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Today has been a bad day. It’s really starting to drag on now. It’s good that I now have a date for the surgery, but it still feels like I’m going nowhere and that I’m mostly flailing about in some kind of vacuum. Hard to keep the motivation going with those feelings. I feel angry and sad that I have had to wait for so long to get a surgery time, though I realize there’s nothing much to do about that. After all, my injury is not something that is an emergency in any way, and there are no down sides (medically) to wait longer with the reconstruction either. Other patients just have to be prioritized higher. I get that, but it still hurts. The longer it takes for my surgery to take place, the more of next ski season is eaten by rehab. The only thing right now that keeps me going back to the physio 3 times a week is that I have a specific time I’m supposed to be there. Not even the constant reminder that all work out I do now will make the rehabilitation after the surgery easier makes much of a difference any more. Today it’s exactly one month to go.

It just feels that everything is so far away. I have surgery in one month. Then it’s two weeks of crutches before I can start working properly with the physio again. Then another two weeks until I can go back to work. I know I won’t climb anything this season since the OP is so late, and according to my physio I most likely won’t ski until early Feb. Simply put, what the f*** am I supposed to do in the mean time? It’s so hard staying motivated without getting to do the things I really enjoy! Road biking is OK, but I wouldn’t say it’s much more than that to be honest. It beats biking on an exercise bike, but compared to climbing or skiing it’s… Not very inspiring to be honest.

I try to slice the process up into steps. On June 1, an epic LEGO model of the Apollo 11 mission’s Saturn V rocket gets released world wide, I’ve decided to get it, that’s about two weeks from now. Then I’ll get surgery two weeks later, and I’ll also get to start actually building the LEGO model (have to spend my time doing something since I’ve understood I probably won’t want to move around much the first time after surgery). Two weeks after that I’ll be back at the physio for “real” training (there are exercises I’ll do at home already from day one, but after two weeks the new graft and damaged muscle are strong enough to actually start loading again). Two weeks after that I’ll hopefully get to go back to work, full or part time. After that point the planning goes a bit more hazy, but one of my personal goals is to be able to visit my in-laws together with my partner towards the end of summer/early fall and spend some time at their place doing day treks and what not. They live far north and have proper mountains and such near by, by then it would probably feel very good just to be able to be close to some mountains for some time. Then we’ll see, I want to start (easy) indoor climbing (rope only, no bouldering) before Christmas, and then hopefully start skiing again in Feb. The skiing I’ll do in the beginning probably won’t impress anyone very much, but as long as I get to glide down a slope I’ll be happy.

Well, at least I’ve got permission to start working half time from home at my old job, so that’s something. I’ll get some cash flowing again, and it’ll get me something to spend my days doing. I just hope I can keep up my motivation enough not to start skipping physio before I get surgery.

The mental parts

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So yeah, I spoke a little bit in the previous post about the mental parts of me busting my knee. And as I wrote then it’s both ups and downs.

As for downs, the biggest punches in the stomach is everyone else skiing. Especially now that my family is in Serre Chevalier, they seem to have so good skiing, and I know I was supposed to be there with them. That hurts. It’s a double edged sword though, at the same time seeing other people skiing and climbing really is an annoyance, it keeps me motivated and gets me back to the physio time and time again.

Another tough thing is the fact that I can’t really use my leg fully. I certainly can walk around and stuff like that, naturally, but I’m not allowed to do much more exercise wise than what I do with the physio at the moment. That means I cannot run, I cannot climb and I cannot do squats. I’m allowed to bike to some extension, but not too far and not very hard. It freaks me out being so limited.

So what about the ups? Well, I try to remind myself that I’m quite lucky injury-wise so far anyway. It’s ONLY the ACL that’s damaged, my menisci, collateral ligaments as well as the PCL are all unharmed. It’s also the first ever more severe injury I’ve had on skis ever, before I’ve always been fine with a rest day or so to let bruising die down somewhat. All in all I’ve been lucky when it comes to injuries. I have friends that have cracked patellas, smashed faces and ripped all kinds of ligaments from all kinds of joints. Skiing and climbing as much as I do I can’t complain about snapping an ACL once.

My physio is also going quite well. I make progress, and my program grows longer and heavier in a quite high pace. It’s not getting longer as fast as in the beginning, but that’s natural now that my physio is starting to figure out what my level is. The only annoyance I have right now is that one of the exercises is not working as well as I’d like. It’s an exercise that’s for training the backside of my thigh, and when going to near full extension during that exercise my knee cracks, snaps and sounds really funky, so I’m not allowed to do full extension during load any more. It’ll probably get better during the following weeks, but it’s still an annoyance.

An ACL injury also is possible to fully recover from with surgery. The only difference really being that if a reconstructed ACL snaps again, there’s no backup or second chance any more, but with hard work and a lot of physio, there’s no telling a difference (performance wise) between a leg that’s had and ACL reconstruction and a leg that hasn’t had any damage to the ACL. A fellow skier* that rang me to give some encouragement even thought that he’d become a better and stronger skier after having ACL reconstruction, since the physio exercises he’s now doing keeps  many of the small stabilizing muscles in the knee in top trim, which makes it easier to keep good form and technique!

Another thing that keeps my spirits up is that I get a lot of time to spend with my family and some friends, and just generally think about life without so much every day chores interfering all the time. It’s quite nice compared to the relatively hectic life I lived for a long time prior to this. I also get time to work on my landscape photography skills, now I just need the motivation to take the images through post processing!

Oh, I also rang the orthopedic clinic at the hospital today. I now have a phone meeting with my surgeon in two weeks, my plan is to see if I can get the operation scheduled during that call.


*If you read this, again many thanks for that call, it really helped. You know who you are. 🙂


Mind over knee-matters

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So, been doing a lot thinking. Kind of necessary with the current situation. That’s why I haven’t really written much. Thus this post will also be quite a hefty one.

The current physical situation is quite simple, the ACL in my left knee is completely ruptured. It shows very clear on the MRI. I have met with the surgeon now as well, and started rehabilitation of the knee. It’s up to me if I get surgery or if I do only rehabilitation exercises, but I’m leaning towards getting reconstruction. Anyway, even if I get reconstruction or not physio starts more or less as soon as possible and I’ve had my first sessions with my therapist. I have a daily exercise routine, and I meet my physio three times a week, so it’s quite a ambitious program.

As for the mental bit, there has been ups and downs. It’s harsh knowing I won’t be able to ski more this season, and probably not do much climbing this summer either. What’s more, it easily gets lonely sitting about during the days when everyone else is at work. I’ve started to sort it out though I think. Some time I have been forced to spend with insurance companies, doctor visits etc naturally, but I’ve also had a chance to work a bit on my landscape photography. I’ve also scoped a good gym where I live at the moment and started figuring out a routine for at least somewhat keeping my upper body strength as well as cardio even though my left leg is pretty much bust. I only need to figure out somewhere to get my hangboard up and it’ll be up to nothing but my own discipline in order to keep fit for future climbing.

Another mentally harsh thing is the knowledge that if I get reconstruction I’ll have to start rehab over from pretty much where I started from when I got the injury. That is not to say that anything I do now is in vain, quite the opposite. Before they’ll even do a reconstruction, the knee has to have regained full movement, and all swelling will have to be gone. If they reconstruct earlier there’s a heightened chance of getting fibrosis in the knee joint, which is catastrophic as well as virtually untreatable. Apart from that, when there’s severe trauma to the knee, pretty much independent of what exact type of severe trauma, the nerves get a bit messed up. In practice that means that I currently don’t have full control over my thigh muscles, as in I cannot tighten them to the degree I should be able to, especially when the leg is in full or near full extension. Having full control of my leg muscles when the operation is done will help out rehab after reconstruction. But this is the part I’m talking about, since it’s a new trauma to the knee having the reconstruction, I’ll loose the nerve control again and have to start from nought again. Same goes with swelling and mobility, I’ll be back to nought and have to start over with the rehab from the very beginning again. The big difference the rehab does is that I’ll get to restart from square 0 rather than square -1, or worse.

The one thing I that won’t restart from square 0 again is that every bit of muscle mass I’ll manage to get back pre op will make a big difference post op. That will deteriorate as well, but that’s due to the fact that for the two-or-so first week post op I won’t be allowed to do anything with the leg, so the relationship is more linear. What I mean is that every bit of progress I do pre op will have a direct impact on how good it will be after the reconstruction. That’s easier to manage mentally.

I try to stay positive and focus on what I’m doing at the moment. Compared to the first sessions I did, my rehab exercises has become much easier, so at least I’m making quite quick progress!

Stay positive, there are more winters to come. (And honestly, if there’s one season here in Europe to blow a knee early on, it’s probably this one. From what I’ve heard there’s still bad coverage in pretty much the whole of the alps.)

They tried to make me go to rehab

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And I said fuck this shit.

So, this blog was supposed to be about the life on the road and skiing. Now it’s probably becoming a blog about doing rehab.

I’ve managed to damage my knee a couple of days ago. Having read the doctors statement carefully now she seems to think it’s a ruptured ACL, though from what I understood it’s not impossible it’s just stretched. An MRI will have to give the full answer. So I have driven the car back home to Sweden (2000-and-then-some kilometers) and I’m awaiting and MRI that I’ll probably get this weekend. Have and orthosis for the knee which made working the clutch quite a hassle, luckily most of the way is highway, so not much gear shifting is needed.

Anyway, MRI during the weekend, then probably seeing an orthopaedist early next week that’ll decide whether I need surgery or not. Then it’s off to a physiotherapist to try and make the best out of the situation and try to get well again as soon as possible. I’m living off the hope that I’ll be able to make it to spring skiing, which means I’ll have to be back from rehab after roughly 2-or-so months. If I’m honest an realistic about the situation chances of that happening are fairly slim. The really shitty thing is that I can’t climb either having a torn ACL, so I’m pretty much confined to doing upper body exercises at the gym while doing rehab.

Anyway, I’m trying not to despair completely, I haven’t gotten the word from the orthopaedist yet, so I shouldn’t take out anything in advance. Plan is (roughly) that if he thinks there’s even a slim chance I can make it back to skiing (if so only easy skiing) withing a 2-or-so month period, I’ll rehab the crap out of everything and hope for spring season. If he thinks there’s no way it’ll happen I’ll probably still rehab the crap out of everything and get back to my boss, see if I can go back to work a bit early. No point in sitting at home doing nothing constructive what so ever. If the last parts the case I’m trying to convince myself I’ll at least be able to focus on upper body and core strength as well as doing hangboard exercises, making the upcoming climbing season a fair bit easier. Yes, it’s somewhat of a long shot, but I’m just trying to keep my nostrils above the water line.

Time passes

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The last day on Champoluc was one of the more fun ski days I have had in quite a while.  We were showed an area where the snow was actually deep enough to cover rocks and tree stumps, naturally I jumped as many of the pillows as I could on the two laps we did. Was a blast to find my way back to the pure joy of playful skiing, if only for one day.

Here in Chamonix things are even more dire with the snow. There’s less of it, and more people that want to share it, but I’ve at least got really good company here! The days I’ve been here so far have been good. Shorter days with not too much skiing outside of the piste, but still good days. Shorter days also means I’ve gotten a chance to get a new ski boot liner, something I’ve been meaning to do for some time. And today we actually had some snow! Or rather, it was (mostly) snow on the mountain, in the village it came down as rain. This kind of compact snow is probably good for the area right now though, it’ll form a solid base. One can only hope it’ll bind nicely to the very hard snow layer that’s at the bottom of it. Both me and Sebastian managed to set of smaller (size 1) slabs on steeper slopes without trying too much, so we’ll have to be careful the next couple of days.

On the bright side, my home sickness have settled down quite a bit, despite of the lack of good snow to ski. I’m starting to think I should’ve probably go to Japan instead of the alps, but I guess no one can foresee that a season is going to be quite this bad. And I also want to enjoy another type of skiing this year, only bummer is that there’s too little snow to actually ski the things I want to ski. Let’s just hope it gets somewhat sorted before spring!

Spring feeling

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It feels like spring skiing at the moment. Almost every aspect of spring skiing is present. We’ve had a high pressure since the first day I got to Champoluc, so 8 days with strong sun and about a handful of visable clouds during that whole time. There is still need for plenty of snow, but at least the high pressure’s made touring super enjoyable, so we’ve skied nice snow pretty mucy every day anyway.

But aspects of spring skiing was what I was talking about! We’ve got the high pressure with accompanying warm days (we’ve been hiking without shells and almost without base layer as well), but we’ve also got thin snow lower down in the valleys, singing birds, the smell of farms, etc. I’ve even got a tad of the mental feeling I usually get in late season, a feeling of just waiting for the next part of life to begin. In this case it’s not so much life as it’s the next part of the trip perhaps, but the feeling’s similar for sure. It’s a feeling of melancholy, but at the same time it’s quite meditative and calm. Bittersweet would be a good way to describe it.

Anyway, a lot of touring has been done for sure, with good turns and great company as a nice reward. Tomorrow I’m leaving Champoluc for Chamonix, it’ll be nice with a change of environment, even though the snow is supposed to be equally sparse there. At least I’ll  get to meet up with some friends!

Know thy self

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When I set off on this trip I expected it to be a learning experience. So far it has been, though not in the way I thought.

I thought I would thrive with the freedom that comes from living in a camper, having the possibility to go wherever I felt would be appropriate, meeting new people and skiing as many days as possible. Turns out what I have learned so far have had more to do with getting to know myself rather than the practical aspects of living a camper van life.

When I’ve been out on longer trips before I haven’t missed the feeling of having a fixed point in my life, I’ve been fine with temporary accommodations and friends that come and go. This time it’s a lot harder. I don’t exactly know why this is. Maybe I’m getting older and have gotten other priorities. Maybe I hit a threshold, before I’ve stayed at “proper” accommodations, the camper van type of travelling is a bit more loose and unplanned. Maybe it’s just the fact that previously I haven’t had much of a home anyway, so it hasn’t mattered much. Probably it’s a little bit of all those things in combination.

Anyway, the reason I feel the way I do is not very relevant at the moment. What matters is the fact that I feel the way I do. In light of this I have changed my plans around somewhat. The original idea was that I’d meet my family week 10, but I have decided to fly home for a week a little prior to that. Just having it decided (and by now, flight tickets booked) feels a lot better and my mind is more balanced. Very strange, but very needed.

So, I still have another week in Italy, after which I’ll pop over to Chamonix and ski there for a week. Then, as it happens, my acquaintance who seemed very interested in living out of the camper has come through, and we’ll spend two weeks of proper camper van life! Looking forward very much to that! After those two weeks I’ll be turning towards Geneva and a week at home with family. I’ll have to see though, by then I might have gotten so used to the van hobo life style I find turning home to be the wrong idea, but I honestly don’t think so.

Today we might go have a look up a beautiful Italian couloir, so far though I’m the only one here that has woken.

Skin to win

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Days in Italy have been real good so far. Snow conditions aren’t prefect, but with skins and some effort there’s plenty of good stuff to be found. The two first days have been quite easy and slow, today was the first day that I really got to work out. Nothing to big, but about 700 m vertical is still decent for a first bigger day of the season.

A day like this was also very needed for my own sake. I’ve been full of doubts over weather or not this trip of mine is a good idea, for several reasons. A day like this stilled those thoughts and let me solely focus on skiing and photographing. A very nice change to say the least.

Back on track

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So, as the headline states, I’m back on track. At least I think I am, not sure. I’m back in the alps anyway, this time in Italy, staying at an acquaintance for a week and hopefully doing a lot of touring. Since I left there’s been quite a bit of snow, which is nice (and desperately needed), so now it’ll hopefully be more than piste skiing available.

Anyway, in many ways it’s nice to be back. Even though I’m not too bummed about missing out on the big dump, it started to get somewhat frustrating towards the end not being out skiing now that it’s possible. I will miss the feeling of home though, but at the moment I cannot have both at the same time, so I’ll just have to survive the way it is! Next time I meet up with family is week 10, so not too long!

Plan as of now is to spend this coming week-and-some touring Italy. After that I have a friend coming over to Chamonix for two weeks, and since he’s well acquainted with both the town and the mountain I’ll probably spend a week or so with him. After that I’ll have to see! I might have gotten in contact with a person that seems genuinely interested in actually living in the van full time for a week or two, driving around to different smaller resorts and maybe even places without resorts what so ever. I sure hope this person decides to come over, I think it could be a real blast!