Q: How has the recovery been? Do you still have some effects?
A: It’s been a ride. Plenty of ups and downs. Recovery is a lot more sitting around and waiting than I expected. I’ve done myself some disservices by being overly motivated and trying too hard. I’m getting better at the patience thing and dealing with obstacles as they come. Plus, I started “Game of Thrones.”
As for effects, yes. There are still some challenges. I just had two more surgeries in January that I’m still working back from (but feeling great overall) and am currently (as I type actually) on IV antibiotics trying to beat a bone infection I’ve been dealing with for the last year or so. Then some other small stuff that’ll probably be around for a long time.
I’ve been sitting on my buns for almost a year and a half, so I’m not necessarily in peak physical condition. I’m so excited to get back at it. Plus, I lost basically all my muscle weight, so I’m at peak sending weight.
Q: Are you still pursuing a career in nursing?
A: Absolutely. I’m just finishing up pre-reqs and applying for nursing schools. I just interviewed at a school last week, so I have some time before I’m actually a nurse. Right now I’m focusing on getting experience and learning as much as possible. I’m currently working on an ambulance and in the ER which has been so amazing.
I wouldn’t say this experience delayed nursing as much as catalyzed it. I had always thought about nursing and was super interested in medicine but was nervous about time and money and all the other things that come along with school. The accident forced my hand in a lot of ways.
Being a part of the medical system was a great opportunity to learn about medicine, and I really have learned a ton being an active patient. But more importantly, I learned about the patient experience. I remember how disempowering it was not being able to take care of myself. I am so stoked to help people do the smallest things now, because I know what it meant to me when someone could do it with respect and seemed to actually care about me.
Q: Has this accident changed how you approach climbing?
A: It’s hard to know right now. The last 16 some-odd months have had their share of complications, so I haven’t really been able to climb. But I’m sure I’ll be a big scaredy cat.
Philosophically, no. I believe climbing is supposed to be an adventure. It’s supposed to have unknowns and dangers, that is what makes it so meaningful. I don’t know what climbing will look for me in the future. I’m certainly not planning on climbing choss anytime soon. But the heart of climbing is the same as it’s always been and I’ll figure out a way to partake. That said, I don’t see myself being fulfilled by the more modern style of climbing.
In terms of learning, other than not backing down from the route, I still don’t believe I did anything wrong. And despite what a few strangers think, I still know I’m a smart, safe, and educated climber. I don’t have doubt in my own skill set.
The lesson for me was really around how I approach climbing. Climbing is dangerous. I had a good grasp on the risks prior to the accident, and I had decided that the risks were worth it to me. This decision made coping with the condequences so much easier after the fact. I never once thought “man, I wish I hadn’t been climbing.”
MY EPIC: EPISODE 6BY ERIC STRICKLER
MY EPIC: EPISODE 5BY John Cleare