back in the game

It’s been a while. It’s been almost 6 months since I’ve written about the bench. Sorry, bench press. I have no excuse. Well, I have one excuse: my seventeen day vacation to Cottage Hospital. From October through January I was benching light, trying to keep my strength while losing weight for climbing. Then I got pneumonia in February, went to the hospital and lost way too much weight. Now I’m 156 lbs and not so strong. Yesterday was my fourth day benching since getting released from the hospital. Things are not the same. The pulmonologist in charge of my treatment has allowed me to lift light so I’ve been doing sets of 20 twice a week on the barbell flat bench, close-grip and incline, some behind-the-neck shoulder presses and skull crushers. I’ve been increasing intensity fairly quickly, adding about 20 lbs each session, resulting yesterday in a set of 18 reps at 115 lbs on flat bench. I was going for 20 but failed at 18 reps making this the first set at which I went to failure and the first day I felt healthy enough to do so. Possibly it could be time to decrease reps and start building up weight. Rehabilitation is an intuitive thing, I believe. I’ll have to feel this one out slowly but I’m impressed with the pace of recovery so far.

return to paradise

Friday was my first day back to Santa Maria since my hospital vacation. Absent was any kind of prediction for my performance. There was just no way to anticipate how I would feel on moderate sport routes. I’m still looking and feeling atrophied and my lungs are not back to normal. On the other hand, I’m lighter than ever. Wednesday’s weigh-in put me at 158 lbs. Things went pretty well. I redpointed The Shores of Hell (5.11b) feeling good the whole way. Resting mid-route was effective, surprisingly. I was impressed I could catch my breath while hanging at rests. Although, this not a steep route, overhanging maybe 5 ft in 40. Little did I know angle had played a big role. Next, I toproped a 5.9 and 5.10 slab with Mary farther down the Mr. Lee’s valley. They sucked. We finished the day at the Tor. Here’s where angle comes in to play. Power of Eating straight kicked my ass. Maybe I was a little tired, sure, but the way steep moves put me on my arms is a whole other deal. Pulling felt hard. I felt like a little girl, a little girl who can’t pull very hard. Bolt-to-bolting Power was possibly a bit too much for my body. There was some coughing and not so nice stretching sensations around my core. Things were not so bad, however, that I would stay away next weekend. My recovery has been fast. I predict things will go much better in a week. This season’s focus will be to emphasize power (which is every season’s focus). Owl Tor made things clear: get stronger or stay home.

thanks, everyone

I need to thank everyone who participated in my care at Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital, visited me, called or had me in their thoughts while I was not doing so well. This is a whole bunch of people. Without the dedication of the doctors in charge of my treatment, the personal interest every nurse and therapist took in my recovery and the support of friends and family, things would not have turned out so well for me.

Here’s what I look like when I’m totally screwed (and, yes, that’s a Teddy bear under my arm):

This photo was taken early in my hospital visit, during the induced coma. My neck is swollen because fluid has moved all around under my skin. I forget why.

Here, I’m still on the ventilator. I forget this nurse’s name because I was high as hell on morphine, which I feel terrible for because she had an especially huge impact. She was there for much of my time in the Critical Care Unit and, though her name was lost in my delirium, her passionate dedication to my recovery is clear.
More photos of me with the hospital staff – they’re all rad. This isn’t everyone. Way more people helped me but here’s who my mom got pictures of:

Me with my dad and Maiya (I’m the one who looks dead).

Here’s me trying to walk after waking up from the coma. I remember it didn’t go so well. Notice the walker and the therapist holding me up.

Having Maiya here was critical. I remember being asleep and fighting to get back to see her.

Here’s me with my mom:

Here’s all the photos from my hospital trip:

getting in shape for climbing: what not to do

Don’t get pneumonia. I did. And it sucked. It sucked so bad I had to go to the hospital. For 17 days. Meanwhile, I lost 25 lbs. That’s 25 lbs on top of the 25 I lost before I went to the hospital. That makes me 156 lbs with 6% body fat. I don’t look healthy and I’m not climbing well. Now that I think about it, I’m not breathing well. Lungs are something I probably took for granted before. Not anymore. My lungs remind me of their significance all the time now. It’s been 23 days since my vacation at Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital and my lung capacity is about 50% what it normally would be. On a positive note, I’m still alive. Clearly, things could be worse. They couldn’t be worse for my climbing though. Maybe that’s not true. Last weekend was my first day back climbing. Don’t tell my pulmonologist. On Friday I bouldered at Lizard’s Mouth then toproped at Gibralter Saturday. My ticklist for the week: V1, V3, 5.4 (toprope), 5.5 (toprope) and 5.8 (toprope). Yesterday I did some hangs on the campus board at the shed. Pretty impressive, I know. Whatever. Rehabilitation is something I can do. I’ve done it before. At 29 years old I know I still have the capacity to fully recover. And the pulmonologist’s prognosis is great. It’s certainly better than the outlook from my first days in critical care. At that time the consensus was that I would not live – which means no climbing. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much. Long story short, I will again crank. Maybe not today. Maybe not this weekend. Maybe not even next Wednesday. But I will be back. Oh, yes. I will be back and you better watch your ass, Hard Boiled. For now though, I will be playing Call of Duty 4.