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Contest Problems/ Hotel Review

(MCS, Barking Dogs, and Fibromyalgia)

By Gary F. Zeolla


      I competed in the Pennsylvania State Powerlifting Championships for the International Powerlifting Association (IPA) in York, PA on Saturday, March 16, 2019. For details on the contest itself, see my contest report. Here, I will detail the many problems I had before, during, and after the contest due to various health problems and other reasons.

      This article will also serve as a review of the hotel I stayed at: Choice Hotel’s Econo Lodge, at 222 Arsenal Road, York, PA, 17402. I stayed from Thursday through Sunday, in room 234, the top floor of the two-story building, on the parking lot side. That will be important shortly. But first, I had problems before I even left for the contest.


MCS Problems


      Prior to leaving for York, I was not doing well due to a flare-up of my multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) the previous two days. On Wednesday, I had a reaction before and while packing for reasons that are hard to explain. That led to a sleepless night. Then Thursday, while I was packing my car to leave for my trip, there were multiple construction vehicles going right by my car, as they were working on the alley perpendicular to my home. That really caused me problems, as I am very sensitive to such smells. When a steam roller went by twice, with a strong hot tar smell, that really did me in.

      I was in an allergic reaction for the entire four-hour drive from Pittsburgh to York. I was having a hard time breathing, and as always at such times, I felt like I had bugs crawling all over me. Add to that being dehydrated from cutting weight, and I felt just plain miserable.

      I usually drive straight through or only stop once, but this time, I stopped twice to give me a break. Plus, I was stiffening up, which also happens when I am in an allergenic state, so I needed to move around and stretch as best as I could.

    During the drive, I was feeling very despondent and was thinking this would be the last time I would even try to leave my home, as I never know what I might be exposed to when I leave the house. This was by no means the first time I had an unexpected problem when going out. Grocery shopping is the only reason I leave my home on a regular basis, and then it is only once a month. I was thinking that with the new availability of home delivery for food, I might be able to avoid even that. I also try to attend family gatherings for major holidays, like Easter that was soon approaching, but I was thinking I would skip that this year and from now on.

    With all of this on my mind, and with feeling so terrible, thank God I didn’t get in a wreck, as I was having a hard time concentrating on driving. Also thank God, when i got to the hotel, my hotel room did not smell too much, and once I took a shower, my symptoms calmed down. But I still barely slept Thursday night. But I was hoping I could rest through the day on Friday after weigh-ins, in-between eating and drinking. But that did not prove to be the case.


Barking Dogs


      I have mentioned several times in my workout logs of late that I barely slept the night before the workout. That has sometimes been due to health problems flare-ups, such as the aforementioned MCS, but it has also been due to barking dogs.

      There are multiple dogs in my neighborhood that bark much during the days and at night. The former is causing me lots of stress, and the latter is adding to my sleep problems. I have been getting woken up at least once if not several times on most nights for quite some time now. I then find it very difficult to get back to sleep.

      That stress and loss of sleep is adversely affecting my health, training, and life in general. With it being multiple dogs, not just one, there is not much I can do about it. But I thought I would get a break from it during my four days and three nights at the hotel, but that did not prove to be the case.

      When I first got to the hotel, there was a mini-van parked beside my car with a large dog in it, barking out the cracked window. The female owner, as she was walking away, yelled back at it to shut up, but of course it, did not. Then when I went to check in, I saw a sign by the front desk that said, “Dogs, $10 extra.”

      I stayed at this hotel three times before, when I competed in IPA PA States in 2015-17. I do not remember there being an “pets allowed” policy then, so they must have changed it since my last stay in 2017. If I had known that, I would not have stayed at this hotel. As it was, my hope for a weekend of peace and relaxation was shattered.

      All day on Friday, dogs were barking, both in the hotel and in the parking lot. As with that first dog, it would seem that the owners would leave their dogs in their cars as they went to check in, and the dogs would bark the entire time they were away. Then they would continue to bark as their owners brought them into the hotel.

      The worst was there was a dog barking in the room beside me all afternoon. I finally could not take it anymore and called the front desk to complain. They did something, as that dog stopped barking, but the others did not.

      When I called, I told the deck person that if I got woken up that night, I would be furious. And sure enough, I went to be at 8:30 pm and fell asleep immediately. Then five minutes later, a dog woke me up. I called the desk to complain. They didn’t say much, just that they couldn’t do anything. I fell back asleep, slept a couple of hours, then got woken up again, then again, then again. I called the desk again at 2:30 am and was told to stop bugging them and got hung up on. Overall, I got very little sleep, and that after getting very little sleep the previous two nights. By the morning, I was feeling miserable and very upset, but I had to get ready for the contest.

      I was going to take a hot shower to help loosen me up for Squats. Again, my MCS can cause me to feel stiff, and that can make it hard for me to sink my Squats. But once I got ready, I was just too tired to shower, so I laid down and rested for a few minutes instead, then I left for the contest. I could only hope and pray that I wasn’t too stiff for Squats and could somehow find the energy to make it through the day.


Fibromyalgia Fatigue


      Along with MCS, I also suffer from fibromyalgia, which is basically chronic pain and chronic fatigue. The pain is not near the problem it was at one time, but fatigue is an ever-present problem. I need to rest often throughout the day at home, and I do the same at a contest. I always try to lay down on a bench in the warm-up room or on the floor if I have to in-between lifts. I also try to keep the socializing to a minimum, just so as not to waste energy talking and walking around.

      But this time, with the lack of sleep the previous three nights, I was sucking wind the whole day. It was really a struggle to make it through the day, and that adversely affected my performance, as discussed in my contest report.

      But at least it did not bother me that much allergy-wise at the contest site. That is usually the case at contests, which is a bit strange, as usually it bothers me immensely to just be around people. All I can guess is the adrenaline of the contest keeps the symptoms at bay. But they always come roaring back afterwards.

      Also, once the contest is over, my “work” is just beginning. The next day, I needed to pack up, drive home, and unpack. But due to my MCS, that unpacking is quite difficult, as I need separate everything into what can be washed and what cannot be. The wash I will start the next day, and the stuff that cannot be washed, I need to wipe off and/ or put outside to air out.

      That all took me a couple of hours. Then I needed to shower. After that, I was absolutely exhausted, and laid down and barley moved the rest of the day. But thank God, I finally got a good night’s sleep, sleeping eight-hours straight through that night. I rarely sleep straight through and never for that long, so that was very refreshing.

      But then the next day (Monday), I needed to start washing everything I had with me at the hotel and at the contest. To fully get the smells out of it, I need to double wash everything. That includes all of my wraps and sneakers (my squat boots and leather bench shoes I aired out the day before).

      The shoes and wraps needed to be hung outside, but the rest went into the dryer, but it was not working right! The first load did not dry at all. I ran it again, and the clothes were still wet. After some fiddling around and banging on the dryer, the third time, it worked. It then worked for the next load that day. But then my first load the next day, it did not work again.

      After some more fiddling, I figured out it would work on a different setting than I normally use. But now I need to have a repairman come to fix it, and that always cases me problems with my MCS. And all of that fiddling in my basement that smelled from all of my stuff from the hotel and contest caused my MCS to flare up leading to another sleepless night.

      Then on Tuesday, it was just nice enough (about 50 degrees, sunny, and breezy) to hang my shoes and wraps outside, so I was able to get that done. I still have a couple of more loads to do, but by Wednesday, I was feeling exhausted and took a break to finish writing this article and my contest report.

      I still need to wash my gym bags, the one I used at the contest and the new one I bought at the retail store I mention about in the contest report. But for those, I will have to wait until it is warmer, as it takes forever for them to dry.

      That is something it took a while for me to learn—I do not need to wash everything right away. I used to keep pushing to get it all done, but I would often end up sick. But now, I just do what I know I will need right away, while stuff like my gym bags, that I won’t need until my next contest, can wait to be washed until later.


To Compete or Not to Compete?


      But still, it is a lot of work every time I enter a contest, and it always causes me lots of problems, not just the contest itself, but all of the pre and post-contest stuff really exhausting me and causing me problems with my MCS. Sometimes, I wonder if it is all worth it. But I do enjoy lifting, and that is the only thing I am able to do to keep in shape, and that only because of my home gym. Entering contests gives me an incentive to keep working out, along with to carefully watch my diet. If I were to stop competing, I fear I would stop both, and my health would seriously suffer.

      Consequently, I already have plans to compete in late autumn, as mentioned in the contest report. Also as mentioned there, I am planning on moving up a weight class. But as I do so, I will continue to watch my diet carefully, following the eating plan laid in my books Creationist Diet: Second Edition and God-given Foods Eating Plan.

      In addition, I have gone back and forth whether to use wraps or sleeves on Squats. At one time, I used full gear (squat suit, wraps, bench shirt, deadlift suit). But putting on the suits and shirts became just too exhausting, so I gave that up.

      But I was hoping to still use wraps, as they alone add significantly to the lift, and the divisions I enter are for sleeves or wraps, so using wraps gives me an advantage. But as I as discussing at the contest with another lifter, using sleeves is so much easier. Just pull them up and down. It is also easier after a contest, as it is a lot easier to hung up sleeves to dry after washing them than wraps. That is especially the case if I cannot hang up outside, as wraps take much more room to stretch out and hung up than sleeves. Given all of that, I will probably stick with sleeves. But it does irk me that I am giving up poundage on my Squat and Total.




      As always, entering this contest was difficult on my health-wise, but more so due to the idiotic “dogs allowed” policy of the hotel I stayed at. I should also mention that the Wi-Fi was terrible. It kept cutting in and out. I was trying to listen to podcasts over the weekend, and they would start, then stop, then start, then stop. It was very frustrating.

      Otherwise, the hotel was fine. But the noise issue due to the barking dogs is “non-negotiable” for me, so I will never stay at that Econo Lodge nor probably any other again, if they all have a pets allowed policy. In fact, I know now that I need to call ahead and ask a hotel if they allow pets before booking. If they do, then they will lose me as a potential customer.

      But even with all of this, I still did reasonably well at the contest, so for that I am thankful.


The above article was posted on this site March 20, 2019.

  Dealing with Health Difficulties

  Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)


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