Recovery Trip Report
(Sept 14, 2010 - Sept 14, 2011)
A day-to-day account spanning the first year of my recovery from a serious tib-fib fracture from a climbing accident
In September 2010, I suffered a severe compound tib/fib fracture, so severe in fact that I nearly lost my foot. The injury was caused when a rock broke lose while I was climbing Vesper Peak in the North Cascades of Washington. The "recovery trip report" on the following page is my day-to-day recovery notes for the year following the climbing accident. All except the first few days (when I was in the hospital and too drugged to think) was written as it occurred. Fraught with frustrating setbacks and dangerous complications, my injury and the resulting recovery posed the biggest challenges that I have experienced in life so far. It was also a whirlwind education on the US medical system, insurance and financial negotiations, and living life with a disability. For awhile I struggled to maintain my PhD work at the University of Washington, but I eventually decided to forgo my studies to focus on healing and dealing. But through it all, I was spurred onwards by the endless support of family and friends (thanks!), as well as my uninjured love for the mountains and outdoor adventure. Amazingly, over the course of a couple of years, I achieved a nearly complete recovery. Although I'd never say I am glad for the climbing accident and injury, I am grateful for the experience and the stronger and wiser person it allowed me to become.
Disclaimer #1: When I started this "recovery trip report" I had no idea it would go on so long. So this page might take awhile to fully load, and might also occupy a few hours of your time if you read it all.
Disclaimer #2: Some of the photos on this page might be considered graphic. But I wanted to share the reality of a serious climbing injury.
Disclaimer #3: I apologize if some of my daily entries are somewhat negative, overly candid, long-winded, kind of whiny, or just plain wacky. Now several years after the accident and looking back on some of my entries, I am a tad embarrassed for my 27-year-old self, but haven't changed anything I had written. Throughout the recovery, I underwent a lot of psychological turmoil as I struggled to accept the situation and setbacks. As an exercise and adventure junkie, the forced inactivity and separation from the outdoors was at times overwhelmingly oppressive and definitely the most difficult aspect of the recovery. And as a brutally independent person, the crutched life and dependence on others was also very difficult to accept. Sharing my thoughts and experiences became a way of coping with the injury.
Table of Contents for this page
The Accident (DAY 0 • SEPT 14, 2010)
Recovery Part I: 15 days in the Hospital (DAYS 1 to 15 • SEPT 15 to SEPT 29, 2010)
Timelapse from Day 11.
Recovery Part II: 6 weeks living with my parents (DAYS 16 to 56 • SEPT 30 to NOV 9, 2010)
Recovery Part III: Taking my crutches to Italy! (DAYS 57 to 94 • NOV 10 to DEC 17, 2010)
Recovery Part IV: A major setback: MRSA Infection (DAYS 95 to 110 • DEC 18, 2010 to JAN 2, 2011)
Recovery Part V: Just Living (DAYS 111 to 141 • JAN 3 to FEB 2, 2011)
Recovery Part VI: Pedaling Forward (DAYS 142 to 197 • FEB 3 to MAR 30, 2011)
Timelapse from Day 176.
Timelapse from Day 179.
Timelapse from Days 187-193.
Timelapse from Days 187-193.
Recovery Part VII: 100% Weight-bearing! (Doesn't Always Mean Walking) (DAYS 198 to 272 • MAR 31 to JUN 13, 2011)
Video from Day 236.
Recovery Part VIII: Another Setback: Stress Fracture (DAYS 273 to 328 • JUN 14 to AUG 8, 2011)
Video from Day 290.
Video from Day 315.
Recovery Part IX: Adventuring (DAYS 329 to 364 • AUG 9 to SEPT 13, 2011)
One Year (and Beyond) (DAY 365 • SEPT 14, 2011)
Other Info: Hospitals, Doctors, Surgeries, Medical Treatments, Appointments, and Medical Bills
Other Info: Mathematical Analysis of Muscle Loss
12 years later
At this point, 12 years after the accident, the injury is a distant memory. I still have battlescars and a faint limp where my left foot tends to turn outward during each stride, but there is no pain or stiffness (yet! I'm 39 at the time I write this, and they tell me arthritis could be an issue in in my future). I have been back to full activity (running several miles at a time, hiking with a heavy pack on rough terrain, climbing long technical rock climbs) for several years. Looking back on it, I'd say my physical recovery took about 20 months (I was young!) and my mental recovery may still be ongoing (I've never lost the background fear I have on lead). It's crazy, but when I look back on my recovery days, it is with somewhat of a nostalgic warm glow. I'm glad to be on the other side of recovery, but I also gained a lot of life experience from it. I am so glad that my leg is fully functional, and I try not to take that for granted given how close I came to loosing my lower leg. Below are a couple of photos showing what my leg looks like 12 years after the injury.
The end of the longest trip report on my website. Thanks for reading!