think, I think the hardest part daily is that is the constant pain and the constant anxiety.

Um a lot of people who have this injury do have medical trauma afterwards. So they have, like PTSD and even people who don't, who didn't have anxiety prior to this injury then developed really bad anxiety because it's especially the spontaneous because then you're like, oh my God, I can't even look behind, look behind me to check my, like, my blind spot. That's been hard driving. You have to turn your whole body. They don't want you to even physically be rotating your neck. I didn't even think of that part. No abrupt turning of the head at all. Um So I have a car that fortunately beeps when I want to merge or if somebody's beside me and I just drive very very carefully. Um So that's been hard. Um And then the constant pain um And then like am I going to get a headache? Am I not going to get a headache? I don't know do I feel a headache right now? Am I does this mean I'm having another dissection? Like just all these constant questions running through my head all the time.

And then um at night my pain does get worse. And so I have a lot of night anxiety and like sleeping has been extremely hard because it I can't get comfortable in bed with my head. Like no there's no pillow propped up right enough. There's no pillow soft enough for firm enough. That's going to feel good on my neck. So sleeping has been hard on that affects everything daily. Do you still have a P. T. To this day? Um Physical therapy? No I am like I said I'm seeing the physical therapy I saw before backtrack a little bit was specifically for athletes and power lifters. They he saw athletes every day so this was not his cup of tea orthopedic sports stuff. Yeah. And he actually called me in the hospital? I think they might have felt pretty guilty about maybe not catching it in time or that they didn't send me to the hospital instead of like doing, I didn't want them to feel that way.

But then they called me while I was in the hospital and was like are you okay? Um So I have not seen them since. I think what's going to benefit me is seeing the headache specialist and keeping up with with that. Yeah, I just don't remember if it's specifically physical therapy, but there is one where they specifically recommend like how to sleep, what positions to lay on types of ends. It could be a B. T. Or it could be an occupational therapist. That just depends. But I mean you said you've you've tried multiple positions in multiple types of pillows, you have to find that one kind of like more trial and error for you at night. Yeah. And I kind of just had to like get over it, especially because with how my injury progressed, I just was sleeping and I woke up in my neck hurt. And so it's been kind of scary to sleep because I'm like what if I do something in my sleep, but it hurts my neck.

Yeah. And that makes you more stress than your body is stressed and your pressure goes up, then you're already hurting now you're hurting a little bit more and then now you're worrying about that also like crap, am I gonna ruin this? But I got to go to sleep. But what if I go to sleep and something happens and then you just like ramping up? I could see it, I could see it that that must be a tough cycle to break out of. Are you getting any better at stopping that thought pattern? Yes. Um I think so. I kind of just, I'm kind of just trying to live my life a little bit more like, I have plans to go see a concert in april and you know, I'm trying to do stuff at the gym and I'm, you know, letting myself relax a little bit more um which has helped um and the pain actually think hopefully is getting better. Um I now I have moments where I wake up in the morning and I'm like, I have about 20 minutes, 20 to 30 minutes with no pain.

It's like I woke up and like, did I just wake up from this nightmare? Like did this really happen? And then it comes on and I'm like, oh yeah, so um I think we're having more moments of less, less pain, less intense pain. Um Like, I haven't taken any pain medication at all today, which is a huge step. Nice. That is nice. But the migrants that you've dealt with before. Besides the, what was it, metrics, metrics besides that. Um for managing it were those like clearly triggered migraines like smells and sounds or whatever it is. That still the same or your migrants totally different now. Some of the same. Some not so my migraines before this were triggered by barometric pressure changes. Like the weather. And I had one last week and I panicked. I was so scared. I was like, I have another dissection. Um My dogs. Sorry. Um he's like, why are you so hyped right now? Why are you so hyped calm down? Maybe you should pet me to calm down. Just don't jump on mommy.

So um so they were triggered by the weather. Um and that still is happening. But now I'll just get like random headaches. Like I'll just be living and I get a headache. I'm like, what did I do? Or if I'm like if I may be strained my neck a little bit too much but everything strains my neck. So I'm like, it's kind of a toss up. Yeah. Yeah. That's a tough one. I'm just glad you got you got support like at home for sure because you know, daily, daily thing. Like I think about it now as I'm getting older too, I'm like, I can't open this freaking jar. I was able to open a year ago. It's getting progressively complicated and being okay okay with like depending on other people is also huge growth for people like us power lifters especially, but also having the support, like, you know, some people are there like when it's obviously oh you're in the hospital, this is a crisis time like oh make sure your dogs are walked, then you have food and then you're out of the hospital.

And she's like I guess you're good now, you know, some people peace out. Like their support wanes. I've been very fortunate, I know a lot of people are not as supported and I wish that were the case, but I've been very fortunate that I've been um extremely supportive. I think the people in my life sometimes get annoyed with my broken record of am I going to hell, like every minute of every day, you know, am I going to hell? Well I should be able to lift again. And so that's those are the kinds of things that I think can weigh on your support system. The constant, my constant asking of, oh my gosh, what if I don't feel, yeah, who am I now? Some people, unfortunately they don't um and the likelihood of healing after, if you're not healed in the six months timeframe, your likelihood of it resolving completely drops. And so it's a lot of, a lot of pressure. So that's when you would have to get the stent then I don't think they they wouldn't even do it.

They were like, I went to saw my doctor one of the doctors to make sure um just overview black, making sure I don't have F. M. D. Or anything like that. And she was like it's a lifestyle change. And I said what it's easier for you to say you're not going through it Lady was like it's not just a lifestyle change to me, this was like a huge part of my life. Powerlifting was I describe it sorry my dogs, I described powerlifting as like everything to me like it was for goal into my being um So losing that has been hard. So it's a lot of pressure Maple, you gotta move, sorry don't worry. Wait your dog's name is Maple to know she turned around. That's funny, that's tough. It is it's a big adjustment and you have to contend with like okay what I used to be able to do and then you have to contend with what the hell happened to me and then you have to contend with like what am I doing today?

Yes and there's even more layers on top of that. It's like um we know that you know when your power lifting and lifting weights and doing bodybuilding that it changes your physique and there's a lot of emphasis on that within the fitness community and I look at myself sometimes in the mirror and I'm like I don't know who this person is and it's that's been really hard. Two um to deal with my body's changing my body also betrayed me. I also can't lift anything Also will I ever heal and then all those other things you said, like, just layers and layers of um things you have to contend with. Yeah, that's a lot. That's a lot a lot a lot. Does that spill into into your work or into what you're doing outside of your house? Like, is that kind of like a big heavy cloud or is it getting better? I hope that it will get better. I do receive support to work through those things um at work, I try to really compartmentalize um my work versus my personal life and my personal feelings um because I'm there for the kids and they need me and my coworkers need me and I have an important job to do there.

And so I really try and just focus on that when I'm on there. Um the outside of work. Um you know, it's I'm going like, I'm going to a concert for the first time, you know, I mean pandemic, we all were kind of right, but I'm going to a concert for the first time in a long time and sometimes I get like, well, you know, I get flashes of like maybe I shouldn't do that because this happened to me and you know, that kind of thing weighs heavy. Yeah, I'm sure it does, I'm sure it does, but again, it's great that you have support and nobody's making you feel bad for those feelings, even though you might feel bad for having the feelings. But yeah, I think I get the most like frustrated with more like strangers on the internet, you'll get back to lifting the body can do amazing things and I'm like, it's a miracle that I'm here, the body can do amazing things, that thing is done now. I am alive, like I'm just happy to be here.

I'm like, it's and I was like, you know, almost like stop trying to make fetch happen. I love mean girl references um and then, I mean tell us a little things of how you found happiness, like kind of shifted happiness, reading graphic novels, playing video games, like other things you could have done. I know yeah. Where there is joy in my life. I know I can get kind of like down in the dumps but my it's real, it's all at the same time at the same time, one of myself when I have a friend that I met through the support group on facebook um if the support groups, if anybody needs it out there, it's, it's called vertebral artery dissection support. You just put it in the search bar in there and I have met some amazing people from there, like people who have had multiple strokes, multiple dissections, like the strongest people I know are in that group and I met a friend on there, She's across the world.

Um and sometimes we're like, are we the same person um and so we talk almost every day and support each other and we told each other you're my silver lining in this. Like, if this hadn't happened to me, I would have never met you, and that's been really nice. Um Yeah, I've rediscovered, I love reading graphic novels, getting back into reading, which I never had time for um spending time with my dogs, my family, my friends um listening to music, catching up on all the things I missed on netflix. Um When I was at the gym, like before my dissection, I was at the gym four times a week Upwards of like three hours a session. And I really put so much time and energy and effort um into power lifting so much of my life into it was I put all my eggs in one basket and now I know not to do that. So I'm kind of figuring out what is meaningful to me in life. That's 12 extra hours of your week. Now, what you gonna do with it?

Yeah. You gotta do something. It's so true though. That's a big chunk. Yeah. I was in junk. Yeah, huge chunk. I remember like sitting, you know, after my dissection happens, like, and I was just like, resting everything. I'm like, what am I gonna do with all this time? So were you um competing last year or the year prior, like, was competition even in your timeline back then. Yeah, so um I competed in 2019. I did really well. Um I was quite strong. I always humble brag about it still. I like, for example, like the thing was too, like, I had been working with this coach for 5/5 years and he's been coaching for a really long time for us, a pl and he's never had one athlete that's happened to, that was the first and Um he got me really strong in my first competition. I pulled 2.7 times, my body weight on my dead lift.

Um I was probably one of my biggest accomplishments. Um and so in 2020 I was going to compete in March of 2020. Oh, nice. And so um that didn't happen. And then, right before my dissection, I was really trying to be as consistent as possible in the gym to be like, yes, I'm ready. We can. I was looking at meets to pick out for next month actually um at that time and yeah, I really wanted to compete again, but it's not, it's not going to happen in life comes at you. Fast times a pivot. That's that's the thing about once you're in the disabled community, you become a pro at pivoting. Alright. What else can I do? All right. What else can I do? All right, what else can I do? And it's kind of great that like the rest of the world kind of experience that with us with this 23 year long pandemic, that's still going on. You know, everyone was like, I can't do a B and C.

Careers shifted and you know, it was pretty interesting. It was pretty interesting to see that for sure. I agree. Um I did want to go back to the novels, What kind of, what kind of graphic novels are you reading? What's, what's on your desk? Um I guess I really like this um series called Saga um definitely not appropriate for Children. It's a very adult graphic graphic novels or spoiler alert and usually not for kids in case anyone is never not for Children. It's kind of about like there's this like space alien war and it's like kind of like a Romeo and Juliet kind of thing as told by the daughter and it's just really interesting. There's some, it's kind of niche. It's kind of niche, but I like the series is called Saga and then I have some other, I don't even know the names of some of the other ones.

I have, I went to the store recently, just bought some covers on it. Did you ever read the Watchman 1? That's like my husband can't stop talking. He always talks about that when he references graphic novels. I'll have to look that one up. Yeah, the watchman one and then um okay, but video games, you must be playing some chill games because even video games can be intense and get your blood like physically and you still have to be, you still have to be careful. I definitely go ahead. I was like, definitely know we games were, Yeah, definitely, no freaking smash bros or we fits or none of that. Like no, I play the most chill video games. I have my Nintendo switch and it's all I have. It all cute. Like it has like a little like cat covering cat paul and key caps on it. And I play Stargazer Valley, Animal Crossing and all of the Pokemon games. I'm like, Pokemon obsessed. I love that.

I think I saw about everybody loved animal crossing and then in the pan will say that's one of that popped up, but I never got to try it and see what it's like because I play the sims and people say it's similar ish similar ish very chill. I think you'll like it. Yeah, I look into it, man. Um that was a lot. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Is there anything that you wanted to talk about that we didn't quite touch on. I think I just would want people to know that, you know, if you see somebody first gotta backtrack, I always do this. Gotta backtrack a little bit. Um context. Isn't that context isn't. Um I think I just want people to know that if your body is telling you to rest, there's no shame in resting and that it's so important and um I know it's come up in the media recently, but if you are having the worst headache of your entire life, go to the doctor, like, don't wait, just go to the doctor and then I think I would want people to know um if you see somebody especially at the gym, that's maybe doing something that you don't understand or looks different um or like, you know, it's kind of different for me for example, to be at a power lifting specific gym, doing bodyweight only exercises and you know, so if you see somebody at the gym whose maybe doing something different.

So just like, because before you have a judgment about them and then um because you don't know what someone's going through and just because somebody looks okay, like I look perfectly, I look the same. Um they might actually have a torn artery or something else. You have literally no idea. And you know what? Minding your business is still free. It doesn't cost a dime saying your damn lane doesn't cost a dime. That's probably very, very frustrating for you. But I'm happy that you reached back out to us and checked in um because the way my brain fog is set up, This could have happened last November or in 2017, who knows? Right? So I'm happy you came back. I'm extra happy that we got to talk about it because who knows? Somebody might need to hear this. Yeah, I thank you so much for having me and giving me the opportunity to talk about vertebral artery dissection and stroke. Um it is happening more and more to young people um and heavy lifting is a risk for it and I just think it's an important topic and I'm honored to be here and I'm so happy you invited me.

Yeah anytime you're welcome come right through the door I'll give you the nest code, come right in on the couch. I'll give you the password for netflix. You are welcome at any time at the disabled girls who lives house netflix and the price is going up to oh if anybody wants to find you online. Well you mentioned the vertebral artery dissection support group. Is that its own website? Facebook? That's a group on facebook. Just facebook. Okay that's facebook but if what if somebody wanted to talk to you where would they find you? Um instagram probably would be the best option. Um My instagram handle is Rachel, R A C H E L E M. Go. So it's Rachel M. Go. Um And that's my inbox VMS are always open to anybody who wants more information on party party dissection. Um Our work. How have adapted.

That's great thanks and just I think finding that community is super essential. Um and you know other even if every experience is different. Just the resources that you find within that is just so important. So thank you for sharing that with us. Okay. Alright. Fantastic disabled girls out. Thanks for listening to disabled girls who left. We appreciate all of your support and everyone who's taken the time to show us some love. Don't forget to subscribe, rate already, review of our channel. We're on Apple podcasts, Spotify player, FM, google podcasts and more. You can also find us on instagram at disabled girls who left.

E61: A New Normal After VAD
E61: A New Normal After VAD
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