CrossFit Makes One Harder to Kill
By Kerri Strasheim
By now, most of you know that I had a bout with COVID-19 and have since recovered. I thought you might appreciate hearing about my experiences and insights.
First, do not take this virus lightly (I know most of you are not). I really felt like getting this virus was like playing Russian Roulette - except that you don't know if the firing pin hits an empty chamber or not for a couple of weeks!
While chances are good one will have a mild case, the unpredictability of when hospitalization might be needed due to the immune system declaring war and affecting other necessary body components is a little scary. The accompanying anxiety is stressful - not knowing what path will be experienced.
Luckily, my case was mild, and, so far, I have not had any long-hauler complications. I knew that I had been exposed significantly (this also ensured that I didn't pass it on to anyone else!), so I was very aware of what getting sick felt like.
For me, it came on like any other virus typically does, with a stuffy and feverish-feeling head along with fatigue. The next day when the sense of smell started to go - that was the clincher. Unfortunately, smell did not just "disappear" - I got to enjoy the smell of rotting dead things for a little while, and being outside in the wind exacerbated that nasty, gag-worthy smell (were those my dying smell cells?).
I was grateful when smell finally went away. Though, Deep Blue (for a regular tension headache - not virus induced) and Vicks seem especially dangerous when one can't smell! I think I still had some Deep Blue on my hands when I took a Zycam lozenge - an added zing! My taste also dulled significantly, but I did not lose it fully. Eating really is less interesting without much taste or any smell so I lost a few pounds. I don't recommend the COVID weight loss program. Fatigue and shortness of breath with a strange-feeling chest were the rest of my symptoms.
Keeping the shortness of breath in mind, I managed a couple of slow walks while sick to keep moving and try to make sure my lungs were staying clear, but I could tell that the virus was taking its toll. I was ridiculously tired afterwards.
Generally when sick, I am a believer in resting early and resting lots (thank you, mono - twice...), so I was a good couch potato. When symptoms were getting better and after being released from isolation, I slowly started to test my systems with light cardio and accessory work (just under two weeks from start of symptoms). CrossFit definitely teaches us to be smart about our bodies and to learn when to rest and not to push too hard when recovering.
Remember our favorite health pathway graph - the one where we poke fun at ourselves for imagining our steady, steeper, upward climb of improvement, but reality gives us ups and downs and twists and turns? The other side of that is that we have been working on improvement - we are starting at a little higher point of health and strength. Our backslides as CrossFitters still can leave us in a better starting place in recovery than someone whose path has gone differently. I was very grateful for a good lung capacity and a fairly quick return to regular WODs. While I don't feel like I am fully back to 100% sprint capacity yet, my WOD experiences have felt pretty darn good - and some results are comparable to pre-COVID numbers (yay for the data collection of CrossFit!).
And, we can't forget our mental toughness gains. The anxiety mentioned earlier is tough, but we can counter that with knowing that we have put ourself in a better position through our positive health choices and gains made at TSCF - we truly are harder to kill.
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