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Injured bodybuilder rebounds

August 21, 2000

Injured bodybuilder rebounds



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


CASCADE - When Mike Shifler competed in two bodybuilding championships in July, he tested his mettle - and his metal.

Through hard work, determination and a metal hip replacement, the Cascade resident rebounded from injuries suffered in a near-fatal 1998 head-on collision to take top honors in his weight division at the Maryland State Bodybuilding and Bodyrock 2000 championships.

"You can't give up on yourself or limit yourself," said Shifler, 26, who works in the planning department at Phoenix Color.

"I don't focus on my disabilities. I focus on my strong points."

Shifler wasn't quite so confident a year and a half ago.

While returning home from a construction job, the truck in which he was a passenger slammed into another vehicle on Interstate 85 in North Carolina. The truck's driver, who had fallen asleep, and the driver of the second vehicle were killed, Shifler said.

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He was thrown from the truck.

"I was really lucky," Shifler said. "The passenger side was just totally crushed."

Shifler's hip was dislocated and crushed. His left shoulder, wrist, foot and hand were fractured. There was a hematoma on his spleen, he said.

Doctors theorized that Shifler's bodybuilding history had saved his back, he said.

But lifting weights seemed like something he had done in another life, and the young husband and father was "pretty down" as he lay in the intensive care unit, he said.

Shifler began rehabilitation but was soon diagnosed with an infection in his hip joint from roadside debris, he said.

After more surgery to clean out the infection, Shifler was sent home with antibiotics administered through a catheter in his chest. He again began physical therapy, but his trials weren't over.

For several weeks, he suffered a low grade fever and rapid heartbeat. When his fever spiked to 104 degrees, his wife took him to the emergency room. Shifler was told he had the flu, he said.

Several days later, his body began to swell and he had difficulty breathing. His doctor admitted him to the hospital, where it was determined that his vital organs were beginning to malfunction, he said.

"I really thought he was going to die," Laurie Shifler said.

Shifler's antibiotic was discontinued, and he was given a counter reactant, he said. He began to recover and was sent home Jan. 13, 1999 - two months to the day after the accident.

Shifler again focused on rehabilitation. After his physical therapy sessions ended, he continued training at Gold's Gym in Hagerstown. The 220-pound heavyweight avoids high impact exercises, squats and dead lifts because of his hip replacement

In March 1999, his mother died. Shifler said he entered the bodybuilding championships "for my mom." He credits his wins not only to hard work, but to a "team effort" on the part of his wife and the staff at Gold's Gym, he said.

"I appreciate things way, way, way more than I did before," Shifler said.

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