Trauma

Get back on that horse, right?

Injuries befall me quite often. I say, “quite often”, because my brain, being of SUCH a bad variety, continually decides to put myself in positions where I will get hurt.

How dumb is that?

The Hamstring Injury

I was on a route that I shouldn’t have been on in the first place, if I’m being honest. Just a top rope, but it still asked too much from me considering my level of experience. The crux required a heel hook to pull myself up. I’ve done these before but not at such a severe angle. 

I was actually excited about this move because I thought I would look really cool doing it. I mean, can you think of a better rock-climbing pose? I don’t care if you can. Sexy heel hook. That’s what I was going to do. Leg all out and thicc looking. I was going to look cool and hot.

Well, it resulted in a nice little pop in my hamstring. 

The worst part of this was that the route disappeared the next day. It’s like the holds themselves couldn’t handle my whining and blubbering about my silly leg and ghosted. 

The Finger Injury

I was on a route that I shouldn’t have been on in the first place, if I’m being honest. 

What? I already said that? Are you implying there’s a pattern here or something? Leave me alone.

Anyway, this route was all about the upper body. It was an understanding route that didn’t need me to use my injured hamstring at all when I was on it. What a nice route. 

 Ah-hah! That’s where you’re wrong (and I was too). 

This climb and I were really vibing with each other. You could even say we were a bit co-dependent, but let’s not put labels on it. It is a series of inanimate objects after all. But then, towards the end of my attempt, there was a dyno. I had to jump to get to the next hold. 

I went for it, but I didn’t commit to the move. I grabbed the next hold, but my body flung the other way, and I pulled my finger. 

That may not sound too terrible to you, but this pain was excruciating and lasting. I still have days at the gym that it starts to ache, or that I have to tape that finger up in an attempt to numb it.

The Head Injury

“Again, Jen? Again with a route you shouldn’t have been on?”

Listen, sometimes you get so used to being injured, you just go for broke and try again. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, I don’t know. 

So, anyway, you know I’m a mediocre climber at best if you know me, but I still tried to do this upside-down route.

Don’t laugh.

You had to start on a lower hold and put your feet up in a handstand position to start, then God knows what after that. As I said in the introduction, I’m a dummy, so of course I tried it.

Well, remember my finger injury from before? Of course you do, it was only just a second ago I told you about it. Unless you have memory problems. Sorry if you have memory problems.

I remembered my finger injury and had a sudden burst of anxiety that it would flare just as I was trying to commit to the handstand. So I pulled back. I dropped my feet and then smashed my noggin on the hold above me. 

Injured again. This time just by the memory of an older pain. It’s a wonder why I even do this sport at all. Am I really a masochist? Or stupid? Or am I just hopeful?

I could quit, and in the past I almost have, taking weeks off, well past the time it takes for the injury to heal. 

The problem with quitting is that I’d be quitting all of it. Not just the trauma but the excitement, the fun, the beauty of climbing. But then the only other option is finding balance. The balance between remembering a mistake enough that you won’t make it again (because how helpful is it to do a move you know doesn’t work anyway?) but not focusing on it so much that it affects your commitment to future routes. 

There’s no real good answer for this, is there? Other than reflection and bravery. On some days that’s easier said than done. Or maybe it’s more about acceptance. You probably will get hurt again. But then, probably, it could be worth it in the end?Like in the words of Michael Scott: “I am ready to be hurt again.”

Ugh, I hate ending with such gross positivity. I take it all back. Have a basket of fries at the gym café and nurse your emotional and physical wounds with the lovely, lovely grease. Yessss. Clog those arterieessss. Yessss.


Jen Alger (@chubbygirlclimbing)

25 Replies to “Trauma”

  1. This was beyond hilarious! HAHAHA I loved every minute of it! You have a delightful way of telling a story. Remember, you’re not dumb, you’re obviously an explorer and adventurer, and not everyone is like this. I was a trad climber for a decade until I took a twenty foot lead fall; flipped upside-down and smashed the back of my noggin’ into the granite wall (225 feet above huge boulders of death!) and ended up with a traumatic brain injury. Took 6 months before I could start work again and 1 year before I felt ‘mostly’ normal. I did do one more hurrah to do all my fave and hardest (doable) climbs and just HAD to do ONE new, scare-the-crap-out-of-me-and-pulled-a-rock-the-size-of-a-microwave-out-of-the-wall-and-almost-hit-my-belayer-and-smashed-into-four-pieces kinda route. THEN I retired from climbing and started hiking to the top instead. It is reported I may have started some climbing again… SO eat your fries and when you’re healed, get back out there, stronger, wiser, and CLIMB HARD!! :)))

    Liked by 5 people

    1. How strange to me the climbing stories of brave and scare are to me, then I recall the times I have loved and realise there are similarities.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Had home cooked fries last night for the first time for ages, with ketchup of course and now I’m doing exactly like the final image, whilst watching David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities. 🦍

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I get injured a lot, too. I always have. I blame some of it on not having the eyesight to see below and around my glasses because MOST of my injuries didn’t come from doing anything risky or interesting. Worst of all, your bones will remember and in some 40 years they might get revenge. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m helping a 70-year-old friend learn to xc ski. She’s (understandably) afraid of falling, and that’s holding her back from learning. I’m going to suggest she read this post, then go find herself some french fries.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I look forward to what you write and wonder what you will come up with next! Always funny! I can envision doing exactly what you describe, which makes it even funnier to me. Since I am recovering from a ski injury (can’t wait to go again…?), and I am not close enough for gym fries, please have some for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You have nicely summed up a dilemma that I face as I get older: “The problem with quitting is that I’d be quitting all of it. Not just the trauma but the excitement, the fun, the beauty of climbing. But then the only other option is finding balance.” I struggle with finding balance but can’t quit!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Amen to the humility of aging. (Sigh loudly). But I refuse to stop doing what I can do. Doggedly determined and back in rehab (injured again … sigh again). Planning next trek!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am so SO sorry, but I laughed out loud so much at this – it is totally not very nice to laugh at someone else’s (painful) misfortunes!!!! Nice writing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Injuries are there to remind you that you are alive! I used to climb quite a lot, but being a cyclist as well my hammies were always too tight to allow me to stretch for the showboat moves. I do remember rolling around the floor with cramps most sessions though! If you like to express your love of climbing in t-shirt form I’ve created some designs here: https://www.spreadshirt.co.uk/shop/user/designsforlife/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Never give up! Our minds will become accustomed to realizing that we can do it, someway, somehow, in a way or another! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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