Keen mountain bike rider Kaelyn Franco, 24, had no idea what was in store when she tried out a spin session for the first time, after she ended up in hospital with devastating news
Kaelyn Franco was a healthy 24-year-old but is now dealing with the aftermath of an unusual condition.
Keen to try a different style of working out, she visited a spin class on her cousin’s recommendation.
Just 24 hours later, however, a rare reaction culminated in Kaelyn being rushed into a two-hour operation, as doctors feared she would lose her leg.
At the end of her spin class, her legs had collapsed as she got off the bike, but she thought nothing of it.
But the next day her ‘achy pains’ continued – leaving her in tears and struggling to walk, resulting in a trip to the hospital.
Doctors diagnosed her with rhabdomyolysis – a condition caused by muscle breakdown and muscle death.
This was most likely caused by the overexertion of her muscles during the spin class – and action was needed swiftly.
After her blood levels skyrocketed, she was rushed for a two-hour operation to relieve the pressure from her right leg.
Doctors later revealed that if Kaelyn hadn’t acted quickly, she may have lost her leg – or worse her life.
At secondary school, she was the captain of the soccer and softball teams and continued to play sport at university.
But now, she cannot walk on her own, drive, or use her right leg – and relies on a wheelchair.
Kaelyn, a support analyst, from Marlborough, Massachusetts, US, said: “I used to be really active and go mountain biking, so I had no idea about this.
“At first, I just thought the pain was aches and that I’d just over-done it in the spin class and used muscles I hadn’t used in a while, but it turned out to be life-threatening.
“It’s safe to say I won’t be doing a spin class ever again.
“It will take me at least a year to get back to normal and my leg will never be the same again.”
“My legs just went out from under me,” she said.
“I was very achy too, but I didn’t think it was odd as it had been a hard class and I’d really gone for it.”
But as the day went on, Kaelyn was having to support herself by holding onto railings to walk and her pain started to increase.
“It got so bad I would just cry through the night,” she said.
“It was agony. I knew I needed to see the doctor after my urine turned brown.”
Doctors immediately knew that she had rhabdomyolysis, but Kaelyn initially thought it would just take a couple of days to get back to normal.
But her blood levels remained high and so doctors had to take drastic measures.
“They suddenly came and told me that I needed to have surgery,” Kaelyn said. “And 30 minutes later I was being wheeled to theatre.”
Kaelyn had to undergo a fasciotomy on her right leg – a surgery to relieve swelling and pressure.
Afterwards, Kaelyn was told that if they had not done the surgery then they would have had have amputated her leg.
But as her muscles died, there was also a risk that she could have lost her life.
“It was terrifying. I hadn’t even heard of this and now I am scared of exercising,” added Kaelyn.
Doctors removed some dying muscles from her right leg during the operation.
They told her that she had developed the condition due to the intense workout which specifically targeted her quads.
“It’s not like I hadn’t done intense exercise that before,” Kaelyn said. “That’s why it is so scary.”
After a week in Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Massachusetts, Kaelyn returned home to recover.
Now she is undergoing physical therapy to build her strength back up in her legs but still relies on aids to get about.
“My right leg will never be as strong again, but I will get there,” she said.
“It’s really frustrating but I’m determined to get back to good health.”