Monday, September 15, 2014

Bigelow FKT.

Colin set a new FKT today for the Bigelow Range traverse. Pretty damn proud of him. It was technically unsupported but I suppose you could say that DDR and I fleshed out the logistics.  Read his account and see his photos here: 

Starting point across from the ballfield in Stratton, ME.
A quiet moment before the start.. do I have everything?

Starting at 10:40am!
My leg didn't really feel like hiking today and I had a bit of time to kill,
so I drove around to Flagstaff Lake and looked at the traverse from there.
Need to bring a kayak here sometime!
Then I followed my curiosity and drove up MT IRA. I'd never heard of it either.
As far as drivable mountains go, it's pretty cool so far I think. No junk up there.
The road is still under construction.  DDR says he wants a bumper sticker.
That's another view of the Bigs in the background.

I read some wondrous John Irving at the Orange Cat for a while.
They had a nice bulletin board and I give the hummus thumbs-up.
And of course, because nothing kills time like a little splinting,
 I subjected  the woeful southpaw to its bizarre device.
Scout says it looks like an implement of mouse torture.
I believe she is correct, that is, if by mouse, she means hand. Augh!
Then I drove to the AT crossing, where C- would soon finish, at East Flagstaff Road.
While waiting, I read Cope's description of differential diagnosis of acute appendicitis.
I became sleepy but reminded myself that someone a lot sleepier would soon come running out of the forest...
Flying Colin emerges!  FKT very much conquered!
Totally unrelated shot of the lovely ground cherries that Matt F. brought for me a
couple weeks ago. Didn't know what they were. Anyone know if they are the same idea as Chinese Lanterns like at E&L's?  And do those have edible interiors as well?
Also unrelated, or maybe completely related, since I probably wouldn't even exist without him:
The peaceful Shen-wen. Love.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


This is hardly an honest update, as so much is yet untold, but here at least are some photos that I hope will be less repellent than that of the previous post!  
Hand therapy.

Wild River Wilderness.

En route to Mt Moriah via the AT.

A favorite bit of northern Appalachia.

The lush moss causes Luette to succumb.

Near summit of Shelburne-Moriah.  My pics of this area really don't do it justice.  This peak is just really, really lovely and so much more spacious than the peakbagger-laden tip of Mt Moriah. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Two volar plate avulsion fractures, ten weeks post-injury.
I don't recommend trying this at home...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hand Notes.

Hand has been hurting more instead of less, and progress over the past few weeks stopped and then began to creep in reverse. I can't help but wonder what I am doing wrong, even though I am aware that, according to many sources, these types of PIP injuries take many months, or more, of therapy to heal. Most get quite functional with a lot of therapy (exercises and splinting). I have yet to read of one that heals to the point where it looks and acts as it did pre-injury.

I haven't been able to get enough flexion to quite make a fist this week, and attempts to do so are increasingly challenging. Confusing, but setbacks and plateaus are par for the course with any injury. I can redouble my efforts to properly exercise and rest, and I will find it again somewhere. Flexion doesn't worry me so much because I know it'll come.

Extension is another matter. Sources keep reminding me that I will become frustrated as I realize that it will not fully return. They speak the truth. The surgeon this morning watched my attempts to open and close my hand and said that it looks good. Looks good but feels like horseshit, I opined silently. He quickly explained, as I've read many times, that one needn't worry about extension because it's not coming back but you don't really need it anyway so it's all just peachy keen. In all due respect, I couldn't help wanting to stick one of his beautiful and perfect hands in a meat grinder when he said it... Apparently I am not ready to accept anyone else telling me what aspects of my function I do or don't need.

I believe it's been 9 and a half weeks since the event as of this writing, and I've been working with a hand therapist for a month. At my current rate of progress, I'll be seeing her well into my retirement years... I've spent my days rotating between various combinations of treatment/management including, but not limited too, waiting-and-seeing, elevating, icing, resting, compression wrapping, edema gloving, modifying, heating, serial static splinting, dynamic splinting, exercising, measuring, progressing, regressing, and experimenting.

The dynamic splint has been one of the strangest parts. I'd heard rumor of these in my reading earlier this spring but figured they were some archaic, outdated contraptions that would certainly never involve mortals with mundane injuries. Some are so complex and bizarre, with pulleys and outriggers and slings and tensioners and materials of all ilk, that it's hard to imagine that they are actually a therapeutic device intended to do aid in healing.

I was not excited when my therapist mentioned that "next week we could probably try the dynamic", two weeks ago. She produced a little white foam-and-metal splint, a nasty little thing but at least it is small and simple. Imagine a spring-loaded gadget, applied to a finger fraught with eternally contracted flexor tendons, that puts a great deal of concentrated pressure on opposing points. The point is to forcefully coerce it into straightness. One is to apply this torture device for "5 minutes, thrice per day, as tolerated." It's difficult to tell if it's doing any good or if it is just angering the already unhappy soft tissue. At least no one expects anyone to leave these things on all night... as was prescribed for the past month with the static splint!

"Now is not the time to really crank on it, because you'll just aggravate it and then it'll take longer to heal," said the therapist.

"Now is the time to force it to move, even though it is going to hurt," said the surgeon.

These two statements are from yesterday and today, respectively. I am feeling pretty much on my own, at this point. Am I once again facing the boundary of medicine? Do we just simply not yet know how to deal with healing hands? I can force it, or I can be gentle with it, but it's tricky to do well at both. Heat, then force (exercises and/or dynamic splint), then ice, then compress, is about as close as anyone seems to be able to get. But I still feel like we are all only seeing vague fractions of the picture....

There are many more notes to be noted about this - later.

Enjoyed some fairly solid speed as night fell over the Cove yesterday. Met briefly with Sea Level beforehand to fill my mind with thoughts of Iceland and some ideas about tempo vs interval and such. I am finding I enjoy moving more briskly when the footing is good, and when the surroundings are familiar. In new or uneven places, I still prefer a far slower pace. Cove was a suitable lab. Goggles on, beakers fizzling.

And an overtired mind barely inhabited my skull all day totday. By this evening's dusky run, somnolence had numbed the nerves enough to abolish any traces of fear. A fear block. An awareness block. An awake block?  Anwyay - interesting sensation. I don't believe my mind even touched down along the wooded dirt road above the starry field.

No more lightning bugs. There is a little crack in the plaster between unawake and unafraid. I quietly sailed on through, very distant, forcing it, but gently.