Recovery from serious injury?

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Beman » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:33 am

I had a shoulder that would dislocate at any given point even during my sleep. The fix involved a bone transplant, a rotator cuff and labrum fix and the standard titanium hard wear to fix all the stuff into place. I have also had my foot pointing the wrong direction on another occasion and that required some down time as well. I had the shoulder out of socket 40 plus times. The recovery was 9 to 12 months. I also took an unplanned helicopter ride after a vehicle accident one time. Im not going to try and impress or convince you of my stupidity or toughness with anymore detail.

I have read this forum for some years and joined not too long ago and have made almost no posts but when I saw this I can understand the feelings you maybe having. With all this said I think this post could be motivation for people. There are way to many people who worry about gear, if dogs are on or off leash,what class peak they did, how many summits, altitude sickness, fitness level, and a host of other topics. These things many times distract from real goal or getting into the outdoors.

In your case you asked... I dont know if i will make it to another summit. Well you get to a summit one step at a time. In my life sometimes those steps are not on the mountain. Go to your rehab with a purpose and I bet you will see the topside sooner than you expect to.
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby SummitKathy » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:07 pm

While your injury appears to be MUCH worse..... I can sympathize. I have had reconstructive knee surgery on both of my knees. My right knee I tore about 12 years ago (ACL, MCL, meniscus), and almost 3 years ago I tore my left knee (ACL, meniscus). I dont want to pretend that I understand the extent of your injury or your road ahead, but I do know what it feels like to be incredibly disappointed......not only because of the tremendous amount of hard work/rehab ahead... but because of having to take a break from the things you love.

I want to encourage you that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. At the very beginning the end of the recovery journey seems so far away. But eventually you WILL get there. Just keep your focus on healing and rebuilding strength. And dont let your doctor or anyone else get you down. Where would the world be if everyone stopped trying the second they were told they "can't"?? No where. Use your desire to return to the things you love as your motivation in your road ahead. Rehab is difficult, but the reward is worth it. Nothing worth having is ever easy.

Unfortunately enjoying a lot of the activies we do takes its toll on the body. It helps me to remember this:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"” (Author unknown)
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”-John Muir
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Rarefied » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:16 pm

awilbur77 wrote:.... because honestly I am losing hope that I might ever see another summit. .... I just need some hope.

As you're probably sensing by now from reading this thread, the odds are exceptionally high that you'll be just fine. To that end, I might be able to offer encouragement of a different variety. I almost lost the lower part of my leg nearly 50 years ago. (To give you some idea, take George James' X-ray, reduce the bone shards to small "chips" [it was a crushing injury], put a 90 degree turn in the middle of all that, and tear the skin open.)

This was before metal reconstructive components of any kind were used for such repairs as is the standard today. Back then they simply re-aligned things as well as they could, stuck you in a cast (full hip cast for ~1 year for me), and however the "knitting" process "took" is what you got. In my case, my lower leg is noticeably out of alignment with the rest of my body and, to this day, the fibula remains a "non-union" (i.e., there is a permanent & complete gap in its structure).

Yet, when it comes to hiking, it has always been essentially a non-event for me for all these subsequent decades. It barely crosses my mind on any given hike (i.e., no aching, etc.). And for that matter, as a frequent skier, it doesn't even pose a problem for that despite the fact that the ski for that leg turns at a rather pronounced angle from that of the other leg/ski. (For a moment, just picture the two skis pointing in different directions! Talk about bad form when it comes to parallel turns! :lol: And yet, somehow(???), I make it all work & manage to ski even blacks.)

So I have a strong hunch that by next summer (if not sooner) you'll be hiking just like you always have. Good luck and break a leg .... errr, never mind!

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Jay521 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:26 pm

I can only echo what others have written. I've had a couple knee surgeries that kept me off the mountain for a while, but the worst was a ruptured achilles tendon. That's not the worst injury in the world, but I was in my 50's when it happened and one doesn't heal as quickly as one would in their 30's. But I am back on the mountain - in fact, I didn't start doing any class 3 stuff until AFTER my knee and achilles ops.

Keep the faith. Like others have said, if you want to be back on the mountain, you will be back on the mountain. And I am guessing it will occur sooner than you think.

Best of luck to you and please keep us posted on your progress.
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby TallGrass » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:35 pm

awilbur77 wrote:during the process it's sometimes difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Which is when one should stop looking and start walking (figuratively) switching focus to the bricks lining the tunnel which one CAN see*. One brick, two bricks, three bricks, ... keeping moving and the light will take care of itself. Yeah, crapload of bricks, but a 14er is a crapload of steps (and many can't be seen until well into the hike).

Edit: * with regard to light, maybe I should have wrote "CAN feel." :lol: Holy Cross, for one, takes a while before coming into view.
Last edited by TallGrass on Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby ctlee » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:42 pm

What an incredible thread! Injuries that keep you away from the activities that truly make you feel alive are so isolating--it's been inspiring to read all the stories of great comebacks! I'm dealing with annoying minor injuries and after this no longer feel sorry for myself! Awilbur--you can do it! I think that those of us who partake in what my coworkers define as masochistic pursuits aren't really the norm-we tend to push ourselves harder and farther than most. Just an observation from my dealings with my patients at work-and I think most doctor's judge people's ability to heal by the "average" person. Alot of people will do the minimum or nothing at all and hope to get better--other's will bust their asses to get back to the mountains!
Oh--and when I first injured my knee back in October, my ortho doc told me to "Lay off climbing 18ers for awhile! If only, doc--if only! :lol:
Live as if you were to die tomorrow-learn as if you were to live forever-----Mahatma Gandhi
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby ap snow » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:44 pm

You will be ok! I spiral fractured my tib and fib skiing in Argentina. Long story short I came off a 50 foot cliff and overshot my landing (this was in the backcountry outside of Cerro De Cathedral)... I had to crawl miles to get back to the resort (which is a story in itself), where they drove me to a house with a doc and a x-ray machine. They didn't have casting material so we used paper mache to build a cast. I did a natural heal which meant I was zero weight bearing for 10 months and then my ligaments and tendons froze up so I actually didn't walk for over a year! Once I was in a moon boot I started hard PT and I was living in Vail at the time so I had some of the best working on me. Eventually I was back to 100%, the only thing that remained was fear. Which I got rid of over the next couple seasons. Now its just a memory (a pretty bad one) but its remarkable how the body recovers from zero to hero... My suggestions are learn to play the guitar if you don't already know how and use this time to scout your dreams in the mountains. This will keep your motivation high and help get you back in shape etc when its time. Be thankful this happened to you in America :)
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby photog » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:46 pm

In January of 2006, I was hit head on by a drunk driver on Highway 82 near Aspen, CO. It is a miracle that I even survived, but I was severely broken including having my right leg shattered. Like some others on this thread, I was given the may never walk again speech by my doctors. A great deal of healing is a mind over matter process, and I never once doubted that I would fully recover. I could not imagine not being able to raise my children with a life full of adventures. I also had a strong desire to climb mountains again. In fact, it was my desire to climb again and the knowledge of the physicality of the sport that pushed me even harder to rehabilitate my injuries. In the end, I essentially made a full recovery. I have since completed climbing the Fourteeners and also regained the strength to continue to work on a photographic project on the Fourteeners which uses a 4x5 view camera and requires carrying 60 pound plus loads up mountains to my vantage points. Do not under estimate the human spirit. Good luck in your recovery.
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Presto » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:59 pm

What an amazing thread this has turned in to ... I'm getting a bit weepy just reading other people's stories (and putting mine in perspective).

It makes me wish I had posted here when my injury happened, instead of living for months without sharing it except with a few close friends on this site (and "shutting down").

I think I would have bounced back mentally and emotionally quicker had I done so.

Thanks for posting awilbur77 ... I hope this will be as cathartic for you now as it has been in hindsight for me.
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby broncotw » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:34 pm

In 2010, I had double fusion surgery in my cervical spine (C-5/C-6 and C-6/C-7)... Years of competitive water skiing had taken a toll on my neck.... The neurosurgeon went in through the front of my neck and replaced the two (2) dilapidated discs with artificial ones, and then installed two (2) titanium plates with six (6) screws.

I had the same speech by my neurosurgeon -- "that I would have to alter my lifestyle and all"....

I completely recovered and have climbed several 14ers since, I still water ski, run, lift weight, and pretty much do anything I want to...

Hang in there -- you WILL recover and make it back! Keep us posted.....
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Rarefied » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:35 pm

ap snow wrote:I spiral fractured my tib and fib skiing in Argentina ... I had to crawl miles to get back to the resort

Shades of the book/movie "Touching the Void"! :shock:

Speaking of climbing books, I seem to recall one of the mainstream ones describing a legendary 8000 meter mountaineer who had sustained some sort of terrible injury and then had gone on to climb still more ultra-high peaks. I don't recall the specifics now but perhaps someone else does. If I have that right, it might be a good read for the original poster.

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Buckeye-Annie » Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:15 pm

awilbur77 wrote:
Seriously, these stories are awesome. The PMs and emails with heartfelt words of encouragement that I've received are amazing. One thing I've already learned from this injury, is that people on this forum are generally awesome, and caring. It's teaching me that maybe I should be less anti-social in the future.

Thanks to all of you, you've helped me (and likely others) more than words can express.

Keep the stories coming too...

And please keep your story of progress coming as well! I think when you're ready for that first 14er hike you should let everyone here know. If it sounds good to you, we could organize a group hike for all of us "written-off, shattered-boned, and dislocated-jointed, smashed-up adventurers" and join you for a victory summit! \:D/ Of course it's up to you.
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