The High Adventure of a High Sprain

The past two months have granted me a wealth of new experiences. What I mean by that, is that I dislocated my ankle right before the new year and have spent the past two months having to come to terms with rest and recovery. Both of those are things that I have never been good at. The first bevy of sprains that I endured growing up (both ankles) were brushed off as soon as it was wrapped up. All of those were low (lateral) and pretty mild sprains, I think. This one began with the sight of my own fibula making a run for it, then being reined back in by my ligaments (WEIRD).  The first lesson of this injury came from that moment of “uh oh.” My natural tendency is to hop back up and keep going…not this time. The second lesson came a few weeks later, when, being me, I gave myself the okay to ditch the crutches. Soon after that, I (finally) made myself a follow up doctor’s appointment. A word of advice to anyone out there who is wondering about seeing someone about an injury…just do it. I’ve always been so anxious about making my own appointments and put them off until it is either unbearable or too late. Just do it. I had thought that I knew everything about sprains from my past experience, but I did not. Not even close.

It turns out that the ligament between my tibia and fibula had torn, so every time that I put my weight on that leg, the bones would stretch apart and the ligament would pull and be damaged yet again. Four more weeks of crutches and six weeks of physical therapy to make my talus, a bone that I just learned about, glide again.

This is where I would put my hipster ‘looking at my feet’ skelfie if the doctors would have given me it…. instead here is a fancy diagram.

Anyway, what my reason for writing this is not to just inform you about high ankle sprains, but to share what I’ve learned.

 

  1. It is okay to ask for help.
    • I am a strong lady and I have always prided myself on being self reliant. When I went back to work at the bike shop on crutches, I did my darnedest to maintain my independent womanhood. That being said, when you can’t put weight on one of your feet lest you be on crutches for another month, you are going to have a hard time moving bicycles around. My guys at the shop have been infinitely helpful, even if they are just taking a couple of seconds to wheel a bicycle to a stand for me.
  2. It is good to rest.
    • I have been struggling to keep up my fitness while being injured (I still gained like ten pounds but whatever. That’s less injury and more Girl Scout cookies…). I’ve been trying to lift and hangboard and stuff but there is a point where crutching is the only thing I can do for the day. Yoga has been a lifesaver but more so than that has been the Indian River and Netflix.
  3. To help others, you need to help yourself.
    • I have never been more motivated to share my skills when I can have them back. I’ve actually never been this disciplined about anything in my whole life and for that, I thank gravity and the crappy floor velcro in the boulder cave at the gym.

Here’s to three more weeks of one of the least convenient methods of transportation ever invented.

Crutching in sand is easily the most difficult way to crutch. Don’t.

Oh, and side note, physical therapy rules. Yes it is painful, but this morning I got a (uncomfortable) therapeutic foot rub from a good looking guy (my PT) and it ruled. Would do again.

Also my boss’ dog is TERRIFIED of my crutches and it is easily the hardest part of this shenanigan, besides walking.

 

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Of Missing Things.

The thing about growing up in and living in one town for 20 years is that you get used to it. There are parts that you grow to dislike, especially growing up, but there are more parts that become a part of you. Despite that, getting out is never far from a young adults mind. Regardless, the friendships made in that time are ones that never go away.

The thing about living a nomadic existence is that even though you always have a friend, they aren’t always across the street.

Since leaving the state of Ohio, I have been to and lived in several incredible places and met so many incredible people. However, I have not been able to bring any of them with me. If I could have my way, the same friends that I only had to walk across the street to in Westerville and walk down the hall of the dorm to in Athens and get on a boat with in the Keys and climb up a rock to in California would all be in my room with me right now.

The thing about moving a lot is that I always have to miss someone. And the thing about right now is that I miss everyone more than I ever have before in my life.

I went 22 years of my life without being significantly homesick. I have always been able to distract myself by some incredible place or activity that I was privileged enough to do growing up. Since becoming an adult, I have grown to miss my home far more than I ever have before. Anything from a taste of ice cream or a view that reminds me of an old friend or a new person who reminds me of an old one can make me nostalgic for different times.

The thing about growing up, though, is that you learn that home is not a place. Home is all of the people who have impacted your heart and your decisions and your mind along the way. Home is what makes you who you are and is what brought you to where you stand in this moment, and home will always be where you make it. I am feeling homesick right now, I will admit that, but not for a place. For everyone I’ve ever called friend or family.

Here come the nostalgic photos…not sorry.

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Rock (climbing) and Roll(ing backwards because I’m bad at driving manual still), or On Being A Beginner.

This post is partially just me being excited about new things, and partially a deep expression about overcoming fear.

Heights have never been my thing. Since the first moment I stepped onto a challenge course, though, I’ve known that if I was going to make it as a recreation professional (or even through my challenge course programming class), I was going to have to face a lot of fears that I had. Many of my childhood fears were conquered quickly: bugs, talking to strangers, leaving my mom for an overnight trip. Others remained. A great fear of falling has affected my life and my ability to try new things. It has always been difficult for me to be a beginner. A lot of events between then and now have both been affected by and affected this fear itself. Mountain biking, cross country skiing, snowboarding, climbing, and surfing had all been tried and nearly abandoned due to my discomfort in being a beginner. Many encouraging words were said in all of these experiences, but the one that truly has stuck and continues to resonate in my mind was this: “If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.”

When I started climbing, it was because I had to. For my challenge course programming class, we were required to get belay certified at the university’s climbing wall. To do this, I needed a partner who would climb while I belayed and vice versa. That day was also the first day that I had been physically strong enough to make it to the top of a rock wall (on a 5.6 route, but that’s beside the point…) To earn the actual certification, we were required to belay on ten separate days. If I was going to belay, I might as well climb, right?

Fast forward to 2015. This job in California has perks that include a free membership to a local climbing gym. I began with top roping, as that was the type of climbing that I am the most comfortable with. There is equipment there to catch you when you fall. The bouldering section of any gym had always been one that I would avoid, due to its lack of equipment and farther distance to fall. Somehow, that discomfort made it my goal to become a better boulderer.

If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.

One day last weekend, I actually fell from the top of a bouldering route. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would have been, and since that moment, top roping has sunk to second on my list of favorites. Shredding my hands on natural rock at Joshua Tree this past weekend has only solidified that distinction. We are returning to Joshua Tree next weekend for more climbing and camping, and I am so excited. I hope that I fall. I hope that my hands bleed and I hope that I challenge my body and my mind, because if you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.

I spent a fair amount of my childhood in fear, and I am psyched to live the rest of my life having fun.

Today I Dipped My Toe Into Adulthood

…and exited with a new (to me) vehicle!

I am very excited that this large step in planning Q’s and my Road Trip-aversary is over, and I am glad that I walked away with my new baby, The Spaceship Adventure. She’s a manual, which is new to me, and we made it up the mountain today which was also a very exciting and grown-up feeling thing. I’m stoked to blast off with her on some real adventures!

The Spaceship Adventure!

I am so stoked to be able to transport myself places, and to be able to take the next steps toward the epic coast to coast Road Trip-aversary.

New Challenges

Tomorrow begins the second official week of the spring season here in the mountains, my second week in cabin with the girls, and my first week teaching actual classes here. The biggest challenge of this is mental, I think, and once I have finished my first class which I hope I will be prepared enough for, I believe that the rest will go smoother. That being said, I am going to be teaching some topics that I never thought that I would teach. Outdoor skills and orienteering, I was ready for. For forest ecology I could not be more pumped. Leading dissections and physics classes though, will be a hefty mental hurdle that I am both nervous and excited for. Luckily, we had a long weekend to fill with studying!

I’m just kidding, we went surfing. It was worth the two hour drive to get to San Clemente and pick up boards and meet some of the nicest parents around and pick up boards and a pooch. The spot we went to was unlike any beach I have been to before, and the waves were pretty nice! We had to trek down a cliff with our boards, burritos, and wetties (as our Australian friend calls them, which I like way more than ‘wetsuit;) to  get to the water and my goodness was it gorgeous!

Another new experience and challenge occurred when I was stung by a sting ray! It was an experience for sure, and I can’t help but feel bad for the kids at base who forgot to shuffle and were slashed and went without proper treatment because we didn’t actually know what the wound was. I vividly remember a kid this past summer with a stab nearly twice the size of the one that I got this weekend, and I can’t even imagine the pain that he must have felt after walking on it without proper treatment for a full day. I went only three or so hours before I could soak it and my chacos barely fit by the end, Ouch.

Needless to say, as well, studying definitely happened almost all day today. Tomorrow I teach weather and owl pellet dissections and I am both nervous and excited. Here’s to influencing the city kids of Southern California!

ps: we are in a fairy tale forest with giant pine cones and it rules.

Altitude and Attitude

I recently took my life to the next level – from sea level to 6,400 feet above that.

The view directly outside of the main gate of Pali.

I got a job up here in the mountains of California and it’s been a wild ride so far. I am going to be interacting with a younger kids than I’ve ever worked with, and much to my surprise, I am going to be not only teaching outdoor classes like orienteering and leading night hikes, but serious business science classes as well. It’s a different kind of pushing my comfort zone than I am used to, and I am very nervous and very excited. I have never even taken a physics class before, and this coming week I will be teaching one by myself. How crazy is that! My weekends and off time are going to be packed with studying and making lesson outlines, in addition to climbing, surfing, and general exploring.

The view of the San Bernadino range from one of the three challenge courses.

It’s gorgeous up here, my coworkers are awesome, and I am thrilled for what this season will bring me in terms of personal and professional growth. It may be chilly way up here, but my passion for the field of outdoor education is burning brighter than ever!

Surfing through 2014, or Another Year in Review

The year 2014 is coming to a close, and, as it does with any year, it causes one to be a bit more reflective. This year has been a rollercoaster in the live of me, with many new experiences in many different places.

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I started the year off by studying abroad in Costa Rica. Among the relationships developed on that trip was the one with myself and the incredible froth that is brought on by surfing.

©2014 Katelyn Vancouver

©2014 Katelyn Vancouver

This experience, I feel, is highly relevant to how my year continued. I’ve found that surfing is a lot of waiting and a lot of paddling and a lot of wiping out, but the moments that you spend riding waves are what make the whole thing worth it. More on that later, though.

Not long after my adventure to Costa Rica, I joined my father on a voyage to Connecticut to visit our extended family who I, at least, hadn’t seen in a long time. It was awesome to hang out with my dad, aunt, and uncle as a fellow adult of legal drinking age…a different dynamic and a nice one. Reconnecting with family is always good, too. Speaking of family, I gained some (unofficially, I suppose) in my main squeeze’s family. Soon after the trip to see my own, I flew to Chicago to meet up with Q and meet his (enormous) extended family. Needless to say, they rule and I love them. Our Chicago adventures were extremely cold (it was the only bit of the great Polar Vortex that I experienced) but that resulted in some phenomenal Bean photos…because it was so cold that we were the only people in Millenium Park!

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After a week or so in Chi-town, we embarked on a road trip with the ultimate destination being the Florida Keys for the Spring Season at  Sea Base. Stops included Ohio, the Carolinas, and Jacksonville and boy did it rule. Off season touristing is amazing. We went to Jockey’s Ridge, and despite the wind and the lack of open restaurants, the solitude in the park was worth it.

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Between Spring and Summer in the Keys, I checked an item off of my bucket list – graduate college on time.

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And then another road trip to Florida for another Summer at Sea Base.

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This past summer, I also got the opportunity to mate on the sailboat at the fancy resort next door to our island and it was a unique opportunity. Not something that I could spend my life doing, but highly enjoyable and some way to make a week’s paycheck in a day.

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Upon the completion of the season, Q and I became real Floridians when we moved into our apartment (TOGETHER! An enormous commitment). Living with my significant someone has been great. Living on my own for the first time, and not even totally independently from my parents across the country, and being unemployed for several months was less great. I admittedly fell into the gaping rut that I will not-so-affectionately refer to as Netflix for hours…no, weeks, on end. We did fix up a trash picked surfboard that is too short for both of our surfing skill levels, which was the best thing I did for several months. Getting ‘real people jobs’ is not an easy thing and it takes a lot of time. It took a few months to score a seasonal retail position at the local mall, which I actually love, but the time between work at base and work here was long enough to put a serious strain on the bank account. It has gotten better and will continue to do so. The two of us only have a few friends here, and don’t go out often, but when we do it is an awesome time. We go fishing and surfing, more me than Q, but he has caught a few solid waves since moving here. We moved here to surf and even though we don’t do it as often as we would like to, we’ve made some improvements.

I was lucky enough to (allegedly irresponsibly) venture down to NIcaragua to do some of this improving when I signed up for a Surf With Amigas surf retreat on a whim that was highly encouraged by Q. It was an amazing experience and I met a lot of very empowering women and rode some green waves and volcano boarded and galloped down a gorgeous, pristine beach on horseback. It was wild and a wonderful way to bring my year back up toward the top of the rollercoaster.

Coming up next, in 2015, I will be making a dash across the country to work in California for about six months. I am extremely excited for this new adventure on a new coast and with new people. I am going to miss the heck out of Q every day, but I believe that in the end, the distance will make us stronger both as individuals and as a team. I can’t help but think sappy thoughts when I think about him and I know that we will be more than alright.

The year 2014, like surfing, involved a lot of waiting, a lot of paddling hard, a LOT of wiping out, and more than enough excitement to make all of the really hard stuff worth it. I am frothing to drop into 2015 and all of the hard work, new friends, and new thrills that will come with it.

Nine Thousand Miles

When I first dipped my toe into adulthood in August, it and I did not immediately get along. Certain aspects still have their negative parts (ahem, bills). However, what my friends and family reassured me in the beginning did prove to be very true – everything happens all at once.

Last week, I was still unemployed. Today, I have two part time jobs in the area, an adventure in Nicaragua in less than a month, and a job across the country that will begin in January.

That’s right, a real job in the field that my degree is in. Needless to say, I am thrilled! So now to maximize my time in the relative warmth of Florida and the real warmth of Nica  before heading to the mountains for twenty or so weeks.

a cabana in Nicaragua.

The mountains are calling and I must go!

EDIT: I just wanted to let everyone know that it’s really nice to work at the same places over and over because in this day and age, they still have all of my information stored and I just have to click like three buttons to be done with everything.

That being said, I am SO PUMPED for something TOTALLY NEW!

PUMPED!

The Grind

This real life thing and I have had quite a rollercoaster of a relationship so far.

Cocoa Beach welcomes me!

I don’t have a job yet…still…and I range from being enormously okay with it to restless and grumpy. The fact that I saved a good amount of dollars in the past few seasons at base help, but I still want to focus my energy on contributing to something. I like working. A lot. I’ve felt hopeful about every job application I have submitted and have still heard more or less nothing at all.

That being said, I really like surfing and riding my bike and fishing, which I am able to do whenever and wherever I want to. This freedom to do anything at anytime is almost overwhelming. I currently have almost no obligations – work, school, friends (eep…) – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s been a little bit of a struggle to not sink into the cavernous depths of Netflix and create goals for myself, but with help from my dude, I’ve (we’ve) decided to focus on tackling my bucket list. I had to create a physical copy for a class with the one and only Giles Lee last fall, and since printing it, I have been able to check five of the many dreams off. Some are a little bit less impressive seeming than others, like “own a waffle maker,” and “graduate on time,” (check and check 😛 ) but it is a kind of cool thing to do. The act of picking up a pen and cross something off that you’ve talked about doing ever since you found out what it was is incredible.

I'm flying!

I can’t remember the first time I learned what skydiving was, but I have remembered talking about it and wanting to do it since whenever that first discovery was. At the very least since I turned 18. I’ve always had a little bit of a tendency to say that I am going to do things, and then just not, but this past Wednesday, I followed through. I found a Groupon for a location near me that also included a free tshirt (can’t say no to that!), and did it and boy am I glad I did. The view of the Indian River from 18,000 feet was breathtaking, and the parachute ride was the most comfortable I have ever been without my feet touching the ground. I cannot wait to go again. I know that I will go again. I have to take Q, haha.

Up next on the list? Master surfing. I have been twice since getting here, and now that we have our own board (soon to be boards!), it is a lot easier to go. I also am thinking about trying something new, like pole dancing fitness or kite boarding.

I am also going to head home for homecoming in a couple of weeks. I have never been more excited to be in Ohio in my whole life. I like it here, and I love the state of Florida, but I’ve never been homesick like this before. I need to get out of here for a little while. But I’ll come back, for now. Shoot, if I have a surfboard, a bike, a fishing pole, and cool people, what else do I need?