The RV Project

"There Are No Wrong Roads to Anywhere"

Rest, Recovery, and the Return

It’s Saturday, February 2nd, and we have been here in Kensington for a bit over two weeks. This brief return trip was for the purposes of R&R, as well as celebrating my father’s 66th birthday, and sending off my little brother Eliot to Miami for his first big-boy job. Congratulations Eliot!

It’s been just over 6 weeks since I broke my heel. I think I went through the typical stages (Kübler-Ross) of:

Denial- “I think it’s just bruised…”

Anger- “Ah shit. I think it’s broken”

Bargaining- “It’s okay, I’ll just do lowballs”

Depression- When I realized that crutches were becoming a regular, accepted, and even familiar part of my life, I started to get really depressed.

Acceptance- This stage should’ve come sooner, but I think it only really came today.

I wish I could inspire you with this post. I wish I could tell you that my time off the rock was productive and instructive. I wish I could tell you I trained my weaknesses, learned a foreign language, edited ten videos and had time to campus train. I wish I could write a post about how to stay positive when the main purpose for your trip, indeed, your greatest passion in life is snatched from you in a freakishly mundane accident.

For the first few weeks, I weathered the storm pretty well. I drank what must be record volumes of coffee at the Black Sheep. I mastered my crutches. I won $50 playing Blackjack in Las Vegas, and another $50 at the Paiute Palace. I made some progress on the ZAP video. I even found the novelty of crutches to be fun, in a way.

Then, somewhere along the line, I lost my psyche.

When we came to Kensington back in mid-January, it was meant to be a short trip, and it was a flurry of activity. We extended our stay due to bad weather in Bishop, and that, I think, is when things went downhill for me. My elbow still hurt, which meant no training of any sort, cardio or otherwise. I ate food. I stalled on the video and lost motivation to do much else. I read a book. I drank whisky. I slept in. Vikki was wonderful support, as was my family, making it all the worse that I couldn’t pull back on the yoke and climb out of my funk. Many days were wasted. Depression sucks.

Perhaps a part of the reason I lapsed into depression was due to the fact that I’d been so upbeat before. It’s hard to maintain, and I guess I just broke. Not only could I not train, but I could barely help out around the house. Going out seemed like a chore, so I didn’t. That didn’t leave much for me. Days blended into each other, and I simultaneously looked for ways to kill time while hating myself for killing it.

Tomorrow we go back to Bishop. For the first time in a long time, I’m stoked. Byron is flying in, and will attempt to climb 290 boulder problems in a day for his 29th Birthday Challenge. Today I limped around the house without crutches for the first time, and while my foot is a little bit sore, it held up alright and I was able to be autonomous. I’ll be bringing my bike down to Bishop, which I’ve never had a chance to do. I’m going to start sport climbing at the Owens River Gorge in order to rehab the elbow and avoid groundfalls. I have an appointment to get my elbow looked at, and that means I might finally be able to rid myself of this chronic pain and crunchy noise (and thanks to everyone who gave advice on this topic!). And I’m really excited to return to the sport I love with a renewed enthusiasm.

This may not be the happiest of endings, but it’ll have to do. Again, I wish I could tell you about how I triumphed over adversity, found the silver lining, and slew the beast. What I can tell you instead is that I’m finally looking forward again, and while I can’t get those days of depression back, I can hope to learn from them.

Here are some links to things that are actually quite inspiring:

This video of a wounded veteran walking again made the Facebook rounds…

My friend Aaron sent me this post from Brendan Leonard at Semi-Rad…

…and finally, Dave Graham suggested I look up Hugh Herr. Here he is. Amazing.

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4 thoughts on “Rest, Recovery, and the Return

  1. Stay strong Spenser! Great to see you and Vikki. You’re one of the most upbeat guys I know, and it’s tough to hear how hard it’s been. Just think of how much more you’ll appreciate climbing again, though. Good luck out there.

    • Thanks Erik, and it was great to hang out with you guys too. I certainly don’t have much to complain about, even the injury was pretty mild. I’m definitely thankful for all the time we’ve been climbing and I haven’t been injured though. Can’t wait to get back on the rock!

  2. Pingback: Creating a Base | The RV Project

  3. You had me at the Kubler Ross reference…

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