Rebuilding Him, Better, Stronger, Faster

Getting hurt sucks. Period. Not only do you have the pain of the injury, but also all of the lost productivity while you rehab the injury. Many people, even those who suffer an amputation, come back stronger after injuries.  I’m determined to be one of those people.

Nine days after surgery to remove a tumor from my leg

Nine days after surgery to remove a tumor from my leg

I injured my pec minor and rotator cuff on my last set of my last rep while preparing for the WUAP-USA North Georgia Ox Mover in March 2014.  It was a weight I’d done before without much trouble, it was well under my opener and I was using my Reactive Slingshot. None of that made a difference as my lack of attention to mobility and assistance work announced itself with a series of loud pops and excruciating pain in my right shoulder.  It was after 10pm but my wife and eldest son raced downstairs to help me slide out from under my power rack’s safety bars. (Glad I had those in place!)

As I said, this was my last training session before going into deload week and I spent the next seven days icing and doing some gentle stretching.

I started the meet, got set up and took 330lbs confident that I’d at least be able to get that as I’d done 340 and barely missed 350 earlier that month. As you can see from the video, it was not meant to be.

My son and a friend of his were both in the meet so I had to stay there, using the front pocket of my hoodie as a makeshift sling while fighting the pain and nausea. Then I drove two hours to my house so we could drop off my son and his friend only after which my wife and I headed to urgent care.  This started one of the most miserable times in my life.

At the urgent care, they informed me that I was hurt and gave me a sling then referred me to an orthopedic specialist. The specialist told me that I’d injured my rotator AND strained my pec minor and referred me to physical therapy for a few weeks. Not so bad after all. But wait.

“What’s that lump on your right leg?” she asked.

I shrugged. The knot was about the size of a baseball and resting on the inside of my shin a few inches below my kneecap. I wasn’t worried about it because it didn’t hurt and my deadlift was still going up so how bad could it be?

Right. More X-rays. Then a referral to another specialist. Then a biopsy. Then surgery to remove this tumor as it might be malignant. This process took me into August and all the while I was rehabbing my shoulder and chest, at first struggling to do lockouts with a 25lb bar and later sweating with 5lb weights on the cable machine in rehab.

On August 9, nine days after my final surgery to remove the tumor, I lifted at Powerlifting For Pups and broke the Georgia Bench record with a 314.2lb bench.  The amount of weight was insignificant. What mattered is God was telling me that it wasn’t over but that I needed to do things differently and treat this body He’d loaned me with more respect. I’m listening now.

Thank you Heavenly Father for Your merciful care. Every record I break, every rep I do is from now on to Your glory.

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on