Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wrist trouble

this sucks!
Originally uploaded by slampoud
I finally went to the doc this morning to have my knee looked at, and figured while I was there I should have my wrist checked out, too. The knee turns out to be a muscle sprain of some sort, since all my tendons and ligaments are intact. Yay for that!

The wrist, however, is another story. This business started with me noticing I couldn't do a down dog without my left wrist hurting, in late January. So I iced it after workouts, and it got better for a while, but over the last month, as I've been leading more and more overhanging 10s in the gym, it's been getting progressively worse. Hence, I talked to the doc. They took 6 xrays, and in a couple of them it was looking like maybe the scaphoid is fractured. If that's indeed the case, since it's been over 6 months and things are only getting worse, I won't be able to avoid surgery. So to rule it out, the doc's ordered a CT, which my insurance is going to take a week or so to arrange. In the meantime, the doc insisted I be stopped from doing further damage. His exact words were "I'm going to stop you", and when I started to complain he laid down the law. So until the CT helps determine what's what, I'm in a spica brace.

Believe me when I tell you, I am pissed! I'm not sure at whom yet, but I do know that if this proves to be a break, which I somehow gave myself, missed how and when, and then ignored for 6 months, then I am going to become the focus of this anger!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A weekend at Bart Dome

At the start of the trail
Originally uploaded by slampoud
This past weekend Ben and I went on a trip to Bart Dome that he'd been planning for the better part of a year. Bart Dome is in the Domelands Wilderness, in the Southern Sierra, and it's the Southern Sierra Climbers' Association "home crag". It's about 5 pitches tall and features crack, dike and slab climbs between 5.7 and 5.12. Ben had been there once or twice before and loved it, so he wanted to show it to me. In the past, he'd followed "Follow the rainbow", a 5.9, and this time he wanted to lead it (or swing leads with me, we never got to deciding on that detail, since we never climbed it).

We drove out to the trailhead, which starts at Big Meadow, midday on Friday. We were outfitted with full backpacking and climbing gear, as well as three empty gallon jugs for water. We were going to hike 2.5 miles to Manter Meadow, filter water, and hike an additional 3 miles North to Bart Dome, where there is no water.

The hike to Manter was uneventful, and indeed we found water. I started having trouble after that. About a half mile later, on flat ground, my lateral hamstring ligament (I think) started feeling rigid and painful, as if I'd overextended my knee. I had only added one gallon to the weight I was carrying (probably 40 lbs already), and Ben had taken the remaining two. A mile from our destination, we decided to stash two gallons of the water and the ropes, and come back for them the next morning. Despite the beauty of the location, the rest of the hike to Bart was excruciating to me. We made it there, made dinner, and crashed hard, under a cloudy night sky.

The next morning my knee still wasn't good, but I needed to walk on it and figure out exactly how bad it was. We hiked the mile back and returned with the ropes and additional water, and for two thirds of the way I was in agony. At that point I decided that if I climbed -- which I wasn't entirely sure I could do, in the first place -- the hike out would be epic. If I gave myself the day to rest, maybe things would be better. So we sat around in the shade and read our books, until Ben suggested that we should probably get a couple miles of the hiking out of the way, so Sunday's hike out would be easier. We packed up and headed out from Bart Dome, with no climbing done. For this hike I moved my rope to the bottom of the pack and my sleeping bag to the top, took out my orthotics (which had blistered my left arch) and hiked completely bent-kneed, all the work being done by my quads. I made it a mile completely pain free, and then got a twinge for the last half mile, but overall it was a huge improvement. We dropped our packs at a rock outcropping right on the trail, and went off in search of a mythical swimming hole at the base of the Lone Ranger rock, which, of course, was not there. We returned to our base, made dinner, and called it a clear, bright and breezy night.

The next day we loaded up and headed out, and I stuck to what had worked the day before: bent knees. This time, I decided that, since it always seemed like the twinge in my tendon congealed there after rests, I wouldn't rest for the ~4 mile hike out. So I didn't. I made lots of 20 second stops, during which I would stretch my quads, but I didn't stop until the top of the ridge, maybe half a mile short of the trailhead. Indeed, I managed the whole hike out with no pain!

We spent the rest of the day driving up to Church Dome just to check it out, and then back to SB. Now I'm sitting here fretting over whether I should see a doctor about this knee business. It all started last Monday with a pop while coming up over a roof on lead. I was reaching up over the roof, with a foothold under it, and I turned my knee funny. From what I've read, it sounds like an ACL rupture, but based on the relative lack of pain afterwards, it could not have been. Then during the trip, the whole business moved from the anterior-lateral side of my knee to the posterior-lateral side, and took on a whole other character. So did I start with a minor sprain of one thing, and, due to compensation and repetitive strain, screw up another? Or what?