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Rehabbing a broken thumb

Summer 2014 has been a great summer. I was surprised at how quickly my thumb healed and how soon I was able to get back to climbing.  As you may or may not recall, I broke that long bone at the base of your thumb, the 1st metacarpal…right through. My case was on for what seemed an eternity. Once it came off, my rehab started, and once the surgeon found out I was an OT, he basically left me to it, which surprised me a little. Anyway, I did what I learned during my hand therapy school work placement…I massaged it A LOT; worked on strength and mobility by using my weak hand to do as much as possible (a favourite was picking out my favourite Jelly Belly’s from a bowl); and I consulted with my awesome physio/climber friend Lea whom also threw in a few needles here and there.

Workin' on that mobility and dexterity

Workin' on that mobility and dexterity

My cast came off in early May and I started belaying my hubby outside right away, and carefully climbing inside three weeks later.  

A little Flashed tape job for support and to remind me to take it easy.

A little Flashed tape job for support and to remind me to take it easy.

A little achy pain was okay for me, but I was careful not to over-do it.  I forced myself to stop early some days and kept reassuring myself that it’s okay to take it easy.  By end of May I was climbing outside.

Healing progressed really fast, which surprised me. Our bodies are amazing at healing!

I went on vacation to Maple Canyon in June, the perfect place to go to get back into climbing shape. I was shocked at how quickly my strength, endurance and confidence improved. I wasn’t projecting 5.9’s and 5.10’s like I thought would be. Rather, I was onsighting 5.11’s and working 5.12-5.13s. I ended up making very short work of Orgasmo 5.12c.

Sending Orgazmo, 5.12c. Photo cred: Bonar McCallum

Sending Orgazmo, 5.12c. Photo cred: Bonar McCallum

Upon our return home I was re-energized and psyched to start working some hard projects.

Spicy Elephant full, a 5.13b was one of them and I had one hung it. I should have climbed it this summer, but it was a climb that scared the crap out of me: huge whippers; really hard clips and moves; plus it was so long I was tired (physically and mentally) by the time the crux came on the extension. So I only sorta worked it for the majority of the summer. I wasn’t fully committed…until the last 3 weeks of summer.

Me on Spicy Elephant, working through the crux sequence. Photo Cred: Roger Fage

Me on Spicy Elephant, working through the crux sequence. Photo Cred: Roger Fage

My one hang was several weeks ago, but snow and freezing temps made that my last attempt…at least until a Chinook arrives. My endurance is probably long gone, but I do feel as though I’m physically getting stronger.  I credit my friends at the Chinook Climbing Centre for supporting me as I struggle with the crazy exercises and keeping me motivated. I will for sure send it quickly next summer.

I’ve learned a lot while working it. The main lesson I’ve learned is that full on commitment is worth it. Once I committed to it, and gave it my all (even when I felt tired or scared), major improvements came fast. I was disappointed that I didn’t get it last summer…but it was entirely my fault. I wasted a lot of time playing around on other climbs and avoided really working my proj. I felt great one-hanging it but just wished that I had a couple more days to send….2 days was all I needed.  Oh well.

Another highlight of my summer was taking some good friends outside to climb on a rope for their first time!   

Another highlight of my summer was taking some good friends outside to climb on a rope for their first time!   

Allison Eisner, and Lani Rabinovitch TR’d their first 5.6 and 5.7!

Allison Eisner, and Lani Rabinovitch TR’d their first 5.6 and 5.7!

Next up, Vegas baby. We’re back there for our annual Christmas bouldering holiday! Our plan is to drive down December 19th and return for January 4th. So if any other team members are around, give us a shout!

Did I mention that we have a new addition to our climbing family…Meet Bella. She is the best! If you are considering getting a dog, do it! A little extra work but so worth the joy that he/she would bring. Or even speak to someone at your local shelter to see if they allow folks to take shelter dogs out for hikes on weekends! 

K & Bella

K & Bella

Bella looking out from the Lookout.

Bella looking out from the Lookout.

Making the Best of the Worst

Injuries suck.  They really really do. My sister Vikki and I recently did a presentation at the Vancounver International Mountain Film Festival centered around the 'three types of fun'.  Type one fun is fun while you are having it.  Type two fun is fun in retrospect (not super fun while its happening, but you can look back and have a good laugh).  Type three fun is not fun at all.

Injuries are defiantly type three fun.

I have dealt with quite a few debilitating injuries over the years.  Knee surgery at 14, ankle surgery at 20, chronic shoulder impingement that took me out of the game for nearly 3 years, pulled finger tendons, dislocating wrists, hip problems… you name it, I’ve likely had experience with it.

Here I am 6ish years ago not being very patient during the rehab of my ankle

The Kübler-Ross model states that people go through 5 stages of grief when there is loss in their lives.

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally, Acceptance.

This is usually applied to the loss of a loved one, but has been well documented in sports psychology literature to also apply to athletes who lose the ability to participate in their sport.

For many of my injuries I spent a great deal of time in the depression stage, sitting at home feeling sorry for myself and drowning my sorrows with my mom’s famous Weldon Cookies.   It’s understandable to be upset, but over the years I have learned to really focus on the positives, and stay away from replaying the incident over and over in my mind.  Those ‘what if…’ questions never help.

I moved to Canmore last weekend to start my new job as a Registered Nurse.  On Monday night I went to the climbing gym with a friend and destroyed my ankle.  It’s a pretty rare injury, and is exactly the same thing I did to my other ankle when I was 20.    I was high stepping at a funny angle, pushed to hard, and all those around me heard the sickening sound of soft tissue exploding. I new exactly what it was before I even hit the ground (allowing me to skip the denial stage of grieving).  There is a band of soft tissue on the outside of the ankle that holds two tendons behind the ankle bone called the superior peroneal retinaculum (SPR).  I destroyed this band, and now my tendons painfully flip over the ankle bone when I point my toes.  It needs to be surgically repaired.

Photo from http://skillbuilders.patientsites.com/article.php?aid=124

The tears came pretty quick (depression), as did the F-bombs (anger), not so much from the pain, but from the realization that I had just lost the ability to do most of the things I love.  Biking, climbing, skiing... walking around.  My new skis wont be getting any more loving this winter, and I can say goodbye to my secret agenda to finally get my name on that stupid National Champion Trophy ;).  Once I got my little self-pity party over with, I put it behind me and decided I was going to get sick strong for routes this summer (not sure yet if this is acceptance or bargaining, but it beats anger and depression any day).

I had a bit of an emotional setback this morning when I learned that it is going to take a month just to get a phone call about booking an appointment with a surgeon.  I instantly started doing the math in my head and realized that I may not be back in action for the summer.  But... I am luckily surrounded by awesome people who are every supportive, and am trying to take things one day at a time.

Positive thoughts... positive thoughts... positive thoughts!!

I can hobble around quite efficiently in my aircast (which I still had stashed away in my closet from last time).  I am able to swim arms only, and I set up a rad circuit at the gym the other night of campusing, rings, hangboard and free weights.

I’ve learned that with injuries it’s really important to keep busy.  I start my new job as an RN on Monday, and am working with my online coach Alli Rainey (www.allirainey.com) to re-organize my training schedule to accomodate for my injury.

My new goal is to be able to do a muscle-up on the rings before I can start climbing again.

So look out world… this is only going to make me stronger.

Straight to work on a new training tool to do "Finger Pullups"  See article written by Alli Rainey http://allirainey.suite101.com/handgrip-strength-training-to-improve-climbing-a178038