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 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.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The start of something good....

Cory's cheeks smooshed against blue velour, mouth slightly ajar.  His gangly legs stretched from door to door, covering the entire back bench in our family Buick.  On the floor parallel, a little girl twisted comfortably over the hump dividing passenger from driver sides.  I was five, my brother eight and my parents, they were parent aged.

Dad packed our car to a wobble and he now steered the Brett clan westward.  The pre-dawn light seeped over the horizon at our backs, but I couldn't feel any of this...passed out in my little carpet nook. 

Our first big foray in the Buick swept us from our little suburban home near Minneapolis to the Badlands, South Dakota.  I became feverish when my brother even looking out my window.  Mom bribed quite hours with M&M's and small rations of Shasta soda.  We mingled amongst crowds of families on similar vacation circuits  

Year two we ventured the white sedan further from home to the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore, melding our version of family tradition.  We assumed our assigned positions, racing westward across state borders.  Entertainment at Mt. Rushmore was a family spitting contest over the Monument railings.  No disrespect, just a quick lesson in physics.  

Our third year we visited Glacier National Park where I learned valuable socializing skills— bar hopping!  Apparently fond of our horseback guide, I followed him into a local pub and plopped down on a bar stool next to him (I was seven). 

Cory and my gangly legs began spurting out the bottom of our pants and curiosity gushing from our ears.  With each passing summer my parents also outgrew their comfort zones.  On the first vacation trip, my mother carried a flu stricken little girl on her back to the summit of Harney’s Peak, South Dakota.  Now the adolescent children carried their own overnight backpacks.  

Mother embraced tent life while dad calmly learned to operate heavy machinery, our new dictionary sized home video recorder.  We all exchanged the comforts of a hotel, swimming pool or television screens, for tactile wilderness entertainment.  We scrambled up and over Rocky Mountains boulders and held competitions who could stand in frigid alpine lakes the longest.  As the orange sun settled over expansive skylines, we discussed the wild animals we had seen and gazed at the expanse of stars.  Our cozy tent ballooned with laughter during take-turn ghost stories.  Waiting for sleep to come a sweeping cool breeze soothed my tired legs and curious mind. 

Armpit hair and crackling voices brought us through California, Oregon and Washington.   In Yosemite I proclaimed, "I am going to climb that one day," craning my neck up at El Capitan.  One of our last trips found us in the Cascades.  My brother dropped off, now in college.  With only one child to entertain, my dad and I mimicked seal calls, while I tried not to be a moody teenager.  

By the time I graduated High School, I had visited nearly every National Park or Monument west of the Mississippi (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).  Attending the University in Minnesota, I found missed the freedom of the West.  I didn’t enjoy learning from lectures, I missed learning from my own mistakes and experiences.  I pushed through four years quickly.  As others walked across the stage accepting their diploma, I was probably accepting a speeding tickets somewhere in Nebraska.     

My parents didn't have a ton of money, nor much free time.  Our family vacations unloaded their two weeks paid time off for the year.  In talking with them now, years later, my dad expressed sentiment towards one goal as a parent, “to play.”  The beauty of play for a child, but also to maintain that sense of wonderment as an adult.   

This spring in Zion National Park, a young boy on the shuttle bus into the park was enthusiastically describing his wilderness experience that day.  His eyes were wide, energy bursting outward from his lightly tanned skin.  Science has proven time and time again the positive effects wilderness and play has on our physical well-being but also our mental health.  Exercise in our early years helps with brain development, particularly the speed of which we can learn, decipher and retain new information.  The added bonus of instilling an appreciation for play and outdoor experiences in our younger generations is they will hopefully carry a voice for protecting public lands in the future, an entire bag of worms I won't delve into....  

Play and adulthood are not mutually exclusive.  Nor is play restrictive to the outdoors, although this is the version that nabbed me.  As I have aged and chosen a life with more play than the average adult, I feel inspired to encourage others to remember play.  I am lucky to have found a work path in the National Parks, though I didn't come here directly.  Now, I am part of a specialized team who provide technical search, rescue and medical assistance to those who have a had bad fortune during their wilderness experience.  Everyday I get to connect with visitors, sharing my passion.  Ultimately sharing outdoors time with children and adults, one-by-one infecting them —- giving them the tools to safely enjoy and spread the joy for playing outside.   

A little bit of play, a run, a book, or whatever it is that allows an escape, imagination, concocting ideas --- al of it makes us better humans.  I find I smile, I laugh more, I am more patient when I get my daily dose.    

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Yosemite's Red-Headed Step Child.

I limped along a 3 mile semi-trail at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum with my folks.  Dad questioned, "did you really run from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other, in one day?"
Mom chuckled at my pace, "are you really that sore?  Finally we are faster than you!"

That was Sunday, two days after our massive jaunt.

Monday I was northbound again, to Zion!  Libby, who patiently forgave my week hiatus in our plans, was awaiting our next adventure.   Legs still ached but the approaches to the sandstone cliffs in Zion were managable.  "Bobs Big Wall Service," as I affectionately like to call the shuttle busses in Zion, drop you off at the start of your intended route.  I just needed to boogie up 100-200 feet of trail.

Tuesday we goofed our way up Touchstone Wall.   It went rather quick.  I led the first half, then Libby took the lead and we simul-climbed to the top.  She was on-sighting the route.  I think we had a time of just under 3 hours?

Wednesday we wove into the sandstone canyon again.  Climbing was a different movement that felt nice for achy legs.  Familiar with the top of Spaceshot, we simuled the first 3 pitches and Libby scoped out the middle pitches on lead.  We rappelled mid-day.  After a quick regroup, we wandered over to Sheer Lunacy.  Again, I was familiar with the start so I led us up to where Sheer and Moonlight diverge from one another.

 In 2013, Buster Jesick and I successfully climbed Spaceshot, Touchstone and Moonlight before a series of misadventures had us agreeing safety over stupidity.  To climb 4 walls in a day in Zion was still on my bucket list.

Libby took climbing to a stance below Toquerville Tower.  From here I zoomed up an easy long pitch to the base of the goods.  I chose to short fix/aid the 13 variation straight up to the top of the wall.  Our time was great, we felt confident in our gear --- now we just needed to weave the potential crowds on attempt day!

Thursday we ate pizza, drank beer while chatting with our videographer friends Cody and Scottie (  Adidas hired them to make a short video on Libby doing her usual badass shit, climbing and nursing.

When Libby and I successfully climbed two routes on El Cap in a day I apologized for our time, as I had a  This time our mishaps included a forgotten tag-line at the base of Sheer Lunacy, requiring a quick barefoot run across the river and back.  One failed party passing, "we do don't that here!" regarding speed climbing in Zion.  Two core shot ropes, one we climbed the entirety of Moonlight Buttress.  Oh, and when we rapped Moonlight before climbing it and we passed over a team of 4 women.  It sure is nice to see chica's sending out there!!!

Full Value Friday----

Routes in order:
·        Spaceshot (5.7 C2 IV 800 feet)--2:40
·        Touchstone Wall (5.9 C2 V 820 feet)--2:02
·        Sheer Lunacy (5.9 C2 IV 1100 feet)--3:09
·        Moonlight Buttress (5.8 C1 V 1200 feet)--4:17