Tag Archives: Injury

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.

Skiing Squaw Valley, and my newest injury

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Skiing Squaw Valley, and my newest injury

Saturday, 25-Feb-2017

 

I went skiing in California!

Sarah and I had started skiing earlier this year, and I’ll be honest – I’d gotten pretty good, and was really starting to enjoy myself. Combine that with my friend Mike telling me all about how great skiing in California is, and that I hadn’t seen Mike for a while… well, I bought tickets and flew out. Rented get in Hood River, of course, which just added to the fun of flying. Yay huge bags!

I actually flew into Sac on Friday night, after a day of climbing with Sarah at the gym… I felt bad about running off, but she’d mentioned a desire to stay in Portland and see some friends of hers, so I figured that this would be a good excuse for us to have some individual adventures, and then catch back up the following week.

 

So I flew into Sac. Stayed at Mike’s place Friday night, and then drove out to Squaw Valley the next morning.

It was a drive. Mike and I hadn’t caught up in a while, and this drive definitely gave us time to catch up. What was normally a 2.5hour drive quickly turned into a 5 hour one, what with having to pull over to put on chains, be told that we couldn’t put chains on where we were (we were <5ft past one sign, but 10ft in front of another…), turn around, sit in more traffic, put on chains, then sit in more traffic, then get caught in some more traffic.

 

Then, after the traffic, we found out that the parking lot was full. So Mike, being amazing, dropped me off out front, and then went to get lunch while I got a few runs in.

By the time he got back, I’d done maybe half a dozen runs throughout the easy area, and was starting to feel pretty okay about Squaw. It was steep, and carved out, but definitely fun… and I was really looking forward to learning some tips and tricks from the ski extraordinaire hanging out with me.

Once Mike got a parking spot, we hit up the far side of the mountain, a lift run called Shirley. And that’s where I should have turned tail and run… it was all blues, but much steeper and more carved out than I was used to. In fact, the runs were mostly moguls… not something I’d ever dealt with before. But I gave it a shot, and our first run went pretty well.

 

Our second run didn’t.

 

I did the first half of the run well, and stopped for a quick breather about 70% the way down the run… before starting into that mogul field again. But this time, I didn’t hit them right. This time, I caught a ski, and went down.

My knee went another way. I screamed.

By the time I got down to Mike, shock was setting in. I couldn’t press down with my heel, and I was confident that I couldn’t ski out.

We asked a lift operator for a hand, and he quickly proved his incompetance by suggesting that I ski out… even going so far as to say that I needed to wait in line, and then ski down a green to get back to the lodge. Honestly, I’m like 90% certain that he was stoned… which I wouldn’t normally mind, but… you know… shock. Pain. Injured skier asking for help. Screw that guy.

 

So I walked away, and asked the next lift operator if he could help.

“Ohh god! Yeah man, get on this next chair, I’ll hold some folks back for you. What’s your name? I’ll call up, and ski patrol will be waiting for you”. THAT is how you react to someone saying that they’re in shock, and unable to ski out.

One snowmobile ride later I can’t put any weight on the knee at all, and I’m on a tram down to the urgent care area. Then two hours of waiting (1.5 hours of that in the outside waiting room), and then meeting a nurse for x-rays, and a doctor for a diagnosis.

 

Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament.

 

The four words that every skiier, soccer player, footballer, or really any athlete fears. I was told that I was now a member of that club, and that I should go see an orthopedist for an MRI within two weeks. That I wouldn’t be able to walk for a month, and that recovery could take anywhere from six months to a year.

The rest of the night was blurred. I called loved ones, then ate a huge plate of nachos. Mike helped me carry my gear into the motel room, and I settled myself into the bed, trying to learn how to hold myself to keep the knee elevated, but not painful.

I guess I’ve got time to learn, though… we’ll see how recovery goes.