Sunday, September 9, 2012


   Baek Byung Won (hospital) in Busan

A little over a month ago, I completely lost all the power in my right arm.  Part of my strength training routine is doing weighted pull ups and weighted rope chin ups with 25 kg (55 pounds).  One Saturday after practice, all of a sudden, I was too weak to hoist myself up over the pull up bar.  I was left dangling on the bar like a little baby turtle kicking its feet.

“What the.....!?” I thought.  Then I took the weight off and couldn't even do one proper pull up without any weight.  I was pulling on my left side, which meant my right arm was weak.  What was even weirder was that my arm didn't even hurt!  I had only been to practice twice the week before, so I knew it wasn't from over training.  The only thing I guess I could say was that when I tried to flex my bicep muscle in my right arm, it didn't feel anywhere near as strong as the muscle in my left arm (come on, you know you flex in the mirror, too).

Frustrated, I went home that night and, like other smart people, made an attempt to self diagnose myself.  In fact, whenever I get an ache, pain, bump, or discoloration I purposefully avoid the internet, because I am a paranoid freak and will most likely come to the conclusion that I have cancer or ebola.

The only thing I found was a lifting forum where a few guys had had the same symptoms as me.  They said that they had had a pinched nerve in their neck and suggested seeing a chiropractor to work the nerve out.

Cool, I thought.  Only, there was one problem.  My boss told me to be very careful, because there are a lot of yahoos here in Korea practicing without a license.

Luckily, I found a reputable chiropractor, who happened to also have a degree in Eastern medicine (a very nice man as well).   He checked me out and told me that I had some muscle damage, and that there wasn't much he could do.  He injected some  bee venom into my arm (yes, bee venom), gave me a pat on the butt, and sent me on my way.

I decided to get a second opinion, so I made an appointment at Baek Byung Won (hospital) in Haeundae.  I told the doctor my symptoms, and she asked me if I do any physical activity.  I explained what BJJ was and that I usually had big guys throwing me around and stacking me on my neck.  Her immediate response was, “Why do you do that”?

Anyway, she told me that she wanted to to an EMG.  Now, fellow grapplers, if your doctor ever suggests an  Run hard and run fast my friend.   It was extremely uncomfortable and painful.

                                 This device was actually used during the Spanish Inquisition

An EMG or electromyography is a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by the skeletal muscles.  What does that mean?   I have no idea.  What I do know is that they stuck needles into my arm muscles, forehead, and scalp, and that sent electrical shocks through my body.  The shocks weren't so bad (they kind of tickled).  What hurt was the small ass needles they stuck into my muscles and dug around with.  You'd never think a small little baby needle would hurt so much.  Thank God, I had a really kind doctor who made the process a little bit more bearable.

I had to do this process not once but twice.  The doctor told me that the results from the second test were different from the results of the first test.  She said that most likely one of the discs in my neck had filled up with water from trauma and was pressing on a nerve, which was cutting off power to my arm.  I have actually gained a substantially amount of power back, and she said that I would just have to wait for the disc to dehydrate.  Watch out for your necks guys (and girls).  

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