slow glowing » glowing, slowly

extra bones about it

When BCEP wrapped up, I followed-up with my physical therapist about my injured foot. Unfortunately, nothing had really changed since I’d last seen him in January. It still hurt anytime I pushed too hard or walked too far on uneven ground, or for no particular reason at all that I could tell. My PT referred me to a sports medicine doc, who did about five minutes worth of ultrasound imaging and confirmed that, yep, I have an accessory navicular bone. I have one in each foot. I had suspected as much and even discussed it with my PT, so I wasn’t particularly surprised. He also imaged my posterior tibial tendon and said it looks fine—and that at least was great news, since that’s what I originally injured when I sprained and re-sprained my ankle last fall. The posterior tibial tendon attaches at the navicular, though, and the attachment point is what’s still irritated, inflamed, and upset… because of the extra bone interfering.

Somewhere in the vicinity of ten percent (ish) of the population have an accessory navicular in at least one foot, according to the internet. Some percentage of that percentage never have any problem with it (my mom, for example). Some percentage start to have issues in adolescence. Some, like me, go a long time with no problems obviously related to the accessory navicular and then aggravate the posterior tibial tendon (e.g. by rolling the ankle a couple times, hiking on it for three more days, and then running a couple of 5ks before seeking treatment, I guess) and… here we are.

The doc said that since I’d already been doing PT for months, the next step was immobilization—”just shut it down,” he said. So I’m two weeks in to four weeks of wearing this big plastic boot (and not the fun kind of big plastic boot) and hoping for the best. I listen to the PTs at work talk to their patients about chronic pain all the time, and I know my nerves have a bad habit, so to speak. Lately I get these weird flashes of pain from my right navicular, too, even though it’s my left that’s injured and booted, so yeah, I’m sure some of it is fear translated into pain signals. But it makes me feel weaker than strong. Sort of helpless. I’m sick of swimming already. I just want to hike and run and climb, and I’m really scared I won’t be able to do the things I really, really want to do.

bcep 2017 / snowflake lemmings, part three: rock day!

My third time out at Horsethief Butte with a group of BCEP students and the first time it’s ever been warm enough to take off my layers! I was in a t-shirt for a good chunk of the day. We got some sun but some rain, too, and plenty of wind, so yeah I’m wearing my puffy in that group photo above that we took on the way out. I actually placed a tricam to protect my camera in case it fell off the rock where I precariously balanced it for that shot.

Did a little bit of climbing and a fair amount of wrangling rope at the top of the super cool chimney climb ’round the other side, helping students set up a top-of-pitch belay and bring up their next teammate. Found time to take some photos, too.

bcep 2017 / snowflake lemmings, part two: snow weekend!

Last month on the mountain with the Snowflake Lemmings. Rather than burying the lede I’m starting out with that sweet photo up there from Sunday afternoon of everyone at the top of our glissade practice hill. I dodged all those snowballs, looked down to check out the awesome photo I’d just taken (above!) and got nailed by a straggler. Not cool, Lemmings. All the same, lots of fun on the mountain learning and teaching snow skills…

saturday at white river sno park

Denara built a bollard anchor—which means, more or less, that she wrapped the rope around a bunch of snow and buried it. Then eight students all tied into the rope and tried to get the anchor to fail. It took them yanking hard in concert several times to get it to move at all! Pretty cool:

saturday evening at mazama lodge

sunday at timberline lodge

Denara & Geoff, recent ICS grads, showed off their crevasse rescue skills by “rescuing” Jay from a “crevasse” at the end of the day:

(A couple weeks later I took a crevasse rescue class myself, and made magic happen with prusiks and pulleys and ropes. Why can’t my physics class be more like this, am I right?)

bcep 2017 / snowflake lemmings, part one!

The Mazamas Basic Climbing Education Program is in full swing (ok, it’s actually almost over for the year) and I’m assisting again! Here are some photos of this year’s team, the Snowflake Lemmings, from the first half of the program.

Dog Mountain

Kings Mountain

Yellowjacket Snowshoe Trail

Elk-Kings Traverse

And here’s one bonus photo of me from the snowshoe—my first time ever snowshoeing!

life continues apace

Hey there, blog readers, such as you may be. It’s been a while. Recently I found these scraps of posts that never became anything, because, well, I was having a rough time:

1.

I’d be lying if I said I’m happy that summer’s over, but my summer was a long, stressful mess, so I guess there’s a part of me that’s glad to be putting more days between me and then. Time heals all wounds, right? That’s what they say. This summer already feels distant, the way even the vividest dreams do by the time you’re washing the dishes from breakfast. And yeah, I long for it a little like you long for a dream… that is, unproductively. I made some mistakes I’m trying hard to learn from. I learned a little bit about my blind spots about myself — the differences between who I think I am and the way I really behave.

I took three terms — usually a full school year — of anatomy & physiology at PSU in nine weeks: three hours of lecture and three hours of lab four days a week, with a lab quiz or a lecture exam or a lab practical pretty much every day — sometimes more than one in a day — and a final exam every third Friday. I was also working my usual shift at work, four or five hours every weekday afternoon and evening. At work and after work I studied, making flashcards and labeling diagrams and writing out odd descriptions of bone bits and cell types and blood vessels in hopes of being able to identify them on models and cadavers. I went through many highlighters while reading through my lecture notes, looking for the information that seemed most important and ultimately pretty much eliminating the usefulness of highlighting by highlighting everything. I biked to school and work everyday…

2.

2016 was a mixed bag and that’s the truth. The past few days, when everyone’s been reviewing what’s past and anticipating what’s to come, it’s been hard to find the good things about the year, though I know they’re there — I am definitely in a funk, unfocused, feeling a little discontent and stuck. I have had rough years before — 2008, when I was hit by a car, comes to mind, and 2013, when I separated from my ex-husband and moved from California back home to Oregon — but in those years I always felt like bad things were happening to me. In 2016, I had to confront some uglinesses in myself.

Yep.

Somewhere in there I was looking through old journal entries and I found this little bit from March 18th, 2007, almost a decade ago, when I was writing my undergrad thesis on (among other things) Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar: i was talking to my mom about the fig metaphor and she said, “figs don’t ripen all at once. so pick one and eat it while you wait for the next fig to ripen.” I didn’t get it then, or didn’t believe it. But I ate a lot of figs in my twenties. And I waited for a few to ripen that never did. Others I pulled off the tree too early and they tasted tart and green. The older I get, the easier it is to spot the ripe ones, the braver I feel about climbing up to pull them down, and the more I savor them. I know, I know — cheesy as hell. Well, it’s all true on a good day. The narrative fallacy works for me!

Some good stuff happened in the latter half of 2016. I got all A’s in anatomy & physiology and really enjoyed the heck out of it except for the whole stress-and-lack-of-sleep thing. I am kicking butt in my classes, and I’m glad I decided to make this big leap and go back and study some of the stuff I basically started wishing I’d studied the minute I graduated from undergrad, even if it means that in the meantime I’m broke and living in the apartment over my parents’ garage. I’m really thankful for the apartment over my parents’ garage. I’m really thankful for my job at a physical therapy clinic and for the way it makes me more enthusiastic all the time about the path I’ve chosen, rather than less and less enthusiastic about — to, as usual, extend a metaphor past its breaking point — the clearing I found myself in, with no sense of how I’d gotten there or where to move to next. The push my mom gave me to quit my old job and the support my folks continue to give me in the form of free rent were basically an airlift out of that clearing, and I am so grateful. I’m so impatient, too. But this is the fig that’s ripe right now, I guess. I like being a student. I love studying science (um, except physics, if I’m being honest). Who knew?

In September, the week after I climbed Mount Daniel, I hiked all the way around Mount Hood on the Timberline Trail (and maybe at some point I’ll make a blog post about it). On the morning of the second day, I twisted my left ankle three times in quick succession, and then walked a couple more days and thirty more miles on it.

The week after the Timberline Trail, Elana came to visit me and we went to Olympic National Park for a night — we planned to camp on the coast for a couple nights, but packed up, soggy, in the morning, and spent a day driving around and hiking the short tourist trails in the rain instead.

In October I ran a couple 5k races with my mom, and then I finally went to a physical therapist about the nagging pain in my left ankle. Which pain, unfortunately, I’m still dealing with months later. In the process of trying to heal, I’ve learned a lot about the habits of my body. For now, I don’t run, I wear an ankle brace and mid-top shoes when I hike, and I’m the weirdo at the bus stop standing on one leg, practicing correct foot posture and trying to strengthen my tendons and stabilizer muscles.

In the new year, feeling optimistic, I set a goal of 50 hikes in 2017—with a generous definition of “hike” and, after a little consideration, no minimum mileage. Here’s what I’ve gotten in so far —

• I got a pair of microspike traction devices for Christmas, and in the first week of the year managed to test them out on very snowy Dog Mountain:

• A week later there was epic snowfall in Portland—not our first snow of the season, but the deepest and longest-lasting for sure. I got a snow day off of school and work, and I walked all over town, including up Mount Tabor—counting it!

• A few weeks after that, Trump was inaugurated, and the day after that, millions of women and allies across the country took to the streets, including 100,000 in rainy Portland.

• I tried to head across town to Marquam Nature Park the week after that, but my car’s alternator dropped dead halfway there (on the highway! Very exciting!) and I got a tow from AAA back to southeast. I tried again a whole month later on the first sunny weekend day in a while, and did a little hike up to Council Crest and back. The elevation gain and the view at the end were nice, but Marquam Nature Park is otherwise just like the worst of Forest Park (lots of ivy, muddy trails, never really out of sight of streets and houses). The woods are lovely, dark, and… not very deep. It’s been hard to get out of town for hikes this winter — lots more ice and snow than in most years. And sometimes my foot hurts, and sometimes I just prioritize other things.

The winter has been long and dark but with any luck is almost over. I go to the gym a lot and lift weights and get stronger. I feel best within my body when I move it and use it. I study. I cuddle with my cats. I go out with friends and watch tv shows and feel mildly guilty about not reading books. I get angry at the news. I listen to approximately a bazillion podcasts (reviews coming soon!?). I sit with the uglinesses I mentioned at the top of this entry and I try to be better. I cook things, sometimes — usually noodles. I’m trying to learn how to cook. I water my houseplants and watch it rain outside.