Nina Patterson my physical therapist, has been a crucial part of my “progress” plan for many months. Usually, I limped into her office with a short list of areas with too much “feedback.” Sometimes, she simply said “Alan, your injury is severe and you need to be patient.” And others “You need to push to make progress.” But she always worked on realigning muscles, ligaments and other adjustments that solved the issue, proof being the areas became silent and remain that way today.
This week, I walked in and said “Nina, I got nothing.” She smiled knowing that in the past 10 days I had hiked in deep snow to 13,000 feet and ice climbed only the day before. “Well, we will find something!” And we both laughed.
As I have said often, my team of doctors, PT expert, family and friends have been the key to moving forward. Today, Diane , said “Hey, you are not limping.”
There were three phases to this incident: injury healing, fitness recovery and mental recovery. I finally feel that my injury has healed. I no longer have the constant low-level reminder that something is not right down there. I walk “feedback” free and Capitan Rod has assumed his life-long duty with dignity and grace.
Now I will focus on the remaining areas. During my downtime, I gained a bit of weight, OK a bit too much. So its time to focus on diet and exercise. This has never been a problem with climbing or hiking a couple of times a week so I’m looking forward to getting back into that groove.
The mental side may take more work. A couple of weeks ago, I was on top of the small local rock, Horsetooth, with Moe Kowbell. The wind picked up to 20 mph with an occasional gust. I crouched down like a rabbit hiding from birds of prey. While high up on a frozen waterfall this week, my mind drifted to falling – something I never had an issue with. I retreated, realizing I had work to do.
I once had a fear of heights, so I addressed it head-on in 1995 by bungy jumping off the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge at AJ Hacket’s pioneering location. I was in New Zealand “tramping” around and visited the bridge. I watched people jump all afternoon wondering if I had the courage to do it.
I left for a couple of weeks of backpacking on the Greenstone and Caples Tracks, visualizing me waddling to the end of the plank, ankles wrapped in a towel with a huge rubber band binding me to the bridge. My heart raced, and palms becoming drenched with sweat. I visualized this over and over until my physical response came under control. When the time came I heard “OK, Alan. Ready? 3,2,1 ….” and I jumped.
It’s time to jump again.
Memories are Everything
On February 10, 2017 while training for the 8000 meter peak, Dhaulagiri, a sudden wind gust estimated near 100 mph swept me off my feet and into a talus field on a simple walk up mountain of Twin Sisters Peak, 11,4327′, in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado.
I described the entire incident in my post Broken Leg: I don’t want to be in the Rocks.
When I was slammed into the rocks near 11,000 feet that Friday afternoon, my lower right leg was broken in multiple places.
The tiba had an angular fracture and the fibula was also broken. My left leg had a puncture wound. My nasal cavity was broken as well. The injuries required two operations under full anesthesia and a five day stay in the hospital.
Jim cared for me over four hours as I lie in the rocks and it took another five hours for SARs to evacuate me off the mountain.
- Broken Leg: I Don’t Want to be in the Rocks
- Broken Leg Update: One Month Out
- Broken Leg Update: Two Months Out
- Broken Leg Update: Three Months Out
- Broken Leg Update: Five Months Out
- Broken Leg: Return to Twin Sisters
- Broken Leg Update: Eight Months Out
- Broken Leg Update: A Setback and a Plan
- Broken Leg Update: A Year Later and Future Climbing Plans
- Broken Leg Update: Ready to Jump (again)