Saturday, August 26, 2006

All you ever wanted to know about my posterior tibialis

Apparently the posterior tibialis is a tendon that attaches my tibial muscle to the underside of my foot, and is used for flexing the foot when walking... It is also the tendon, or one of them or something, that keeps me from having flat feet... I tore it when I fell.

So ... now I have 6-8 weeks in a walking cast, then the doc will "re-evaluate" to decide if I need surgery or not. and I can't drive.

Always one to look on the bright side, I'll point out that my right hand has healed sufficiently that I can now resume wiping with my right hand. This may sound like a small thing, but wipe with your off hand a few times and I'm sure you'll agree that this is a huge milestone for me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Why do you climb?"

Two things prompted this blurb. First, friends and relatives have sometimes reacted with a bit of surprise to learn that my accident only made my desire to climb stronger. Some ask "why?" Second, an interesting thread in the mountaineering forum prompted me to basically write this out. So you ask ... "Why do you climb?"

I'll give it a stab...but many men who were better writers than I have done so already...I generally let them speak for me. Reading what men like Edward Whymperhave said about mountaineering is like reading my own thoughts, before I realized I was even thinking them.
Why does a songwriter make music? Why does a dancer dance? We all have heard, "Because it is there!" But it is so much more to me...I find it hard to explain to people who don't know...many times I've said to a friend, "Just come with me once ... then you'll see. Then you'll love it." Ed Vistures said, "I read a saying once that if you have to ask, you'll never know. It's a very internal thing." Secretly I sometimes hope that the people I invite don't come...secretly I want the mountain to myself.

Simply hearing the word "mountaineering" or "mountains" sets off an instant flood of emotions somewhere deep inside me. A mental slide and video show starts: vistas, faces of friends from the past, sounds, textures and smells all flood into my conscious. I am calmed, I am content, and I am challenged to head back to the mountains.

Mountaineering also makes me a better person when I'm down here in the real world. The things I've learned in the mountains serve me well in my personal life, as well:
  • Stay balanced.
  • Use your legs more than your arms.
  • Pace on the easier parts, so you have energy to push through the crux.-Breathe deeply and continually.
  • Stay in the present.

That last one is sometimes the most important, both on and off the mountain. Our bodies are always in the here and now ... our mind spends most of its time in the past or future, if we allow it. Letting ones mind drift from the here and now on the mountain can kill you (as I was recently reminded!) Keeping in the present down here in the real world is good for your mental health.

There it is ... my feeble stab at the timeless question of "why we climb." Reading back over this, perhaps it would be better to leave this question unanswered; to avoid trying to make something like mountaineering a thing that can be dealt with in concrete terms.

It cannot.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"that dang B.B. King...."

Went last night to see "...the undisputed King of the Blues ... B.B. King!" I've wanted to see him live since I was a wee lad learning to play a guitar. (I never really learned very well, but the interest remained.) I gotta admit to almost tearing up at one point when he was belting out his first vocals... amazing. He'll be 81 next month and has more life left in him than a lot of people 1/4 his age! He was funny, genuine, and most of all, musically incredible. You've gotta see B.B. if you ever get the chance...

I'm not even a blues fan ... just a B.B. fan.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Two Seconds = Four weeks

It would have taken two seconds -- probably less. In two seconds or less I coulda locked the gate on that stupid carabineer.

Instead, here I am, almost two weeks later I can hardly move unless I'm pumped full of percocet. My ankle doesn't seem to be getting better ... actually seems to be getting worse. My ribs don't hurt as bad as they did last week, but are now making a funny sound when I move in certain positions The sound is kind of like the sound one of those "bendy straws" makes when you bend it or pull it all the way out. (Yeah, weird.) My hand, at least, seems to be healing. It's far from being in "let's go rock climbing" shape, but it is at least progressing.

I haven't had a good depressing pity party over my accident yet, so I guess now, alone at 2:00 a.m., is as good a time as any. A two second mistake is causing me to be laid up for four weeks, maybe even longer... and there's no one to blame but me. I did have fun going to a Dragon's game the other night, then paid greatly the rest of the night and next morning for overdoing it. My wife and I went out with dear friends last night, normally a regular event, and a fun one. Instead I looked at this as a special treat, and I was miserable. I had missed a dose of pain meds, and I couldn't enjoy a beer with my friends because I needed to go home and take my meds, and according to the label percocet and beer don't mix.

If one more person tells me, "It must be great having four weeks off work" I think I'll shoot them. (Oh that's right ... I can't shoot them. My freakin' index finger won't bend far enough to pull the trigger!) It's not as if I can do anything around the house... I try to clean the place up a little for my wife, but it's hard when you can't bend over, lift anything, or even stand up for more than a few minutes without being in pain. I have enjoyed spending more time with the kids ... although I imagine they are quite tired of their lame dad limping around the house on crutches. So I sit around the house, probably gaining weight since I can't exercise, bored out of my mind and sick of TV.

Yet, in the middle of my pity party a voice pops in my head and reminds me how incredibly lucky I am... I coulda been hurt a lot worse. Pity party over. I need to get healthy again so I can get back to work ... and more importantly, so I can go back and climb that sonofabitch cliff.
2:30 ...

I can take two more pills in a couple hours...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Accident Pictures (warning: icky wounds)

the whole set is at, but this gives you the general idea...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gravity Sucks!

Rock climbing is the best... falling, on the other hand, really sucks!
This morning I took the worst climbing fall Ive ever had ... 25-35 feet into the ground. Im waaay too sore to type much more so:
short version... at least four broken ribs, sprained my ankle, and ripped a bunch of skin off my right hand -- not quite a de-gloving, but close. Three to four weeks off work. damn.
I'll expand on the story soon..

the rest of the story

Today I was climbing with my two young sons (eight and ten) and with a friend of mine and his son (seven.)I'm still not entirely sure what happened: it was either that I dropped over the edge to rappel without having EVER connected the descender, or I forgot to lock the biner and as i dropped off the ledge rope or something hit the gate just right, disconnecting the figure 8. I'm thinking it's the latter, because I vaguely remember pulling the slack in before I swung out. I remember thinking for a split second, "I'm going too fast" and then I remember seeing the figure 8 shoot past as I fell past it, and I remember thinking "Oh no....." I hit a little outcropping of rocks on the way down, and I heard three or four ribs break, clear as day. Then I continued on down, landing on my right ankle, trying to roll with the fall onto my butt and back, which I did manage to pull off. The worst part was laying at the bottom of the cliff listening to the three kids screaming and crying. Once I got up and moving one of the kids actually climbed on the top rope for a few minutes, before we walked the 1/4 mile back to the car... somewhat in shock, I walked into the ER a couple hours later and was on a backboard and being moved to the regional trauma center before I knew what hit me. The fall was between twenty five and thirty five feet and produced three or four badly broken ribs, one sprained ankle, and some AWFUL rope burns on my right hand. Three or four weeks off work... I triple and quad checked EVERYONE else... I got sidetracked and did something stupid when it was my turn. I had a decent sized pack on, which did two things: broke my fall quite a bit as i rolled on to my back, and kept me from falling head first. I was just about to lean straight out from the cliff's edge, and thought, "I think I'll do the sit-buttcheek-scooting special." Because of this, my body was parallel to the rock as I fell, had I leaned back... I surely woulda landed on my head or neck.