Frustration.Limitation.Compensation.Determination


This blog isn’t going the way I thought it would go. It wasn’t set up to be what it has been. I wanted to share hike reviews, tips, advice, etc but it’s morphed into something else.  I don’t know if I want to be frustrated or just allow creative flow to just spill out onto your computer screen. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

What to do? What to do?

Well I am going to continue to spew out my mental waste on you and you’re just going to have to like it. Deal.

As I’ve said before I was downhill skiing in January of 1999 and when I came across of patch of ice I yardsaled everything, slid down the hill and smashed into a tree. Ouch

I remember telling my buddy who was with me “I think I need to see a chiropractor”, I actually needed a neurosurgeon.

My spine probably looked something like this.

The result was a compression fracture, a compund fracture of the pelvis, and an incomplete spinal cord injury. I spent a year-and-a-half in physical therapy. They gave me braces for foot drop and my lack of balance. I left wearing a “C’ crutches and that was all they could do.

I had been in the military during my accident and was an athlete all through school. Now I needed crutches to get around. Not exactly the active lifestyle I used to live. I remember going on a lake hike in Colorado with my aunt and mother before I moved to Minnesota. I fell off a log into a river, and like a dummy I wore cotton socks. By the end of the hike I was spent, and my feet were destroyed. It was years before I ever hiked again. I had pretty much given up an active lifestyle, I didn’t even think I’d be able to pedal a bike ever again.

I had reached utter frustration. The limitations of my disability had caused me to lose the very activities and experiences that I had loved since a child. It was devastating.

Through a series of events which I cannot remember I got back into being outside. I realized that I needed to adjust both my attitude, methods, and expectations. I found out that I needed to compensate for my disability by finding an approach that worked for me.

My special active life buddies.

So I have now acquired multiple braces, I force myself into mid-to-high topped boots, and I know that I have to start hiking earlier, pack Ibuprofen, and Tiger Balm. I have to be determined to make great things happen.

However, I’m not always “High Speed, Low Drag”. This past Monday I caught myself being ‘King Wussy-Man Crybaby Pants’ (it’s an official title, I have a crown and everything).

This past Monday I went to Climbing 101 at my favorite outfitter. I had been climbing with my wife the past two weekends. I had been reading everything I could get my hands on for the last several months. I always read and research before starting anything new. I wanted to take the class for instructional purposes, I wanted to learn better technique. What I learned is how frustrating crippled climbing can be.

My feet kept popping off the wall. I couldn’t hold an outside edge. Foot placement was horrible; silent feet, yea right, try ‘breaking the sound barrier feet’ my floppy ankles and non-existing calves made it impossible.

I'm telling you....the wall was this high.....I'm not lying.

We then top-roped ascending a 20′ tall wall inside the store. I got the ledge (about 10′ up) and couldn’t go farther. I had pumped out my forearms. I couldn’t even grip a jug to hold me into the wall. I had finally had enough and tapped out. The wall had beaten me. Mentally and emotionally I was back at the beginning. Frustration and limitation. The ride home was horrible. I had wrenched my shoulder trying to climb so while my wife drove I stared out the window. I felt embarrassed because of my lack of performance. I felt foolish for even trying. What was I thinking. (UPDATE: Turns out I had shoulder tendinitis, that’s was the pain I felt in my shoulder)

My Little Guy was there watching me, wanting me to so badly ring the bell at the top which my wife had rung the week before. I barely made it to the ledge and had the hardest time mantling over. I looked at my wife and told her I was ready to give up this pipe dream. I was disabled, I should know my place. It was time for me to accept my limitations and give up.

I saw the tears well up in her eyes…….she rarely sees me like this. I am usually Gun-Ho and too stupid to give in and admit defeat. Turns out I still am, I just needed to take off my King Wussy-Man Crybaby Pants and put on my big boy pants. What a difference a wardrobe change can make.

After my momentary lapse of insanity I decided that I am too determined to quit. I watched  a video of a amputee climber in Hueco Tanks, TX. He started the video by saying ‘You’re as disabled as you think you are. I don’t think I’m disabled.’ If you want to watch the video here’s a link to the post I did on it.

Well neither do I. I hold myself to a standard of fully-abled bodied person because that is the level at which I desire to perform.

The mental game of hiking, backpacking, kayaking, climbing, mountaineering, chess, backgammon, go-fish, and tiddlywinks is only disability many of us suffer.

I am determined to find a way around the muscle issues. Even if that means I have to be gorilla-strong in the upper body. I may never send a 5.10 or better then a V5 boulder, but the fact that I can climb and finish is an accomplishment itself.

I’ll find a way to compensate, I’ll find my way up a wall. One way or another. It might take me weeks, months, or years but I’m going to finish what I started. The only problem any of us have are the limitations of our own mind, and how we perceive challenges and problems. How do you overcome? I’ll tell you how.

1. Sacrifice

2. Determination

3. Tenacity

4. Discipline

5. Hope

See....told you I have a crown. I'm willing to abdicate the thrown though.

Please, share your thoughts.

Categories: Climbing, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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