Recovery from serious injury?

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby lurker » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:03 pm

Late August 2011, I tumbled down Grizzly Peak A, flopping through a rock band. I shattered my kneecap and cracked some ribs.

In the interview with the orthopedic he said "We can do this the hard way, or we can do it the easy way". I told him I did not plan on quitting the hiking and climbing game, so we took the hard way. There were only two pieces of my knee cap big enough to pin together, all the other little fragments the doc had to hand stitch into place and then he installed a wire collar to keep them together. The knee was immobilized for over 2 months.

My low point came while I was still immobilized. Drugged up, bored, unable to move, and uncomfortable resting in any position, all this while my friends were out climbing, made for some bouts of self-pity.

At my first PT session I had to re-learn how to contract my quad muscle. I asked my therapist if he thought I might be ready for late winter ice climbing. He replied that I'd be on crutches through the winter and lucky to walk without a cane by June.

Once I was able to start working on my own progress, I hit PT with a vengeance. Yeah, it hurt. (it still does) It didn't move right (and sometimes still doesn't). For almost a year, the knee/quad would occasionally buckle and could not hold my weight while descending a slope. Stairs were fine, but a grassy slope was treacherous.

It was frustrating, but it was so much better than lying around the house needing my family to wait on me.

By June 2012 I was on Lincoln and Democrat.

The knee still hurts and I ice it almost everyday. But everyday is another day to get a little bit better.
Now, the FEAR thing is the hard one to get over. Just over a year from my accident I was descending Wilson Peak with a few members I met up with and the fear of falling was very tangible. I moved very slowly and surely. I made every step and hand hold firm as I focused on the next step.

Ice climbing this winter was a treat and brought back all the thrills that had been previously muted with experience.

I had to learn to be patient (still working on this one) and somethings are out of my control.
But only I can make me better.

climb high, climb safe
The Mountains are Calling, and I must Go.
--John Muir

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Sugar Madison » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:37 pm

As others have said, the work you put in + your attitude go a LONG way.

I (severely) ruptured my L4/L5 disc last year (and herniated two others). I couldn't walk for weeks... spent 3 weeks lying prone on the floor for 22+ hours a day. Two surgeons said "surgery". One of them said running was basically out of the question, much less running ultras.

I am married to a PT, so I had the advantage of being able to poll many different PTs all over the state and country to find *the best* to lead my rehab. Turns out he was in Brighton, a fair drive away, but worth it. My two goals on initial evaluation: 1. avoid surgery and 2. run the Hardrock 100 again in 2013 (this was in September). He said "no guarantees on avoiding surgery but let's see what we can do... and running isn't what caused this and there's no reason you can't run 100s".

After 4 months of PT (2x week + 2-3 hours a day 7 days a week on my own) I ran again. At 6 months I ran a 34 mile trail race. Today I'm 99% pain free. No surgery. I've learned a TON about the importance of taking care of the stuff that is no fun to take care of: core stabilization, flexibility, etc.

Hang in there and keep us posted on the progress. At the front-end, where you are, it seems hopeless...but 6 months from now, it will be but a memory.

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Johnson » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:14 pm

Sorry to hear about your situation. I have been injured in one way or another for about 3.5 years of the 5 years I've lived out here. It is a real bummer. The above have great stuff to say. Take it slow. All the best.
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. - Psalm 95:4

"I would be doing myself a disservice and every member of this band if I didn't perform the hell out of this." - Gene

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby climbingaggie03 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:18 pm

I can relate, in 2002 I fell 40 feet to the ground while rock climbing. I broke 3 metatarsals, pelvis, my scaphoid and dislocated my wrist. After the helicopter ride, the ICU and 10 days in the hospital, I still couldn't walk for 3 months. The only problems I have now, is a bit of arthritis in my pelvis (I know when it's going to rain) and I lost about 10 degrees of movement in my wrist.

My advice like many others is first take time to heal, don't push things. When the doc gives you the go ahead to start rehab, GO! I was riding a bike before I could walk (less weight to push the pedals than to stand) I still remember hobbling back to my wheelchair and being exhausted after riding 2 miles, within 6 months, I started racing and did 100 mile days whenever I had time.

If it's possible, I think having a Dr that is active and knowledgeable about sports medicine can go a long way.

It takes more work than most people can imagine, every hour of every day is a struggle and every thought is about getting stronger but you can do it.

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby TallGrass » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:55 am

Submit a DR 2219 for a Temporary Handicap Parking Placard (don't drive with it still hanging off the mirror; don't park with it lying on the dash) through your local DMV.
TIP 1: You can often just mail it in and they'll mail them out, FREE, but as your doctor has to sign it...
TIP 2: Often you can get your doctor's office to fax one over, faster and still FREE. Call DMV to verify doc can fax w/o your sig and get name of person who says it's ok; often a non-issue as some disabled can't sign. Good docs will have a copy to fill out, but safe bet is to print one off and take in on first visit to be faxed over before you leave. Many DMVs do what they can to keep the hassle factor as low as possible for these.
It can be used on any motor vehicle used to transport you, even if you aren't the one driving. Looks like CO's max is 90 days (6 mos in KS :-D ), so put a reminder on you phone's calendar to re-apply/new 15-30 days before it expires. Sure makes errands easier when you can only use one crutch (not two, nor a chair) or hop to get to classes.
"I'm just in it for the parking."
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby flylikeabeagle » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:09 am

Wow, I found this thread very motivational. I'm frustrated dealing with a relatively minor hip issue made worse by carrying too much extra weight. Haven't sumitted a 14er in almost 6 yrs. My stories are getting really old. Hoping that will change this summer as I don't want to take my health for granted any more. I still have 19 more 14ers I at least want to attempt! Everyone's stories were so inspiring. All the best in your recovery and thanks for the kick in the rear!
Can we drive any higher?

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Buckeye-Annie » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:19 am

awilbur77 wrote:
Buckeye-Annie wrote: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.

I like this idea, and I will certainly post something when and if I get to thinking of trying a summit. It'll likely be summer by then though.

Just don't rush or push recovery to do this before it's the right time. In your initial post, you asked for "Hope" and it seems you've already received an abundance of that. Looking forward to hearing about your progress!
The measure of a person's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
Life as a Wild Child

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby DenneyR » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:06 am

I had a similar injury after a slip on La Plata 4 years ago. Broken fibula and torn ligaments, 8 screws and a plate. Slow recovery but I was back running in about 6 months.......walking without a boot in about 3 months I tried to post a pic but can't make it work

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:29 am

I clicked on this thread expecting to see a badly sprained ankle. They say sprains and tears are worse than breaks. ...... but you did both. Bummer. I'm sure the break will heal, the quesion is the tendons. All I can share is the recovery time and strengthening will be lengthy. Took me a full year to recover from just having a really bad sprain years ago, but 100 % ever since. Once therapy starts (and first get good reccomendations before choosing a therapist), be diligent. Recognize the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain".
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby awilbur77 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:42 am

Wish I lived in CO wrote:I clicked on this thread expecting to see a badly sprained ankle. They say sprains and tears are worse than breaks. ...... but you did both. Bummer. I'm sure the break will heal, the quesion is the tendons. All I can share is the recovery time and strengthening will be lengthy. Took me a full year to recover from just having a really bad sprain years ago, but 100 % ever since. Once therapy starts (and first get good reccomendations before choosing a therapist), be diligent. Recognize the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain".

Yep, upon my most recent visit to the doc, he now wants me out of a cast a bit earlier just to start PT asap. He says the biggest risk is not the broken bones, but rather all the torn ligaments and soft tissue in the ankle. So, now I'm supposedly getting the cast off early April, but still have to be non-weight bearing as I start PT and probably have a "walking" boot, and still using crutches at that point. Doc's trying to walk the fine line of immobility to stablize bones, and mobility to help rehab torn ligaments in the ankle.

Many people are betting on 6 months to a year recovery. At work, they're taking bets on when I'll be back on a summit. A lot of people are guessing around September. My hopes are much more aggresive than that, but I know I don't want to risk re-injury either.

So how does one tell between "good pain" and "bad pain" during PT / rehab anyway?

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Teresa Gergen » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:48 am

awilbur77 wrote:So how does one tell between "good pain" and "bad pain" during PT / rehab anyway?

One thing I noticed was that physical recovery often happened in sudden leaps. You couldn't do the next step, day after day, and then suddenly one morning you'd wake up and you could just feel it, something was drastically better and you could do what you couldn't the day before.

Rehab pain was the same thing. Some pain you just knew you could push, and it would be good. Some pain you just knew was going to do damage if you pushed it.

You will end up knowing your ankle and leg very, very well.

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby DaveSwink » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:04 am

awilbur77 wrote:So how does one tell between "good pain" and "bad pain" during PT / rehab anyway?

After a relatively clean fibula break just above my ankle, I went into rehab/therapy determined to tough out the pain and recover as quickly as possible. I was surprised and alarmed by how painful the therapy exercises were on an ongoing basis. The exercises and stretching consistently felt as though my leg was being pushed to far, into damaging motions. I had a couple of "break-through" exercise moments when my ankle experienced sharp pain and made terrible noises (breaking a stalk of celery?) :shock: , but I immediately gained significant new range of motion.

In short, I would suggest if rehab is hurting more than you expected and more often than feels right, you are probably doing it correctly. That is a bit scary since I usually like "if it feels right, you are doing it right" guidance.


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