So, what is “Rebuilding Rome” all about? Well, have you ever heard the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” That phrase is a French proverb from the 1100s. It basically means that anything meaningful that has to be done, does take some time. Officially, Rome was established on April 21st, 753 B.C. But, the empire was not all built on that day. It took approximately 276 years to build the Roman Empire. Seems like a long time, right? Well, consider that the Roman Empire lasted for 1,229 years. I’d say the Romans got a pretty solid return on investment. There is also a slightly less known phrase, “Rome is Burning.” That phrase refers to the Great Fire of Rome that took place in 64 A.D. The fire devastated Rome. Three of Rome’s districts were completely wiped out by the carnage and only four of Rome’s districts were left untouched. Homes burned, hundreds died and thousands were left homeless. Though the fire devastated Rome, it did not destroy Rome due to the fact that the Roman Empire did not fall until 476 A.D. People contend that the Roman Empire did not completely collapse until 1453 A.D., however, it was known as the Byzantine Empire (strike one) and when the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 A.D., it was essentially the start of the Dark Ages (that’s strikes two, three and…if a fourth strike existed, it’d be strike four because…the Dark Ages.)
No, the intention of this blog is not to educate you on the Roman Empire. The point of the history lesson, though, is to paint the picture of what this blog is going to be about. Like all great sitcoms, it will probably evolve over time. Things will be cast aside that may have been a core component early on and things will get added later on that become a recurring theme within the blog. But, the comparison here is that I am Rome. I built myself up mentally and physically up to a point to where I was pretty happy with my life. It took a good amount of time to get there too. I really started to commit to my mental and physical well-being when I was 19 years-old. I had come home from my freshman year of college and my mom looked at me and said, “you have the body of a 25 year-old.” The irony here is that I am currently writing this as a 25 year-old and actually my body pretty much looks like it did when I was 19…so kudos to you, Mom, for predicting the future. At the time, I looked at her and said, “Mom, a lot of 25 year-olds have great bodies.” She responded, “you know what I mean.” I did know what she meant. I gained a very real “Freshman 15.” I went into my freshman year at a healthy 165 pounds and came out of my freshman year at a bulky 180 pounds. On June 5, 2011 I joined a gym and made it a mission to lose 20 pounds that summer. And by the time I returned to my sophomore year in college, I accomplished my goal.
The reason that I look closer to my 19 year-old self today and not my peak 21 year-old self is due to an injury I first suffered in July of 2013. I had just finished a workout and was on my way to a radiology center for an MRI on my right wrist. I broke both my wrists playing hockey as a kid and I endured painful cysts in both my wrists when I got older. The cysts were diagnosed and taken care of by a steroid injection from a doctor. Before the steroid injections, though, they had to take an MRI. Now, if you have ever had an MRI before, you know that you basically have to be completely still for an extended period of time (in this case, about 30 minutes.) I remember having to keep my arm extended and still for a long period of time. When I came out of the radiology center, I remember having this pain in my right shoulder. That’s when it all began.
Now, I had aches and pains all the time from working out in the past. I had previously earned an opportunity to tryout for the Arizona State University football team as a walk-on and I was a half-marathon runner. My experience in the past had been that if you had an ache or a pain, you were usually able to work it out the next time and it would go away. This time the pain wouldn’t go away. It stayed and it got progressively worse over the years. The right side of my neck constantly got stiff and I found myself trying to crack my neck more than usual. A few years later I found when I would sneeze, I would get an instant pain in the right side of my upper back. I would endure these low-grade headaches in the back of my head. I went and saw an orthopedist in the late summer of 2013. The orthopedist told me I had weight lifter’s shoulder. Weight lifter’s shoulder is basically a bunch of small fractures in your clavicle. The doctor told me to rest eight weeks. Sure, it was hard…but I listened to my doctor.
Eight weeks came and went and the pain was still there. I noticed some progress, but not enough. Even so, I didn’t want to lose more time in the gym or playing sports. Physical activity has always been my element. That’s how I made friends, that was my social outlet. I decided that I felt good enough to get back to my normal routine and by December 2013…I couldn’t even do one pushup after a 90 minute workout. My injury had gotten worse.
Anyway, you can probably guess what has happened in years since. I went on a roller coaster physically and mentally. I’m an all-or-nothing minded person that loves a routine. And when I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to the level I wanted…I just gave up. Once I decided I was coming home, I decided that was the time to get everything fixed.
I could tell the whole story of the amount of doctors, chiropractors, nurses, massage therapists and physical therapists that I have been to from June 2016 until October 2017…but frankly, it’s too exhausting. I’ll keep it short. I had a nose surgery for a Deviated Septum in September 2016. I had an arthroscopic shoulder surgery for AC Joint Arthritis in November 2016. I had an open shoulder surgery for AC Joint Arthritis in August 2017.
So, what do all of these surgeries and injuries have to do with “Rebuilding Rome?” Well, as I mentioned before, I am Rome…and I’ve got a while before I reach 476 A.D. For me, it’s 64 A.D. I built myself up like a great empire, it took a while and it was hard…but the gain was well worth the pain. Then, my body fell, it broke down…just as Rome burned down in 64 A.D. But that was not the end for Rome. Rome thrived for 400+ more years. I plan to thrive again for quite a while. “Rebuilding Rome” will follow my journey to making myself the best possible man I can be while also sharing many stories from my life both past and present as reflective learning lessons that I really want others to see and learn from, chuckle at, or gain inspiration from. Because (and some blog posts will end with a “Tripp-ism” like this one) “you can’t know where you are going until you know where you came from.”