Rhabdomyolysis is a serious medical disorder which I feel people don't take seriously. I also believe the personal stories of those dealing with rhabdo do not get enough attention. I want their voices to be heard. To help you understand how bad rhabdo can be, I interviewed Kayla Gallegos, a healthy young woman who developed rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo) after taking her first indoor cycling class. It's my hope her words help others who are dealing with rhabdo.
Also See These Reports
- Rhabdo In Fitness Centers: 5 Reasons It Happens
- Video Review: Rhabdo In The Gym
- Rhabdomyolysis Occurring In Spinning Class
- Rhabdomyolysis and Personal Trainers
- Can You Die From Rhabdo?
- Is It Rhabdo or Muscle Soreness?
- Do You Have a Mild Case of Rhabdo?
- Do Creatine Supplements Cause Rhabdo?
- Interview: Rhabdo with non-typical side effects
- GymWits Podcast Interview With Me
How Did You Get Rhabdo?
July 26th 2018, I had taken my first cycling class thinking I would be able to accomplish and finish the class no problem because I had been attending a normal gym and do workouts there.
Never have I had issues other than the normal average soreness.
During the 45 minute workout I was clipped into those pedals and was following all instructions the instructor was giving. Towards the end of class, I had stood up on the pedals and was cycling as fast as I could to have a solid finish and record that was being recorded right in front of us on a big screen.
But I noticed that my legs wouldn’t allow me to stand or pedal anymore. I literally would collapse every time I tried to stand up.
I said to my friend on the bike next to me, “this is really strange; why can’t I stand anymore!?”
The class had ended and I was able to unclip and walk out just fine with only MILD leg soreness. The next day, I worked all day which requires me to be on my feet. I knew something was insanely wrong when I couldn’t walk my normal pace or stand for very long.
My legs were burning every time I would step, sit down, bend my legs in squat position or anything like that.
It was the worst pain I have ever felt.
By the third day, I couldn’t fit into my jeans anymore. I felt a burning sensation on both thighs. I couldn’t lift my leg to even shower, or get into bed without someone lifting my legs and me pulling myself up.
I knew something was wrong, very wrong.
That evening I finally got the courage to use the restroom and noticed my urine was Dr. Pepper color. At that point I didn’t even care. I didn’t care what could have killed me, nothing.
All I knew is that I wanted to die from the severe pain I was experiencing. My mom happened to be with me at the time and when I described my urine color she said “oh ya! We’re going to the E.R NOW!!”
I arrived at the hospital and no longer than two minutes I was hooked up to a Saline IV and Morphine for pain. And from then on, I was not allowed to be released for 7 days until my CK level were in the “normal range”.
Was This Your First Spinning Class?
How Long Did It For The Pain To Occur?
The next day is when I really felt the pain.
Rate Your Rhabdomyolysis Pain On A 0-10 Scale
Easily a 10 plus.
What Made The Rhabdo Pain Worse
Well, there was no way I was stepping foot into a gym again that’s for sure until I knew what the problem was.
- Working on my feet all day didn’t help.
- Lifting my leg to shower or even get into bed.
Did You Have Leg Swelling?
Yes! I noticed the swelling when I couldn’t fit into my jeans as I normally do.
Six months later and I’m still experiencing swelling and pain.
What Happened At The Hospital?
When I first arrived I gave all my vitals and temperature. My temperature was elevated and I was freezing with the worst chills I’ve ever had! I was seen right away by an E.R doctor.
I then had to give a urine sample and had blood taken. Within 5 minutes, the doctor came in and explained that I have a “severe case of rhabdomyolysis”.
Of course, I had no idea what that was.
He then stated that “I was the second patient he’s seen in 25 years of his career with the highest CK level”. He just wanted me as comfortable as possible.
What Were Your CK Levels?
Did The Doctor Give Specific Guidelines When You Went Home?
Not too many guidelines. Just normal stuff, like rest, ice as much as possible and keep legs elevated.
Did You Tell Your Primary Doctor You Got Rhabdo?
I followed up with my primary physician about three weeks after the accident. He as well had no knowledge on rhabdomyolysis.
He took me out of work for about three months and demanded disability.
I have gotten an MRI, had blood drawn, seen a physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, and rheumatologist. I still have no answers as to when I’ll make a full recovery.
Did You Tell The Gym What Happened?
I did call the spinning studio about two weeks later. No one had knowledge on rhabdomyolysis whatsoever.
There was no empathy given. No questions asked, nothing!
This event happened at a local cycling studio called CycleBar in CA.
How Long Did Your Rhabdo Pain Last?
The severity of the pain lasted about one-two weeks. But I have had mild lingering pain ever since.
Do you Have Rhabdo Side Effects Today?
I’m doing OK considering. I still have pain in the thigh area on both legs. I still have swelling which causes my legs to feel a burning sensation.
- I have noticed I’m not as flexible and limber as I used to be.
- I can’t perform a squat position without my legs feeling as if they’ve given out.
- I do notice when I don’t have a certain amount of fluids a day, I have more discomfort and swelling.
I've also noticed when I drink alcohol -which is very rarely – my legs are more swollen and hurt more than when I don't
Any Advice For Those About To Take A Spinning Class?
My best advice is be physically and mentally prepared for the class. Yes, it may be a short class but A LOT of damage can happen in that short time. Definitely be hydrated!
If your body gives you any sort of sign or any weakness PLEASE LISTEN and stop.
Any Advice For Those Who Have Rhabdo Right Now?
Listen to your body!! Don’t push yourself if you’re weak, tired, and feel like collapsing. It’s OK to fail.