At 36 years old, with a good enough diet (ok, I do like crisps and chocolate as much as the next woman, but I aint no pig,) daily exercise including running, badminton, pilates, climbing, hillwalking blah blah, the ability to slog through deep snow for hours on end and drag myself up frozen cliff faces, or hang off rock with my bare hands, no smoking, like a glass of wine once in a blue moon, well with all that you'd think I'd be a living testament to a physically fit, shaped like a goddess, lean mean rock crankin machine (er)
Ho, ho, ho! No chance! Why oh why is it, that with all the above I can still manage to be a stone overweight with a body that's falling to pieces?
Before I started climbing, I had a fondness for a 30 a day fag habit (rollie up's if you don't mind) binge drinking extrordenaire and liked to indulge in the odd bout of illegal substance abuse. I wasn't as fit as a fiddle (I could probably run around 30 seconds before having a heart attack) but I was a good weight and I'd never had an injury in my life, bar a broken pinkie when I was a young girl due to catching it on a crack in a playground slide as I was sliding down.
So, why is it, in the last 5 years I've suffered from a broken arm, De Quervain's Tendonitis, a torn Interosseus muscle, a sprained ankle which after a year still gives me grief, a ruptured disc in the L5/S1 area of my lumbar spine which is now 100% dessicated and with degeneration in the level above, bouts of Lateral Epicondylitis on both elbows, possible C Spine problems leading to the former elbow problems, numb hands and tricep pain and just last week, suffering from another bout of whiplash?
Hmmmm, is this part and parcel of growing older? But I'm only 36 for fuck's sake! Or do I have to accept that my body is just weak and not very capable of the demands that I ask of it? How much more punishment do I have to put myself through to keep my body in a fit enought state to enable me to put it through the things I do?
I could understand if I was a bouldering and climbing demon, but c'mon eh! I only lead VS on a good day and my feeble attempts at bouldering have never taken me past the V3 level and that was only during an extended bout of non injury.
Anyway, all this wittering about injuries is down to me falling badly whilst bouldering last Wednesday. Down at
there is a V2 problem in the bouldering cave that goes up over a roof and then across the ceiling. There is a pyramid shaped volume which hangs down from the ceiling and it was at this point where I was coming undone. You have to cut loose with your feet, then monkey to the next hold. I was attempting to get my body to swing in the direction of the next hold (it really wants to swing the opposite way due to where the holds are set) and then you have to reach under under and behind yourself which twists your body round in the correct direction. Idiot that I am though, I reached through with the wrong hand, this twisted me round in completely the wrong direction and the momentum of the swing and twist had me come flying off backwards, with the nano second thought that I was going to crash into the wall behind me, landing awkwardly on my hands and knees with my head flung giving a good bounce on my neck! Thud! I think the word 'UUGGHH!' was heard to escape my mouth.
No problem though, I carried on bouldering that evening, still failing to do that problem, regardless of doing it the correct way! My neck did start aching a little later in the evening, and when I woke up at 5 in the morning, it was a poker straight rod of agony. I couldn't seem to bend it in any direction and taking Dehydricodeine and Raboxin didn't seem to touch it. No more sleep was had that day, and it was a weary woman that took RB to school the next morning, and that whole day was a blur of pain and painkillers which didn't seem to work. I'd rememebered when I hurt my neck after falling off the slackline. That was much better by the next day and even though it felt worse this time, I was thinking I'd be fine the next day also. Uh uh! Next day I woke up still unable to move my neck much, after another night of very little sleep, too scared to lie in certain positions incase I hurt it more, it was hard to relax, regardless of the pain! As the morning went on, it did ease a little and I began to wonder whether I'd be able to climb some easy stuff at the wall on toprope. Bouldering was out of the question, I cringed at the thought! And I'd already dismissed going for a run when the idea popped into my head. I was concerned though, a quick google of whiplash told me that I should really be getting my neck checked out. So, after much pondering and a phone call to NHS24, I tootled off to my local Minor Injuried Unit where the duty nurse had me panicking my mention of cervical fractures, ambulances and spinal boards! Aaaarg, what the fuck!? I was concerned that I might have 'popped' a disc, no way I've broken my neck, daft cow! I was made to lie down and not move (tedious to say the least and once she'd left the room, I got myself to a more comfy position) Thankfully, my GP who was on duty, had sense enough to comment that I'd been walking about for the past 2 days so sitting up wasn't going to kill me! A quick diagnosis of whiplash that should be back to normal in a few weeks (he reckoned the C spine was okay seen as my numbness was no worse than before) left me feeling confident that a bout at the wall would do no harm, hurrah!
So, I managed a few easy routes on toprope with no problems and decided that I should be okay to climb with Andy at the weekend. I didn't feel confident to lead though. The range of motion in my neck felt 99% restored to it's still self, but deep inside still a weird feeling that if I fell again, my neck would snap off. And it still burnt a fair bit. Forecast was a bit iffy, so we decided to head across to Kirrie for a few routes. Belaying was going to be a bit of an issue and I'd have to feel more with the rope than looking up too much. Was very hard to do as it just feels so wrong not to look up and watch what the leader is doing! Managed to belay around 3 routes before it got pretty sore and I had to keep looking down, and also managed to lead an easy route that I'd done a billion times before and couldn't resist toproping a 6a that I'd never done.
Sunday, we went to Clova which was still a bit damp in places. Andy led Proud Corner, which has to be one of the best single pitch VS's in Scotland. I'd romped up it at the start of the year, but found the crux quite reachy this time round, and seemed to get my hands muddled somewhat. Couldn't remember it being that hard last time! Andy then led Cauldron Crack but I didn't want to second it (though I was sorely tempted!) This posed a few problems for gear removal when Andy ab'd back down, as it's mega overhanging. But it's a route that I love the look at and it's one of the nicest HVS's I've seen and I want to save it for an onsight.
We then decided to take a look at the Doonie crags as I'd never actually climbed there before. Bad mistake! My feet got wet on approach, after taking a path through bracken which quickly turned into bog. Then the route we'd decided on was wet on the first pitch and had bushes, trees and massive clumps of dripping wet grass on it. Nice! How the hell did this route manage to get two stars!? After much deliberation Andy decided that it would be a shame not to climb it as he felt obliged to after walking up. Bloody great! It looked utterly minging to me and I don't see the point in climbing ming just because you find yourself standing underneath it. But I knew Andy would strop if I refused, so I decided to suffer. He slowly eased himself through the slime on the first 10 feet, then picked his way through the vegetation, before coming to a standstill and admitting that it was pretty disgusting and then saying the sweetest words I'd heard him say all weekend.
'I'm just going to climb to the tree then ab off.'
Roll on next weekend and the Lakes, yippee!