Thursday, April 19, 2012

My busted ankle.

In 1999 I went out to Sedona, AZ to visit a friend, do some mountain biking and climb a few sandstone towers. Well I screwed up and destroyed my left ankle while climbing one of America's classic climbs, The Mace. I basically landed straight onto my ankle while falling at near terminal velocity. I ended up rappelling 4-500 feet, kicking off the wall with my good leg. On the desert floor my buddy hauled out the gear while I butt-dragged myself through a couple miles of Arizona desert. We stopped for a six-pack of beer before heading up the hill to the hospital in Flagstaff. I threw the impressively swollen ankle out the passenger window and draped the sixer over the ankle. The beer lasted, more or less, for the hour it took to get to Flag. Needless to say, I was in significant pain.

The doc at the ER said he couldn't see any clear fracture, which didn't surprise me as the injury was more compression and crush than break. I got splinted, ate a bunch of vicodin and turned to the only people I new who could get me back to SoCal, my parents. My dad was really cool about the whole thing and flew out. I don't think I would have needed his help if my truck at the time had been an automatic transmission, but it was a stick, and I nearly blacked out the first time I stepped on the clutch. So dad came out and drove me back to the desert where I was living at the time. He stuck around for a couple days making sure I got myself on the workplace disabled list, and got me to an orthopedist, who indicated that everything was screwed up so much that, even though he saw no clear fractures, it didn't really matter. The ankle was hosed.

After several years passed I was able to weakly toe-jam a crack, but could barely do any of the footwork required for rock climbing. So I just kind of gave up on climbing for a while. Later, like a moth to flame, I closed the circle and began climbing again but I'd gotten heavier and weaker during the protracted recovery. The ankle is obviously workable these days, but between this injury and numerous other significant ortho injuries, I sometimes feel pretty banged up. 

For some reason, the ankle is pissed off this week, which explains this post. It was really bad for about 10 days after last spring's Palisade mountaineering trip, hot and angry. It just feels arthritic right now, but it's hard to ignore, so I pulled out the x-rays which are less than a year old, to awe and impress you all with. Clearly, there was a major crush injury to the ankle, and as you can tell by looking at the picture below, this ankle of mine is going to haunt me forever.
Take a good look comparing the right to the left.

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