Kaelyn Franco decided to take a spin class after a recommendation from a friend. The active Tiktoker said that before the class she would describe herself as moderately active and loved biking. But after the class, Franco was in the hospital fighting for her life.
According to her doctors, the 23-year-old developed rhabdomyolysis or “rhabdo,” after her spin class. This dangerous condition involves the breakdown of muscle tissue into the blood stream which can lead to heart and kidney damage, along with the risk of permanent disability or death.
Symptoms of the condition can include severe muscle swelling, pain, and dark colored urine. Franco admits that after the class her knees immediately buckled after getting off the bike, but she didn’t think anything of it. The 23-year-old just thought she was tired despite stretching and making sure to keep hydrated during the class.
“After I finished the class, I stepped off the bike and my legs and my knees immediately buckled under me and they could not support my weight,” Franco said. “Fast forward to the next day, I was hobbling around and I was in a lot of pain but I thought it was just soreness and that I would feel better”
Later that day, Franco ended up in emergency surgery at the hospital where doctors tried to save the young girl’s leg along with her life. According to the 23-year-old, doctors originally didn’t know what was causing the swelling and pain in her leg. It took them hours to finally give her a diagnosis. They ended up having to remove the muscle that was leaking into her bloodstream.
The TikToker, who goes by @kofranco_, shared her story in a viral TikTok and hopes that her video helps other people understand the signs of this deadly condition.
She captioned the video, “Not me thinking I gained muscle doing a spin class,” and showed viewers photos of her after the class and then later lying in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV.
According the Cleveland Clinic, about 26,000 individuals develop rhabdomyolysis every year. A small portion of those conditions are developed after a spin class because of the stationary status of the bike. The disease can also develop in people who experience high endurance training, firefighters, military members and professional athletes are at a higher risk of developing rhabdomyolysis because of the physical intensity of their jobs.
The Massachusetts native also shared her story in an Instagram post and described her experiences in the hospital. She said, “I had to get emergency surgery to save my leg and my life. My rhabdomyolysis turned into acute compartment syndrome and the doctors had to go in and remove the muscle that was breaking down into my blood stream. Seeing my loved ones cry when my surgeon said that this surgery had just saved my life was something I’ll never forget.”
While Kaelyn Franco’s leg will never be the same and she will continue to have life-long complications because of the rare condition, she is grateful that doctors were able to save her life before it was too late.
The young woman said that people who learn about her story shouldn’t be afraid of spin classes, just aware of the risks if you don’t listen to your body.
Kaelyn Franco is continuing to recover from the disease and is documenting her recovery journey on her Instagram.