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
a couple days later, it looked like this
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
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.