climb

the well-documented life of a (once) broken man, the final part: transformed by fate

on the early hours of this day exactly a year ago, i slipped and broke my lateral malleolus in two places, an unfortunate incident that resulted in my right foot being wrapped in a cast for 4 weeks, and my mobility aided only by a pair of crutches. during that month of incarceration, i missed out on many things: a few climbs, some parties, the holy week in which i planned to fly domestic, and many other trips. but during that same time, i still continued to work, missing only a little over 3 days, was hardly even late, cleaned up after myself, and cooked food when i got hungry. the confinement extended a few weeks after the cast was removed and a plastic brace was put in its place. it was a while before i actually let go of my crutches, thinking i needed them, thinking that my foot was too weak to walk, or to bear the weight of my post-accident size.

but during that period of limited mobility, my eyes were opened to many realizations. i confirmed something i already knew before: that i was not a complainer. not once did i lash out online to whine about my condition with the intention of getting sympathy from friends and strangers. not even when i lined up for a taxi did i ask people in front of me to give me priority just because i was standing on one foot -- all i ever requested was a place to sit. not that i was far from inconvenienced nor suffered no pain. in fact, it was a struggle during those 4 weeks, and the weeks following while i was undergoing physical therapy, but i managed to cope with my situation, adjusting sleeping cycles and positions, morning routines, and hygiene habits (who wraps their foot in plastic before taking a bath?). i also elevated my independence a few notches. i didn't tell my mother about my accident since i didn't want her to worry, but she found out anyway, cried on the phone, and surprised me with a visit. in none of those 4 weeks did i oblige her to come see me or bring me food or drop by to clean my room, even though she offered. i was also not a burden to any person other than myself, and friends who offered to drop me off or pick me up did so not because i asked them, but because they are who they are: true friends.

even the accident affected my passions and for a fleeting moment, i thought i would not manage to get back to climbing, ruing i had become a mere shadow of the mountaineer i used to be. i have not had closure with my orthopaedic doctor and i am still scheduled for one final consultation and an x-ray to give me a shining green light, but less than 4 months after i broke my ankle i was already back on the slopes of a mountain, testing the waters as it were. my return to mountain trails was filled with trepidation, the road to healing very slow, and while i have no medical foundations to prove it, i dare say, after many adventures , including an induction climb that lasted 4 days and a solo climb on a tough mountain destination, that i am nearly back where i was before that fateful day in march last year. even my feet are suddenly now accustomed to running.

i recall this month of disability and the year after it took place not to commemorate the accident, but to celebrate the kind of person i was the weeks immediately following the incident. i want to continue to be that man, whose attitude was in the right place, who made the most of life despite his limitations. the strength of character of the person who woke up each day for 4 weeks, fighting off the urge to insert a ruler inside his cast to scratch a nagging itch, hopeful that the day would come when he would finally be able to walk with both feet, is something i will always admire and aspire for. i still see traces of that man in me. i am hoping that i wouldn't need another accident to be him once again.