Last Thursday me and the parental units drove up to Mammoth Lakes for a Friday morning appointment with Dr. Karch. I won’t lie. Although gorgeous even from the back seat of a moving vehicle, driving through the Eastside during the height of fall felt like a mild form of torture. Sitting around the house in Santa Barbara, its fairly easy to forget about climbing on rock. Fingerboards are almost as interesting as the mediocre stone that we’ve been blessed with on the central coast. However the mild temps, clear skies, and acres and acres of world class boulders that dominate the landscape of Bishop create another story altogether. Damn greasy foothold.... AH!! I could be climbing right now!
I’m allowed a moment or two of weakness I think. I enjoyed the agony for a short while, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Karch had positive things to say during our appointment. The new x-rays showed absolutely no change in the bones of my leg. Now, this wasn’t the best possible news. Ideally there’d be some knitting apparent at this point in the recovery. However, in this case, no news WAS good news. Turns out Karch was encouraged by the fact that the screws hadn’t moved or simply fallen out of place. Like nails coming loose from rotting wood, this would indicate bone death, something that’s undeniably bad. His feeling, and one that my logical mind has to agree with, is that if the bones aren’t dying they’re probably growing. It’s one or the other right? This lack of death combined with apparent lack of infection led my new favorite doctor to one of the better conclusions I’ve heard in a while.
“I can confidently say that I don’t expect to be cutting your foot off anymore.” Of course nothing’s for sure, but when a doctor, someone who gets paid to be conservative ad absurdum says that they don’t expect outcome ‘x’ that’s a pretty strong statement bordering very close on certainty. So as tears flowed down Mom’s face Dr. Karch explained the road ahead.
The Docs are going to want to see some bone growth soon. If in 3 weeks there’s still no apparent change, then they’ll prescribe a bone stimulator (basically a device that sends a mild electrical current through the area). This would hopefully solve the problem. If after a month of “stimulation” the bones continue to be stubborn, a bone graft from my hip is the next option. We’ll talk more about that if we go down that road.
For now I’ll continue to wait and focus on using as much of my body as I can in hopes that it will jump start the healing process. On that note, I should mention that I cannot do any physical therapy with my left leg. The bones are far too fragile for any amount of weight bearing at any angle. Instead, Dr. Karch suggested that I continue to strengthen my right leg. His reasoning is two fold. First of all, there’s no reason to let it’s fitness go to shit. After all its much easier to maintain than to rehabilitate. Secondly - this is the rad part - working one limb of the body seems to increase nerve activity in the opposite limb. Dr. Karch’s suggestion: Try riding a bike with one leg. Now he was clear that this wasn’t his professional prescription (that’s not very conservative now is it?), but rather something he might have personally tried while recovering from a skiing accident where he ripped his quadricep completely off the knee. “Its way harder than you think!” he says. He also encouraged me to keep working my upper body as much as possible (within reason of course - very important to be conservative). Ok Doc. Upper body training it is. No problem. Over and out.