Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Well a small scare yesterday.  I was changing pants for dinner plans... thought it would be nice not to wear the typical work-out clothing...and noticed my right quad was swollen.  Like, twice the size of the left.  

My sister-in-law happened to fly home with me from my first airline travel from Boston and was also concerned.  I had just finished an hour of therapy on the Locomat (one of the fancy machines where I am walking on a treadmill with technology).  The day prior I had done 2 hours of standing and electrical stimulation, that was also my first day back at PT.  I had taken a week off to fly to Boston for an American Alpine Club fancy gala/dinner and to visit my brother.  While I swam 2 of the days in Boston and had a great stretch session one day, I think I was a little more still.  Flying, as a paraplegic, does have potential to give us blood clots.  We aren't able to jiggle our legs, stand up, stretch em out.  Our artery's and veins also have potential to shrink, as we aren't moving our legs so blood flow is low through the anyway.
Thursday night, I went to the ER.  They ultra-sounded my leg.  I had a blood clot in my upper right thigh.  Perhaps from the flying.  
Today, Friday, I started a new tradition of taking blood thinners!  WOOT WOOT! :)  Bah, more drugs to take, more side-effects that are frustrating.  I took pride in being a healthy person who was body aware.  This injury is frustrating in that I can't feel, I don't know...and I have to pay attention even closer.  
The leg is still quite swollen, which stresses me out.... there isn't much room for it to grow bigger and I don't like the idea of permanent effects this may cause.  Like damage to my vein, causing a more chronic condition.  WOWZERS.

On that note.  Here are some pictures of the event all dressed up and maybe a video of airport fun.
Nose Record Holders

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Pancake flop

Too real, too honest.  I just feel like I am a burden, a giant pile of complaints.

Just had another transition moment.

I don't think I am fully depressed but life moments keep gleaming straight at me.  Moved over to my friend Caroline's house.  She lives in Denver, only a 20 minute drive or so from Craig Hosptial.  I wanted to stay close to Craig continuing PT and one-on-one therapies for the next 2 months rather intensely.  I visit Estes Park, see my backyard and my kitchen about once a month.

I miss home.  I miss the ease of life I took for granted.

The transition is difficult for multitude of reasons.  The climbing ranger Job posting is about to be released via the government interwebs.  The team is in communication with one another, as they should be, but I feel left out.  I am no longer capable of performing the job that I freekin' loved.  The National Park is trying their best to get me back into the mix, but unfortunately as with Government work there is not a job description to fulfill the tasks I am capable.  I can do administrative work, dispatch work, or even work in the wilderness permit office.  I am toying with those ideas but would really love to create that job description and work towards continuing the work I was doing.

I know I can't go into the field to do Search and Rescue but I am very capable of the performing Incident Command staff work in the office.  There are many tasks that fall to the way-side, especially during the summer months, that I could continue to do in the Ranger Division.  Not to mention the work I would love to continue with the Climbing Concessions, the Rocky Mountain National Park now allows 6 companies to guide technical climbing.  I was working with the companies and guides, trying to develop a better relationship between for-profit and National Parks, instilling better Leave no Trace climbing ethics, developing stewardship days, clean-ups etc.   Alas, this particular work was just some of my duties as a climbing ranger, something I think I could continue doing if a position existed.  It doesn't in Rocky.

Bitch moan, bitch moan, bitch gripe.

I try to reel in the negative tone and realize the great things.....

So, I have been putting out the feelers on other work.

I have been swimming 2 times a week at local recreation centers.  Swimming is nice, gets my heart moving but it certainly is different.  Hopefully I will find biking to be joyous, with hand cranks and all.

I wonder about joy still.  I cry at the silliest things; missing my bed, sad at the home decorating I was in the middle of.....

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sunshine, lollipops and Rainbows.

As I jumbled about the bathroom this afternoon, in the silence of rare alone time, I heard the distant ticking of a watch.  This watch is tucked away in my toothbrush bag by the sink.  I have scrounged over the watch for years...to hear it meant I was quiet, it was quiet!  This persistent ticking machine belongs to Andrew Barnes, the man I dated who died in the Black Canyon in 2013.

I pause to listen, to take a breath.  Thoughts flood my brain of still being here, of him not.

Tick - tick - tick

The lightening bolt tingle in my hips jolts me out of the day dream.  I palm down onto wheelchair wheels and push up letting my frail bottom half hang and stretch.

I wheel over to my computer, here we are now!  

Self-esteem is low some days.    Daily the struggle to keep my head above the water is a challenge. In this moment, I remember how I grieved for Andrew, his untimely vanishing from our world.  I wondered, back then, if I would climb the same.  If I would love the same.  How could I possibly find a love, a connection again like Andrew?  The timing to give my love, myself to them and vice-versa needed to be perfect.  As months passed, adventures distracted but heart and mind did mend slowly.  Timing did seem to align eventually.  I meet and fell in love again with Max, as distant or unfathomable as that seemed in the beginning.  

Here I am again, faced with self-esteem dropping realities.  Learning to grieve again, to put faith in timing and life circumstance is incredibly overwhelming.  With my injury, I don't have the ease of distracting runs through the hills or type two fun on far flung alpine mountains.  My mind is churning with irrational impatient newbie thoughts.  

Will the world offer another willing to be my partner?  You nod as you read, or scoff at my thoughts.  But wait, I am in a wheelchair!  I know it doesn't change WHO I am, but it does a little bit.  I am a gal who couldn't sit still, who's self-esteem and morale was dependent on whether I had movement in my day.  I KNOW I can still move, but the joy is gone.  (for now, I know.)  
BUT, right now, in this moment, in this day, in this week, for this month....I do not feel the same.  My legs which took me to the top of mountains, ran me across desert lands, and biked me over sick gnar terrain, they are unresponsive.  The 5'5 slender, yet quadzilla legs carried my ideal body image of competent, capable, independent and beautiful.  It is what made me attractive to others, my ability to keep up, to push your comfort levels physically, to challenge you mentally....because we were doing them together.  

Now I cannot. 

Yes, I am still capable of pushing, challenging physically and mentally but....

I am fully aware of how lucky I am to type with my hands, breath a big breath on my own, and damn lucky to have a brain that works minus zero deficits, well..... :)

I still love myself and know that if I am patient and let time pass that things will feel better.  I may never walk again but golly I hope to find myself attractive, find joy in work and each day.   Miracles do happen, maybe even another will find me to be attractive again....to share adventures and snuggles. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Debbie Downer Day routine

Last week I was surrounded by so many, this week it has dwindled.  I have oodles of friends in my corner, creating events, helping raise money for my stupid accident.  People donating and even strangers reaching out to me.  I am lucky, I am filled with gratitude yet......

all of these amazing things, I feel so incredibly alone. 

I wake up alone.  I grab my shirt and bra for the day from my wheelchair, pre-placed the night before and put them on while laying down.  I then grab some pre-placed slippers to gently shove on my flaccid legs.  My achilles tendon is definitely showing some shortening, as my ankle and foot just lay with gravity mostly pointing. 

I lay on my side facing my wheelchair.  I grab my skinny saggy legs, letting them droop over the side of the bed as I muster myself upwards to a sitting position.  I have no pants on, yet.  Often I get a little lightheaded when I first sit up, my blood pressure is generally pretty low but since this accident it is even lower. 

 I lean over gingerly to sort my feet and ankles.  They take some coaxing to get them into position on my wheelchairs foot plate.  Usually my left ankle is rolled slightly outward, no longer having the tone to sit flat and strong.  I fiddle one hand on my wheelchair seat and the other rolled into a fist on my bed in preparation.  I am to push up with my arms to facilitate my butt hopping from one place to the next.  Sometimes I pop successfully without dragging my naked ass across the wheel of my chair.  Technically I should lean forward a bit, but I shy from committing as much as I should because I am afraid of tipping over and face planting the floor. 

Once in my chair, I wheel about my room grabbing breakfast supplies and sorting other morning routine items.  Once finished I head to the bathroom to pop over onto a toilet.  This pop over doesn't seem as cruxy, perhaps because I am moving over to a firm surface.  This morning task now takes me about 1/2 hour or so, if I am lucky. 

Hopefully after having success in the bathroom, I continue getting ready for the day.  Next is putting on pants, shoes and socks all while sitting in my wheelchair. 

The day continues, I go to some classes at Craig, I eat lunch, I pee around 12 or 1.  The afternoon has me continuing with classes, eating dinner, peeing again.  Peeing isn't the simple toilet task anymore.  I bump my hips to the lip of my wheel chair, slip my pants down to my knees, prop a mirror on my legs and use a catheter with a bag attached.  It takes a little more time then normal and pulling my pants back up fully,  exposing plummer crack the rest of the day is a valid concern   

If I have visitors, we visit.  Usually they are friends or co-workers.  I enjoy every single visitor,  sharing laughter and memories.  Depending on the company we either hash out my demons or distract from my woes.  When I am by myself I sometimes run the events of my accident through my head.  Mostly I dwell on feeling alone.  I wonder often, how I have gotten to be the age of 37 without a life partner.  Even as I type I know its not fully true, but it is hard to see the sunshine right now with things how they are.  Lots of loss.

How inspiring is that?  How inspiring am I?  Now I am in a wheelchair and my self esteem is shot to shit.  Marriage and mountain summits seem like a distant little girl dream. 

Eventually, I brush my teeth.  I tiredly pop myself back to bed, sometimes more of a face roll onto the bed as I my triceps are tired from the day. 

The routine, for now, includes setting my alarm for 1130pm and 530 am.  These times are for catheterizing myself in bed.   I do some internet reading on spinal cord injuries, while my hips electrically tingle and feet zing.  When my alarms ring I do my deed and flop my legs over to the other side of the bed, snagging sheets as I toss them clear of body parts.  Rolling over is a chore but needs to happen a few times a night to prevent bed sores, disgusting and dangerous bed sores.  Eventually I hope to sleep through the night except a few timed turns...no more peeing. 

At 7 am a hospital tech comes in to take my blood pressure and greet my eyes to a new day. 

When she leaves I am still alone.  I start the process all over again.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mind over Matter

I don't have anything that exciting.  The two wiggle was dormant for a few days but then came back yesterday.   The movement is a little bigger then it use to be, the knuckle moves and you can see a twitch in the ball of the foot also.  Big toe on the other side also wiggles, but they kinda wanna wiggle together.  I am not sure what that means?  Maybe if I learn to walk again it means I will just be someone who hops?  I am okay with that! 
Still struggling a bit with my routine here.  Feeling I am not doing enough or that not enough is available to me. 

OH!  I do have something exciting.  The whole freeking climbing community and Estes Park community is crushing!  The support I am receiving is incredible.  I have had so many strangers reach out and share their experiences with becoming and living as a parapalegic.  A co-worker in RMNP reminded me of a former badass employee at Rocky who was bound to a wheelchair.  This man, Michael Smithson, climbed with Micheal Donahue (Colorado Mountain School before it was CMS) up to the top of Longs.  He used a horse to get to the boulderfield where he camped then craweled his own ass up snow up the North Face of Longs Peak. 
"To protect Michael Smithson legs from sharp rocks, as he dragged himself up the mountain, his legs were wrapped with a piece of fiberglass and plastic (think of those old flexible plastic sleds). As he crossed the Boulderfield, Michael had to crawl on his belly and drag his legs behind him until the terrain steepened at the base of the North Face. Michael hauled himself up the north face of Longs Peak using only his arms! It was extraordinary. When he encountered snow, he used crampons, or metal spikes on his hands to grip into the ice."

Talk about INSPIRING!!!!!!!!  Thank you community, friends, strangers,

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Best at Exercising....

Have any of you watched East Bound and Down?  Either way, type in the journal entry title and watch the clip.  Its quite funny.  

I am rounding out my second week here at Craig.  Its been neat, yet I am not fully challenged in the way that I want. 

I am challenged in that, this is how it is now.  The focus as an inpatient here is on daily life skills.  It makes total sense, as I need to learn some life skills over again.  Particularly bowel, bladder and just getting in and out of the bed or rolling over in it.  I was more hopeful for some attention to the legs...give muscle memory, brain memory, nerve firings and the placebo affect all an early chance.  I know my spinal cord was in a wreck but there is science behind the mind doing things, to the nerves finding a way, to recovery happening to people who were told "never."  

I did arrive here already ahead of the curve, having been incredibly lucky with my injury considering and having athletic ability.  

Going forward I am advocating and hopeful for opportunities regarding physical therapy.  I am also soaking in and trying hard with the skills they are throwing my way.  

My immediate needs to feel more confident and independent and ready to leave here without face planting in the shower are;
the ability to roll myself at night.  bed sores are a serious and scary concern.
the ability to move confidently from my wheelchair to and from the toilet/a bathroom shower chair.  (seriously kinda sketchy)
the graceful set up of bathroom needed items in my home bathroom and nearby bed
learning to get in and out of cars
learning to drive
figuring out a little more of my "life"  Confusing with house and living situation occupies some of my brain.  I would rather spend that time trying to wiggle my toes.  Speaking of which they are not as excitable as they were last week.  I wonder why?  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Honesty ... for now

I am.
I am so many things.

I am frustrated, sad, regretful, pissed, confused, pissed-- pissed again.  Sometimes I am depressed, wonder if I should be here.  Its true.  Its sad.  Especially given our communities recent crazy-in-our- face losses and near misses.  We have all dealt with loss, I guess this loss is one I am unfamiliar with coupled with the terrible losses we are familiar with.

These thoughts are not generally my demeanor.  Here we are now.

I laugh, hard core belly chuckles.

I have snorted again.  Will I handstand again?

I can't believe that this is where I am at.  My decision to not fully listen to myself.  My decision to push it a little bit, reflecting back, push it for me even.  I told Josie I wanted to try hard this day, get us closer to our projected/needed time for future endeavors.

I usually place 2 cams and crack jummar up the Boot Flake.  Free climbing some, back cleaning the whole thing but using cams.  This day, once through the techy start, I used one red camelot attached to my daisy.   I even removed it for a minute and thought, "I shouldn't do that."  A few minutes later I fell.  No memory yet of the exact moment.  Obviously a failure.

I hesitated climbing off of Texas Flake, feeling a little off.  My decision to drive to Yosemite given the end of my work season at RMNP,  my woes with climbing and personal life.  Karla told me I shouldn't' "run away" to Yosemite.  My body wanted to go to Indian Creek and just soak up some sun.  Go mountain biking and running.   I promised people I would come to Yosemite, I booked campsites, my ego wanted to see about certain ideas I had been scheming.  EGO needed to keep pushing.


I don't know if I will stand on top of Longs Peak again.  I loved my job as a climbing ranger, my co-workers and my easy comfortable amazing lifestyle.

Will I ever walk hand in hand with Max again...WALK hand in hand. BE with MAX?  Live a life without diapers and worrying about shitting in the middle of the night because I have no control?

I am not used to leaning on others.  Nor do I like it.  Asking for help, like for the rest of my life?  I have never been in the hospital.  I liked living simply and under the radar.  Bills, future needs like changing my car so I can drive it without usable legs, remodeling my home so I can shower and shit or moving to a home that is more conducive.  It is beyond the scope of Quinn Brett's desire for a simple existence.  For now.

I keep saying that phrase lately.  For now.

Work, what will I do for work?  Will the National Park Service have me and help me create something meaningful?  Will Remote Medical and I continue to meld a solution?  Will I be able to write for money, public speak for money?  What about my Dovetail Retreats and desire to keep pushing others to their limits mentally and physically, inspire them.

Thought I would share something.  Its not the usual positive "I got this" sort of vibe.  Sorry for that.  I am tearful every day but laugh everyday.

Tomorrow I leave Modesto and head to the Craig Hospital in Denver.

I am scared.

I am sorry.

I am overwhelmed.

I am incredibly appreciative to everyone for their support, monetarily and emotionally.  I need every last one of you and can't keep on without you.  Please keep me in your thoughts, text me, email me, reach out.  Strangers and friends alike.  I need you all.