May 23, 2013
Lacey Van Der Marel Will Compete
By Kate Rose

After a spinal tap and blood work, Lacey Van Der Marel was diagnosed with viral meningitis. But you'll still see her at the Canada East Regional.

Every now and then, something comes along that provides perspective.

On March 20, Lacey Van Der Marel attended a weightlifting seminar in Ottawa. Upon her return home, she got sick, but attributed it to the travel.

“I loaded up on fish oil and tried to drink a lot of water. I went to the gym that Monday, but didn’t feel good,” Van Der Marel says.

Ranked second in Canada East after the Open, Van Der Marel thought she could train through what she assumed to be a bug. But she left the gym early the next day, muscle soreness increased, and then came headaches, fevers, chills and extreme fatigue.

The first visit to the doctor resulted in a prescription for rest — wait out the virus.

“I knew it was something else. After a week, I was getting worse. It got so bad that I could barely walk, couldn’t eat or drink and had no energy to talk. We called an ambulance and I went back to the hospital.”

She woke to doctors in gowns and masks, telling her the news. The spinal tap and blood work removed all doubt: viral meningitis. This time the prescription was antibiotics and a three-night stay in the hospital. Her family and Jay Rhodes, her boyfriend, kept watch.

“I was so lucky to have Jay with me; he was by my side the entire time,” she says. “During that time, Regionals was just out of the question.”

Van Der Marel says the virus hit hard.

“I would just lay on the floor crying. The pain was so bad, especially my knees and back, that I struggled walking to the bathroom. I felt like I was 90 years old.”

The fight didn’t end with rest and antibiotics: there were complications with the spinal tap.

“Due to the spinal tap, I ended up getting severe headaches as a side effect. So for another week, I laid in bed. Any movement would make it worse. I barely ate, and was completely bored.”

Once she was able to move, she was thrilled just to go outside.

“At that point, I didn’t care about Regionals,” she says. “I was sore from walking the first day. I was very weak and I was out of breath. I took it really easy for a while, and had no intentions of competition. I didn’t want to push or rush my training, knowing how bad my knees and back were. I took it day by day.”

Van Der Marel has recovered and wants to get back to normal. With the Canada East Regional so close, she’s a little frustrated, knowing how hard she was working. But she’s keeping perspective.

“I’m still very happy to be healthy. My plan is to have fun, and cheer on Jay and the team, and take it all in.”

She has struggled with her decision on whether or not to compete.

“Do I compete knowing I can’t give it my all, having been off from March 15 to April 6? Or do I compete at about 90 percent and have fun with it?”

Every CrossFitter who has faced injury or illness knows that conversation.

Bottom line: she’s competing.

“My training is coming along, and I feel no pain. It would be hard just to watch. I want to be smart, use good form and go at my own pace. I just love the environment, and I don’t want to miss out.”