Getting injured is terrible, even when you get injured doing something you love. Recovering from injuries can be straightforward. Medical science has many ways to help us heal our bodies. But even when the body has fully healed, the mind may hold on. This is the story of how I got injured last September and the mental side of my recovery.
The Fourth Bolt
I clip the fourth bolt and breath deeply. This is the place. I’m about 15 meters off the ground and the climbing has been steady up to this point. “Take,” I call loudly to my belayer on the ground. I feel the rope pull snug at my harness. I sit back, hanging on the rope, and contemplate the rock above me.
It was here, right here. Remember that hold? My thoughts swirl and I fight to control my breathing. I am climbing this route on purpose and I promised myself, no drama.
But the memory is all too real. The sudden unbearable pain, my body trembling as if electrified. I was gently lowered to the ground and carried to the road by my belayer and a helpful passerby. Then weeks on crutches, physiotherapy, therapeutic massage and by the time I was healed, this route was covered with snow.
I take a few deep breaths and glance up again. It was that hold, right there. That’s where you came off. And down there? That’s where you stopped falling. I try to push the memory away and study the rock above me.
Then I see it. I practice the moves in my mind – right hand up there onto the sloper, then left over there, looks like a good hold, should be able to get a few fingers into it. Right foot up to here and left foot there. Another couple of moves and I’d be on a good ledge where I could rest. Yes, I see it. But can I make myself do it?
Go For It
No drama. I promised. I grab the rock again. “Climbing,” I yell down and the rope slackens a bit. As rehearsed, go now, right, left – hey that’s a great hold – move your feet up, don’t stop, and then hands finding good holds and high step feet up to the ledge. I reach up and clip the fifth bolt even though it’s still high above my head.
With the fifth bolt clipped, I break into a huge smile. “Take,” I yell down again. I don’t even try to control the trembling that now takes over my entire body. Instead, I scream with joy, yelling out my victory. From below I hear my belayer shouting encouragement. He knows the significance of the fourth bolt. And now, I’m passed it.