Category Archives: Random stuff

Not adventures :)

Adventures without a leg

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Adventures without a leg

March & April, 2017

 

 

As the other posts may have mentioned, I broke my leg.

 

I didn’t tear my ACL… but I did break the bone around it, and stretched the ACL enough that it can’t support me anymore. We think, at least. The surgeons and physical therapists, all four of them, still aren’t sure. So I may need surgery, or I may not. We’re not sure.

What I am sure of, is that this is another learning experience.

I broke my arm and tore my tendon back at the very end of 2009. I wasn’t able to climb again until May of 2010, and I wasn’t back at reasonable strength until July or so. This time, it looks to be an even longer recovery; 7 months post-surgery is an optimistic outlook… and I still don’t even have a scheduled date for a surgery.

 

So I’m taking it slow; slowing myself and my expectations down to match my new reality.

Sarah’s doing the same; she’s slowing down her expectations for our coming year, and tempering her own goals now that her partner can’t support her through those goals (belaying through Smith and Vantage, climbing Hood and Reiner, learning to AT ski).

 

It’s been really hard, but I’m making progress and slowly bringing myself back up to my natural mental state. Finding the ways to do that has been a challenge, but it’s also reconnecting me with some of my old self.

I’ve picked up some old video games that I’ve been meaning to play, and I finally got the time to read that new Neil Gaiman novel that came out a while back. I’ve got a backlog for both too; a few games that I want to play or replay, and two other books that I’ve been meaning to read. It’s good to remember the other things that make me happy, aside from adventures and outdoor exploits.

 

But it’s still hard. Carrying things wasn’t really an option for a long time. I had to either ask for help, or use a wheelchair if I wanted to bring anything not in a container from one spot to another. It took cooking away from me, and it complicated even having coffee or tea at work, by requiring a special thermos that could seal well. If I forgot it at home… well, time to ask a coworker to carry my coffee the 15ft to my desk.

So. This isn’t supposed to be a doom and gloom post. Instead, it’s positive! Or… at least neutral. So how do we get back to positive? That’s been the challenge.

 

First; I’ve thrown myself into Physical Therapy. I do as much of it as I can, within bounds of what the PT recommends. I honestly could do more… and half the time I feel like I’m slacking off, but I’ve noticed a huge improvement. Sticking to the simple motions that I’m prescribed helps – I’m slowly building confidence, while making sure I don’t hurt myself more. I’m also focusing on working the muscles that I can work safely; upper body machines, arm bikes, really anything that doesn’t engage the legs.

Second; Sedentary activities. It sucks, and it’s kind of the antithesis to who I’ve been in the last year or two, but I’m enjoying video games and books. I used to love them; in Cambridge, I’d generally carve two days a week out to just relax, eat something fun, and game. Probably why I’m not in the excellent shape that my activity level would normally give… but it’s definitely why I’m sane. So, it’s a good trade.

Lastly; Forcing myself to keep doing things. I can’t do a lot, but what I can do… well, I do that as much as I can. Now that I can hobble with one crutch, I’m cooking a lot more – I’ve even started grilling again. I’m also doing dishes, and taking back some of the chore load that Sarah’s been shouldering. Normally, chores are just that – a chore. But when I haven’t been able to do them in two months… you know, they’re not the worst thing.

 

And as an extra, I’m focusing more on meditation. I’ve been reading happy poems, tying back to the meditation practices that I had before, and finding quiet places where I can. Having both of us tied to a single car has cut down on my alone time significantly (work does not even remotely count), so being able to unplug every once in a while has been a major source of relaxation for me.

 

Staying positive and staying active is the name of the game. We’ll see how it goes from here.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Last day in Scotland

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Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Last day in Scotland

Our last full day in Scotland – a sad time, but a good chance to relax, see the river Dawn, and learn to cook all fancy-like

Tuesday, 03-Jan-2017

Turns out, a full day of hiking in the Scottish mountains tires a Ben out. I slept in late today… felt kind of bad about it, to be honest… but everyone was pleasant and happy, so I didn’t feel too bad for too long.

The goal for today: See the North Sea again, at the mouth of the river Dawn. It’s an excellent place for bird watching, from what Bill said, but also an excellent little beach to stroll along, and see some of the interesting ruins along the water. I even found some gloriously well polished sea glass, some of which got taken back with us to Oregon as captured prizes from the old world.

Lessons were learned as well, when Henry decided to make his fancy salmon dish and needed some assistance in julienning the veggies. I honestly didn’t even know what that meant at first… now I know it means “spend a ton of time, and get bored trying to cut things really super small”.

I have to admit though, the results were excellent. We all sat down in the main dining room, and partook of an excellent array of food, drink, and conversation. I really enjoyed this aspect of the whole trip… I’d never met Henry or Leah before, and had only really spent one or two days at a time with Bill and Greta. Being able to regularly share dinners was a treat, and something that I very much look forward to doing again in the future.

We ate, we drank, we talked all about what everyone was up to in the new year, and tried our best to ignore the fact that we were all (with the exception of our hosts, of course) flying out the next day.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Hiking Lochnagar

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Hiking the Munros of Scotland – Lochnagar!

Monday, 02-Jan-2017

The Lydecker’s like getting up early.

I am less enthusiastic about this… but somehow I make it out of bed at o’dark:30 with Sarah and Greta, and find myself sitting in the car, watching the sunrise over the munros… a significant time after leaving the house.

But it was worth it! We’re in Cairngorm national park by 8:00, with the pink sky lighting up the mountains, and a whole herd of red tailed deer (really the size of elk) wandering around in the pre-dawn light. It was amazing.

We started in at the car park near Loch Muick, having a short bit of an adventure with the parking machine not working, before Sarah remembered her training and literally kicked it back into functionality. Turns out, not all tropes are incorrect… sometimes the best way to fix electronics is just to smack them. With that settled, we headed up toward the summit of Lochnagar – a short hill compared to what we’ve got in Oregon, but a non-trivial ascent per Scotland’s standards.

We’d prepared as well as we could, bringing all sorts of winter gear, maps, GPS receivers, and extra layers. But we didn’t expect to use them… after all, this was a quick 3,500 ft hill walk, how bad could it be?

Well… it was bad.

It was bad, but we enjoyed every minute of it. Every boot planted in the river that we had to cross, soaking through our socks. Every parry during Sarah and my ice-jedi duel (we found some 2ft icicles, so… clearly fencing), and every dirty look from elderly Scotsmen who don’t take kindly to ice-jedi shenanigans on their mountains. But the weather kept getting worse, and the snow fall kept getting thicker around us.

The fun and games could only keep us going so long… once we rounded the south side of the mount, and started West, we felt the full fury of Scotland’s weather. It was cold. The wind was nearly enough to knock us over. Ice and snow and rain and pelting hail stung us. I mean… this was a serious, right out of a movie, full on Scottish storm. Or, as the older gentleman who passed us would probably say, a Monday in Cairngorm.

We went as far as we could, making to a large trail cairn before we really couldn’t make it any further. We placed our stones on top of the trail marker, and started our way back down. Our second river crossing wasn’t any easier than our first, but thankfully no boots got any more wet than they already were… and we didn’t have to walk very far anyways, because our short term target was right past the river…

A small pumphouse, nestled in the forest above the mansion that we’d passed earlier. A perfect spot to stop and have a sandwich, some water, and a granola bar. Also, a perfect spot to just appreciate the storm front that was coming in… from here, we could see the entire top of the Munro covered in a snowstorm, and could even see how quickly that storm was coming toward us.

We walked out a bit quicker than we’d walked in, enjoying the sparse deep forest, the picturesque mansion (seemingly straight out of Game of Thrones), and the moors that we had to cross. Then, instead of turning directly toward the car, we took advantage of the slowing storm and walked up to the edge of Loch Muick, the beautiful lake right nearby.

Here, I got my perfect view of Scotland: Small rivers running through a peat bog, with cliffs and a storm in the background, silhouetting the mountains slowly being covered in snow. Ohh my lord it was gorgeous!

And a bonus? We’d gotten up so early, that there was still light left in the day! We got to get some coffee, some scotch, and even pick up a new pair of boots for Sarah, and a super nice rain jacket for myself in the town of Ballater before heading back into Aberdeen proper for dinner with everyone else.

Malmaison was the dinner of the evening, and since we’d earned a few extra calories, Sarah and I both got the venison dish. It was amazing, but I’ll admit that Henry’s prime rib kind of out did it… though I did kind of prefer the sauce that came with the venison over the seared flavor of the prime.