Getting Rhabdo from Murph

A bunch of folks, in comments and via DM, asked about my symptoms for rhabdo. One dumbass, via DM, pointed out that he didn’t like me bragging about the crossfit syndrome. I ain’t bragging about it. If anything I’m saying, “holy crap, this thing is real and can hit normal folks.”

I’m Joe average crossfitter. That I got hit with rhabdo kinda blows my mind. That’s why I posted about it. Murph is an intense WOD, but it’s not 2x more intense than what I do on a daily basis. Plus it was a decent day for it. On the first run I was actually a bit chilly. (shirt off because …. that’s how old guys roll)


swollen, rigid, extremely painful, biceps (both), for a couple of days, and slightly discolored urine.

Note – those were my symptoms. I’m not a doctor and have no idea if those were “defining” symptoms or could have been easily dismissed, let alone what other symptoms may exist for rhabdo.

and because I’m bored as hell in a hospital room, and I like telling stories…

did Murph on Monday. The push-ups this time were tougher than normal. My biceps were pumped and did not want to loosen up, but it didn’t feel like this was a totally abnormal situation.

On Tuesday I was sore and my arms (both) didn’t want to fully extend. They were hanging at about a 15deg angle from full extension. Both arms were a little painful but I could force them to full extension without screaming. On Wednesday things changed. My biceps were rock solid and hurt like hell. I’m talking pain. By “rock solid” biceps I mean – flex your bicep as hard as you can and feel your bicep, now flex even harder, then hold that for a couple of days involuntarily.

Pain? We all know what muscle soreness is, and this was something else entirely. Arms were bent at about 90deg. I could extend them a bit, not to full extension, but it was agonizing to move them past their comfort zone. I didn’t even try to tie my shoes. Thankfully, I work in tech, so nobody cares about a 50yo guy wearing untied sneakers. I also got on a plane to Pittsburgh. Putting my luggage overhead really hurt. Starting thinking that things weren’t right but also put quickly put those thoughts aside.

Thursday was an all-day meeting. Biceps were still solid and painful. Yes, I tried to lacrosse ball them to loosen them up. That’s what we do, isn’t it? I have no idea if this exacerbated the muscle degradation or not. I do know that it didn’t help at all.

Had to hold my laptop in my lap instead of the conference table because holding my arms up at table height was too painful. Me and my buddy, Google, learned a lot about rhabdo that day. On the one hand I was sure I had at least a mild case of it. On the other hand I was in Pittsburgh (really wanted to get home to take care of it) and there’s no way I’d freakin’ get something like rhabdo – I’m not that elite of an athlete. Also, it was only my biceps. Rhabdo can’t hit just 2 specific muscles. That seemed logical to me at the moment.

I think my urine was a little off-color, but I wasn’t sure. I’m color blind and have a hard time with shades of color. Pretty sure it was pink though. It was definitely NOT the brown color you see in pictures when you google “rhabdomyolysis” for hours which was another reason I clearly did not have it.

Dropping-in at local boxes while on business travel is like therapy for me. I love doing it because it usually makes my day, and I’ll go no matter what. I think it sunk in that something was definitely wrong when I told myself, “I literally can’t hit a WOD today.”

It wasn’t “don’t want to” but “I physically can’t workout”

I thought about asking the group but decided that asking for medical advice from Facebook is not a good idea – especially since I have repeatedly chastised people for doing so. Not that went out and I asked an actual doctor.

Friday – 7am flight. Could barely move my arms to put my shirt on. Now my shoulders and forearms were aching – though that could have been from using them in weird ways since I couldn’t extend my arms to reach anything.

Those jokes about T-Rex having little arms and not being able to reach anything? I don’t think they are funny anymore…..

Flew home, took some pain meds to keep things under control.

Friday evening – hit urgent care. Had to explain repeatedly that I understand the difference between muscle soreness and actual pain. One poor nurse who sweetly dismissed my concerns as being “a little bit sore after a workout” learned otherwise. The main indicator for rhabdo, CK level, came back at 19,000. Normal range is 40-350.

It’s now 8:30 on Saturday night. Last blood test from this afternoon had my CK at 14,000 (up from 12,000 earlier). I don’t even know how many bags of IV fluids I’ve had by now. This is clearly a slow process.

I am still surprised that I have rhabdo. I’d love to learn more about what it really is and how it, seemingly randomly, can affect people.



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