Trip Report
Wings
Sunday November 24, 2013 4:51pm
Credit: LilaBiene

So last night my iPad gave up the ghost as I sat down to write. (Thank you, Karl Baba! Wink.) Pictures will follow after I get up the energy and find a pleasant-enough state of mind in which to drive to an Apple location (i.e., one in which I won't be tempted to throw the POS iPad through the front window of the store).

:D

I've written previously about my struggle with what I believed was celiac disease, and its side-effect, fibromyalgia. Okay. So I was wrong. Or, at least partially wrong. Or partially right, depending upon how you look at it, as is the way with most things.

I won't bore you to tears with this battle because it isn't the purpose of this TR, except to say that it's effectively brought me to my knees for the last six months of my life and I'm mad as Hell at it. After expending my savings on western medical doctors, I dug my heels in a couple of months ago and started an arduous process of rigorously researching the raw genetic data I purchased from 23andMe a while back. Contrary to an esteemed endocrinologist's adamant conclusion that I did NOT have a urea cycle disorder (as Dolt did per his military records), and that I was "just depressed" (he actually said, I mean, look at your family history?), I determined through my own research (backwards, forwards and sideways) that I actually DO have multiple genetic mutations (several from both parents, for a double whammy) to my urea, methyl and other cycles.



Are your eyes rolling back in your head yet? ") What these mutations mean is that my body has great difficulty (and in some cases can not at all) eliminate ammonia, sulphur and other waste products from my body, so they build up causing pain, inflammation and intractable muscle spasms, among other things. What they also mean is that my body never has enough of something called BH4, which is required for many bodily functions, including the elimination of waste products, DNA/RNA replication, production of crucial neurotransmitters and antioxidants, as well as NO.

Can you guess what the number one ammonia-containing food might be? Wheat. That's why when I eliminated this and all other grains I felt the best I ever had in my entire life for about a year and a half. Until I didn't, again, because my body started rejecting all forms of animal protein, one by one. (Number 2 ammonia-containing food type. Hot damn. Why don't doctors consider food as a source of illness, or at least a catalyst, or a clue to something?)

As I am still trying to unwind the interplay of all of the 100+ mutations and figure it will take me at least another few months, I decided that I've lost enough time. I want to climb. I want to run. I want to ski. I want to do handstands and cartwheels and walkovers again. I want to interact with everyone that I care so much about. I want to LIVE. MY. LIFE. NOW.

And I want to ensure that the muppet has the tools to proactively manage whatever she's inherited from me, at least some of which I couldn't help because I didn't have any "good" copies of the critical genes to pass along.



Thank you Ben and Dorcas for taking me climbing this summer -- the memories and pictures have kept my hope alive and continue to prod me along toward finding a way to be able to go climbing with you again. TR of these adventures will follow, I hope, soon. (I'll fix the picture orientation, just can't on this ancient machine right now.)

Credit: LilaBiene



Friday afternoon I found myself lying on an acupuncture table, needles stuck in places I'd never considered permitting. My eyes were squeezed tightly shut and I was at the same time trying to breathe in for four and out for eight. "Now just relax for about a half an hour," the acupuncturist said as he closed the door to the room. I shivered a bit - yeouch! Relax. Relax. Relax. Um...how to do that, exactly? Waves of cool and warm and who knows what were roving around in my body, lying face up...vultures could be circling and I'd be none the wiser.



To let go. Be strong enough to let go. Sunlight. Sunlight, fiery orange and brilliant gold. Streaming, teasing my hair, the top of my head. Sunlight radiating, warming my head, slowly meandering down my neck. Stuck at my shoulder spasms, it wraps around my shoulders. Warmth. I begin to let go, to trust the sunlight.

My heart glows brightly, beating, radiating. I can not distract my mind back to the task at hand, to invite the sunlight to warm my entire body down through my toes. My heart beats in my ears, glowing and urgently pumping. It's...my... ...daddy's...heart...it glows inside of me. My eyes well up and urgent, pregnant drops of pain and sadness, echoing...roll down my cheeks, filling my ears. Daddy, my heart. It's yours. Where are you?

Where is he? Would that he could lie down beside me. Hold me. So I could feel his touch. His strong, persevering shoulders and hands. Look, Daddy, see my heart. See. It is your heart. Put your heart inside mine. Take my light, it's strong enough for us both. Try, Daddy, please try.

His heart is dark. I can not feel his arms around me. He passes right through me as if he isn't even there. And I begin to spin, around and around and around. I'm upright? Spinning! The world has fallen away, and it flies by in streams of color. I can't see. Please, I want to stop, I'm frightened. I look up and see nothing, except that I'm wrapped in a translucent spider's cocoon, spinning from something invisible to me. My lungs are heaving, my eyes are producing a small river that has overflowed from my ears and now streams down my neck. So much pain. So much darkness. Helplessness.



Emptiness. A dark tunnel. "DADDY!", I shriek in a voice that startles me because it is so small, that of a child's. "DADDY! Ple-hee-heease!" I can see a grey image ahead, crouched down. He is facing away from me, his head bowed toward the ground. A white T-shirt and khaki pants like my grandpa's. I'm trying to run towards him, but my feet don't move. I lean forward and cry to him to turn around, to see me. "Daddy! I'm here!" I'm sobbing without restraint, pleading, so afraid I'm going to lose sight of him.

He turns his head slightly, as if he may be acknowledging that he has heard me. I can only see his ear, he keeps his eyes averted and cast down. All of a sudden my legs are working, and I am timidly approaching him, afraid that if I walk too quickly he will disappear into thin air. Slowly, one foot in front of the other, and I am looking down on his shoulders. He doesn't move. I place my hands on the muscles of his mid-shoulders, willing my small body to produce sunshine to penetrate the crisp, white T-shirt and to reach him. And it does, ever so slowly. I gaze at my hands, now my adult, Dolt "man" hands, and I smile to myself. More power, more sunshine, more orange and gold, more fire.

It's night. It must be a full moon, because everything is a shade of very dark grey, though I can't see anything except what's above me. And Bill climbing over boulders ahead of me. Expansive, deep blue sky. Millions of stars as far as I can see, peeking out from between the bows of the fragrant pine trees. I can't see the moon, but I know it's comfort. It's there.



It's quiet, except for the sounds of night. Bill moves effortlessly. I watch him approach each boulder, fallen tree, and my eyes smile as he chooses paths that fit my gait, though I'm not looking down at all. I'm happy moving along to his rhythm and pace. Just to walk along the same path for a ways.

He climbs up, and his hand is suddenly in front of my face. He pulls me up to where I can easily find foot and hand holds, and I follow him up the dark face. His white T-shirt is my guide, and every now and then I can sense him turning around to assure that I'm coming along. But I'm diligently absorbed in moving along, trying hard not to get too far behind. He looks beautiful to me, against the dark granite framed by a sky full of stars.

We reach a rather large ledge, and Bill sits down cross-legged, it being understood that here is where we would sleep. I gaze out at the valley in wonder. Or maybe exhaustion. I lie down, resting my head in his lap, the soft cotton of his khakis, comforting. I want to stay awake, but the gentle stroke of his hand on my forehead and hair soothes me to sleep, my heart content.



Before my eyes open, I know he is gone. But he is not, gone, just no longer there. I feel alive, joyous, connected. I roll over and start to rise, stretching out from my core, only to look over my right shoulder and realize that my arms have turned into enormously broad, downy white feathered wings...and I have caught a rising wind, flying up, up, up...into the bright blue, sunny sky...

But I try to put on my brakes, asking (I don't know whom) if it wasn't Bill that was supposed to be transformed. There was no response, except that my wings seemed to grow stronger and the very next moment I was f r e e, lost in the beauty of flying...



Tom Frost's first picture with Dolt's Leica camera on 6 September 1960...
Tom Frost's first picture with Dolt's Leica camera on 6 September 1960 with Frank Hoover's butterfly...Dolt with wings to fly...
Credit: LilaBiene

This is dedicated to every single one of you for sharing part of this path with me.

P.S. I was hesitant to share this story, except that it was burning a hole in me trying to get out. I was wide awake the whole time, albeit, eyes closed, but my mind and heart were completely open in an effort to allow the healing of the acupuncture in. I haven't the slightest idea where the dream sequence came from.
P.P.S. I chose the songs as I went along, so when I actually saw the Rusted Root video for the first time, I almost didn't use it because of the white wings that appear toward the end of the video. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.


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LilaBiene
About the Author
LilaBiene is an (aspiring) trad climber stepping into some very big shoes from the Other Coast.

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johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Nov 24, 2013 - 09:44pm PT
Quite the story. Thanks for sharing; we can be a rude bunch of animals but in the end stick together. I hope for an end to your pain. As someone told me recently, anyone who has been on this planet for very long has reasons to cry. Sometimes it helps to vent. God knows I've done it here.

Sometimes just putting our thoughts into words has some degree of cathartic effect.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Nov 24, 2013 - 10:57pm PT
Your writing and journey have a way of turning me inside out, upside down and then back to right. As a sailor there is a oft used sentiment... "You can't control the wind but you can adjust your sails". What an amazing Captain of your journey you are, no matter what some of your docs have tried to say.
Courage. It's all through you

Susan
Fletcher

Gym climber
A very quiet place
  Nov 25, 2013 - 12:56am PT
Wow, I was aware that you'd been going through a rough spell a few months or so back. You've been in my thoughts and prayers and I'm glad you are figuring stuff out. Can't even begin to imagine what you have been through, but it sounds like you may be finding your one particular harbor (keeping with the nautical theme) at long last. We'll, there are many pieces to find along the way, aren't there?

Thanks for sharing. Brave but as you noted, you had to get it out. Why not here? It can be a place of acceptance and reception.

Godspeed to you!
Eric
Edge

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
  Nov 25, 2013 - 01:08am PT
Thanks for sharing your heartfelt post. Someone once said, "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for."

I'm glad to hear that you are finding acceptance and comfort in your struggles, you will be stronger for it. I too have had incredible results from eschewing traditional medicine for alternative approaches. Several years ago I was diagnosed with chronic osteoarthritis in my big toe, and the doctor told me that there was nothing I could do about it and it would only get worse, leading to an eventual titanium joint replacement. Four acupuncture treatments later I had significant pain relief and a return to full mobility; today it is 100% gone.

Good luck moving forward.

Loran
sullly

Gym climber
  Nov 25, 2013 - 11:54am PT
Lila, good for you to want to get back out there. I know you poo poo gym climbing, but it sounds like you are caught in the concrete jungle most of the year too. I was anti-gym once, but have met some really fun people and have gotten a bit better at climbing. This might bring you closer to Dolt because your worries dissolve within a few pitches and you are forced to trust your belayer. I recommend climbfind for partners too.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
Author's Reply  Nov 25, 2013 - 09:53pm PT
It's a funny thing, writing about stuff that is usually swept back under the rug. Since I posted this I've wanted nothing more than to delete it -- my God, that's some strange stuff. But as much as the acupuncture...er..."adventure" wouldn't allow me a moment's peace until I wrote it down, it was that much more important to me to sort of explain myself. Why I had appeared, full of energy and so excited to take in, well, everything, only to disappear again. I don't want anyone to think that I hung around long enough to learn about Dolt and Ann, only to then meander off on to other interests.

I've been really sick and just couldn't accept that I was sliding backwards from the great health that I had worked so hard to attain. Most days this summer and up until last week, I was pretty much confined to home. I haven't been able to swim since July, which is what kept my all-over muscle spasms at bay. I worked on a temporary project for about a month, and that basically did me in. One shoulder froze, and when the vice-like spasms started spreading to my other shoulder and my ribs, I decided that I didn't care what the doctors said, I was going to figure out what the Hell was going on. Because I couldn't go on like that.

Physically, the muscle spasms have been around since my 20s, so I've lived with pain for a long time. It was the range of motion limitations that scared the Hell out of me. (Well, okay, bodily functions, too, if I'm going to be honest here!) These things made me completely unpredictable, which is a humiliating, humbling experience...not for sissies. I started not making plans to do anything because I didn't know whether I'd be able to follow through, and withdrew almost completely into myself. (This was also an effort to avoid criticism from family, who to this day don't think there's a single thing wrong with me that I'm not making up.)

I studied and studied and studied the genetic data, realizing that instead of mere suspicion, I knew what Bill suffered from, because I carry multiple homozygous gene mutations that are the root causes of this puzzle. When I ran up against the western medicine wall, being told there was nothing wrong with me that a good antidepressant couldn't fix, I knew that Bill had probably run up against something similar. I KNOW the difference between pain and depression, and for some lucky star of a reason, I just won't quit. Ann is perhaps, my lucky star; and, well, my saving grace.

If I didn't have hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons not to quit...well, I understand (I think) why Bill made the decision that he did. Knowing the more that I know now, I still steadfastly believe that there wasn't a single person that could have changed his mind. When you live in a body that is slowly tightening down, as your muscles form knots, growing shorter, pulling your facia this way and that, eventually pulling on tendons and ligaments and pinching nerves, you never feel a moment's peace. There is no deep sleep, if there is sleep at all, the lack thereof just perpetuates the cycle. The exhaustion is overwhelming. Thinking and talking become gargantuan efforts, causing you to just withdraw from those you love, the pain and isolation becoming unbearable.

I'm giving this genetic "dish" all of the Hell that I can muster, and just this past week was able to get back in the pool. I started using the rolling stair master with my climbing shoes, using the tips of my toes and creating an infernal fire in my calves. I literally can't go a day without moving, a lot, until the end of my days. (Yeah, I know, big surprise there.) So, I wasn't around for a while there, but you haven't gotten rid of me. ") I've still got millions of questions.

Yeah, kinda wish I didn't share the acupuncture experience, it's so bizarre, but I don't think I would have understood it if I hadn't. If that makes any sense. Since I experienced it, and actually wrote it down, it's at once become real, such that I can't dismiss it as never having happened. And that's a wonderful thing, because it transformed me. For lack of a better way of describing it, I'm not the same person. Perhaps I faced my deepest fear, or revealed my deepest vulnerability, or maybe I walked where I feared previously to tread. Whatever the journey, it's left me with a wholeness and peace that I've never known. I walked the same path, for a ways, with the man who created life in me...he shared the magic of Dolt tower, his strength, his peace, and his gentle heart, and then he gave me wings.

johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Nov 25, 2013 - 10:17pm PT
If that makes any sense.

It makes sense to me. It helps to share our feelings and impressions. I think you have shown strength in your post.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Nov 26, 2013 - 12:38am PT
"maybe I walked where I feared previously to tread."

You're flying, I'm buying.

All of it.

Very therapeutic to pencil it all and relive the experience as you do.

Things get clarified and more questions arise.

Keep this up. Every day you have more reason to do so, as Camila will be reading this "journey" to Nix-It Land, seeking her own answers to her own problems someday...God knows, with a mom like you, she'll have plenty! Please laugh, for she will, knowing so much more than you about these genetic puzzles, and being mildly puzzled as to how you could have missed all the signs pointing you towards resolution of these ailments.

In the future, all kids will have moms and dads and know all the medicines and remedies and cures of every single disease and syndrome and disorder. Because people like you are willing to persevere.

And there will be no more split infinitves, neither.

Go, baby girl, keep flying straight on to the second start on the left and begin living again.

We all over love you, so take that and put it in your shoe. We'll support you however we may.

Godspeed, Odd.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
Author's Reply  Dec 1, 2013 - 05:31pm PT
Hey, thanks everybody, for all of the good karma!

A mere four acupuncture treatments, and I have 50% of my shoulder function back! Not only that, the muscle spasms that took up residence all over my upper back, ribs and shoulders (many of which were the size of small rodents) are about 25% of their previous stature. Plus, my rib cage, which has been locked down for at least 10 years, is flexible again -- what a pleasure to be able to breathe deeply and feel my lungs (and not my stomach cavity) expand...I can not even tell you.

I haven't been thinking about the dream sequence much at all, but yesterday while I was swimming, it occurred to me that it wasn't Bill that gave me wings, but Ann.

Here's a picture of the muppet as we sat down to make our own version of an advent calendar yesterday;

Credit: LilaBiene

And the almost final product (a few of the yogurt containers still need a bit more disguising):

Credit: LilaBiene

Also wanted to pass along some good news from Frank Hoover, who many may have known has been confined to a wheel chair for several years following a rather terrible car accident. He's had a successful knee surgery, which is GREAT news!

"11/20/2013

Subject: knee tendon

Hi everyone

After the tendon transplant & Rehab. I am back at Emeritus, Chatsworth. Monday I start training for the for my 199 meter dash at Rio.

Frank"


Good holiday cheer!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Dec 1, 2013 - 06:31pm PT
Wheat. That's why when I eliminated this and all other grains I felt the best I ever had in my entire life for about a year and a half. Until I didn't, again, because my body started rejecting all forms of animal protein, one by one.
It must be pretty frustrating to find a solution that worked so well,
and then it didn't last.
And having the list of tolerable foods shrink is an unwelcome hurdle.

Good work on researching the symptoms and mutations.
It's kinda sad that most doctors seem unable to diagnose things.
And hard to find the better doctors.
An example of "if you want it done right, do it yourself".

It seems like if you had the full-blown BH4 deficiency described in
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrobiopterin_deficiency
you would be a lot more wrecked than you are. (maybe you have it at a somewhat lower level).
Do you have a measure of your phenylalanine level?
Does this mean you are taking THB supplements to see if they help?
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Dec 1, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
Nice write-up! And sorry about your condition. As much as I would ridicule non-conventional therapy usually, acupuncture does indeed work for some things, as you've obviously found.

I hope you get well and feel better. Cheers!
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
Author's Reply  Dec 2, 2013 - 01:35am PT
Hi Clint,

I don't believe that I have a straight out deficiency in generating BH4, because like you said, I'd be a whole lot more wrecked. (Though most days this summer/fall I did feel like I was slowly being destroyed from the inside-out.) I do, however, have one of the gene mutations mentioned in the Wiki that has a negative impact on my ability to recycle BH4 (thankfully, only a heterozygous mutation).

Actually, it was learning that I am a carrier for PKU that got me thinking that perhaps I was on to something re: ammonia. The endocrinologist essentially snarled at me when I asked whether being a carrier for PKU had any implications. He didn't test my phenylalanine levels (which was really disappointing), but did test my ammonia levels, which he deemed "fine". Well, of course they were fine, I was and am avoiding (like the plague) high-ammonia foods because they make me feel terrible.

When I recovered from his disdain, took me a while, I'll admit, I read more about PKU carriers and learned that there is an evolutionary advantage for women carriers of PKU, relating to times of famine. Ironically enough, it has to do with consumption of grains that wouldn't ordinarily be eaten during times of plenty, e.g., grains that had become moist and moldy. But more importantly, at least from my perspective, was the fact that carriers of PKU do have higher blood concentrations of phenylalanine than non-carriers.

So, I wondered, what happens when you have too much phenylalanine and/or ammonia for your body to handle? Well, you wind up in a predicament like mine. ") In any case, this curiosity inadvertently backed me into the group of MTHFR genes and mutations, which I am still trying to decipher. I have at least 3 homozygous mutations that are highly undesirable (CBS, COMT, ACE), and which essentially result in build-ups of various by-products of protein (and other foods high in ammonia, sulfur and phenylalanine) synthesis. BH4 is used up rapidly as the body tries to cycle out these by-products, and then isn't recycled properly due to one or more of the MTHFR gene mutations.

I am working very slowly through diet modifications and the gradual addition of various enzyme and neurotransmitter co-factors, trying to help my body help itself. A week or so ago I started taking a "homeopathic" dose of BH4, but this was only after I was sure that my body was accepting methyl-folate and methyl-cobalamin without ill effect. (It was a shock to learn that taking folic acid supplements is essentially useless, and can actually be dangerous.) It's been a painstaking process (HA!), but the results at least in these early stages are promising.

Guess I just broke my promise not to get into the details. But, hey, my thought is that maybe it'll help someone else, at least I hope it does. If nothing else, perhaps it'll cure someone's insomnia for a night.

climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Dec 2, 2013 - 10:11am PT
Pretty interesting stuff. Sure would be nice to get some of those levels tested. If you have another bad bout I would insist on those tests. Don't be intimidated. Remember the docs work for you. Be the boss if you have too and preferably find a doctor with a higher level of curiosity.

Gene expression can change as we get older. For example it's one of the reasons it is not unusual to become lactose intolerant as we age. Its somewhat an oddity of western populations that adults even retain high lactase production.

You are really digging into some specialized areas of knowledge. You can quickly become very knowledgeable in areas that most doctors do not have time to research deeply. Do not be surprised if you find that these are areas where basic research is still needed.

I like the way you think and I would advise trusting yourself. Try to find more ways to test your questions with measurements.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
Author's Reply  Dec 2, 2013 - 10:44pm PT
Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words, Bluey. ")

And my Anchorage friend (you know that I was born at Providence Hospital there, right?), that is some very solid advice you have given me, and I am deeply appreciative. I am going to seek out a doctor (cough - hairball!) and go in to the appointment with a list of what I wish to have tested, if for no other reason than it would be good to have a baseline before I start fiddling with too many different things. lol But you never know, I think there's a good chance it will provide some much needed clarity. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and advice.

Had a solid 60 minutes on the stair master working my toes & feet & calves and quads/hammies yesterday. It feels so great to be moving again!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Dec 2, 2013 - 11:16pm PT
Credit: mouse from merced
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
Author's Reply  Dec 2, 2013 - 11:26pm PT
HA! Mouse, hilarious!!! :D
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Dec 3, 2013 - 12:01am PT
I would be surprised if we didn't cross paths at some time. I graduated from Dimond in 89. I think you once mentioned you attended a different HS around the same time. Anchorage is a strangely small town in some ways.

Certainly my best wishes for you on this Odyssey called life. Your story and the way you have shared it are powerful.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
Author's Reply  Feb 1, 2014 - 10:24am PT
Ahhhhh...sadly, when I was about 5 months old my parents left Anchorage and drove back to the Northeast, and that was the last I've seen of Alaska. Someday...I've wanted to return for as long as I can remember.

So I saw a geneticist. The blood work all came back fine (an elevated something-or-other, but not specific enough to pinpoint anything). I was instructed to stop all supplements for 30 days. I made it 7 before the physical pain, insomnia, emotional nosedive and massive, MASSIVE panic attacks drove me back to my supplements in search of my sanity. (Nothing heavy, mind you, the right B vitamins & a multi & a "homeopathic" dose of BH4.)

The doctor didn't return my calls until nearly a week after that, and so now I'm on day 4 of no supplements again. Don't ask. This time, though, if I get to that same point again, I'm to go straight to the hospital to have my blood drawn. Nice. Is there a cave around here where I can just go and stare at a wall for a few weeks?

On the other hand, blood work that the DO/acupuncturist ordered came back today and I tested positive again for the celiac markers, so at least that wasn't all in my head. I have some more dietary adjustments to make (seriously?!). So I'm just doing my time...

But in the interim, it's been all I could do to try to make some kind of sense out of that initial acupuncture session. Peace, yes, I've felt a deep sense of peace since then...but I've also felt the intense absence of Dolt's "presence". Perhaps, I thought, he's gone now that he's at peace. I've thought, too, a lot, about the great, downy-white feathered owl, with her broad, powerful wings. But I couldn't help feeling that Dolt had left.

Until this arrived in my mailbox Monday night...

Cover of this month's D.C. Bar magazine
Cover of this month's D.C. Bar magazine
Credit: LilaBiene

Yeah, no, I didn't see that one coming. Definitely caught me off guard. And I started thinking again. He never knew. But that wasn't in my hands. It was in the hands of someone that did the very best she could to deal with a series of devastating life circumstances. And she bravely brought me into this world at a time when unwed mothers were ostracized. I'm here! Who am I to wonder?

But I do wonder. Catholic Social Services wrote to me and told me that I could challenge what had taken place because according to their records, his rights had been violated under Alaska law. He had a right to know. Why this cover story now, just when everything was seemingly neatly settled in my mind? Would petitioning to have him recognized as my birth father be a step in the direction of putting things right (as if they could be)? Would he even want me to?

I just don't know.

Then, on Thursday night, the most wonderful present from the heart arrived from Mastadon...

Just...beautiful.
Just...beautiful.
Credit: LilaBiene

...and filled mine. So many memories came flooding back from my incredible (if now somewhat surreal) trips out to MERCED, Facelift, Oakdale, Los Angeles, Healdsburg... Earlier in the week, out of the blue, the search angel who helped me in contacting my birth mom's sister wrote to tell me about the AAC dinner in Colorado next week. She's been working tirelessly with a whole group of search angels nationally lobbying to have the remaining states with closed adoption records enact legislation permitting adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Earlier today I went to the library in search of a book about Erik Weihenmayer after reading a post on FB about the work he does through his non-profit. Here's what I found first...

Is that Mark Powell? Somebody set me straight!
Is that Mark Powell? Somebody set me straight!
Credit: LilaBiene

The first book I pull off the shelf out of curiosity has a Dolt photo. On. The. Cover. So, okay, I get it, the Universe is trying to drive a point home through my thick skull, and I'm NOT getting it!!!

I should have had a notion that there was more to come. But, no, I got lost in the wall of mountaineering books for the rest of the afternoon until I was nearly late for my acupuncture appointment. Off I zipped, making it just in time, and all the pins went in without a single "Yeowch!". I figured I'd be out like a light as per usual.

"DADDY!!!!!!! DAAAAADDY!!!!!!" (I would have sat straight up if only to stop the dream sequence but I couldn't with things sticking out from everywhere. Nonononono. Not this again. NO.) And I'm back in the dimly lit, grey tunnel again. Dolt is crouched down, facing away from me. I can't move toward him, though I can flail my arms about, cross them in frustration and reach out in his direction. But he's walking back to me this time. I crumble to the floor in a heap of sobs, my chest and heart heaving with sadness. I thought he was gone...that he didn't want to be connected to me anymore. I feel him put his strong arms around me, and I can almost smell the cotton of his t-shirt. It's crisp and clean and warm. I am not crying alone.

I'm exhausted from the raw emotion, as is he. He leans back on his heels, as if to get up, and I grab his head with my hands and pull his forehead to mine (just like the muppet does with me) and look piercingly into his eyes. They're as transparent as ice. I shake my head and grab his again, pulling his forehead to mine, searching his eyes. I KNOW you're there. I know you are. And I find him. He's looking back at me, tentatively, cautiously. I grin, and throw my ear up against his chest to see if I can hear his heart. It's a beautiful, thumping, rhythmic sound. I rest there for a while...just hearing the sound of life force.

We eventually get up, I grab hold of his hand ('cause I am NOT letting go) and we walk back out of the dark tunnel in the opposite direction as before. And we're standing at the edge of that parking lot with the beautiful view looking through the Valley. The air feels fresh and rejuvenating in our lungs. His gaze has softened, and I think he may be sporting a half smile, but I don't dare look. I can feel it.

Over the wall we hop, and we're making our way over the Valley floor. It's a nice, long hike...over, under and around. Where to, I wonder? Hey, we're in El Cap Meadow. We jump up onto, and then over, the giant log where BooDawg took the picture of the muppet and me in front of El Cap. Dolt is leading the way now, and seems intent on where he's going. He looks up, and then promptly flops on his back on the ground. I'm motioned to join him, not quite sure how the knee high grasses aren't going to pierce right though me if I, too, flop on the ground, but what the heck. He passes me a set of binoculars that just happened to mysteriously appear. I have not the slightest clue what I should be looking at, but we pass them back and forth, and I learn about the lower Nose route somehow. It starts to grow dark; and I grow anxious, trying pointlessly to hide my fear.

He stretches out his left arm so that I can rest my head in the cradle of his shoulder, just the way the muppet sleeps in mine. I half fall asleep listening to the beautiful rhythm of his heart. But I resist sleep and sit up, pressing my hands into his chest, willing him not to disappear while I sleep. He takes some convincing. My heart desperately wants to make him whole...and I'm not finished yet.

The morning sun sparkles and there's a bird singing or squawking here and there. Half-afraid to open my eyes, I ever so slightly turn my head, and my heart just about explodes with elation. He's still here. I open my eyes and sit up, only to catch the look on his face that is partly quizzical and mostly expressing trepidation. What do I have in store for him, for he's on unchartered ground. It's time to go. I grab his hand and we walk for a ways, until the path requires me to lead. He follows, albeit dragging his feet. I can feel that he doesn't believe he can face wherever it is that I'm about to take him.

I hear the wings of my beautiful birth mother just an instant before she brakes to land on my shoulder. Her claws are gripping my shoulder more tightly than usual. I continue along at our casual pace and notice that she keeps turning her soft, downy head to gaze at Dolt. Go to him, I say. She responds by facing forward and digging her claws deep into my shoulder. Her posture is strong and brave, belying the intense fear I sense within her. GO to him, I say more forcefully. Tell him...you've got to put down this burden. She catches a breeze, and I turn to make sure she's headed in the right direction. I catch a glimpse of her beautiful wing span as she approaches him, and turn around leaving them to their private exchange.

I continue along, relieved that I can still hear Dolt's footsteps behind me. Time passes, and I sneak a look behind me. Ann is perched on his left shoulder. When she catches me peeking, she immediately returns to my shoulder. I look back at Dolt and extend my hand. He stops, holding my hand, but looking at the ground. I can sense his shame, and fear. I give his hand a good squeeze. Everything is going to be alright...you will be welcomed...you'll see, I say with my eyes. His face relaxes; he gives me a half-smile, his body language still closed. "Come, let's climb," I say. And he lifts his head, gives me a broad grin, grabs my hand and together we walk into the milling crowd of their climbing family.

We've come home.


Edit:
To add Merced, because Mouse was my first contact with Middle Earth. <3 Thank you, my dear, dear friend on this incredible journey.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Feb 1, 2014 - 06:31am PT
The biggest game in Ozlaska is examining flowers.  And insects.  And w...
The biggest game in Ozlaska is examining flowers. And insects. And weirdos with nutrition problems that may only be in their head, which would solve a lot of other probs like INSOMNIA!
Credit: mouse from merced
Post of the month so far.
I love you and THE Muppet.

Mr. Dolt, Mouse on the radar.
Tune him in.
He says he's too high.
Tell him to go left, up, left again, then right and up.
Huh?
So do I have to draw you a topo, son?

Best of wishes,
To two "radar dishes,"
Audrey and Camila.

The Stamp Fairies? :0)

I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel
There's a voice in my head, that drives my heel
It's my baby callin', says, "I need you here"
Ans it's half past four, and I'm shifting gear

When she's lonely and the longing gets too much
She sends a cable comin' in from above
Don't need no phone at all
We've got a thing that's called radar love
We've got a wave in the air, radar love

Enough schmaltz. Did you see, in that DISCO ERA GOLD McOLD, the chicks sitting just being chicks? And the ambiance of the times?

I remember this song driving from Berkeley to the park to climb. It played a lot on radio stations along the route through Livermore, into Motown and on to the higher footies across the plain and into the hills.

At night, the B-52s and the KC-135s would be visible (on clear nights anyway) and it was good to know we were not up there flying all those miles for no good reason.

We were driving all those miles, listening to that CRAP MUSIC, station after station, anticipating the EMERALD CITY and doing some hum-drum 5.9 on the Apron, having a few at Chez D'Egnan, lighting up the tires and the doob and heading back to the Bay in a hurry to tell all the folks who could really care less about OUR weekend when they had spent it at this guy's beach house near Mickey's and he taught her to rapp.

What ODD STORIES yer pa must've tried to relate in his quarters at CAFB. I live in the hotel which housed the base's first H effing Q, I just realized.

CLOUDS (but maybe could be COULDS)out of Merced, after the rain.
I would say this looks like snow in Madera County and south.  Just a g...
I would say this looks like snow in Madera County and south. Just a guess.
Credit: mouse from merced
Notice the antennae. A display guraranteed to tune in WH and BD, not all the time, but when they have their own devices on, generally, unless there is "glitch" (BD's terminology, not mine).

It was BD's idea. Warren supplied the belay on this. He was mellow about it.

Baby girl, Lilabiene, the bee with purple prose,
Please do change, don't stay the same, get better,
You lovely rose.
MFM
GLee

Social climber
MSO
  Feb 4, 2014 - 08:16pm PT
Always AMAZING ODD!!

Think about collecting 'all that is YOU on this Forum' in whatever form would work , that you came give to the MUPPET to pass on in perpetuity to her family......

Amazing

GLee :D
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
Author's Reply  Mar 13, 2014 - 12:00am PT


Hope.

Love.

WILL.

...exorcise demons. Doubts. Fears.


It's been a frustrating last several months with a lot of trial and error, but my body and I seem to have come to a tentative truce -- as long as I MOVE, a lot, most days, and get enough sleep, take my supplements and eat a gradually broader diet -- things are in balance again. (Huge sigh of relief.) I'm back to training (swimming for now), and rehabilitating my shoulders through targeted stretching and strengthening opposing muscles. (Thank you, Mark Hudon, for pointing out the awesome article on UKClimbing.com.)

Though I nearly bailed last minute tonight due to an attack of shyness, I attended the AMC's info session on their Rock Climbing Course that begins week after next. I even kept my promise to myself that I would introduce myself to at least one person -- thank you Eric Engberg and Sharlene for being so friendly! (Sharlene lives in a nearby town, so I may have found at last someone to climb with locally -- woohoo!!!) I'm so excited to get out climbing again I can barely stand it. And, after the 6-week class ends, there's a trip down to New Pfalz, NY! :D

Cartwheels excited. If I didn't need to be up again in 5 hours, I swear I'd be sorting gear...

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