Trip report from our (mis) adventure

Trip report from our (mis) adventure

Surgery Yesterday

Had Surgery yesterday.  The doc said it took some extra time because it had started healing on both ends but wasn’t attached.  He said they got a good repair though. I love this doc because, besides having worked on loads of pro athletes, all the mortal guys I know that he’s worked on get well and get well strong.

Photography is one of my professional sidelights and I gave free 5×7 prints to all the receptionist, techs, nurses and such and the Doc got a hardcover photo book.  I like to spread the love and get away from strictly business relationships.

When I woke up from Surgery it hurt a bit too much but after a few hours it was manageable.  I let the drugs wear out this morning just to see what and where the pain would be like.  Mostly at the heel and attachment point at the calf.  It all seems bearable but varies from no problem to just not sharp and intense enough to be miserable. I’m on vicodin and it’s enough but not luxurious pain relief.

Edit: now it’s two days after surgery and I’m at Mom and Dad’s house. Thank God for Mom’s and Dad’s! Good food and Dad’s easy chair to elevate my foot.  I’ve been periodically sweating like a pig but I checked my temperature and it’s normal.

I checked my insurance and it looks better than I thought! After the deductible, most everything seems 100% covered! Things are looking up! My goal is to push the doc to get as much done this year before I turn into a new deductable pumpkin as possible!


Everything has Changed

When I asked my girlfriend to give me the thompson test and I failed it, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  The next day I called the ortho-doc who did my knees 20 years ago.  Thank god he didn’t retire cause he’s THE MAN and did much surgery for the 49er and Giants.  I had to wait months the first time I saw him but, as an old patient, he saw me the same day this time!

and now I’m scheduled for a trip down the rabbit hole.  Surgery is next Tuesday.

This is going to be a tough journey in some ways. I live in the woods down a steep dirt 250 foot driveway that will get some snow in a few months. It gets pretty cold in the house as well. My girlfriend will be around to do some care for me but only time will tell how manageable  it all is.

Good news is that I have health insurance. Sadly, I found out its $3500 deductible and $4000 out of pocket paying 30% of everything after that.  Thank God my folks stepped up and will help in this time of vulnerability in many ways.

I can’t figure out what ways it’s worthwhile to try to save any money in this process, as I’m sure to crash through the deductible in any case.  Wonder if we should have a “Freebie and for sale” section on this site where folks could hand down their durable medical equipment like crutches to those who aren’t covered.

Here are a few more images from the climb. Wishing you all smooth healing and unexpected blessings on your path to wellness of all kinds.

Rockclimbing Injury

Rockclimbing Injury

I know I’m likely to receive a lot of flack for how I’ve treated this injury, perhaps deservedly, but also expect I might get some good advice and pointers. Here’s my story

I was taking a less experienced rockclimber up the face of El Capitan in Yosemite, starting on October 6th. Only 130 feet up the 2000 foot wall, some gear failed and I fell down the vertical face 10 feet before my toe contacted the rock and I felt a world of intense pain.  I fell another 10 feet before the rope caught me gently and I had a moment to consider my situation.  I could tell my ankle wasn’t broken and technicalities mostly dictated that I finish the section of the climb (15 more feet) that I fell on.  I reascended  the rope and finished.  My partner removed the gear and climbed the next section while I hung in my harness, without putting much weight on the foot.

To make a long story short, although walking was difficult and sporadically I would step the wrong way with excruciating results, I could manage this high angle technical climbing because I could favor my other leg and only put real weight on the heel in a controlled manner.  I decided to finish the 6 day climb. My partner had taken a lot of precious vacation time for this adventure and I figured the ankle might actually be healed by the time we reached the top, since that had been the case after a similar injury in a similar fall years earlier.

6 nights later we arrived on the top of the overhanging cliff.  My ankle was slightly better but, even with somebody to carry the heavy loads down to the valley, I could only manage with pain and trouble to make the 3 1/2 hour hike and rappels back to the car.

After some research, it’s clear I suffered a rupture of my achilles tendon.  I’m hoping it’s not too severe and don’t see how it could be, given all that I’ve had to do with it since the injury.

Sad to say I’m treating myself since I’m now disabled from my self-employment, have high-deductible insurance (and it’s now late October so I don’t want to start on a new deductible in January)  Seeing doctors would quickly bankrupt me.  Now that I’m off the ankle, the swelling has gone down a lot and the discoloration has gone. I walk with a big gimp and a cane but part of that is being sensitive to not stress the injury.

It’s a sad plan but I’m planning to visit India in January where health care costs 10% of what it would cost here.   Anybody know some good docs in New Delhi or Dehra Dhun?

Here’s what the ankle looked like the next day

10/7/09 at 8am, 16 hours after the injury

10/7/09 at 8am, 16 hours after the injury

a couple days later, it looked like this

achilles 72 hours after injury

achilles 72 hours after injury

Here’s the route we climbed, the blue X’s mark where we spent the nights

The route we climbed

The route we climbed

It’s now 2 1/2 weeks since the injury.  Pain isn’t so bad that I need meds for it. I don’t know how functional it is because I don’t want to test it, but I can hobble around without inciting much additional pain. I know I don’t want to try to rise up on my toes or anything like that, I’m leaving it alone.

I live near Yosemite but am visiting my folks in Northern Cal with my foot in an ankle brace with a hot bean bag on it at the moment.

I know it would be ideal to see a doc, get imaging, and many other things, but financial ruin when I’m not eligible for unemployment, disability, and other help (until I’m completely screwed) would be arguably as much injury to me as the achilles itself.

My heel and part of my foot were numb for awhile but sensation is coming back fast, with just a partly numb area just below the heel remaining.

I know this is not the safest, or even wisest course to take with such an injury, but consider what not paying the rent would contribute to my situation.  I’m looking for ways to make the best of what’s available to me.

Wishing all who have an injury and read this the best of recoveries.  I’m hoping to take advantage of this downtime to do some creative work like writing that I’ve been postponing. Every injury has a lesson and a potential bright side.