Today’s WOD did not go well for me. I woke up feeling light-headed. For me that’s a danger sign – it means my proprioception is probably off-balance – but I took it as one of the symptoms of gluten flu, and ignored it. Mistake #1.
Got to the box to find out it was House WOD. Box jumps. That was all I could see. Box jumps. Right then I knew I was in trouble, because while box jumps always generate fear in me, this was stark terror. I chose to ignore it. Mistake #2.
We skipped in the warm up and I couldn’t get a rhythm – I was aware of other people skipping and kept slipping into sychronising with them, rather than being aware of my own timing – at that point I should have stepped aside, talked to Coach Barney and worked out how to scale the WOD for a day when my proprioception was non-functioning but once again I chose to override the warning signals. Mistake #3.
• 9 box jumps (24”/18”)
• 9 thrusters ( 42k/30k )
• 9 burpees
9 rounds, for time.
There was a gold/silver/bronze scaling and I went for silver. I had 25 kilos on the bar and a 12” box so I was already scaling the WOD a lot. Barney set the room up with the boxes facing the wall and that was Mistake #4. I should have reset my area so that the box was facing into the room. I knew it, and I ignored it.
On the first round of box jumps I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I didn’t hit the box with my left foot on jumps 7 and 8 and when I stepped down from the ninth jump I got a neurological misfire. My eyes told me that the wall was closer than the box. That was a FEAR warning but because I was already thinking about the thrusters I decided I’d deal with it in the next round.
By the next round I knew I’d blown it. I turned my position so I was a 90 degrees to the wall, but on the first jump I got a misfire – my left foot didn’t report landing on the box until my right foot was back on the ground after the jump, and it didn’t report stepping back down until I was in the air for the second jump. I didn’t make the second jump, catching both toes on the side of the box, and that was it, from then on I couldn’t override the proprioception errors and even when I dropped to box step-ups my left hand side was telling me it was going up when I knew it was heading down, and vice versa. Mistake #5 was turning my position so I was back facing the wall. I knew I should stay where I had a long line of vision, because it would remove the visual misfire but I didn’t want to because:
1. I didn’t want to catch anybody’s eye and see pity
2. I didn’t want to catch anybody’s eye and see that they thought I wasn’t really trying.
In my head was a voice saying ‘Wtf? You did box jumps on Saturday! You were fine! What’s wrong with you?’ The truth is I didn’t know and the voice wasn’t helping. Facing into the wall was a stupid, stubborn, self-defeating behaviour, because my eyes kept telling me the wall was closer than the box, so I was going to smash into the wall before I reached the box, and I chose to put myself through that. False evidence appearing real is a regular experience for brain injury survivors but just then I wanted to pretend I was normal more than I wanted to enjoy life, so I suffered for my pride. My choice.
Coach Barney stripped my bar back to 17 kilos while I did my burpee round. I was gutted. It felt like there was no reason to continue, but I knew he was right, I wasn’t getting full activation in the thrusters so lighter weight was the only way to go.
‘Silver!’ I yelled back
‘Six reps,’ he yelled. ‘Six reps, not six rounds!’
I looked at the board. Sure enough, it said 6 reps x 9 rounds. I’d read it as 9 reps for 6 rounds. Mistake #6 – when I knew I was in poor neurological shape I should have double-checked the WOD and asked the coach if my understanding was correct, as I’m prone to misreading the board when I’m in fear.
I sat for about five seconds, which is a long time when you’re feeling ashamed and stupid. My options were to sit it out, or get back on it.
I got back on it. I did three more full rounds. They were horrible. I finished in 24 minutes flat.
Then I got in my car and cried.
I hate being me sometimes. I hate the fact that this weird ‘thing’ won’t go away and is unpredictable in its appearance. I absolutely loathe having a disability, even a minor, invisible, manageable one.
I know I should be grateful that I can do all the things I do, and that Crossfit is helping me improve my balance and coordination so massively, but today I don’t have any positive feelings about my experience.
I know I need to get back to doing box jumps at home every day to override the misreporting. I know that finishing nine rounds, no matter how scaled, should be a cause for celebration. Today it’s not though. Today, to be honest, I feel like shit.
- Bruises – thruster bruise on collarbone, burpee bruise on each knee, left toes bruised from box jump failures
- PB – don’t even ask. ‘Didn’t die’ is a PB for me today
- Wishlist – that this research will turn out to have the answer for brain trauma survivors so that I can find out what it’s like to trust your senses.