On snow, saunas, and headaches (or getting my mojo back)

I’m not sure what has changed over the past week. Maybe things have been changing for quite some time and I’ve only just tuned into the shift. I feel like I am more like myself.

The past month has been quite a funk. I thought about hitting pause on the podcast. Maybe even taking a break from these weekly reflections. I awoke this week feeling like I am surprisingly on the other side. I have been practicing more self-care. Floats, massages, quiet time alone and in reflection. I haven’t moved as much as I would like, but about as much as my body seems to tolerate.

We’ve been going to the local YMCA to lift with the young gym rats and then sweat in the sauna with the old timers. The whole body sweat from the heat is something that I have missed dearly. There is no nearby community of Koreans so there are no jjimjilbangs to enjoy overnight, the closest in NYC.

Perhaps my body was reacting strongly to the change in seasons. The days shortening and the nights lengthening have slowed to a crawl. The solstice is less than two weeks away with the true start of winter.

On Saturday, the first snow of the season. Went out with Andre, my housemate, and Mike, a fourth year friend who has taken me on many adventures and taught me much. We canoed on the Delaware River, looking for water fowl and small game to cross our path. Snow fell throughout our adventures, a wonderful way to bring in the season and the change in weather. We returned with some lovely stories, a pocket squirrel, and two heavy Canadian geese.

Perhaps part of this is that I have found an answer for my headaches. For the past few months, I have avoided grappling as they induce a constant, sometimes throbbing, bilateral headache. They subside within an hour of onset, and begin almost always after wrassling with some med students in a padded basement. In retrospect, I think I’ve also avoided high intensity crossfit style workouts as a result of these headaches, trying to skirt around possible triggers.

Then last week, we held the first fight club in months. I mentioned the headaches to my fellow students and Michael perked up. He told me about his old crossfit boss, who used to get massive headaches after he broke his ankle and returned to exercise. It took him about six months to get back to speed, having to work through and consistently push the envelope of these headaches.

Exertional headaches, they are called. Perhaps third year has deconditioned me to intense movement and this is the price. Perhaps I was susceptible to them as a result of post-concussive syndrome. All I know is that these headaches are less severe than they have been and now I have an idea of how to proceed.

This Sunday, I went to the YMCA with Mackenzi and Bansi, and we worked ourselves pretty hard. Some MovNat style crawling followed by some crossfit style dumbbell work. I could feel the headache building, but decided to see how far I could go before needing to stop. There was no need. I finished and could feel the pressure, but all symptoms subsided within the hour, leaving a sense of accomplishment.

I am back.

I didn’t realize how much I have been avoiding movement because of these headaches. Now, I feel like I am ready to regain my fitness, not just lift occasionally and move infrequently. Perhaps Women’s Health and Pediatrics will not allow me to move as much as I would like, but at least I feel the license to do so.

For many reasons, I feel like I am myself again.


Emotionally, I am doing well and feel greatly supported. Physically, I feel great. Spiritually, I have resumed practices and the time outdoors pursuing other animals and participating in the hunt renewed a connection to the wider hoop of life. Relationally, I feel like I am slowly opening up my tribe again. I do wish to connect more strongly with my family on a regular basis, but I will see them in two weeks time for Winter Break– my side through Christmas and my partner’s side through New Year.

Emotional4/5
Spiritual4/5
Physical4/5
Relational 4/5

Total16/20
3wk running total25/40


Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

3 thoughts on “On snow, saunas, and headaches (or getting my mojo back)

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