I'm living with the deep scars of reckless youth. It is difficult to write this. At 20 years old, I found that with great determination and effort, I could deadlift 300 pounds. This continued on twice a week, year after year.
When I felt a thoracic disc rip, I assumed my muscle had been strained. When I herniated L5-S1, I believed my muscles were once again at fault, so I took on more exercises to strengthen my core.
The tipping point came while moving furniture, and then I learned the terrible truth. Now I live with the guilt, the questioning, and a kind of PTSD toward heavy lifting. I imagine how the scenario might have played out differently, but I don't think there are any alternate universes where I turn away from entering the gym or decide not to test my own limits.
To be honest, I find some solace in knowing I'm not the only one. There is an epidemic of extreme fitness. I see this reflected in articles about marathon runners who are damaging their hearts. The FDA can't work fast enough to ban new detrimental supplements. Who knows how many young men are drinking tainted breast milk, upsetting their hormonal balance, or ravaging their livers.
Hello to everyone on these forums. Thank you for reading and for writing about your own experiences.