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How to stop this slow death spiral?

by Hawke published Apr 15, 2021 08:30 AM, last modified Apr 17, 2021 09:20 AM
I am by nature hyperactive. I have been involved with martial arts since I was 4 years old (1974). But successive injuries and lung damage have lead me to become horribly sedentary. And the combination of issues I am really struggling to try to find a way to turn around this death spiral.

As bad as it currently is, I am actually doing SO MUCH BETTER than I was. Sadly this is progress, albeit very slow.

I am not in a wheelchair, I don't need a bodyhoist to talk on the treadmill, I don't need the nebulizer breathing treatments just to breath at rest. So it is progress. But everything I have been trying to rise above this sedentary survival mode, keeps setting me back.

To top it all off, since February I have had to be working more than 120 hours per week!. Only recently have I been able to get this down to "just" 100 per week.

I am hoping in the next 2-4 weeks I can get it down around <80/week, but we will see...

Most significant Injuries ailments short list:

  • bilateral meniscus tears (old ('93) but limiting, ROM reduced about 30%)
  • herniated lower lumbar disc (newer, 3 years)
  • torn T5/6 -disc (old '03)
  • torn left abdominal (separated from rib cage (2014, reattached through 6 months added PT)
  • asthma (live-long) plus severe lung damage and scarring (causes from 2012-2020) (now running at about 20-40% of normal lung capacity, the only up side is I have 140+% efficient Alvioli that take what O2 I can get efficiently. My current resting 02 around 90-94% now that I am off the steroidal treatments for the first time in 8 years).
  • Also kidney and liver damage from the lung steroids, so now exertion triggers whole-body edema within 2-4 hours after until kidneys can catch up (which can take several days)
  • hypoglycemia
  • impaired gall bladder (can't eat pork and highly greasy foods, otherwise like food poisoning)
  • I used to be hyperactive and very fit, martial arts since I was 4 years old, outdoors activities, etc.
  • I went through 5 years PT (2004-2009) to overcome the knee, neck (fully recovered) and thoracic back injuries and was back to teaching Kungfu from 2007-2012.
  • But the most recent lung, newer additional lumbar back injury, and now bellybutton hernia have really made it very difficult to do anything remotely physical, and very frustrating to do anything anymore to try to turn it around.
  • I have become completely, horribly, sedentary even though it is against my core extremely active nature it seems the only way to keep from making things worse right away, but I know it is long-term health death sentence, and death spiral.
  • I am a recreation and music therapist, and I have sen this spiral before. It does not end well if it isn't turned around.
  • Everything I do seems to set me back for days, sometimes weeks, even though I really need to find the right regimen.
  • Even my old low key T'ai chi is too much so far.
  • I did another year of PT last year to help with the herniated disc before my insurance maxxed out.

The hardest thing is trying to get my aerobic capacity backup with all the lung damage, that is my greatest challenge that I want to overcome because it interferes with everything else.

The pain from the injuries I can live with, but dropping to <80% 02 within 1-5 minute with any notably aerobic exertion really has me in a downward spiral.

The only upside to all of this is that this year is the first winter I made it through without heavy duty steroidal nebulizer treatments, and last month I finally weaned off the inhaler-based steroidal treatments, so I am only needing the Albuterol inhaler if having trouble (and rarely if I don't exert).

I also have found I can't be in air temperatures below about 62 degree fahrenheit else it burns my lungs, inflames them, and forces me back to treatments. The treatments destroy my whole hormonal, endocrine, and other systems.

Now that I am off the treatments, I am hoping I can begin the (albeit likely long) trek to build back up, but I am not doing well.

The most I am able to do right now is 30 minutes lowest setting, extremely calm pedaling on my recumbent bike

or 10 minutes walking leisurely 2-3 mph on my treadmill (I am 6'7" with 39.5" long legs, so that is slow for me),

or 3 minutes on my elliptical.

Then my 02 gets too low (drops to 80% or less) and for the next 2-3 days my edema flares up badly.

So you can see this is very challenging trying to figure out what I can even do anymore. :(

And to top it all off, last year I began to develop a small bellybutton hernia (doctor doesn't recommend surgery yet), he just said "take it easy on the exercise". <sigh>

I used to look like this:

 6'9" and 220








This was me not so long ago:





Now (April 2021) I look like this:


6'7" and 320. :(



At the Lost Packer Mine with my sons, elevation ~8,000', resting heart rate 120 bpm, 90% O2, due to the lung damage and lack of O2. Couldn't take my sons on the hike to the upper levels because just walking at this altitude my heart rate shot up to over 195 bpm!




(Hawke Robinson as Tavern Patron in JourneyQuest 3).

It is sad how much I have degraded. I hope I can turn this around soon before it is too late! I don't need any dietary/caloric reduction, most of the weight is from the steroidal medications and overlong hours, but when I am able to be my normal active self my body drops the weight no problem. I just need to be able to be active again, aerobically and build back up my proper lean muscle mass strength and then I can get back to my healthier 270 pounds range, and have a life again outside of only work. At least, that is my goal.



In order to get off all the medications that were slowly killing me long-term, while keeping me alive short term (breathing), I have taken a lot of supplements and food plan approaches for lower inflammation, etc.

The medications that really did harm over the intensive 8 years I had to keep taking them ever few weeks for weeks or months or years at a time, that I am still trying to undo include but are not limited to:

  • Budesonide (breathing treatment steroid)
  • Ipriprium (breathing treatment steroid)
  • Prednisone (for years!) increasing dosages (really, really bad!)
  • Dulera (steroid inhaler)
  • Albuterol (breathing treatment nebulizer and emergency inhaler)
  • Many, many antibiotics at increasingly intense levels
  • Codeine cough syrup (I was bruising ribs, and detaching abdominal muscles from the coughing)
  • Cyclobenzaprene (muscle  relaxants)
  • Main pain killers (back injuries, head injuries, etc.)
  • I am sure there are many others I am missing in this list, but these are the most heavily used during that 8 years.


Part of the process has been trying to eat as healthy an intake as possible, and heavy nutritional supplementation. However, when exhausted, it is very difficult to keep up with. And since I started having to work over 100 hours per week since February 2021, I have been unable to eat properly or sufficiently so that I can take my supplements without upchucking, so the past 3 months have been a set back I hope to turn around soon. My hope is that work is reaching a point in their decision making process (after I finish these intense proof of concept demos), that in 2-4 weeks I can get down to around 60-80 hours per week instead of the current 100+. If so, that will give me enough of a time window to start getting back on track with sleep, eating, supplementation, and exercise.

Until I can get these hours down, it is not likely to happen.

Supplements I already take, which made it possible for me to stop taking all the other medications over time, and help prop me up, and hopefully over time rebuild from the damage done by the meds, include (not all are daily, some are every 2-3 days as needd):

  • C
  • D
  • E
  • Magnesium/Calcium/Zinc
  • Fish oil (always refrigerated liquid not the potentially rancid pills),
  • Additional Zinc....
  • DHEA (not daily, as needed due to hormonal damage from the previous steroids)
  • Dopamunca
  • Tumeric
  • ...
  • ...
  • ..



Food plan wise:

For survival over the years I had to become fairly heavily educated on the whole body anti-inflammatory supplementation and diet science, so fortunately you won't have to convince me of the value of a low inflammatory diet My wife isn't there, but since I do most of the cooking, when I'm not too exhausted, I can shape what we eat again. The anti-inflammatory diet and supplementation is why I was able to titrate off the steroids. When I can, I eat salmon, sushi and other omega 3 rich proteins (I know there are trade-offs from the metals and other issues, but I do soooo much better when I eat those foods), as much organic as possible, avocados, non-processed foods when I can, avoid starches, eat steamed or raw vegetables, fresh fruit, avoid hydrogenated, corn-syrup, MSG (and the spoofed variants), and many others. Use cranberry juice instead of spironolactone for the edema/kidney function. Also with my asthma I avoid dairy (thickens the phlegm dramatically). Due to my gall bladder, I can't eat pork, heavy greasy foods, or certain cheess, otherwise it is like bidirectional food poisoning for me. This is moderated by the digestive enzyme supplements. 

I have found out over time I am allergic or "hypersensitive" to:

  • Walnuts
  • Iodine (ever since they did the lung CT scan)
  • Pennicilan
  • Wasps/hornets/bees
  • Flax
  • ...
  • ...
  • ...



Now I am down to just my emergency inhaler, so I think it is time to try to switch from survival mode toward trying to get some quality of life back. Once my work hours get from current 100+/week, to <80/week, I will hopefully have enough time to start getting back on track with eating, supplementation, and exercise. This will hopefully happen in about 2-4 weeks. I can't sustain this survival level of work and lack of sleep much longer (has been since late January 2021), so one way or another I have to get these work hours down so I can begin reincorporating the health recovery modalities.










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