Sidelined

It’s been a rough start for me here in Spain. I’m struggling with a revisitation of my nerve impingement at the moment. When I tripped and fell in the airport on the way here, I retraumatized the tightened, scar tissued areas on my brachialis, and my arm seized up again, rendering my left hand virtually useless. Such a total bummer; it had seemed so ready to go when we left, but now, I’m once again working toward regaining full mobility in my left hand. After falling in the airport, I didn’t really think much about it, beyond just how much my knee hurt from slamming it into a marble step. However, I started to feel that weird numbness in my hand again when we arrived. After the first day of climbing in the cold in Santa Linya, it was much, much worse the next morning – my left hand was reduced to a flopping, useless appendage. I’m serious. Very, very scary.

To make a long story short, I ended up going to the ER here last night in hopes of getting a cortisone shot to help bring the swelling down. However, all I got for four hours of waiting was a misdiagnosis, probably in part due to the language barrier – but the doctor insisted it wasn’t a muscular problem and wanted to give me a splint and for me to stop taking anti-inflammatory meds. Ugh. Out almost $150 for nothing.

After hours of research on the internet, we knew what was happening already (plus, I’d seen a chiropractor at home who had confirmed my initial self-diagnosis). My brachialis muscle has scar tissue and trigger points that are impinging my radial nerve. The treatment is ice, rest, NSAIDs and light massage, just as I did through January. Nervous after the ER visit, though, Kevin managed to have a late-night Skype consultation with a trusted doctor at home, who reconfirmed the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis for us, recommending that I lay off climbing until I have full mobility back, but saying that as long as it’s improving from day-to-day, even just a little bit, that there’s no need to do anything else besides what I’ve been doing all along. Whew.

This morning, it’s heinously windy and cold…not conditions I’d ever want to climb in, even if everything else was perfect, so I guess it’s okay that I’m sidelined for the moment, or at least, as okay as it could be, given that I’m on a climbing trip in Spain and I’m not supposed to climb for the moment. I’m trying to remain positive and optimistic – my hand is way more mobile this morning than it was yesterday, so that’s a good sign. Typing is still a challenge, which is why I haven’t blogged for a few days (though it’s much easier to type today than yesterday). I also haven’t taken any climbing photos yet, because I’ve been both uncomfortably cold (it’s unseasonably cold here right now) and focused on my hand issues, but that will change as the weather improves and hopefully my mobility improves, too. At least today, I can type a bit with both hands again…a vast improvement from yesterday.

There’s never a good time to deal with an injury, and all a person can do is follow the prescribed course as best they can to heal the injury as fast as possible, staying as positive and keeping the longest-term perspective possible. For me right now, this means resting from climbing until mobility is restored, and then working back into it gradually, hopefully long before our time in Spain is over, but then again, if not, so be it – we’ll just have to plan another trip, right? In any case, I’ll try to have the best time I possibly can while we’re here, regardless, as hard as that will be (because it’s always a challenge to be in a climbing area and around climbers when you yourself can’t climb). Kevin had the same situation in the fall when he hurt his knee at the start of the trip to the Red; I guess it’s my turn now.

I’m not likely to share more training info here until my mobility’s improved more, as typing isn’t at normal speed for me quite yet, making it frustrating to write…but I will get back to training blogs soon enough. I just need to focus all the energy and effort I can right now on healing this nerve impingement ASAP.

On another subject entirely, our house is ultra-cool. It’s a huge stone fortress nestled 10 kilometers off the main road, with gorgeous 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. Situated in the tiny village of Santa Engracia, it’s peaceful to the extreme, providing us with a warm, sheltered place to hang out during rest days or after climbing days or in my case, while trying to heal up a recurring injury. Each couple has their own bedroom and bathroom, all sharing the kitchen and living areas. It’s warm and dry, has wireless internet, and we even have an X-Box, courtesy of Lawrence. So if I have to be stuck somewhere at the moment, this really isn’t a bad place to be, all things considered.

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4 thoughts on “Sidelined”

  1. Wow that sucks! How long are you in Spain for? Do you think it will get better before you leave? Last April I went to Red Rocks, Vegas for 5 days. I was worried about a recent problem with a bulging disc in my lower back causing excruciating pain in my right hip & thigh – similar to sciatica. Well the morning of the 4th day the pain came back and I couldn’t even walk to the car. I borrowed the hotel wheelchair and toured the Vegas strip instead of climbing. While it was a bummer to not be climbing with my friends, I had a complete other kind of adventure, experiencing what it was like to be handicapped, finding ramps, dealing with non-automatic doors, and how people treat you differently. Sometimes an injury leads you to different adventures than you originally planned for, but they’re still adventures! Get well soon!

    1. We’re supposed to be here for two months. I’m actually not too upset about being injured in and of itself, as it’s just part of climbing/life. It’s more the scariness of this particular injury that makes it difficult to deal with, i.e., not being able to use my left hand normally. I have no idea if it will get better before I leave, or better enough to climb, and I may decide to leave sooner if I don’t see fast enough improvement. We’ll see…I’m gathering my thoughts for a blog about this initial week, and similarly to you, in the past, injuries have always provided me with incredible opportunities for growth. I’m sort of waiting to put that blog together…I can’t type much yet, so it has to wait until I can. Thanks for your kind words & thoughts!

  2. Hey Alli, I found your post on Prana’s blog and am currently studying in Alicante, Spain. Do you know of any good spots for beginner to intermediate climbs?!

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