Like the Old Bull
OK, the joke I linked to. Here goes:
There’s this wise old bull and an eager young bull standing atop a gorgeous hillside, looking down at a herd of pretty cows, and the young bull goes, “Hey-hey Dad, let’s run down and fuck one of them cows!”
“No, Son,” the old bull says, “Let us walk down, and enjoy them all.”
Confused? Well, you see the old bull was telling the young bull that… Oh, wait, confused on what I linked from. It’s linked on my next post on Patagonia’s blog (on Monday, I think), where I mostly write these days and where, in spite of me, they have standards. In respect for those standards, I figured that joke might be a bit inappropriate (subbing-in “make sweet love to” didn’t have the same effect). The post is my latest in a multi-part series on this aging bullshit. I hate how everyone uses it as such an excuse – yeah, stand around the water cooler and say “Well, you did hit [insert your most recent decade]” and every time you or someone else says it, it reinforces itself and, well, just shovel-down another bag o’ Cheetos.
My recent spate of injuries prompted the aging series. I haven’t written much about it here (been lazy with the blog), but in mid-October I destroyed my shoulder. Here’s the initial injury post. It’s hard for me to reconcile – I mean, the broken leg was a total fluke; my smashed face and head this summer the same (sure I should have worn a helmet, but I’d have still ended up with the stitches in my face, and who the hell does that to themselves on a wildly overhanging sport climb, anyway?); and my shoulder? Well, initially Dr. Hackett – a phenomenal surgeon in all regards, from taking his time and explaining, to his world-renowned skills, to his & his staff’s emphasis on rehab – called it a “perfect storm.” After being in there, however, and seeing the carnage that had to have come from years and years, he called it a “time bomb.”
Damn, I’ve been in denial for a long time. It’s true that parts wear out, and I’m an idiot because I’ve often ignored the fact that with each passing year of my hammerhead mentality I reinforce bad habits, improper movement patterns, strength and flexibility imbalances, and lead myself closer to injury. Harsh realities later – with perhaps some bad luck – I’m catching on, refocusing on total body maintenance. Gotta milk as many miles as I can, and I’m grateful for the memories and experiences those years of wear and destruction brought me; far better than having let my dreams pass me by, sporting a beer gut and bitching about my age.
I suppose we all bring some things upon ourselves.
A month has passed since surgery, and this week I got out of my shoulder sling and began PT – very gently. PT hurts like a bitch but I’m psyched on it, and I’m finally feeling non-psychotic again. I’ve had enough of this, it’s gotten way old, even with the injury cliché people tell you, and that I’ve told to others: “You can use this time to focus on things you don’t normally do.”
Fuck that, I want to climb.
It strikes me more than ever how climbing and physical activity outdoors keeps me sane and keeps me happy (damn, with my leg I can’t run; with my shoulder I can’t ski or bike). This round has been rough, and I haven’t had nearly the positive attitude I had when I shattered my leg. Besides, the major repair with my shoulder – rotator cuff, labrum, and joint capsule surgery all together – worked me hard. Not just the pain and immobility, but this last month of constantly disrupted sleep, the “night pain” phenomenon, and those motherfucking evil opiate painkiller drugs, I’m done with them. No mas. They seem to work for me at first, and then after awhile they just make me dark and psychotic, inducing nightmares and hallucinations, making me think I’m losing my mind. I stopped taking them during daytime hours maybe two weeks post-op, but the pain-induced sleep deprivation made me like a zombie, so I’d take one or two at night, but I think it created a double-whammy – still lousy sleep (which makes you crazy) and then some sort of opioid build-up (which makes you crazy). I felt poisoned. Earlier this week I decided that a little night pain is the lesser of the evils, and finally I’m clear-headed again, and even starting to get some decent sleep.
Anyway, time for another round of shoulder exercises. Slowly, gently, rehabbing the shoulder, thinking ahead toward spring and those delicious days of walking into the hills, maybe now with a little bit more wisdom. Maybe a little bit more like that old bull.