The Tale of the Deflated Dog Surgery Cone and the Deadlift PR

Snarl at the lockout of your deadlift like it’s hot. Except it’s not, not even remotely. And ladies, don’t be fooled, you will NEVER look pretty in pictures depicting you participating in powerlifting feats.

“Put this on and the doctor will be in the speak with you shortly,” says the red-headed, fifty-something nurse with a voice glazed with polite distance. I look at the bundle of cloth she’s holding out for me. “It has a hole for your head,” she continues, and I look up at her from the cloud of anxiety I stay permanently entrenched within when I have an injury and take a breath. “Do I keep my bra on? The thing is, the rib is right along the bra band, and I really don’t care what’s covered and what isn’t, so should I take that off too?” I say, and I say about eight words too many in that sentence, and she breaks out of her polite distance for a minute to look at me like I’m possibly a candidate for the university’s counseling services too and says “sure, that would be fine.” Out she goes. I look down again at the cloth. It’s a sheet with a hole in it. The hole is huge, and when I put on the sheet it slopes down my chest and one breast pokes its way merrily into the air. I adjust into a shape that resembles a deflated dog-surgery-aftercare cone and wait.

When the doctor knocks her way into the room, I launch into an explanation fueled by the constant-fear-turbo-charge that my anxiety around injury tends to give me. “So I was training–I’m a powerlifter, I train a lot, I’m in the gym a lot, I know I’m really small, but it’s my sport, I swear I’m actually pretty strong–and something happened to this rib over on my left side. I know it’s a rib because I messed up a higher rib on my left side a few years ago and the pain behavior with this is a lot like that–but I actually don’t get injured that often, I really haven’t had anything like this that much since I’ve been powerlifting–and it HAS been getting better, but it’s taking a while. So it’s right here and I just was wondering if you could maybe tell me what it might be, or if I somehow broke it, because I swear I actually do the stupidest things sometimes and I can totally see myself having broken this and not knowing it.” The doctor pokes me a little and tells me I haven’t broken the rib. She tells me I have costochondritis, which semi-literally means rib inflammation.  And I tell her ok, well, I want to train, and she tells me ok, well, it’s going to hurt. And so that’s where I am right now, and it often hurts a lot, and it has stymied my ability to progress with getting stronger in my training for now. At this point, all I can do is hope to hold my strength. This is generally entails going in, training up to doing as little as I can do and still keeping all my lifts on par, and then leaving in so much pain that I honestly feel like crying for a while after the session. Awesome! I’m a goddamn wimp! I just admitted I have a strong inclination to cry over an injury, and now you can tell me I fit various gendered norms regarding women and emotionality and we can go get some beers and cry into them, except I won’t because I no longer drink.

So, as one might expect in training with an injury, I ended up working up to a deadlift PR attempt today. Actually, deadlift PRing under the corporeal conditions I currently occupy is not the most illogical thing to do, for various reasons that I’m not inclined to get all lifting-technical-jargon up in here to detail. I attempted–and made–300 pounds today, and this means that I have reached a goal I set for myself back when I began training for this sport in April. Cool. For now, I will take that. And I’ll cry into my fake beer while I’m at it.


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