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Goruck 50 Star-course AAR
To say this experience rocked my world would be the understatement of my life. I am 42 years old, have done 10+ events including Joe Warner Heavy x 2, 1/2 marathons, relays and in my youth a few sprint triathlons. To put simply, I was undereducated about hydration and I hurt myself badly. My team finished the event with one drop after about 16 hours and across the line I felt fine. Or at least I thought I did. Prior to the event, I’d spent an amazing 10 days in Wyoming on an amazing vacation at high altitudes. Not the way to hydrate pre 50 miles in 98+ degrees w/100% humidity. I carried the standard 3L Source Hydration Bladder in my Rucker with straight water. I drank and drank and drank in my mind to stay hydrated. BIG mistake. What I had no idea was that I was draining my body of essential Sodium in my brain which almost killed me. I put myself into acute Hyponatremia which is decrease in serum sodium concentration < 136 mEq/L caused by an excess of water relative to solute. On the ride back to Columbia from Charlotte, I became increasingly confused, lethargic and eventually experienced a fully body seizure that put me in a coma. Thank God I did not drive. I was with my friends Jim and Sheila who saved my life. After passing out, I began projectile vomiting. Sheila, a first responder got me to a fire station then to an ambulance then to Lexington Medical Center, SC. There began the most terrifying 48-60 hours of my life. Amazing docs worked with my wife and friends to figure out that my constant drinking of water with no electrolyte replacement dropped my serum sodium to dangerously low levels. I was given IVs in two arms to start intravenous replacement of the sodium at a slow rate to ensure no brain swelling. I was literally unconscious for 48-60 hours. A folly catheter was introduced to drain my urine. When I woke, it was a slow process that sounded like an episode of the walking dead. For two days I was I. And out and recognized no one. At one point I partially animated, pulled the catheter out, pulled both IVs out and urinated in a sink. It took 3 nurses to get me back in my hospital bed and they hog tied my feet, hands and chest. This is how I finally came to. I had lost all time since finishing the race and when I first saw my wife I openly wept because I had no idea where I was. She calmly explained my condition and helped me get untied. Doctors then explained in addition to the Hyponatremia, I had also put myself into Rhabdomyolysis. A breakdown of muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein into the blood. This muscle tissue breakdown results in the release of a protein (myoglobin) into the blood. Myoglobin can damage the kidneys. My protein # at one point exceeded 14000, the normal # being 1500. I spent 7 days in critical care on a hall where at least 3 people died. I received over 14 bags of sodium water intravenously the entire stay. I had 4 blood thinner shots in my gut, and techs took my blood every 4 hours to check sodium and protein levels. Doctors advised I could have caused irreparable kidney problems but that I dodged a HUGE bullet. I had the most incredible outpouring of support and visits from friends, coworkers, family, nurses and Docs. I openly wept and laughed with some of my closest friends and my wife when I realized that I was going to make it. My need to test myself has been forever quenched after realizing that I almost lost everything-my beautiful wife and two daughters-for being ignorant of what it takes to properly prepare and compete. I have loved GoRuck for a long time and while I do not blame it, I realize I did not have a proper understanding or respect for what extreme fitness can do. My sincere desire is that this post will educate people. Please google Hyponatremia and Rhabdomyolysis. If you are going to do a Star Course, a Challenge, a Heavy, Selection (emphasis!!), or anything where you stress your muscles for a long time while sweating, take great caution to hydrate the right way. Maintenance of sodium is essential to life. I had no clue. Don’t be afraid to quit to save your life and your family. I honestly thought it was a walk. We averaged 19ish miles an hour. We walked. I almost died.

I am so very thankful for all the visits, prayers, support and excellent medical care I received. Jim and Sheila are life savers. My sincerest thanks to everyone. JD