It’s surely been an interesting summer and I really can’t lay out every detail but I can say this. It’s been a time of change. I always embrace new things and believe that these healthy experiences and motions create who we are. I mean that’s what I love about life, travel and climbing. But the ugly things are always present in ways we never see… sometimes right in front of us. The fears of change are common in most people I know. I find climbers to be some of the most adaptable people on earth and trust that my climber folk are the ones who never fear an evolution. Relationships, pace of life, health, and opportunities in my world are never the same and yes… it can be exhausting and emotional sometimes.
After climbing trad routes all summer I felt pretty weak. Surely if anyone asks you if trad climbing makes you stronger I would disagree… hehehehe… but it’s not always about getting stronger and climbing this or that, it’s important to have a good time and stay engaged. I was preparing for a trip to Australia and REALLY excited as I was going to be rolling with my boys Chris Sharma, Said Belhaj, and Andrew Bisharat, three people I adore.
I was climbing in good ol’ Rifle and trying some of the routes I bolted. I figured it would be good for training and a little kick in the ass to get back in the sport climbing game. I notice some muscle pain in my arm for a few days, and like normal never thought for it to be a big deal. I mean burling through any move in climbing can result in a little pain an discomfort the next day. We usually just heal and move on. The pain didn’t leave and persisted to stay pretty much the same (no worse, no better) for about a week and a half. I continued to climb on steep routes and do the normal routine of mine.
I packed, made my plans, and headed to San Francisco to visit a friend before I departed for Oz. The pain was annoying, but only if I reached far to the side (in select positions). I surely thought about it, but with all the travel coming up and tasks I was tending to I never really zeroed in on the specific area of pain until I took a shower. I made a few flexes in the mirror (I know… dorky) and noticed a huge difference in my biceps. I honestly started to freak out, overheat, feel faint, and whimper like a lil girl. After I sent this photo around to a few doctor friends all suggested I had a partially torn bicep and that I should NOT go climbing at all until I got it checked out. ”Oh man… I cannot believe this is happening and what fuckin timing!!!”, is pretty much all I could say or think about. ”Am I really injured?”, “I play it so safe!”, is also what came out of my mouth for an hour or so.
I have had pretty much zero injuries for the past 7 years or so… and part of this is that I am very careful and stay paranoid. At times almost too much. But, this is what keeps my body safe and allows me to keep going. One of my motos is, “There will always be another day for climbing”, and this allows me to stay injury free and healthy.
I realized that plan B was in need and canceled my Oz plans in order to get an MRI, see a doctor, and get diagnosed with whatever the fu*k it was that photo was showing. The pain was still there, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I mean I climbed the past week in Rifle and was fine… just a lil pain. I was just so bummed. I called Andrew and Chris and told them my deal and both were very sorry and bummed we weren’t going to make this trip happen together. Actually it worked out well with timing as Andrew got some work and Chris had obligations to fulfill. I didn’t care, however… my body wasn’t working.
I spoke to my friend Beth Rodden who lives in the Bay and she pulled strings in all directions for me to see her doctor who she trusts 100%. I owe you Beth. My friend Becky got me connected with an MRI and all friends made great things happen in order for me to get what I needed. I love you all. The MRI took place (weird experience and PRICEY! $500) and I got an appointment with the Doc. We sat in his office hands sweating and freaking out about what the news would be. Would I have to get surgery? Was I going to be screwed? Should I start looking for jobs at McDonalds or Pizza Hut? WHAT IS HE GOING TO TELL ME!!!!!!!!!????????????
The doctor came in, reviewed the MRI images with us and claimed I had very healthy shoulders. Nice bud. He told us all about the way the MRI works as it shows slices of your body 3mm deep with each image. Kinda cool dude, but WHAT ABOUT MY ARM!?!?! He then proceeded to talk about how us athletes are working machines and climbers specifically are so in tuned with our bodies and have such an interesting muscle build compared to team sports athletes. I thought my head was going to explode as I just wanted to know if I could climb again and what was wrong with my arm and what the goddamn pain was all about and why is there this giant bulging thing on my bicep!!!!!!!
He examined me, flexed me this way, gave resistance on my hand and had me twist my thumb up and down. He asked was there pain here or here… he looked baffled. After some more tests he had a smile and a clever, surprised look. He first told me I would heal 100%. Then he told me I had a partially torn muscle of the short-head of the biceps as opposed to a tear of the long-head )which is the most common and what appeared to be the issue in the photos) or a torn tendon. This was all good news!!!! It was kinda funny seeing this really intelligent doctor almost surprised as to what was really going on compared to what we assumed from the photo…
All I heard was that I would be fine and that was the best news I dreamt about. My hands stopped sweating and I could actually breath again almost instantly. I AM GOING TO BE OK!!!!!!!!!!! He explained all these surgeries and scary procedures they do for a completely torn bicep, but for some reason that had nothing to do with me. Scare tactic? I don’t know. The doctor was pleased to tell us this news as well and we left with a smile and an utter grateful feeling for being alive. I made a catch-up appointment and left the building.
Now… well… aside from resting a lot and working on videos. I am hooking up some PT, climbing light, and bopping around The Bay. It’s wild how you put your energy into other things when climbing isn’t present. I like it, but only for a little while. I miss being at the cliff and chucking all-out-tries on hard routes. I miss being tired at the end of the day and the taste of that first beer. I miss the focus.
I will heal and I will be back stronger and even more psyched. I have goals that are motivating me to recover and stay smart about it, but it’s hard on the mind. Patience is a virtue and that’s what I keep telling myself. Chill, breathe, and be thoughtful.
I hope to see you all at the cliff SOON… until then. Thanks so much for checking in.