Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things could be be worse...

ye olde rack
Back in the 90's, when I was a carefree grad student, I took up rock climbing.  Salt Lake is a ridiculously good place for that.  In the winter, I would go to a climbing gym.

I'm more of a top-roper than a lead climber.  If you don't know that that means, take it to be that I'm into the joy of climbing without falling long distances.

One winter's day, I went to the gym with my climbing buddy at the time.  I decided to lead a climb that was rated 5.9, easy enough for me to top-rope, but a little tough for me to lead.

When you lead a climb, you bring the rope up with you and clip it into carabiners above your head.  At the moment when you are about to clip, your fall will be at it's maximum -- twice the distance from the last place you clipped in.

I was just about to make my third clip when my grip failed.  I lost my balance and my feet slipped off the wee little friction holds they were on.  I dropped straight down, falling about 10 feet.  No big deal, usually, and my partner caught me just fine.  The problem was that I had let the rope trail around my right leg instead of keeping it clear.  When my 200 pounds came to a halt, the stretchy climbing rope cinched up around my leg, removing a 10 mm wide strip of skin all the way around.

I was left dangling upside down from my leg instead of my comfy harness.  My climbing partner quickly lowered me to the floor.  My leg was throbbing and oozing blood.  It looked kinda gross.  The staff at the gym was giving me the eye...I'm pretty sure they were about to staple the waiver I'd signed to my shirt.

At home, I squirted some antiseptic on it, then some ointment, and then taped on a maxipad (it was the only thing big enough in my cabinet).  A couple of days later, it was looking nastier -- filled with white goo.  I headed to the campus clinic, and got in to see a nurse practitioner pretty quickly.  She looked at my leg a little grimly, said "This is gonna hurt a bit," and brought out a scrub brush.  She abraded the wound with a scouring pad, removing all the white gunk.  It did hurt quite a bit, I must say.

My leg wrapped in a bandage, throbbing madly, I drove home.  Stopping at a 7-11 for supplies, I levered myself out of the Jeep and hobbled dramatically to the door...which was held open for me by a one-legged man.

He was in his 20's and was missing his right leg above the knee.  He was adroitly holding the door open with his crutch.  He had a wry grin on his face, but didn't say a word.  I blushed and thanked him and walked in with less of a limp.

That's it - that's the story.  It's not much, but I think about it now and again.  It's hard being where we're at on the spectrum, but things could be much, much worse.  In the early intervention program, we met some families going through really hard times and doing it with grace and good spirits.  All of you out there, dealing with this stuff without cracking up, are my heroes.  Thank you.

Quote o the day:

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.  -Bertrand Russell


  1. Yeah, someone always has it worse.

    I like the word "carabiner"

  2. I like this story. It's kind of funny (in an ironic sort of way) but makes a very good point.

    I can't help but wonder if that guy with the one leg thought you were a wimp.

  3. i suspect he did, grace. whilst i'm confident in my manhood (generally), on that day, he was spot on.


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