Saturday, 14 December 2013

Climbing with two feet

Is brilliant.

Slowly I'm finding that I can put more weight through my leg and climbing is starting to feel more like climbing, and it makes me indescribably happy.
The session I had today was the most like climbing I've done for over three months which, to me, has felt like a while.
It wasn't perfect, but it was better than every other time. It's interesting, because with walking, I can't see such an improvement. But it's easier to realise, with climbing, exactly how much things have improved- especially if you repeat a route- because standing on your toes in a precise way is incredibly intensive when your leg is the weakest link.

I'm pretty excited for the future!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Transition to a Boot Free Tomorrow

The first session without the boot was significantly scarier that the first session on a rope. As someone who feels entirely safe on a rope with a trusted belayer, monkeying about on the main wall at the Foundry with a boot on was only mildly unnerving, for about five minutes.
But taking the boot off was a whole different kettle of fish.
Suddenly climbing was no longer about how long I could hold on for. It was about the strength in my ankle. Now I couldn't stand on footholds because I wasn't strong enough, and not because I had a massive boot on (which was a great excuse).
I felt totally exposed. There was nothing protecting me if I kicked the wall. I had to think about what I was doing. And I felt like failing to stand on things was down to me, and not something I could claim the boot as an excuse for.
There was an overwhelming feeling of vulnerability.

To be honest, I didn't enjoy it. But I'm not too concerned, the same happened with climbing in the boot- then things improved over time.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


At the risk of sounding soft, being able to walk- albeit slowly and stiffly- has given me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. So I'm going to indulge in some pondering this post...

Breaking my leg like that, or even 'snapping it' as a friend so succinctly put it the other day, hasn't been the best thing I've ever done. Not even close.

Fingerboarding is certainly making me strong. My legs are thinner, probably lighter. A climber’s dream! Is that preferable to getting stronger using a more varied training schedule and having slightly stronger legs? No. I’ve missed climbing so much it hurts. Breaking my leg has meant that I only see close friends, I’ve spent a lot of the last three months in pain, I’ve been bored out of my mind, and I’ve worried about the course.

But it’s also making me appreciate things as they come back. It’s made me stop and think. My life up until September that summer had consisted of working six days a week, doing a summer placement at a school and filling the gaps with work at the Depot. Not a single waking minute wasn’t filled either with work, climbing or socialising. And there weren’t that many sleeping ones. I loved it- I’ve always been my happiest with a million fun things to engage my short attention span.

As a result, I was gutted when I suddenly had to spend so many hours doing either Physics or very little. And even when things improved, doing Physics, Fingerboarding or very little. I practically climbed the walls with frustration: doing a degree and Fingerboarding wasn’t enough, I wanted to do Everything.

I never used to walk around Leeds- too slow. I’d cycle instead. If I went for a walk anywhere but the countryside, I’d walk as fast as possible so as to get to where I was going. Even in the countryside, I don’t walk that slowly- I want get somewhere, make progress. I’ve never been interested in slowing down. Why, when I could see more if I walked faster?

But in the last couple of days, I’ve done a little walking. I walked to the train station from my house in Leeds. And I walked around a park in Sheffield yesterday. I walked for over an hour, probably less than a mile. And it was idyllic. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I ‘saw everything properly’- but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed. It didn’t matter where I was going, or what I accomplished. I just wanted to be outside in the sun.

I’ve never been accused of laziness, never been guilty of procrastination on any real scale. I know what I want in life, and I’m excited to go get it. But I hope that the way I’ve learned to accept that things are slower and milestones are re-defined stays with me. I can’t honestly say I always enjoy climbing when I’m fit. I often feel cross I’m not as good as the people I climb with. Or didn’t do as well as last time. Or sufficiently better. Yet at the moment, climbing on a top rope is pure joy. I just want to be there, and I’m not worried about the achievements. And broken leg and numerical grades aside, I’m probably climbing as well as I’ve ever climbed before. It might not look like it. It might look like my technique is terrible and I’m using my arms too much. But though climbing with a boot, or a very weak ankle is inelegant- footwork is no less intricate.

Perhaps for the first year since I was much younger, I’m looking forward to a Christmas week without climbing. I won’t be champing at the bit to get to a climbing wall on Boxing Day. I’ll be enjoying catching up with my parents and sisters, while physics text books look enviously on from the side lines. And really, I can thank a broken leg for a slightly more relaxed perspective.

When I’m fully recovered, I’ll go back to climbing all the time. And working a lot of the time. And I’ll love it. But I’ll try not to forget that slowing down isn’t always the wrong thing to do. Because life’s too short to do nothing- but it’s also too short to do everything.

And it’s only a broken leg, innit?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Missing Climbing

It's been three months since I broke my tib and fib. I'd love to say it feels like that's flown by, but it really hasn't. It's been frustrating, exhausting and upsetting. I've badly missed the social aspect of climbing and I've struggled to get my head around doing less.

I went to the fracture clinic today where I saw a very abrupt doctor- who said

"It's not doing much healing, are you on steroids?"
"...no" I said.
 "Well", he said, "Take the boot off and just walk everywhere".

He then started talking into his dictaphone about our exchange for about a minute or so. Thinking he was done, I started to leave, when he said "I haven't finished with you yet, come back"... and then dismissed me.

I suppose that's bad for climbing and good for walking. Bad for climbing in the sense that I guess it's not a good idea to go for anything but tight top-roping, and good for walking because, well, there's walking to be done. I feel disappointed in my bone for not doing it's thing since I'm trying so hard to encourage it.

The next fracture clinic appointment is at the fabled four month mark. At this point I was supposed to be walking normally... so I suppose I must be on track.

Though being able to fingerboard has been in many ways a lifesaver, there are days when it takes every last bit of motivation to do it. Sometimes I've put it off until 11 pm, knowing that it'll be the same as last time, give or take three seconds on a smaller hold- and not being excited by it at all. I'm amazed I can still be bothered. Until I broke my leg, the only reason I'd never used a fingerboard properly was that I found it boring. But there's boring, and then there's fingerboarding all the time.

The hardest thing is knowing if it helps. Because I see improvements in the finger boarding, but I never, ever, go for a session where I climb (obviously). Usually I've always been able to tell if I'm getting better at climbing by... climbing. And without climbing, I feel like I've just taken up finger boarding as an activity. And I can't always remember why...

I'm getting used to the recovery, and it's tediousness, but I still can't cope with "it'll be over before you know it". I miss rock climbing, too...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Healing Bones

One of this things that really surprises me, two and a half months after breaking my tib and fib- is how much effort if takes to re-grow bones. I need so much more sleep than I needed when my tib and fib were whole.

I suppose this catches me by surprise because as time goes on, I get stronger and more mobile and, the occasional slip aside- things continue to improve. But then at the same time, now that crutching is easier, I want to crutch further.

Sadly, too, I'm no longer the sleep machine that painkillers made me- so if I don't get enough sleep one night, it totals me until the next night I sleep well. I'm no longer capable of cheerfully snoozing the afternoon away.

Though slow, the process of recovery is full of improvement and new possibilities- so much so, that sometimes I forget that there's supposed to be something wrong, get excited, and have to catch up. Looking at the X-rays, the tibia at least is only really just beginning to hug the titanium and in many ways it's still very broken.

My concern at the moment is getting as crutch-independent as possible before the snow and ice begin. That, and getting back on a top-rope this week!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Stupid Rain, Stupid Floors

As I had no lectures on Tuesday, I'd decided to spend Monday night in Sheffield with Alistair. We talked about the fall in the wet and decided hopefully things would start hurting less soon.
On Tuesday afternoon I decided that, on the basis that I'd gone from taking no painkillers to a fair few, and couldn't weight bear, I quite fancied an x-ray.

So we popped to A&E for the evening at Northern General. Of course, we packed sweets knowing the wait in store (yes, there is a clearly emerging pattern of turning to sweets in times of distress. I have no regrets). They were quite happy to x-ray my leg; however our luck ended there.

The doctor had a look at the X-rays and took them to her senior, who looked at them and exclaimed 'Two MONTHS? That doesn't look like a two month old fracture! They said that they'd send a pigeon to Leeds who could organise a visit to fracture clinic within the next week, but warned me that pigeons sometimes get lost so I should chase it up.

So on Thursday afternoon, having spent all of Wednesday in a Tramadol-induced haze, I went to LGI. With a different friend this time, and different snacks.
A&E is a funny place. I'd only ever seen it from the ambulance side. But in the waiting room, it's just like being on a bus. Everyone seems so... normal. I mean, there's the odd person you can tell isn't quite OK, like the guy who held an oiled rag to his motorbike chain, thinking that if he ran the bike it would oil it so much faster, now holding that same rag stained red*. But some couples you can't even tell who it is. The anorexic girl and her nice-looking boyfriend, who are they actually here for? The two girls talking about 'real hair hair extensions' and their relative quality, are they just pretending to be OK or have they got the wrong place?

Leeds decided they'd send me to fracture clinic on Monday, and told me to just keep taking painkillers.

There was a very nice radiology student though. I liked him. Not as much as Alistair, obviously.

*Don't worry, he walked out with both hands, and even both thumbs. Minus a little bit. Plus a lot of gauze.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Déjà vu

Crutches...and rain...are a terrible mix. They seem to think, the University of Leeds, that a horrendous combination of rubber and lino floors are a great idea. Yes, maybe they last longer. Yes, I'm sure they clean better. But for anyone less than steady on their feet- or even in a rush- they're an absolute nightmare when wet. Think climbing shoes on snow.

I've nearly slipped plenty of times, and it's pretty scary. But today both crutches slipped in opposite directions leaving me to slam straight down onto the booted leg. Which was pretty shit.

Fortunately there's a massive titanium rod in it this time, so the déjà vu ended there. But aside from pain, it was incredibly frustrating. I'm so careful, I put so much effort into the physio, I try so hard to get everything right- and then this. If I'd done it fingerboarding, I'd never fingerboard until it was better. But I was walking between lectures. I can't not live until I don't need crutches.

Stupid rain, Stupid floors.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

One or Two?

I'm not sure I'm totally enamored with using one crutch. For one thing, it's extremely slow and makes me feel about a million years old. It also hurts my knee and ankle.
I had to get my housemate to rescue me by bringing a second crutch to university (I'm glad I didn't let the physio take it away) because it hurt too much after a while.
He was very excited and asked to be blogged about... perhaps he hasn't realised how small the blog is :D
I wonder if the physio just doesn't know how much walking between lectures there is compared with being in an office? Or perhaps I showed off too much...

Friday, 8 November 2013


I went for my first top-roping session today.
Checking I'd tied in properly...

I guess I'll start with fear. Was I scared? Not when I was climbing. I was very intimidated by the main wall at the foundry- but if I'm honest with myself it always makes me feel small! Had I not known my belayer so well, I might have been scared. But Ali's been my climbing partner longer than we've been going out. I knew he'd look out for me. The other thing was- I've never been hurt top-roping, and it's not much like bouldering!
The level of knee-bend achieved here is, if I say so myself, pretty amazing!
Although I wasn't scared I was, as I say, very intimidated. There was certainly some nervous chattering to myself as I embarked across the roof of the Foundry main wall. One thing it put into perspective was my psychological need to wear down turned shoes on steep indoor ground. The boot was so useless, that although my other shoe was a size too big, I found it would stand on almost anything.
This was optimistically taken before I realised that this
 wasn't a function available to my left leg
and just took it off the wall and pulled instead.

In many ways, it wasn't anything like climbing as I know it. The movement was totally different, I didn't know how to use my foot- because even though it can't do a huge amount, it could certainly have borne more of my weight than it did. But it was a good laugh, and I can only improve.

A more honest portrayal of my 'footwork'
I managed a rather nice pink and purple spotty jug route though ;)

For now, at least, top-roping will remain a game. I'm not ready for training with feet. But it's nice to be able to do something else.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

One Crutch

I went to see the physio today- and she took away one of my crutches! Well, she tried. I wouldn't quite let go. So now I'm just using one!

It's a revelation. I can carry tea... and plates... and anything you can carry or use with just one hand. I had no idea how much difference it would make. Nor how much weight I was allowed to bear. On the other hand, the amount of walking I have to do to get around lectures all day is too much for just using one crutch at the moment and just hurts, so I'm sort of swapping between 2 and 1.

I love physio exercises, it's like training for climbing- if you put enough hours doing the right things in, it's so rewarding. My knee does the thing that knees do now!

The screws hurt though... :(

Thursday, 31 October 2013

How not to get fat and weak with a broken leg

  • Crutch half as far as you'd normally walk.
  • Fingerboard.

That's pretty much it. I'm knackered most of the time from crutching and healing but somehow my life is working out just fine and I'm as happy as I've been since before I broke it. It's not because I'm being super-positive. There are some moments I just want to throw my crutches on the floor, stamp my right foot (well, hop) and cry. And indeed I do, more often than I'd care to let anyone see.

But just recently some little changes have been happening in my recovery that have put me on top of the world. First of all, I can feel myself putting more and more weight on my leg when I crutch. I stand on two feet without crutches now- which is SO much easier in so many ways. OK, so it's not 50/50 and I'm marooned, but it's a start. My triceps are more efficient and crutching is slightly easier*.

When I think about the day it happened too much, I'm able to really look at how far I've come. At how, incredibly after only two weeks after physio exercises, I'm now maybe 2 degrees off straightening my knee, not 15. There's a long way to go, but these changes happened at a time when I really, REALLY needed to see some improvement.

I've also been to a few lectures. Now, I'm not the most enthusiastic in a lecture. Don't get me wrong, I do care about my degree- but I don't ever really fancy a nice lecture. But I'm absolutely loving the normality. Going to the lectures gives me a buzz, it's a real shame it'll wear off in a couple of weeks! I suppose I'm cherry picking lectures too, on the basis that dragging myself up the hill to university 5 days a week is still too much for my triceps and/or leg.

This week's been a week of training. Shoulders were fairly insistent. Who am I to refuse them, the poor dears?

*Ah, crutching. It's fair to say that I've never hated an inanimate object as much as I hate those crutches. I hate them with a passion. Perhaps it's because they've come to symbolise everything I hate about having a broken leg. A loss of freedom, a tiring method of moving around, and the sodding untangling of arms every time I want to put them down. None of these suit someone as impatient as me. Mostly, it's because they're not as good as walking.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Chapter Five

Today has been the hardest day since breaking my leg. You see, I can divide my recovery so far into four parts:

The floor of the climbing centre,
The hospital,
Alistair's parents' house in Ilkley and
Leeds with Alistair

Things have been hard, of course, at different points in those four stages. But I've never been alone. I've always been able to hold Ali's, or someone I love's, hand at the start and end of each day. And though I'm very lucky to have Alistair, I'm perhaps unlucky in the sense that in the four years we've been "going out" with each other, we've never yet had a chance to live together. We're both students working towards that end.
And what's so very hard about stage 5 is that at some point, Ali had to return to Sheffield to carry on with his own life, and I had to learn to reclaim my independence. It won't be the first time I've learned this- I suppose it was the same when I left home for the first time. But this time feels a good deal scarier.

So while people I know have said I've been brave, and done well- I haven't really. I haven't had to cope on my own and although I have friends, I will- for the first time since I broke my leg- have to completely run my own life. Now is when being brave starts.
And I think that doing that with a broken leg is probably the hardest thing I've ever found myself up against. I still feel so vulnerable, without complete physical health. And so isolated from the real world.

I know that in theory I could get on a train and see Alistair tonight. But we both know that in practice I can't. Because unless I wait until I'm fully mobile, which could be a while, it's not going to get easier to start on my own no matter how long I leave it.

It's not just not having Ali around to help that will be hard. I'll miss the opportunities having a car around gave me to get out of the house during the week to places that I just can't get to on crutches. I'll miss the swimming too. And of course, I'll miss living with the person I've wanted to live with for years now anyway.

I hope I can do it.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


I saw a physio this week. She was brilliant- she said "So you fell off climbing, I gather you're a climber. So your goal is to get back climbing then?"

Yes! It is! Yay. She then took an extremely detailed set of notes about the injury before giving me some exercises to to to improve flexibility. By the end of the session my knee could be straightened to only 7° bent- at the start it had been 15°.

I've got my motivation to train back, and I'm thoroughly enjoying finger boarding. I've also tried swimming. As someone who normally hates indoor swimming as it's just not exciting enough for my attention span, I've found it awesome. It's very liberating to feel only a fraction of my body weight (my head and shoulders were above the water level thus I did still feel some weight, assuming an average human density of approximately that of water). I found that I can walk in the swimming pool which is great fun.

I'm slowly learning to walk putting about 10% of my body weight onto the foot. It's very different to crutching on only one foot- and of course, with my ankle being held at a fixed ankle taking a step is slightly contrived.

I'm missing climbing though, can't wait to get back!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Six Weeks

I saw a specialist for the six week (and two days) mark yesterday. This was well timed as I'd allowed myself to get pretty fed up. I was missing climbing, and fed up with having a sore leg, and generally losing motivation.

But the specialist seemed happy with the X-rays and said that hopefully walking with crutches for balance should commence in another 6 weeks. For now I'm allowed to slowly begin partial weight bearing, which has made balancing slightly easier. I'm still getting blisters on my hands because although I made some nice foamy handles for my crutches, the foam has slowly died to the point where it is now paper-thin. I have ordered some rowing grips. Hopefully these will be as 'oarsome' as their brand name... ;-)

It was actually going to the Depot that cheered me up and got me feeling motivated again. Most of my friends are there and six weeks seems a long time to be away. Though slightly intimated to be in a climbing centre at first (mostly because I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb, and people kept rudely falling off climbs as though it were completely normal to do so) I didn't get as envious as I thought I would.

It did, however, prove impossible not to do any training at all. A few pull ups were done, and some aptly named dead hangs (I wished I was by the end of the set...) and I felt pretty good :-)

I guess I need to get myself to the climbing centre more then.

I discovered I can feel the screw heads in my ankle. It is my new favourite thing to show to squeamish people. I want to know though, are they slotted or phillips?

I reckon Phillips

Sunday, 20 October 2013


When I wrote to my tutor at the beginning of the academic year, I said and thought two completely different things. In my email to the university tutor, I wrote about how having a broken leg and taking strong painkillers would make it harder to study and would inevitably have an effect.
However, in my head I thought that it would be the same studying at home as if I went to university and that keeping up would be no problem.

But I'm starting to realise that it's just not possible to get as much work done as I would have done otherwise. I spend all my time trying to do physics, but I just can't keep up. I think that the university will make allowances for this with deadline extensions and so on, but I certainly hadn't been making allowances for it.

As a result I'm completely exhausted and demotivated this week, after trying to study nearly every day.

For some reason I had accepted that my climbing will take a hit, and hadn't felt the need to feel guilty about it- perhaps because it's a physical thing, like breaking a leg.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Touching Base

As the number of lectures I am behind slowly but surely piled up, the need to at least meet up with my project supervisor at university became increasingly pressing.

So I went to university. This, like everything in the last few weeks was much more of an undertaking than I'd imagined. I saw my project supervisor briefly, saw my personal tutor equally briefly, collected some notes and crossed the university campus twice. The whole thing took nearly three hours. And I'd got a lift to uni and back.

The biggest problem was that it took nearly 20 minutes to cover the distance which is equivalent to the distance between two lectures (most of which are back-to-back). And this was when the corridors were empty. I realised that I'm going to have to carry on having my own little personal university and bedroom lab, and that going to university will have to be pretty selective until I can put a lot more weight (than the current amount- none) on my leg.


There was more training today though. And here's what I thought of the Metolius Contact:

Monday, 14 October 2013

Going Home

Today I spread my wings and left Ilkley for Hyde Park.

I'm more than a little nervous. In fact I'm very nervous. It's one thing to stay at your boyfriend's parents nice comfortable warm house with lots of space for crutches.

It's another to stay in a 'space-efficient' third-floor flat with, it transpires, no heating. Or insulation.

But, I can reach everything in most rooms from the centre of the room. Yes!

(I can also turn off the light from bed with my crutches) Photo taken by Alistair

Keeping Up

One of the things I've found difficult about the broken leg is knowing how much I can actually do, and how much to reasonably expect from myself.
The days I've felt good, I've tried to fill, but then I feel worse the next day.
It would be lovely if all I had to think about was finger boarding and fixing my leg, and I realised that those things are all I've blogged about. But this blog was supposed to be useful for anyone else injured and if I read this, I'd probably think "Well this is great, but it's not like you've got anything else to keep up with".
I'm a student. But before you think "Ha! Then it's not like...", it's not quite that simple. Physics isn't a particularly soft option, and the fact that I don't have to be in university to study is as much a curse as a blessing. The difficulty is that although the  university knows I'm broken, there's only so much concession that can be made. Extensions to deadlines still have to fit in with the rest of the year and in order to do well I really need to keep up while I'm away. And with a science subject, it's a lot easier if you can try to understand things by discussing them with friends.
Studying from home has really been the main source of stress in the broken leg situation. Everything takes longer with the broken leg and most of my time is spent on physics. I miss the sleeping!
One thing about having to fingerboard though is that owing to higher intensity, training takes up a lot less time. Which is just as well, really. I have no idea where that time used to come from.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Today was a training day. I've been trying out different holds on different boards and I have to say, that although the Metolius contact board is enormous, there really isn't any wasted space.
I know writing a review when I've been given the board might arise suspicion but the board has a huge number of edges (half pad, 1 pad, 2 pads...), four depths of pockets, variable slopers, variable pinches (which are more than just a gimmick- you can make them pretty hard to hold if you hold them low down). Because there are so many different depths of edges, progression isn't a problem either. It's got over 30 holds, if you only count variable holds as one.

Ali was proud of his lighting solution- the bouldering lantern...

It's an absolute treasure trove of a fingerboard. When your skin dies on the edges, you can move onto the slopers. And for me, there are still holds that I can't hang and  certainly wouldn't use for several seconds so there's plenty of room for improvement.
The one thing about the Metolius contact that annoyed me when I was trying to buy one was the lack of information about hold depths and decent in-depth reviews so I'll write up a technical review of it in the next week or so.

If you lock off high enough- you get to wear the lampshade!
So I've had a great time on the board. I've really enjoyed the training too. One thing I've noticed though, about the training, is how tiring it is. I mean, with shorter times to achieve the same things, you expect high intensity on a fingerboard of course. But it's the level of overall exhaustion afterwards that seems to go more with the broken leg than the climbing. And in that sense I can understand why it's important to be careful training with an injury. If everyday life is tiring, you'd expect to be floored by something you'd find tiring normally I guess.
But a week after I've started getting back into things, I'm feeling pretty positive :)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Climbing Community

Before I broke my leg, I'd always thought the so-called 'climbing community' was great. Lots of like minded yet different people who for the most part get on well.
But I have to say, despite the fact that I've met a lot of people through climbing who have become great friends, I had no idea how kind and encouraging people I've not met would be.
And it's really helped me not just to survive the first few weeks of being broken, but to feel happy and positive.

When you're really into something like climbing (and this must be true for any sport) you feel like the people who can most understand the situation are the people who do the same sport.
There are a huge number of people that I'd like to thank for making me smile, so in no particular order:
Thank you to the UKB admins for making my blog do the thing... I didn't even know what an rss feed was... and for their words of encouragement. And to everyone who reads it so I feel like someone's listening to me vent (unless it's one person reading it repeatedly in which case thank you for pretending to listen). Thank you for the kind comments from UKB-ers especially regarding timescales and for not laughing at me for writing 'another climbing blog'.

Also thank you to my employers at the Depot, my absolute favourite climbing centre ever, for not minding that I just abandoned ship (the day before a shift!). I've loved working there from the start and I couldn't be employed by a better company. And to the other staff at the depot for being great friends, and the climbers that make up the Depot community who have also been very supportive. I'll be sad to miss the Battle of Britain in Notts on the 19th, it looks like it's going to be flipping awesome.
Thanks to Alistair for the days spent in the garage building a Super Duper Gucci fingerboard mount, and to Alistair and Seb for helping me train. Watching someone fingerboard... it doesn't get much more exciting than that!
In addition, thank you to Tim Wager of Wagerholds for kindly providing me with a couple of really nice wooden edges to hang off.
Thank you to Beyond Hope for taking pity on me and providing me with a couple of excellent Metolius fingerboards that I otherwise would not have been able to own, as well as some Grip Savers (warming up on a fingerboard. Well, normally I'd boulder for 20 minutes. Ha!) and some prAna clothes. It was incredibly generous, and certainly cheered me up. I thank you from the bottom of my average forearms. That and the mount have left me with so much training scope that the door frame has essentially turned into a footless indoor climbing wall. It's brilliant! Pictures of the training setup (and me happily flailing) will follow.

Revering the Metolius Contact Board. And what a beast it is! Yet surprisingly light... Artistically directed by Sebastian Smith.

And thank you to Tom Randall, who I went to see for training ideas a month or so ago and who helped me to write an excellent training plan that I embarked on a week before I broke my leg. Thanks for the enthusiasm in finding ways to do all sorts of things on a fingerboard and for making me feel like I can still do a whole lot provided I can find the motivation, and thanks for the ongoing support. I can do motivated, but that's not a lot of use without knowing how to train!

My family and friends have also been amazing. My parents 'popped up to Leeds' from Bristol to take me to lunch. Pretty awesome.

So that's it really for today,
And thank you :)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Baby Steps

Finally a training setup is starting to take shape! After an afternoon of toil, my awesome boyfriend (with the help of an awesome friend) has made a doorframe-friendly mount with interchangeable front panels for more than one fingerboard.
Being suitably Manly
Had a quick go tonight. Excited!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Controlling Relationship [with Climbing]

Why do I feel the need to train? Will it make a difference long term? Who do I think I am, obsessing about training anyway?
Well. It sure as hell won't make a difference long term. I mean, yeah, I had short term goals- but what's a year of my life?
I wondered about these questions. But I've finally worked it out.
It's 'training' because lets face it, rocking a broken leg, it's the nearest to climbing I'll get.
Long term, I don't mind the loss of progression time. I'm 22! That's one of the best things about climbing... you can just go on forever.
What do I actually want out of this training? Massive strength gains? No. What I want is that feel-good, feeling tired, putting physical effort in endorphin buzz. Doing something linked to my favourite activity.
That is what will keep me happy. Is that actually training? I suppose in the sense that it's inevitibly  structured being fingerboarding. But it's not training in the "this'll gonna be the real deal, I'm gonna be STRONG MAN" sense. It's more of a mad, "LETMEGOCLIMBINGORI'LLSCREAM", psychological dependancy sense.
And that's the thing about climbing isn't it? You think you're strong, but then it ensnares you and you realise you're a slave to it...
Just to clarify though, this IS gonna be the real deal.
p.s. An electron is driving down a motorway, and a policeman pulls him over. The policeman says: “Sir, do you realise you were travelling at 130 miles per hour?” The electron says: “Oh great, now I’m lost.”

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Three Week Waypoint

The appointment with a registrar at LGI brought mixed results.
I'm not sure what I was expecting but I have to admit to being slightly disappointed when I walked(!) in and the latest x-ray was on screen. It looks exactly the same as three weeks ago!
"It's too early to see any kind of bone growth yet" explained Mr Whatever-his-name-was. I wasn't impressed by that. I've spent the best past of three weeks doing nothing BUT growing the damn things.
So I dared to ask him about timescales. It had to be done. He explained that the weight-bearing process occurs incrementally over about 4 months, and I can expect to climb on it after about 8 months. That part of the consultation hit me pretty hard. I hadn't really thought beyond the six weeks of not weight bearing and I realised that 8 months... well that brings me to May 2014! That's a long time. I realised I was going to have to be really motivated to train in any way possible other than climbing... that is to solely fingerboard and do pull-ups... without destroying my fingers/elbows/shoulders.
The positive result was that I was provided with a very nice protective boot to keep my leg in which is nice as it's protected from being knocked. I also felt incredibly vulnerable when I left the house as the only sign that it's broken is a couple of scars. I was scared people would knock accidentally it not realizing the situation. It is now unmistakable from great distances.
I got home from the appointment feeling pretty rubbish about things. I really had no idea that it was even possible to break it that badly doing what I was doing. 8 months feels like a very long time, and I struggle with the platitude "It'll be over before you know it", because the last three weeks has gone pretty slowly...
Nice warm boot...

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Little Things Taking Ages

Ali headed back to Sheffield today. I had no idea how hard it would be to do all the things I normally do. Drawing the curtains, plugging things in, remembering to pack every little thing I'll need for the day in a rucksack before I go downstairs, or upstairs, or into the next room. Training isn't even possible.
It hurts more than recently because some things are just downright impossible to do without accidentally knocking my leg, and even though it's now protected it's not used to this much activity.
Alistair's parents have been amazing- cooking and helping me out. But everything feels so hard. I barely have time to try and work through the lectures that I'm missing. I felt like a baby when I went to bed and cried, but I missed Ali's emotional support and I wanted to do so much more than I can.
I meant to blog about yesterday's (slightly discouraging) hospital appointment. But I'm too tired, so tomorrow.

Monday, 30 September 2013


I so badly miss climbing.
I want to train, so that I'll miss it just a little bit less.
But with not being able to weight-bear at all, I can't train independently, in case I lose balance stepping off a fingerboard.
I could go to a climbing wall- there'd be plenty of kind-hearted climbers who'd give me a 5-minute spot, but I can't get there without a lift.
Tomorrow is a progress check at LGI. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, 29 September 2013

One Step(!) Closer

And by step, I don't really mean step. Not yet. BUT, I tell you- FOOD, it's GREAT for recovery. I can thoroughly recommend it for any climbers who gave it up years ago.
I totalled myself yesterday crutching round Ilkley- blisters on my hands, leg pain all night. But post breakfast, I was more than ready to 'train' for the first time. Good old brekkers.
I started my third-year project too, might as well use this "bed rest" to get ahead with the physics- I'll need the time for more, ahem, pressing issues come spring.
So the first real training session was nothing special, but I began it with a pull-ups personal best, which was pretty exciting. Then I even did some offset pull-ups, and a few press-ups.
On a totally useless training tangent, I also thought I'd have a go at doing a one-legged squat, which went well. If you're going to be unbalanced, strength wise, what the hell- might as well do it properly.
Feeling Psyched!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Coffee and Cake

I went into Ilkley today, to have coffee. It's not such a big thing to do, but it's the most I've travelled on the crutches yet. It was nice to have some time in the sunshine.
I've been thinking about climbing a lot recently. Now that I'm eating I think it won't be long before I can start thinking about training. There's no real access to a fingerboard here but I'll be spending next week nearer a fingerboard and I think, with a good spotter, it will be a lot of fun.
To think I hated fingerboarding...

Friday, 27 September 2013

Pie and Pull-ups

Finally eating is possible and, after an excellent dinner, 24 pull-ups were achieved (not in one go...). Fewer painkillers too. Yay!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Cow and Calf

I went to the Cow and Calf with Alistair in the evening. He wanted to go climbing, and I was missing the rocks. I thought it would be so hard to watch him climb and know I couldn't- but I found myself rooting for him. If I can't do the thing that I love so much, I can at least steal some of his pleasure.
Coveting the rock... I'd like a go
It was cold, but I really enjoyed it. Though the calf is very close to the car park, the crutching was hard work and I have to confess to a small rest on a bench halfway there- although not on the way back.
It is great to be outdoors, there's nothing quite as good.
Ilkley Quarry
I even managed to eat a bacon sandwich in the evening- the most I've eaten all week- which was great. I'm still not strong enough for pull-ups after so many days of fasting but soon I'll be back on it, I know it.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013


After a rough few days of really struggling to eat anything at all, I got pretty fed up. I was also worried that my body might try to eat my arms. And I love food :(
I couldn't crutch as far and pull-ups were off the cards. As a very pro-active person I was finding the whole situation frustrating. Not to mention painful.
A visit to a local GP suggested that the stupid diclofenac had caused some sort of inflammation (oesophagitis) which was making things very painful. So further antacids and protein pump inhibitor have been provided to allow it to calm down- so now I just have to wait.
And I'm certainly not taking anymore diclofenac.
Custard has proved itself to be the least painful thing to eat. Yay for custard!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Poorly Prepared

Apparently  the heartburn is caused by the anti-inflammatory, Diclofenac.
They send you home with Morphine, which pretty much always causes constipation and sickness, but nothing for the side effects.
They send you home with Diclofenac, whose continued use causes stomach and esophageal problems such as ulcers, but nothing to protect the stomach.
I mean, there are side effects which are unlikely, and side effects which are pretty much guaranteed. It would have been nice to be a bit better prepared for the latter.
It feels like it's side effect after side effect at the moment. I'm hoping the protein-inhibitor I've now been prescribed will make it possible to eat soon and actually enjoy food. Until then, I will probably sulk. :-/

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Rainbows and Sunshine

I want to write positive and motivated stuff every day. But part of the reason I started blogging about breaking my leg and the subsequent recovery was so that other climbers would maybe find it helpful one day.
And I don't feel positive and motivated today. Yesterday, I got some emails sent and some pull-ups done, and even some physics, and I felt like I'd done really well. But today I'm paying for it. I'm really tired, but I can't sleep. I can't eat because I have horrible indigestion from lying down too much. My leg hurts more than yesterday. But the worst thing about today is that when I close my eyes I can see my leg breaking underneath me, I can hear it snap and I can hear myself scream.
I guess that will fade away with time. But at the moment something will often remind me and I can't help it. So I feel down today.
But the good thing about today is that I have good friends and family, who are there for me. I'm glad about that.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


I realised this morning the range of motion in my knee is almost acceptable from crutching it around the range of motion in my ankle is crap, so I guess I should gently try and get things moving. 10 days ago though I couldn't move my own leg at all, someone else would have to lift it for me- and now I can get into bed and out again onto crutches. Progress!
Louis the bear has taken on the role of dispensing morphine as a 300ml bottle has just been opened. A lot of responsibility for a bear.
Pharmacist Louis
I slept for 21 hours out of 24 yesterday and last night. That is a personal record- a phenomenal amount of sleep. In fact, that is MORE than a male lion sleeps (20/24 hours, they're pretty lazy). I also had the first coffee in a week this morning- it finally doesn't make me feel sick, YAY! Oh coffee, I've missed you.
Alistair's 5-year old nephew came over as Superman and proceeded to thrash me at SNAP. Can I blame opiates for this? The next game he let me win... I don't know how to feel about that.
Just did 6 , 7, 8  pull-ups, WOOP :-)

Friday, 20 September 2013

35 Staples

Today the staples were removed. There were more than I'd realised and I was absurdly proud of this number. Not bad, I thought.
As if it were a personal achievement.
Staple removing works as follows:
It's a clever little snippy set of pliers which in theory makes staple removal quick and easy.
The ones in my knee were pretty bent and required some wiggling to remove but overall the whole experience was relatively painless. I'm not sure what I was expecting but things feel much the same as before to be honest.
After the epic single-day ascent of the stairs up to the doctors' surgery I came home and slept all day. Still too tired for pull-ups. I really want to do more pull-ups but waiting around has never been my forte. SOON, I hope.
The most exciting news of the day is that there will be bacon for dessert. Mmm.
Knee Staples Gone...
and Ankle Staples Gone!

Thursday, 19 September 2013


I don't know why anyone gets addicted to morphine. I hate it. It has a bunch of horrible side effects and it makes me feel crap. The sooner I can boot it the better.
Today is frustrating because I'm absolutely knackered and as far as I can see the only things I've done in the last couple of days are a few pull-ups and a trip to the pick'n'mix section of Tesco (oh God I miss Woolworth's) due to a recent pick'n'mix addiction.
Unfortunately the challenge to ditch the morphine failed when I fell over and landed on my leg earlier.
I guess you can't win everyday. At least there will always be pick'n'mix...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A New Day

Today I woke up feeling terrible. I used ice, then I still felt terrible. I took Tramadol, and still felt terrible. I realised I needed to pull.I did 5 pull-ups. With a lot of spotting from Alistair. My leg hates being that way up but let's face it it's no worse than crutching and it's not actually doing it any harm so I wish it'd bloody stop complaining.
But my god it felt good. It only took 5 pull ups after 11 days of being climbing clean and I could feel the hit starting to make me smile. This has to be addiction.
I guess 5 pull ups felt so great because it's been a while since I last climbed. Ah yes.
I did two more sets. Today feels big :)
It was pretty tiring though...
Caught unawares looking peeved...
With careful spotting...
It was hard to know what to do with my legs at the bottom of the pull-up...

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Going Out

We went to see the GP today. I actually crutched my furthest yet. Including stairs.
I think it did me good to get out, even just to the health centre. I've been happier today- and I've been getting hungry! It's all good.
The best thing is I saw a nurse and she's taking the staples out on Friday! :-) I'm pretty excited about that.
Tramadol continues to provide me with enforced napping but to be honest I prefer napping to being awake but with a mushy brain.

Monday, 16 September 2013


Today I had the first shower since I broke by leg. I mean, I'd washed... but not my hair. :-P
I would say it's nice to be clean but I'm in a foul mood. All I ever want to do is sleep and I'm absolutely sick of it. I want the pain to go away so I can stop taking the sodding painkillers, so I can stop bloody sleeping. I just feel like a complete waste of space- I'm normally such a machine (though I say so myself).
I wanted to do some work today and I just can't concentrate. I know University hasn't officially started yet but if I don't use my brain I swear it will die.
I don't know why I'm so fed up today. I mean, it's not like I have to do anything. I keep dreaming that my leg is broken but I've got to the point that I can walk on it- sometimes with crutches, sometimes without.
That sucks.
I can't drink tea or coffee at all without feeling horribly sick which is a shame because coffee is one of my favourite things. Grump Grump.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Pick N Mix

It's 1 pm. I finally feel not-sick enough to try to eat. Then I think I'm going to sleep.
All I did today is eat and sleep. Today I ate as much as a small mammal (possibly a raccoon?) which is progress. I blame morphine for this regression as normally I love food.
Davy is here and I feel a bit down I think. I did not realise that breaking your leg would have other repercussions or how much pain there would be and I just want this to be over.
I can pick things off the floor using a special flying technique but Alistair says no, it is too high-risk. I can now lift my knee onto and off the pillows most times and I can bend my knee nearly 70° over the side of the bed which is just so much better than before  :-)Davy brought sweets which was a huge success despite the fact that I've not eaten any of the chocolate I now possess (I am broken, clearly).

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Office Chairs

I'm home with Ali. We ended up using a swivel chair with wheels to get ready for bed because I could only make a few steps before I fell over in pain and I just couldn't make it. I thought this was pretty ingenious. My idea, of course.
Things are very painful and I know Ali is worried about how we're going to cope but we'll be OK.
I saw Seb today for a few hours which is nice, but then things all spiralled downwards. The opiates seem to make a mess of a person and the whole night was spent either throwing up everything I'd eaten or with a stomach ache. Alistair looked up tips on heroin websites. They seem to have the same symptoms but a hell of a lot worse. It must suck.
The sickness meant that I didn't take much care of my leg last night so it's pretty sore this morning.
It's only been a week. My god.
Ali is my hero.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Going Home

Today I'm getting out. I didn't realise how badly I wanted to get out. I've been miserable the last couple of days. The pain has been awful the last 24 hours- maybe I did to much physio yesterday. My stupid leg kept waking me up. They're sending me home with morphine and a concoction of pills. I didn't even know you could take morphine home!!!!
We realised I can't go to my flat in Leeds. It's a top floor flat and there is absolutely no way I'd make it up there at the moment. Alistair (who has been incredible in the last week) and I are going to stay at his parents house in Ilkely. I think my parents are happier with that arrangement than us being alone in Leeds.
The doctor I saw said that six weeks of "touch-weight-bearing" actually means six weeks of staying at home. That means missing a lot of uni. I was pretty gutted. I know that sounds nerdy but I love doing my degree, and it's my last year- I want to go out with a (different sort of) bang.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Bad Day

Today I walked to the bathroom with crutches. It is incredibly painful. I am not happy.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


There was no physio today. I felt a little bit down. I saw Jack, Lewis, Mum, Seb and Ali. That was nice :)
I am sleeping a lot. Life is full of morphine.
My leg is pretty huge...
I think they've done a pretty neat job. Apart from the fact that my knee is so swollen you can barely tell I have one.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


I had physio three times today. I stood up twice, with crutches. I am not allowed to weight bear. It is painful, and exhausting. I have stupidly low blood pressure from lying in a bed and standing up is short lived. It's so far from what I'm used to.
Lewis, Jack, Alistair and Ed visited today. I've been so glad of the support from friends and family. It's very comforting.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Why is my knee so sore? I broke my leg low down...

My knee felt like it was going to explode and I cried until I was too tired to cry anymore and they would not give me morphine- they said breaking your leg didn't cause that much pain so a small dose of codeine would cover it.
It didn't. I've never been in so much pain. Certainly not on Saturday, even before painkillers.
A junior doctor came eventually and said the pain wasn't normal and it needed to be checked over because if there were swelling problems I would lose the use of my leg if they didn't deal with it very quickly. That was at 4pm. I didn't hear from anyone for hours, I still didn't know what surgery I'd had.
Alistair tried to do all of the tests ourselves to see if it was OK because we were worried about what the doctor had said. The nurses tried to make Alistair go home and I was upset so we hid him. Eventually, at midnight, I saw my surgeon who explained what he'd done, that he'd inserted a large titanium rod inside my Tibia and screwed the ends to my ankle and my knee, with three screws in my knee.
He said that it would be very painful and prescribed a lot of painkillers, including morphine. Why could they not have told me that earlier? So much stress.
I wished they could have told me earlier.
I think I saw Ed and Seb today.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


They did surgery on Sunday. I don't remember a lot. The pot was very wonky and the doctor was unimpressed but they said since they were operating very soon they would just cut it off. I can't remember the surgery but I remember coming out and yelling and yelling, I was so confused and I couldn't cope with how much my knee hurt and I wasn't sure why.
It must have been a lot more painful than when I'd broken it because the painkillers wouldn't touch it and I'd managed to keep quite then.
Eventually I think I was massively sedated and I don't remember anything until Monday night.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


Today I broke my leg. This is one of my worst nightmares. Right now, I don't even care. I just want them to make it stop hurting. They need to operate and they keep asking me to sign stuff, but I don't care, I'll sign anything. Just please, make it straight so it will fix.
I was climbing at an indoor climbing centre. I'd done the problem so many times before- in fact I'd flashed it. And yet today I was lacking confidence. I'd slightly sprained my right ankle. So because I lacked confidence I'd missed the jump twice.Like always, I jumped on it again without a second's thought. I hit the jugs but my hands didn't quite go in far enough. I couldn't stop the swing, I spun 90° and my hands slipped out. I fell with my hands in front of me and my feet behind me but my left foot was pointed straight down and I barely had time to think.
I probably only fell 6 feet or so but I landed with that foot perpendicular to to ground and there was a sickening snapping sound. I realised that that meant bad, and when my other foot hit the ground I looked down and saw that the left one was just bending underneath me. So I screamed. And then I was on the floor. I screamed a bit more, because I didn't have any other ideas. Then I stopped screaming and yelled because it hurt so much. Another climber came straight away and sat and held it. My boyfriend ran to ask the reception staff to call an ambulance and then he came back and Ali (the boyfriend)  and another good friend gave me a hand each to squeeze (can't be good if you're a climber!) and promised they'd stay with me.
After that I kind of stopped bothering with the noise. Nothing I did was going to make things go faster and noise = stress so I behaved myself.
My leg shook. I think the muscles were tired and confused. I wanted to see it. At nobody would let me but I'd seen it already I just wanted to check it was all still there because I couldn't really feel it, I already knew it was totally snapped in two.
The ambulance guys came. I think they were quick. They gave me gas and air and straightened it up. I don't think it hurt any more when they straightened it up, because I was so obsessed by the desire to have it straightened.
We got to A and E finally.  The porter wheeling me to have it X-Rayed said "So you're hoping it's not broken then?". I suppose you couldn't tell in the ambulance splint.  But I clarified that I was pretty sure it was.
They X-Rayed and said "broken tibia and fibula, needs surgery". At first they said none until Monday, so they put it in a pot. But it was so wonky it was awful.
Fortunately for me they decided it was urgent and rescheduled to Sunday.
How A and E works... in flowchart form. Invaluable.
The ambulance people had to cut off my beloved climbing shoes :(