Monday, January 21, 2019

once in a lifetime

Frank's beer of choice for San Diego Saturday afternoon. :)
Summer of 2013 while on an expedition in Greenland, I lost a friend and I lost a love, Annie Rooney and Andrew Barnes.
I spent the remainder of that year distracting myself with climbing and traveling.  I dove into the Bugaboos, the desert and journeyed to the far away Torres Valley in Southern Patagonia for the first time.  I put up first ascents, I ran a few triathlons and even managed to make it to the summit of Fitz Roy.  I thought if I exerted myself physically it would quite the chatter in the mind, the tears in my eyes and the heaviness in my heart.  It seemed to work.

After spreading Andrews ashes and giving a little summit dance on top Fitz Roy with Jens, Sam, Luke, Clay and Chad, we all made for a descent into town with plans to fill our bellies with beer and empanadas.

Chad took his last breath on that mountain, not far from the summit where we had all just been.

I returned home even more confused.  How and why did these incredible humans leave us so abruptly?  So young, capable and incredible.

I returned to Colorado but not for long.  I didn't feel settled.   I went on a road trip spring of 2014, calling it my Precious People Tour.  I visited friends and family in the west.  Some of the stops were to rock climb and visit friends in those special places, mostly single pitch shenanigans in Indian Creek and Joshua tree, Index and Skaha.  Primarily, I wanted to spend time with people that melted my heart---- past and present.  Good friends from climbing community, Andrew friends that were "family," and those friends that had nothing to do with climbing or perpetual movement.  It was special.  I cried (as I have a tendency to do).  Hugs were shared (asses were groped I am sure).  Laughs and memories illuminated campfires.  Andrew's ashes dusted deserts and pines and ocean and snowy summits.
Libby and I on a Lake Mead bike tour, Matt photo.

 I was single.  I was capable.  I thought I was sorting my heart, my desires, my intentions.  At the end of that road trip I got a call from Rocky Mountain National Park offering my dream job of a climbing ranger.  I had applied for 3 years.  Hell yes!
I took the job.  I met a man (on my trip, bathrooms of Indian Creek we joked).  I fell in love again.  My life was swelling with good things.

Things deflated.  Quickly.  Relationship.Legs.Work.Simple life.

Death and hardship affects us all differently.  It has lasting affects, usually learning through sadness results in actual learning and growth.  I ran into the mountains, I surrounded myself with people I loved.  Now, as I sit...I realize that instead of looking inward I distracted outwardly.  The title of my blog is :look up stand still breath: for god's sake.  I was trying to remind myself to slow down because I knew movement seemed to work but didn't actually allow things to sink.

Here we are now,  I have sliced through to deeper layer.  More work.  More hardship, without the ease of movement.  Its mind-boggling.  It is hard.  I know I will get there.  I know it takes time.

I write all this because five years have past.  I think about Andrew, Chad, Lara, Annie, Tim, Jason, Marc, Ryan, Hayden, Inge, Neils, Jonny, Micah, Bean, Kyle, Scott, Carlyle, David, Bernadette, Alina, Anna, Quinn...... (so many more).  Lives have ended.  Health has changed.  I am on the road again, in the same westward direction visiting many of some of the same folks.  Instead of climbing and running through the land, I am more of an observer.  Different lens, same motivations.  To see the world, to heal the heart, to give and receive love.  I know our learning and growth is slow, contingent upon experience and sometimes there is just a way to the world out of our control but how can I do better?  How can I listen, learn and grow without attachment or judgment?  Who was I before and what are my expectations of myself or others that this is so challenging? 

Maybe you are already there?

all tow, no hands.  Power assist for the steep uphills and speed checking Matt on the downhills.  




Monday, January 7, 2019

Take yourself into the wormhole........PLEASE!


you can see how skinny the legs are....quadzilla's gone.



I was driving up today (now a week ago) from my weekly "Denver Day" extravaganza.  I still do Physical Therapy at Craig.  If I have time in my day, lately I have been adding onto my schedule a "walking" session in an Exoskeleton.

Today, I "walked". 

After wards I had a CT scan, blood work and some other finishing work for a clinical trial I started participating in while I was still an inpatient at Craig.  The study gives either a placebo or a drug they think might help slow down the impending Osteoporosis that us Spinal Cord Injury folk are plagued with. 
We sit. 
Our muscles don't squeeze the bone.  Two things that go against our bones natural tendency to rejuvenate.  Today.  I learned that one year out, I have lost 25% bone density in my knees and upwards of 30% in my pelvis.  The 30% could be more.  My right side shows, during a DEXA scan, that it is considerably.....fucked up.  Either the machine wasn't reading appropriately because of a Heterotopic Ossification that I acquired March 1 of this year (blood clot).  The suggested inaccurate reading could be because my proximal femur has this lovely baseball sized mass.  An extra and inappropriate growth of bone in my soft tissue.  It butts up right to my pelvis.  In the DEXA it looks like it is touching would explain the crunching crepitus sound in my hip joint when I bend over at the waist (while sitting in my chair or on the ground).  It also could explain why in the last 2 months my right hip has been popping, like when you crack your finger knuckles. 
A loud and unpleasant, unnerving sound. 

So that was my day.  Emotionally a little draining.  The healthy athletic person doesn't want bones that are just shriveling up so fast.  I liked taking care of my body.  Too bad my mind wasn't on the same page a year ago. 

There are things on my list of "To-Do" that have been there for awhile.  People reach out....I get busy with shit and don't respond.   I also have a hard time FINDING your message, as most are on Facebook or Instagram and the search tool won't let me find you with "key words" of our conversation.  PHOOEY.  

I am also terrible at asking for help, when I clearly could use some.  SO.....HERE WE GO!!!!  I could use some help with random tasks.....

1.) I have been trying to call for a second opinion on my Spine.  I have a bone chip in my dura (at least from my vague memory and doctors conversations within the first couple of weeks.)  Why wasn't removed on initial surgery?  Is that causing nerve pain? Suggestions of second opinions I can reach out to?

2.) Help with the house building process.  Advice mostly, if you have experience on loan process for land/building, rolling it over.... hiring a contractor, recycled materials, design? 

3.) Hip pads for biking.  I don't need butt pads but pads on my hips!!  Company who makes?

5.) Out of order but remembering.... CAD people, Welding peeps, scheming peeps!!! 

Scheming 2 rigs;

a.) To climb the First Flatiron. A light weight contraction that firmly holds the legs in a vertical—meaning not much bend in my hips, almost like a slight squat position with knees slightly bent. Knee pads (or something light that protects the knees, shins and feet). Feet are in a more flexed position.  Check out @madmanpoole and his ice climbing rig.  

Perhaps a single pole or tubing better. Maybe a seat —maybe legs with firm soft cuffs that go around mid thighs and mid calf to hold leg in place?  Wheels. Like rollerblade wheels. Probably one on outside of each knee and one between feet. Or vice versus. Either way 2 somewhere for stability. Would be best to have them one way rotating (autostop mechanism) so when rolling/draggin up the cliff it turns. When paused or stop it locks and does not roll the opposite way (sending me back down wards). 

b.) Backcountry skiing. Mono ski, probably a ski with fish scales to help backward slippage when pushing uphill. Tyler has poles with skins or something on bottom. That would work or crampon claws or something that can then be quick released off and the replaced with the traditional outriggers for down hill. Basically a mono ski set up to sit in but lighter?  Legs out in front slightly bent (knees above hips better for balance, a little dump in the seat but ergonomic for skinning up. Check out @tbone_walker

4.) HELP, educating yourself.  As it helps all of US!  Yes, we are sitting but we aren't just sitting; UTI, Pressure sores, often not a contributing workerbee, a bazillion other complications racking into the healthcare system.  Imagine not being able to breath on your own, move your hands.... 
Being an advocate.  There are 250K of us in the U.S.  More each year, car accidents, disease, athletes etc...  How can we do this advocacy thing together?  Help creating longer lasting relationships with companies, researchers, funding opportunities......so it isn't just a one time thing, so research can keep growing, learning and pushing.... just like us :)

Getting science to collaborate ?  I am sure many are, as I am a newbie and just beginning this strong headedness on Spinal Cord Injury but there is SOOOOO much happening. 

Stem cells (need ALOT more work)  
NoGo Trap, and here too  
Epidural Stimulation (all the rage in NY times and CNN and, and, and, and but Medtronic has been making the technology for ages...needs an update.  Like Zach Morris phone compared to Iphone10!  Also some of these people had movement, "incomplete"injury, I am "complete".  What does that shit mean?  
Transcutaneous sTimulation.... non invasive...not as much hype as Epidural.
Gene Therapy (I am just delving into reading this stuff)

MOST HELPFUL FREE RESOURCE (It is simple well written and interesting.)

Cool shit thats happening; 
Yippee to our archaic modes of transportation 


Thank you.  If you have reached out to me before.  Please try me again!  













Friday, November 23, 2018

Bah Humbug.



I am struggling.

I have been bound by legs that are unmoving for 13 months now. 

Forgiveness is a far flung hope. (yes, i have tried CBD, THC, counseling, fasting, diet, movement, essential oils, herbal remedies and conventional pharmaceuticals.....).

Trying to hold patience for the passing of time.  Selfishly, I wish for a time machine to reverse it.  

Every morning I see my wheelchair by my bedside and am reminded of the gravity of my personal decision making....or lack there-of.  

I have described my regret for how things panned out last fall before; from wishing I would have spoken to my needs and desires in personal relationships more clearly....instead of "being cool" because I didn't want to rock the boat or scare anyone off or because I felt obligated.  I wasn't truly paying attention to the person that I am definitely stuck with for the long haul.

Me.

I do still feel like my blog is bitching, maybe it is.  Maybe I have swung from a non-complainer to a full-complainer.  Finding my balance, yeah?

Truth be told, I am learning, I was embarrassed to admit to myself or others my ACTUAL wants and desires.

I still struggle with this but with so much emotional and physical pain it is just easier to say what I need, rather then sugar coating it or sucking it up....like I used to.  I do not forgive the past life.  The self work I thought I was doing, my attempts to infect others with a love for nature, trying hard, moving with passion, and working on self.

I spoke out to others, actually trying to teach and infect myself.  I struggled feeling beautiful, measuring up to self-derived expectations.

I miss running.  I miss standing up.  I miss playing and my playful attitude.  I miss being easy going and carefree.  I miss feeling healthy.  I stress my health.   My hips and legs are disgusting, skinny and frail.  I have a layer of body fat, that I don't particularly enjoy because it means I haven't been running or getting cardio...which means my lungs are out of shape which means my heart is out of shape.

The athlete in me feels pathetic.  The intelligent rational brain is exhausted. The extravagant adventure stories are now more in the mind, rather then physical endeavors. 

Heavy shit.  I still get up every morning.  


Sunday, September 23, 2018

An endurance climbing week.

(I wrote this August 2017 but didn't post until 9/2018)  .....


































Dudes have climbed some link-ups.  I desired to do something similar but different.  While I do have some first female ascents and female speed records, the media perceives these accomplishments differently.  They do.
So, I wanted to run around because I fucking love running around and because I kind of enjoy the meticulous nature of scheming and planning.  In 2015, I schemed a valley run around.  Inspired by many before me.  Bill Wright, Hans Florine, Chris Reveley, Harry Kent, Timmy O'Neil and Alex Honnold....to name a few, dudes.  

Summit of Washington Column
I asked a friend, she said yes.  She also became injured and tried to pull through....it wasn't worth it.  I begged Libby, she travels too much.  So I put it on the back burner.  I could find a dude to do it with, or find multiple partners but I really just wanted one female partner.  I asked a few but was hesitant.  This mission requires a level of boldness and competency.  Big walls shenanigans, efficient 5.10 climbing and confident 5.11 climbing.   In addition, you gotta hike efficiently with heavy packs after already big days in your week, and you have to laugh and be a bit strong headed....complaints are for later.
Great Roof!



I asked Josie Mckee.  She said yes.  

Alex Honnold and Dave Allfrey climbed 7 El Cap routes in 7 Days....a spin on this sounded fantastic!  The old Yosemite Big Wall book lists 8 BigWalls in the valley; El Capitan, Half Dome, Watkins, Lost Arrow, Leaning Tower, Liberty Cap, Ribbon Falls Wall and Washington Column.  Since I had planned this mission for May of 2015, when Lost Arrow is closed, I had my weeks worth, 7 walls.  When I mentioned it to Josie we both agreed that Ribbon Falls Wall, although fun, seemed a little out of the loop and I had always wanted climb Lost Arrow spire.  So we swapped the two and loosely made plans.   

I arrived to Yosemite Valley on October 2nd.  The weather was glorious, emotions we positive.  Josie and I didn't know each other very well, but have many mutual friends and a one outing in the mountains of Patagonia together.  I have struggled with partners in the past, and sometimes still do.  I am not the strongest of free climbers but I do consider myself to be lung oriented.  I almost would rather ski uphill and feel the iron blood taste in my mouth, then I would ski down hill, thighs burning.  I work in Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer months, ie, I run around at altitude all summer long.  I also have a pension for long-long days of movement.  I grew up swimming, running, biking, focusing on endurance and splits.  Climbing hard came second (which I have a growing fondness for).

Half Dome...diving board above
I digress.  I don't sit still, endurance sports are neat.  Running around the Valley sounded awesome.  Josie agreed and I believed she was a good match.  Some partners climb really hard but aren't as much into pushing their lungs.  Some are great at running around but don't have the big wall experience to swing around or confidence to cam hook, heel hook, into free moves.  Some like to suffer a little bit, then complain a lot a bit.   I like to giggle and snort but I also can be serious and lack confidence.  The perfect partner was someone who pushed me but allowed me to push them too.  You know those two teachers in school that were total contrast of one another?  One you just didn't connect to, despite their best efforts in praise or scolding or whatever it was.  Their delivery just didn't work.  Opposing, there was a teacher who you did connect with, pushed you, praised you and you were receptive.  Climbing partners work like that.  Mostly, to be honest.  I am a spaz and wish everyone would move faster hiking, on simul-climbing terrain (under 5.10) and at transitions.  They all wish I climbed harder and quit freeking out about our perceived pace.  

It was a fabulous adventure.  We were both tired on day 4, but I thrive sometimes in that perfect balance of tired but someone needs my support more then I need rest AND we have this awesome objective, so lets be supportive of one another!!  

By day 7 the rhythm was set.  I honestly felt I could have kept climbing.  Tired yes, but I wasn't maxed out.    Granted we joked about climbing the 8th big wall, Ribbon Falls, but opted to drink and hang with our friends by the campfire.  We hadn't hung out in a week.  We were so focused.  Climb.  Sort the rack, take care of personal hygiene (super important); soak feet and hands in river, shower, wash feet, wash face etc.  Then it was pack for the next day, drink a beer, make or eat dinner (the dudes were super helpful in this regard), go to bed, do it again.  



Saturday, September 1, 2018

judging





























Yup.  Life continues.  How crazy a phenonmenon!  To have been so quickly, so easily "lights-out."  I knew, we know, life is precious but to take and HAVE the time to reflect upon this scenario is wild.
I would not have known taking my last breath.

I did not want to end.

I was gaining pride in my body at 36 (finally), foolishly and highly critical of belly fat, fueling my need to exercise.   I was settling into my house, painting, gardening and even researching building a new home--shipping container or straw bale.  I had made sacrifices for my relationships, I had stopped teaching month long EMT courses in Seattle area, shortened climbing trips or planned them with my radical partner, even put some solo or bigger lady expeditions on the back burner.   At the end of last summer season, I was contemplating quitting the climbing ranger position, in part due to the sogginess of my romantic relationship, as well as, my personal/vocational goals.

Life continues to evolve.  Here we are now.







Hindsight is a muther truckin beotch.  I should not have driven to Yosemite, I should-coulda changed many behaviors in the month prior to my accident.  I should have stood-up, spoken up and listened up to myself.  I still feel like an idiot, a selfish- driven- fool, and now an unattractive cripple!  Yea, I am fully aware how lucky I am....but my trauma is my own, as silly as it seems.  Same as whatever you got going on, its all yours as mundane as it may be.  No one can take it away or diminish it.  The questions is, how do we deal with it?  How do we move on?

I don't have the answer to these questions.  I also don't feel like I get a free pass because of my continuous emotional and physical pain....I should still try hard.

Yup.  I am negative.  Yup.  I am in pain.  Yup.  I can't feel when I have to pee or my legs....aside from the constant dissociative nerve pain.  Yup, I can't run in the mountains like I used to.  I can still make a mean banana bread, skunk you in a game of cribbage, engage in a meaningful conversation, support loved ones, enjoy wine and sunsets, paddle board, kayak, and bike across wilderness.  I can do things.  I just hope that I haven't isolated myself from too many people with my negative attitude.  I get so pissy when people ask, "you live alone?" or when they stare or call me inspirational for wheeling on a dirt path.   

We are all dealing with something.  Who I am to judge?  If only I could transpose that thought into my undesirable self-image or my feeling like a failure.   True friendships and relationships, with others and ourselves, go beyond the physical realm.  So easy to say, I knew this before...but clearly wasn't putting valuable time and effort there.  How do we treat ourselves with compassion?  Truly?   




Saturday, July 28, 2018

July ....Currently...





Lets see.  Update.   My mood today is mellow. Surprising, as I have been quite angry lately. I am settling into a life rhythm of everyday pain, streaks of loneliness, dabbles of laughter and a 'critical dis-satisfaction of routine.'   

I receive some random but INCREDIBLY kind emails from strangers.  I received one last night that made me laugh.  Thank you.  I am going to share a quote from it......

"My fear is that I might say the wrong thing or too cliche. Yet when I was mulling over, I considered if I were in your shoes, what would I need? The answer, I don’t fucking know, but probably love, support, a handful of bumbling idiots that mean well, one of those friends that is wildly optimistic that you really appreciate but often consider punching in the face, and an actual punching bag."

All of that is true.  

My intentions were to share things about Spinal Cord Injury...I guess I can and still delve further into the feelings mentioned above.


Pain.  Well, to start, physical pain.  It feels like if I were wearing low-rise jeans that are on fire but also compress my legs like a refrigerator.  I am burning all-day-every-day.  When you see me sitting in my chair across the room smiling.....I am also burning and in pain.  Some days it is a 3/10.  Other days it is 7-8/10.  Those days I am obviously more irritable.  

Mental pain.  That is a fucked up one.  I am angry right now.  Angry I went to Yosemite.  Backing into that hindsight of my mood driving out there....heart and mind confused.  I shouldn't have left Estes Park this fall.  I was in the mood to trail run.  I was in the mood to make my home more of home.  I was inappropriately giving space, credit and hope to what I thought were integral parts of my life.  I was wrong....charging away instead of facing them directly.   Josie and I drove up to the Meadow in Yosemite Valley that day conflicted, confused, obligated, habituated.  Dealing with that...moving forward with my decisions, my personality, ME -- is a difficult task. 

Leading to loneliness....or tying into loneliness....and the mundane routine.  I wake up, alone usually still fatigued.  I sleep 3-7 hours a night, depending on the nerve pain levels, muscle spasms (more on those).  I try to swim every other day, at least.  If I swim.  I swim 500-1000 meters.  Nothing fancy as far as 'training' goes.  I go to work for a few hours (Rocky Mountain Conservancy...not National Park Service).  Tuesdays I drive down to Denver, leave the house at 7am, do some PT, have meetings, get a massage (usually), home by 8pm.  Off to bed, alone.  I am not afraid of alone, in the moment.  I miss particular partner comforts of the past.  Something that the future should give hope to, but I don't accept myself currently...so how would anyone else.  

I am cynical of the new routine.  Impatient.  Surprise surprise.   I have a few friends who have rallied to do st(roll)'s around the basic lakes of Estes Park; lily, sprague, bear and lake estes.  A few trails have been explored as well.  I still wait for my bike, news is it is JUST finished!  

I miss being red in the face and breathless from running uphill.