Three Fingers Down, But Not Out: How a Rare Disease Couldn’t Stop This Man from Becoming a Bodybuilder

Justin Shier who became interested in the sport after a severe illness shared his story of losing three fingers and nearly losing his life due to meningitis. Justin Shier initially pursued his passion for fitness through BMX riding before eventually purchasing and operating a gym, leading him down the path of becoming a bodybuilder.

The strongman now participates in competitive events alongside the IFBB and showcases his workout tutorials on his YouTube and Instagram accounts. However, before making his professional bodybuilding debut in his thirties, he faced a near-death experience at the age of 17 due to bacterial meningitis.

He described the initial symptoms as a severe cold or flu to the RxMuscle YouTube channel. However, it rapidly worsened beyond those ordinary ailments one day. His body began to fail, experiencing not only a lack of control over his bowel functions but also liver and kidney failure, indicating his body was starting to give in. He recalled heading to the bathroom one particular morning and suddenly collapsing.

Justin recounted the memory of his swift admission to a local hospital as his brain started expanding and his body functions began to cease. He stated, "I had a striking realization that death was imminent, and in those moments, the severity of the situation becomes incredibly clear."

The young adult was swiftly placed into a medically engineered unconscious state and was taken aback by the condition of his hand when he finally came to.

"When I regained consciousness after two weeks, I discovered I had lost three fingers to sepsis. During such a condition, your body diverts blood flow to vital organs like the heart and brain, often at the expense of your extremities," he explained.

The condition of the fingers resembled frostbite, so blackened that amputation of the three fingers was necessary. The experience was quite intense, with a hospital stay that lasted around three months. Justin, who had been in excellent physical condition before his sickness, explained how he had initially been entirely unable to move during his extended recuperation.

He added, "Upon waking up one day, I found myself completely immobilized from the neck downwards. I had to undergo training to regain my ability to walk and move. It took practically a week before I could even wiggle my fingers.”

Despite this challenging setback, Justin displayed resilience; his quest to regain his former fitness level was unwavering. He revealed that his foray into bodybuilding was prompted by a friend, which happened after he bought a gym.

“I had always admired bodybuilding, but I was never really competitive,” he remembered. “My friend expressed his interest in it, promising he would participate if I decided to do so.”

Within less than one year in 2019, Justin made his debut performance and has since become an IFBB professional.

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