The Trip Home – Getting Sick and Tearing a Calf


Wow what a week! It sure has been turbulent to say the least, and I’m not talking about the plane flight. I have now been back down under for a week so I have had some time to rest up and settle back in to Aussie life in Sydney. Let me fill you in on what happened in the process.

I woke up on Sunday morning in my hotel in Venice feeling nauseous and uncomfortable in the stomach. I tried to go back to sleep hoping I would be able to get to the gym for my scheduled leg work out that afternoon. I soon realized that this was not going away and for some reason I was sick. I tried to eat two pieces of bread spread lightly with almond butter and it wasn’t long before my head was in the toilet bowl throwing up multiple times.

I called my friend Bill Comstock and let him know that I was feeling ill and he arranged to come over and help me check out of the hotel. Luckily I had already arranged a late check out with the hotel management because I could do little more than lie on my bed. Somehow I managed to get my things together and packed so when Bill came we took everything downstairs and I caught a cab over to his place.

I was so sick I had a fever, couldn’t eat anything and laid down on Bill’s couch to rest. Bill suggested we watch a movie so he put on his favourite movie. I can’t remember the title but it was a black comedy about a woman with mental problems who screamed constantly. After ten minutes I had to ask Bill to turn it off because it was giving me a headache. Why he had thought that movie would make me feel better I still haven’t figured out. Instead I managed to catch some shut eye for a few hours.

All the while I couldn’t quite figure out what had caused my sickness. I had stayed in doors nearly all day on Saturday, only going to the grocery store once and also down stairs on the Venice Beach Boardwalk for five minutes to get a souvenir t-shirt for a friend. I had cooked all my own food at home that day as well and everything was fresh as far as I could tell. Then I remembered that I had been in Santa Monica on Friday afternoon and eaten some seafood pasta with Mussels which I thought were questionable in terms of their freshness. I guessed it was either a delayed reaction from that or I had picked up a stomach virus from somewhere. Either way I was as sick as a dog and I knew it was going to be hell getting through a fifteen hour plane flight that night.

I arranged for my friend Bill Swanson to give me a ride to the airport as he had generously offered the other day when I was at his house. He picked me up at 6.30 pm that evening outside Bill’s apartment. I felt bad because during the car ride my stomach was feeling uncomfortable and a little painful so I found it difficult to carry out a good conversation with Bill. Bill was just great about it though.

After being dropped at the airport I was able to quickly check my bags in because Bill Comstock had already checked me in online that afternoon. I was also able to change my seat to an aisle seat on account of my lower back injury requiring frequent walking around. I was told not to tell anyone I was sick because they might not let me on the flight. Of course with impeccable timing I had to rush to the bathroom with some unexpected gastro which was lovely.

From there I made my way through security and toward my boarding gate. I bought a bottle of water to keep my fluid intake up and then laid down on a bench to go to sleep. I slept for around an hour, leaving me around half an hour or so until I had to board the plane. This was a short wait and soon I was sitting on the plane speaking to a nice girl who was excited about travelling to Sydney for the first time. I suggested a few places she could visit while she was in Sydney and through general conversation she mentioned she had some sleeping tablets. She offered me one and at first I declined but later I did end up asking her for one and it worked like a charm. I was out for around the first half of the flight which was excellent.

My appetite was quite low but I managed to eat a combination of some of the more plain food they offered on the flight and some dried apples I had brought with me. I had also brought some beef jerky, protein bars and almonds but I didn’t feel like eating any of that. Anyway I went back to sleep and I was awoken when I started to experience some stomach cramps. They started to get worse and worse during the flight to the point where I had to lie down on the floor on my back and ask the crew for two doses of pain medication.

It wasn’t long before we arrived in Sydney. I received a text message from my parents that they had organized an airport shuttle service to pick me up and I should call them when I cleared customs. Knowing that they had been late in the past I called them immediately after disembarking the plane. It took around forty minutes to collect my baggage and clear customs. The shuttle arrived fifty minutes after that. I was in so much pain with the stomach cramps that I was lying on my back on the ground outside with my bags. I was not happy at all with the shuttle people especially because we had deliberately booked ahead and I called extra early when at the airport. My family and I have decided never to use this shuttle service ever again.

When I arrived home my mum had some medicine from the chemist waiting for me. I had a fluid/electrolyte replenishment drink mix, nausea tablets and medication to reduce my stomach cramps which were almost unbearable. That day I think I managed to eat a few pieces of toast and an apple. Later that night I had a small piece of fish but that was a struggle and I was almost gagging.

I went to bed very early that night as I was just exhausted. I awoke a few times with some stomach cramps for which I had to take my medication. In the morning I felt a little better but I still had some cramps after eating breakfast. I was well enough later that day to go to the gym. I trained legs with my friend Zheng but I struggled a little because I had low energy levels and also because I had a burning feeling in my stomach for the whole workout duration. I had to take things very slowly and easily because I was just so tired.

By the time we got to calves I was pretty fatigued. I made the mistake of not stretching or warming up my calves partially because I was feeling tired and partially because Zheng wanted to leave so he was pushing me to finish up quickly. The other thing was that we did an exercise first (seated calf raise) that I usually do second or third when my calves are fatigued. This meant that I was able to get an unusually full range of motion and strong peak contraction at the top using the same amount of weight. So half way through my last set I felt a little tear occur at the top of my calf muscle in that top third of the range of motion that I am not accustomed to in my normal training. I did a few more reps, realized what it was and stopped. I probably shouldn’t have but I managed to do a few more light sets on the pin loaded leg press calf raise.

I left the gym and immediately put ice on my injury when I arrived home. I knew it would now be at least a few weeks until I could train calves but I remained hopeful that I would be able to train quads and hamstrings for the time being. In fact I did train them yesterday. My injury allowed me to train my quads at full capacity and my hamstrings at a reduced capacity (less weight) with minimal discomfort. I’m hoping that I won’t have too much more bad luck in the near future to follow my illness and injury.

Other than that I have just been resting up, catching up with my friends, continuing my training and enjoying my life back on the beach in Sydney. The weather is much warmer and more pleasant than LA. I am hoping to get maybe, one more surf in this week as I have heard the water is still reasonably warm at the moment. I have also been told that I may be returning to Venice in the near future so I am looking forward to that and will continue to update you with news from down under until then!

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