I’ve had a bit of a dilemma up until recently: how high to aim? How on earth do you set goals and get motivated when you have no idea whether you’ll even be able to climb properly again? How do you commit so much of yourself to something that you can’t fully believe in? Sure, there’s hope, though it sometimes feels like a distant, unlikely thing. At times, fairly often recently actually, its been nigh on impossible to summon up much motivation to do much other than the bare minimum because it just feels like there’s no point and no hope at getting anywhere near back where I was. Obviously, that’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The injuries to my wrist and heel especially were pretty bad. The surgeon in Norway said that the heel might not be operable, and best case scenario was that it was operable but it would be damage control; worst case scenario was that he operates on it, but its so painful a few years down the line that it would need to amputated. I never spoke to the surgeon who did my wrist, but they were never very worried about that.
It’s still early days post op, so I can’t really tell how its all going to work out, but I think (hope) that I can rule out worst case scenario at least. My physio and consultant are both extremely happy with how my range of movement and strength of my wrist and heel are improving actually. The bones have healed in a pretty good position, the sub-talar joint is in surprisingly good condition, and hopefully the metal work will not be a problem in future. So, I think I have actually been extremely lucky given the severity of the injury.
So, in short, I don’t know how things will pan out with climbing. But that’s not a reason to give up; its precisely the opposite. I can’t really set tangible goals, so the goal is to be satisfied. However things work out, I am going to look back knowing that I did everything possible to give myself the best chance. If I’m going to have any chance of getting back to climbing, and I think that’s what my surgeon and physio have given me, then I’m going to have to fucking earn it. And if I can get back to climbing, then I’m going to be ready, I’m going to work with what I’ve got.
It’s been 10 weeks now since the accident in Flatanger, and now I feel like I’m getting more control over the process of recovery. Before a few weeks ago, there wasn’t much I could do apart from crutch round the block, lie down, and move my foot about a bit. However, with a lot of help from a great physio and my parents I’ve got a plan with a timescale and goals, which has given me a whole lot of motivation to get back to fighting form, and to take control of the process. It is a process though, and to take short cuts would be detrimental in the long run. I’ve been asked a few times when I’ll be getting back into climbing, and the answer is a frustrating one; I could go climbing now, and there’s loads of climbing related stuff I could be doing, however, if I did that then I would plateau pretty fast.
Rehab’s kind of like training – its progressive and measurable. but at the minute it requires more than a little rest – 1 day on 3 days off is my current regime other than daily exercises for my foot and wrist, but I do them lying down so it hardly counts. As soon as I got the cast off my wrist I was in the pool smashing in some laps. Normally just a few at a time though, and not for long. Plus, now I have a moon boot I can weight bare on my foot so I can sort of walk; at first with two crutches, then with one, and now without any occasionally. I can even get down the stairs in my house whilst retaining some dignity.
If nothing else, this injury has given me the opportunity (or will) to work on things that I would otherwise ignore. I’ve always felt like my shoulders were an injury waiting to happen, so I might as well sort them out before I start climbing too much, then I can focus on climbing related weaknesses instead of trying to get my strengths back to being strong straight away. I’m hoping that by doing this I’ll continue to improve more in the long run,
It’s hard to say at this stage whether I’ll be able to get back to form, or how long that will take, because I just don’t know how strong my wrist will get, and how much my foot might hinder me. Therefore, its pretty hard to set goals that I know are SMART. I’ll be over the moon if I can get back to where I was in a years time, but at the moment I’m just taking what I’ve got each day and each week, and working with that. For now, I know that I need to get back to a normal level of fitness, let myself heal, and try and get as much range of movement and strength in my wrist and foot as possible, so that’s what I’m focussing on. Once they’re as good as I think they need to be (and once I have the energy) then I will move on to climbing related stuff.
Onwards and then upwards!
In other news, my friend Sam Tolhurst has been working hard recently to develop a new climbing brand called Monkey Fist. At the moment the main product is a skin care balm which is vegan friendly and all natural, and that should be available in the next couple weeks from the website and from various shops/walls. Monkey Fist have also committed to donating at least 10% of their profits to CAC. Give the website a look and keep an eye out for it: http://www.mnkyfst.com/page2.html