I am not an "athlete" of any sort, other than a guy who goes to a CrossFit gym three times a week, and plays a little volleyball. I am not particularly strong. I am not unusually fit. I will never be a competitor at the CrossFit Games. I am a 49-year-old guy in good shape to have fun, but not to conquer the world.
I tell you these things so you don't reach the end of this post and say, "Yeah, but *you* are (or must be) some kind of high-level athlete."
Here's the deal. Eleven days ago, I had pretty heavy-duty elbow surgery. I was told it involved an overnight hospital stay and the pain would be pretty awful, and very limiting for a long while. Full recovery would be four to five months, partially because the ulnar nerve was moved during the procedure and would have to get used to its new "home," but also because so much was being done that it was a full slice -- "open" surgery, rather than arthroscopic.
Um, I went to CrossFit last night. Then I just emailed my volleyball team captain to tell him that I can play in the playoffs next week if they need me.
What the hell!? (In a very good way, mind you).
I think it is *partially* because the surgeon scared the living bejeezus out of me so badly with dire predictions of sturm, drang and pain that I went into combat/HenryRollins mode of some sort where I attempted to do every last little thing possible to toughen-up/prepare for the oncoming shitstorm.
That meant every mundane thing you could possibly imagine, like practicing doing *everything* left-handed under the assumption that my right arm was going to be useless for a while. I cooked left-handed; I showered left-handed, and yes, even worked on perfecting the, er, conclusory aspects of Old #2 left-handed. (It's TMI Friday, kids; hang on tight, and the ride will be over soon).
And that all helped, but it's not the *real* explanation, because -- get this -- I ended up being truly one-armed for only 36 hours or so, and even ditched the Percocet in less than 48 hours. I was a bit overprepared, it turned out.
So what was it? A NASA-level surgeon who didn't know his own superpower? The direct result of incantations to Baal? Governmental intervention/subsidies on my behalf?
No. Nyet. Nein.
I have no scientific proof, obviously, because it is the classic case of N=1, but I have to think it was a low-inflammation paleo/primal diet that promoted super-healing.
Here is what I did. About two to three weeks prior to surgery, I went hardcore. I mean, I am pretty tight with what I eat anyway, but this was tighter. I bounced a couple ideas off my FB pal at Cave Girl Eats, and she was helpful with some strategies that I hadn't considered, like lots of wild-caught sardines (for the O-3s, ya know), for instance.
But overall, she affirmed that my previously developed plan was a good one to keep the demon inflammation at bay as best as possible: eat strict /primal; no booze at all (slipped once on this and coulda whopped myself upside the haid for it in retrospect); go easy/nonexistent on nuts and other (admittedly paleo, but not perfect) sources of good fat that also have inflammatory O-6s in them; keep stress at an absolute minimum (so clean up all lingering projects in advance and settle in for the ride, cowboy), and eat and eat and eat and eat all that good food that I normally do. Grassfed ruminants out the wazoo, loads of veggies, eggseseses, good fats, some fruit, but low-glycemic stuff like blueberries and peaches, as opposed to bananas or apples. And extra offal too, kids. The nasty bits are so good for you.
The only thing I ate from a pre-made package (you know, that shit in the supermarket with ingredients listed....right, all that) during that time was: coconut milk, pretty clean beef jerky and dried Turkish apricots. Everything else was real food that either once had a face, or that you pick off a tree/plant and eat.
Oh, and I ate a metric shit ton (look it up; it's a lot) of coconut milk during that time. I figured if momma gave me all that lauric acid way back when the old-fashioned way, and its biggest downside was that it seemed to overmutate my sarcasm gene, *and* the only source of lauric acid beyond the old-fashioned way is coconut milk, sign me up on the Coconut Express in one of the special "anti-inflammation" coaches.
Then.... Right after the surgery, I was able to resume my daily two pills of that wonderful fermented cod-liver oil/butter-oil blend from Green Pasture that
I have told you about before. They tell you not to take that stuff in the 14 days prior to surgery, but I was right back on the FCLO wagon right afterwards.
And it has really been great in the grand scheme of things. OK, my elbow is still swollen and sore, but that is mostly from the medieval torture regimen that is my PT program, and how I get distracted by the shiny things in life and forget to ice it after doing my PT work. But otherwise, I get a little stronger every day. Pathetically, I could not even open a pill bottle the day after surgery, not even lefthanded, because the gentle torque of bracing it with my right hand was too painful. (Envision how much I enjoyed this frustration while it lasted; words beginning with F were more prominent in my house than usual). But now I am an ambidextrous beast.
And I repeat.... I went to CrossFit and back-squatted last night, and I am playing volleyball next week!!!!! It's awesome and surprising, and, well, yeah....awesome. No, I can't really lift a barbell with my right arm yet (I am also not supposed to... yet), and my volleyball skills will likely be more shot-blocking than offense, but I am so *not* incapacitated like I expected to be based on the dire predictions of surgeons.
I can only reach one conclusion: paleo is even more awesome than I thought.
However.... before you think I won the lottery or something, it's gonna be months of medieval PT from here on out. Watch this if you wanna see some of what I have to do to myself with a squat rack and a giant rubberband thingy four to five times a day. Surgeon says to take the pain levels to 6 or 7 each time, or I am not working hard enough.
Whoo boy. Pass the ice, but not the booze.
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