Don't call it a comeback!

Many of you know my story, new readers may not, but its not my diagnosis I want to focus on, that was the last chapter, it is my recovery that I chose to focus on, my come back!

Many of us are faced with challenges in the day to day, of how to fit fitness and wellness into our schedules. We have work, kids, family, chores, repairs, updates, upkeep and seemingly never enough hours in the day. Others have different challenges seemingly keeping them from fitness, health issues like cancer, heart failure, limb loss, mental health issues and then there are those who see these as an added challenge to tackle not one that keeps them from making an attempt.

I have been involved in fitness my whole life. I started when I was in 1st grade, like many, playing soccer. This migrated into 20 years in the martial arts and the last 15 years in weight training, strongman, powerlifting, and general fitness. I met my own challenge 6 years ago. I was told I would never touch another barbell. It was over. You're done, it's not happening. For a while, I believed them and I let depression and melancholy beat me.

That was then...this is now. This is the write I did 6 months ago after my first Power Lifting meet back. My recovery, my new chapter. One that I hope you take with me and that I can help you on.


I packed my things...twice. I took them out, double checked, put them all back in, cleaned my c-pap, prepped three days worth of meals, got cash from the ATM, vacuumed the car out and hit the road. It took me 5.5 hours to drive from Cleveland to Chicago, entering by the White Sox stadium and making my way to w35th and Racine. I got out of the car, made my way around the building looking for the entrance and found a back stairwell in the delivery bay that took me into a maze of tunnels, dead ends and empty rooms in the old art deco, mall sized building.

After searching around for 20 minutes, thinking myself in the tunnels of the Minotaur, I found it; Lance's Gym. It was playing host to the 2016 USPF Havoc on the Platform, powerlifting meet.

I poked my head inside the steel door and saw giant wooden support beams, brick walls, weights and instantly felt like I was back home. I called out a few times, "Lance?", "Lance?" and in a few seconds, I see his head peak around one of the giant wooden beams.

Lance of Lance's gym walks up and embraces me.

We've been friends for a few years and unbeknownst to me, he was there in 2006 when I was in Chicago competing at a strongman competition. A mutual acquaintance connected us and we've been chatting and laughing and ball busting ever since.

Within a few minutes of being there, two other fat bastards show up and we shake hands, hug, laugh and start in on each other as men do; "fatty, jerk, loser..." the never ending ribbing that only close male friends understand. We sit down and the stories and laughs start.

After a few hours, we all head over to Phil's for a pizza or two. The laughs continue and we drag in the girl behind the counter and she swings and hits without missing a beat.

At the end of the night, we all part ways. We need to rest, tomorrow is a big day. Competition starts at 9am. For me, tomorrow is especially meaningful. Six years ago I was told I was dying. I would never lift again, let alone compete. I was resigned to walking and writing and watching others do the sport I loved.

After my diagnosis I spent years doing little more than walking down the street and back. Eventually I made it to the metro parks and then a mile turned into a few and a few turned into a few more. After three years my doctors told me I was healed and needed to start training again. This was two years ago.

People often talk about making a comeback from adversity. A torn pec muscle, torn hamstring, a detached bicep, a shattered orbital bone...I've had these and they are little more than an inconvenience that lasts a few weeks before rehab starts. My comeback was from a deathbed. "You're dying Ty" is a phrase I will never be able to un-hear. It is in my head every time I get under the bar and to be honest, my first time back under the bar, an empty bar at that, resulted in an immediate panic attack, but I didn't stop.

This weekend, this competition was not only a physical one, testing my strength against age and gravity, but more than anything, it was a test of my will. It was an emotional battle after years of being hostage to anxiety, doubts, fears and a body that fought me as much as it helped me.

So while this weekend was meeting friends and making new ones, it was largely about facing my fears and doubts and taking more than a small step back to being fully me once more.

The weekend went better than I could have hoped for.

I had more than just a little support. I had friends, brother's, love and hope with me. It was time for me to take that step again.

I stepped back on the platform, faces watching judges watching even closer, and everyone that mattered cheering me on. "Go get it, Ty!" "Easy weight babe!" "Stay tight, brother!" Lift after lift I heard these voices, these phrases and when I ended the lift, white lights were the majority. I made PR's, I made friends, I made the journey from deathbed to platform and while it wasn't a huge meet, it wasn't a local one. It was away from home, what I know, and my routines. It was a journey, a quest, a real step in the right direction.

So, in the immortal words of LL Cool J...Don't call it a comeback!


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