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anita514

Gym climber
Great White North
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 18, 2014 - 02:35pm PT
so it looks like I will have some corrective surgery on my leg in a month.
I have been dreading this phone call for a long time. I keep wanting to postpone it, finding excuses like "oh I don't want to be on crutches in the winter" and stuff like that.

have any of you had to take 4-6 months off climbing/hiking/outdoors activities because of surgery? how did you manage?
maybe I am being overly dramatic about it, but I am really scared and fear the inactivity. I fear I will be missing out...
lame?
this just in

climber
north fork
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:42pm PT
It sucks. Haven't climbed since July, but I get to start again next month. Mine was shoulder, so I can at least hike, but I miss the feel of the rock. Nothing good about surgery, but sometimes you have to take your turn. Good luck Anita.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:44pm PT


"Nothing good about surgery"...

Won't you be able to climb again because of your shoulder surgery???...

How about surgeries that save lives???...

MUST be something GUD in there somewere...

Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:44pm PT
Yes. 5 months off with a broken back. It sucked, and i'm still getting used to my body again. I think what helped me is realizing how close i came to never walking again, and simply enjoying being able to do the things i love.

You'll be fine. It'll suck, but concentrate on other pursuits which you have pushed to the back burner and do your physio to get back on the horse sooner and before you know it you'll be climbing again.

I can't believe it's been almost a year...
this just in

climber
north fork
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:45pm PT
I meant the going through it part. Obviously there is a reason for it.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:47pm PT
Better to pay the tax and take 4-6 months now rather than risk a possible audit somewhere down the line.

That said I'd rather be crutching nov-March than March-oct but that's just me.

Good luck.


limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:47pm PT
Knee surgery last year but recovered relatively quickly, just a couple months. Go nuts with the physical therapy and keep doing the exercises after they tell you you're recovered!

I got better at guitar, besides that it was pretty annoying. Absence make the heart grow fonder eh? You'll love the outdoors by the time you can enjoy them again ;)
Evel

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:51pm PT
Nothing quite like having your guts cut wide open for eliminating core strength. Just over a year later and I'm doing fine. Still not back to my old self but I can feel it coming back more every day.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:53pm PT

"I meant the going through it part."...

Communication can be a strange thing because what you wrote and meant is obviously two different things. (I knew that from the start of course and was only being a wise guy in pointing it out ;-)



EDITED:

"I got better at guitar"...

And the most amazing thing about that is you didn't even play prior to the surgery.

this just in

climber
north fork
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:54pm PT
I should know better. Lol.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:59pm PT
A bike accident left me with a broken hip in 2000. Major surgery to repair the damage, and no guarantees about whether I'd even walk properly again let alone climb or ski. Six months later I was climbing again (very, very carefully), and after about a year I was pretty much back to pre-accident condition.

Of course this wasn't an elective surgery. I didn't have to agonize beforehand about whether I should do it, or how I'd feel afterward. Just woke up one morning in a sea of pain with a bolt-together leg, no ability to do anything, and no idea what the future would be.

Interestingly, the whole recovery and rehab process was a similar challenge to what I had always needed from climbing. So it turned out that I didn't miss climbing in the way you would expect. I used getting back to climbing again as a driver for getting through the difficult and painful rehab process, and used what I'd learned from climbing to help me do that.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Feb 18, 2014 - 02:59pm PT
And the most amazing thing about that is you didn't even play prior to the surgery.

Lol, you must have heard me play. If you didn't know any better it sounds like I just learned
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Feb 18, 2014 - 03:50pm PT
Follow doctors order to let everything knit back together, then take it slow and steady getting the leg back to climbing. Work out the rest as you can, good luck!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Feb 18, 2014 - 03:52pm PT
Plus is your age Anita, and youll heal fast being healthy and active.

Many of us here are facing such things and have much the same reactions as you.. In short,, a normal one..
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Feb 18, 2014 - 03:55pm PT
It will take a while. No sugar coating. You'll lose fitness after about 3 weeks. But the younger you are when you go through it, the better. Take it Day by Day and Good Luck!
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Feb 18, 2014 - 03:55pm PT
"have any of you had to take 4-6 months off climbing/hiking/outdoors activities because of surgery? how did you manage?"

I'm doing that right now. I couldn't even belay the pain was so bad, which made the choice of surgery much easier. Doing it in winter even more so. You rediscover things you like to do that don't involve climbing. Good luck.
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
Feb 18, 2014 - 03:56pm PT
I am quite familiar with your dilemma. I've been injured too many times. I try to find another activity and set goals. When I had shoulder reconstruction I did a lot of running. I bought a gps watch and set goals. For several injuries, all I could do was swim. Again, I set goals and challenged myself. All of these activities ultimately were beneficial for climbing. Use the time to work on antagonistic muscles that you don't normally exercise.

As so many have said, the key to lasting happiness is learning to love the process. Everyday above ground is a good day. The time will go by quickly -- far too quickly. You're young and healthy. You have plenty of time for more hard climbing.

Good luck.
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
Feb 18, 2014 - 04:05pm PT
Well working as a physical therapist I deal with it day in and day out though from a different lense, as the medical professional not the patient. As has been said you are not alone in what you are going through. Matter of fact, my partner Micronut is actively in the "bad place" waiting to rehab to get back to climbing. No way around it. IT SUCKS! But if there is a bit of advice I can give is this. Take the time now to correct whatever the problem is. Do everything in your capability to do things right. If they tell you to rest then REST. If they tell you to ice, ICE. The worse thing is to try and be a hero by doing things you shouldn't early and then prolong your recovery and rehab process. I wish you the absolute best and feel free to contact to me anytime for any questions I might be able to answer. And don't forget things can always be worse. I preach that to myself all the time and appreciate every moment in life we are given because we never know when it could be taken from us. I have worked in and around alot of tragedy and see it first hand. Positive thoughts and God's blessings. Take care.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Feb 18, 2014 - 04:17pm PT
I put off a knee surgery for exactly that reason.

Tore a meniscus in a drop knee, and since they couldn't guarantee a fix, and wouldn't know if repair was possible until the scope was in there (which meant same recovery time whether it was fixed or not) I never had it.

Luckily it doesn't bother me much. Only if I pound out long approaches more than a couple days in a row. It doesn't lock up the joint, so I'm waiting until I am definitely on the downslope of ability. That was almost 10 years ago.

But if it's a leg thing, and you are a rock climber (rather than snow slogger), don't worry about it, just get it done. Train on the hangboard for the first month, lift some weights, and you'll come back stronger than before it.
anita514

Gym climber
Great White North
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 18, 2014 - 04:32pm PT
thanks for all the replies.

actually, I am lengthening my R leg, and also breaking/re-aligning my messed up ankle.
so no driving, no putting weight on it. buuuut I can swim, so I guess that is good.

I am most worried about losing the bit of fitness I've gained in the last year, and *turns red* gaining weight.
also worried I won't climb as hard as I do now (not hard at all) and fear the uphill battle of working as hard as I have to regain what I had before the procedure.

nothing major, I know. still scares me... and not to mention the pain.

at least I've been having a not-so-bad ice climbing season! and if all goes well, the thing will be off me come July.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Feb 18, 2014 - 04:33pm PT
well at least they wont be able to call you Ilene..;-)
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Feb 18, 2014 - 05:00pm PT
Don't rush into things after the surgery. Take your time, get strong and start back into climbing slowly
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Feb 18, 2014 - 05:08pm PT
Anita,

I had no choice about taking time off. Two years ago I completely severed my Achilles tendon while bouldering. On doctor's orders, I had a nine-month layoff from climbing. As soon as I started physical therapy, however, (after a couple of months), I worked on my cardiovascular fitness, and continued to exercise my upper body, so when the exile from climbing ended, I was able to resume at a level not far from where I was when I got injured. It did, however, take a while before I was willing to risk a fall of more than a foot or two.

Given that experience, my advice is to get it over with, so you won't dread the consequences any longer than you have to. It's like anything else that's unpleasant. The sooner you deal with it, the less the overall misery.

Best of luck to you.

John
tallmark515

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 18, 2014 - 05:26pm PT
I had surgery on my shoulder in August of 2012. I was climbing by December in the gym. The motivation to send again kept me super disclipined with my PT. Had it not been for climbing, my recovery time would have probably been doubled... But then again I never would have gotten injured if I didn't climb. Go figure.
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
Feb 18, 2014 - 05:34pm PT
Anita-

Good on the swimming part. It has definitely helped me rehab numerous ortho injuries/surgeries. Best of luck to you.

lars
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Feb 18, 2014 - 07:20pm PT
I am most worried about losing the bit of fitness I've gained in the last year, and *turns red* gaining weight.
also worried I won't climb as hard as I do now (not hard at all) and fear the uphill battle of working as hard as I have to regain what I had before the procedure.

Well, those are perfectly sensible worries. The weight gain is up to you, but I'd say the others are pretty much guaranteed.

I had ACL/meniscus dissection surgery almost exactly two years ago. I have to mention that I was 68 then and 70 now, so that obviously affects recovery. With that understood, I can report that I am just now starting to feel close to where I was before the surgery. (I should perhaps also mention a bout of Lyme disease set me back considerably.)

Reasonable goal-setting, as advocated above, is what seemed to work for me. I actually found myself almost exhilarated to begin working on rehab, because I knew I would be able to make a lot of progress (unlike climbing, where after 56 years my efforts are all devoted to slowing the decline). Just keep at it and don't push past reasonable limits and end up being a candidate for more surgery.

I mention two years here (with the age factor revealed) not to sound a discouraging note, but to emphasize that everyone recovers at a pace determined by their body, and it is not going to be productive to look at what others have done and hope for something analogous. So-and-so came back in three months, someone else came back in six months, poor old rgold took two years (or more), it's going to be your journey, not anyone else's, and you should make sure it is your path you are trying to stay on.

The challenge of confronting and resolving difficulties is part of what drew us all to climbing. You are about to be challenged, and rather than thinking about it as something you have to get past to get back to the real challenges, I'd suggest thinking about rehab as THE challenge now. Its your proj, embrace it the way you would a climbing objective, and get some of the pleasure from progess you get from climbing. No, you can't really make rehab fun, but you can make it a whole lot better and more interesting than it might be if it is some endless annoyance you just want to have over.

It sure doesn't hurt to be lucky too, so best of luck as well.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Feb 18, 2014 - 07:31pm PT


^^^

+1

Nails a few...
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Feb 18, 2014 - 07:40pm PT
RGold nails it as usual.

Most decent PT places will have an arm bike. I really like arm bikes, a great combination of upper body and cardio. I'd have one at home except for the price. I have to settle for a rowing machine.
mastadon

Trad climber
crack addict
Feb 18, 2014 - 09:14pm PT
Big Mike- what kind of back break did you have? I had a t-12 burst fracture last summer and i am almost 100% now with no pain and no surgery. All the doctors i saw said i was a f#%king miracle. I couldn't disagree....
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Feb 18, 2014 - 09:14pm PT
"Actually, I am lengthening my R leg"

What do you call a girl with one leg shorter than the other?







...










..








...









Eileen.

Good luck, Anita. I missed one season with a busted ankle, but crutched back to the base of the wall wearing my removable cast a few months later.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Feb 18, 2014 - 10:07pm PT
Mastadon- I compressed my lower spine by landing on my butt going 90k while snowboarding.

Burst l2 and completly disintegrated the spiny processes and dislocated l1 for good measure. I also managed to pinch my spinal cord. They had to fuse t-12 to l-4 to put me back together and i lost all feeling on my left side below my waist. I couldn't even use my left leg at first, and spent about three and a half weeks in a wheelchair.

Without intensive pt and a three month rehab at GF Strong, I highly doubt i would be walking right now. Considering all this, the fact that i'm climbing and snowboarding again is pretty fricken amazing!! ;)


Anita- The best thing to come out of my physio was the body awareness it gave me. I never knew i was using so many of my muscles the wrong way!!

If you can swim, you're golden. No reason to gain weight, go swim your butt off. It's awesome cardio and excellent for endurance as well as bring a low impact way to strengthen muscles. Use the hot tub while you're there too. I'm betting those legs will be real tight after the surgery.
Daphne

Trad climber
Northern California
Feb 19, 2014 - 01:05am PT
Oh, I've been there, and it really, really sucks. Ksolem's idea of a cardio arm bike is golden. Swimming is golden. Do not discount the strength it takes to negotiate crutches and haul all your groceries up stairs in a back pack while crutching it. It's the cardio that will help with the weight anxiety. The strength comes back, slower than you want, but it does come back.

Serious injury helped me rediscover my love of fiction. I saw more of my friends more often than the mountains usually allow. I fell in love with my work all over again. I learned so much about myself and how to be more gentle with myself. There are silver linings all over the place, and since you HAVE to go through the storm, just be watching for them.
WTF

climber
Feb 19, 2014 - 01:19am PT
Bummer Anita.

One day at a time and before you know it you will be back in action.

I spent 4 months in cast once and a year in rehab and well time heals as they say.

Good luck.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Feb 19, 2014 - 04:27am PT
hey there say, anita... best wishes and prayers...

say, yes, do the swimming, :)
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Feb 19, 2014 - 07:09am PT
Hi Anita, I won't bore you with details of my physical travails. I have spent more time in PT and recovery from injuries than most, but with the exception of torn muscles in my back bilaterally, (I was forced to take three months off from everything for that one), I have always found a way to stay pretty fit. Concentrating on eating a healthy diet will help with your healing, and keep off the pounds that come with empty calories. Some combination of swimming, walking with hiking poles mainly using the better of your two legs once you are ready for it, light weights, pull ups, core exercises (the Ab carver pro has provided me with great results) should keep you fit if you keep at it for 5 days a week religiously. I always set a goal for myself to come out of setbacks fitter than I went into them. You will be back cranking in no time, with legs that are even, which your back will always thank you for, and an ankle that will be much more reliable!
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Feb 19, 2014 - 07:58am PT
Anita...Enjoy your down time and take it easy....Climbing will always be there...
sDawg

climber
Feb 19, 2014 - 01:11pm PT
I did two shoulder surgeries, each with a 6-month recovery, one year apart. The second was hard because the injury was pretty bad and I came into it weak. My advice:

1. Go into surgery as strong as you can.
2. Get as much activity as you can handle and do it in the company of others as much as possible. I found myself driving to the gym to do 10 minutes of PT and 20 minutes on the stairs and the sense of community helped. As I built some strength, I climbed what I could on toprope in the gym. If you miss hiking, get outside on flat easy trails with friends, even if it's on crutches.
3. Climbing will come back faster and stronger than you expect. Your body will re-learn much more effectively the second (or third) time around. It was over a year after my second surgery before I was really taking risks while climbing, but I was onsighting in the gym and trad climbing at nearly the level I left off at within a few months of that 6-month recovery point. I'm 2.5 years out from the second surgery now and am officially stronger than I was before I got hurt.
4. Ask for help! My first time I was hesitant, but having lived through the recovery once I asked for everything I needed the second time. You'll be strong again soon.
5. I don't know anything about your surgeries and I know some are more effective than others, but I know I'm stronger now than I ever could have been without the surgery, even though I was actually able to climb before both. Both were 100% worth it.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Feb 19, 2014 - 01:18pm PT
Take lots of selfies going into, coming out of and recovering from surgery. Post them here. Tell us a story. It will help you too and we get to see more of Anita! :D

Win win

Surgery is easy. You just lay there.

Desire, now that's the CURE.

You have to want it.

Do you still desire climbing?

DMT

ps. Well do ya???
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Feb 19, 2014 - 01:21pm PT
Anita has been going ice climbing, nearly every w/e since like November.
The Glowering Sailor

climber
Mt. Humphreys
Feb 19, 2014 - 01:23pm PT
Anita has been going ice climbing, nearly every w/e since like November.

She even did a little bit of improvisational field surgery a couple/three weekends ago.

It's training for the main event.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Feb 19, 2014 - 02:17pm PT
Let me pile on to something rgold said. The recovery rate depends on your body, and none of us can generalize what you will do. That said, I suffered my accident when I was 60, and my physical therapists said my recovery was faster than anyone else's they'd seen at any age. Unfortunately (or so it seemed at the time), that didn't prevent my orthopod from keeping me earthbound for the recommended nine months. Still, the quite rapid healing enabled me to get in better overall shape while I was waiting to get off the ground.

Since you've been keeping fit, your recovery may also be quicker than "normal." Hang in there, do what you must, and let us know how it turns out. You have a lot of us on ST rooting for you.

John
slabbo

Trad climber
colo south
Feb 19, 2014 - 03:18pm PT
Try 2 years !! really sucks a lot. I had hip #2 done and was recovering pretty well when heart issues arose big time...

Big 3 Swimming, sticks (hiking) and slabs for now. just one word about rehab..I for one, can ONLY self motivate..works great
Barbarian

climber
Feb 19, 2014 - 03:30pm PT
Nothing quite like having your guts cut wide open for eliminating core strength.

I'll second that! I still have no core strength, but I'm still on the up-side of the dirt, so don't have many complaints.
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Feb 19, 2014 - 06:08pm PT
When I was 25, I ripped my right knee to shreds and had to take off 7 months from any serious physical activity.
Just after surgery I was laying in the recovery room feeling sorry for myself and thinking about how much I'd be missing.
I asked the guy in the next bed what he was in for.
He smiled and told me it was his third hip replacement in as many years. He had rheumatoid arthritis and was given a %50 chance of seeing his 20th year. He was 17 years old.

Meeting him was a life changing experience for me and when I think of him I am grateful for all that life has given me.

Modesto Mutant

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Feb 19, 2014 - 09:19pm PT
Good luck with your procedures Anita. I had surgery on my achilles to repair a rupture mid June of 2013. By September I was back on my bike and was posting faster times (I'm a Strava junkie) within a month. I'm sure I was overly amped and that helped. While no procedures are the same and I'm not fully familiar with the procedure you've described, I think as a general rule you should be back in full form shortly after the projected time line expressed by your Ortho and PT. Hang in there, it gets better. Focus in on getting past the surgery part and getting on with the healing part. Good luck and report back!
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