melissa i strong

rock climber, writer, photographer, working on life daily

Avoiding the bitching moaning blues—life of an aging athlete or ailing?


Well it was my turn I guess but from what I understand tendinitis is not catchy.  Adam’s “recovery” from a two-year battle with tendinitis occurred not too long before my elbow flared up and man it is on fire.   I have medial (bottom, golfer’s elbow), lateral (top, tennis elbow) and bicep tendinitis.  This combined with the partially torn LCL (incurred while climbing in Switzerland) and the second stage of my knee injury, the popliteal tearing in July, created an unhappy challenge for me to deal with all summer.  I usually hike when I am injured but that was not even an option.  I struggled through summer working a lot, maintaining fitness by climbing carefully and minimally on our wall and going to physical therapy of all sorts (including conventional p.t., acupuncture, chiropractic, deep tissue work, laser therapy, myofascial release…).  Thankfully I have seen some improvement in my knee but still suffering from several ups and downs with different parts of my elbow flaring up, then feeling like it might be under control and then exploding again.


Early September I had this one dreamy day in the park where I actually thought I was getting away with it and was at the beginning of the end.  At that point hiking to lower Chaos Canyon, Lake Haiyaha area, with a crash pad ensemble was a big deal for my knee.  My medial tendinitis was in check (at least I was hopefully thinking so) and the lateral tendinitis was the issue but manageable and I had to test the waters.  It was a beautiful day that gave me tons of joy to just be outside climbing and I was able to try hard and do well!  But it was a day.


Soon after the lateral came into check and the medial really reared its annoyingly painful force joined by bicep tendinitis.  Then carpel tunnel hit.  REALLY!  No sleep due to crazy nerve pain was definitely a challenge to manage especially heaped on top of my other ailments.  It was also completely not thrilling when I would try to massage my elbow tendinitis and the nerves in my hand hurt too much to handle the task.  I found (not quickly enough) that sleeping with a brace helps tremendously.  After a trip to a specialist and once again lots of physical therapy of all sorts I have decided to get surgery this winter.  My hands got slightly better as our busy season subsided but they are not good.  I believe in the hand specialist I went to and would like to stop this before the compressed nerve causes any permanent damage.   The surgery is quick and minimally invasive with one month of no climbing—which we will see if that helps the elbow.


The combination of the tendinitis and carpal tunnel spurred me to push my knee and the middle of September I went for a run and I felt it in a not so great way but not horrible.  Still a little too early to pound on it so I decided to hike and spent October and November going to new destinations in Rocky. We had an amazing fall and through several long beautiful hikes to stunning settings my knee has gained strength and my spirit lifted.   I am now able to run an average of 4 miles with out pain (knock on wood) and hoping to keep these hikes going while we are here on and off this winter.


So is this the beginning of a blog called life of an aging athlete or ailing?  The first knee injury, the LCL, was caused by poor decision making rather than age.  The popliteal tear maybe has more to do with tight hamstrings and pushing a not healed LCL than age.  The elbow – people of all ages experience tendinitis.   Carpel tunnel is the result of several things that seem to culminate and worsen with age.  So it’s a mix bag aging and ailing.  I know I need more recovery time and I could definitely see the lack of cartilage in my right knee on the MRI.


Regardless of ailments or age I am going down with this ship giving my best effort along the way.  Putting my injuries in perspective I realize these things are minor speed bumps in life.  How we handle them is the true test.  So here’s to not complaining, maintaining strength, fitness, happiness and patience while healing and moving forward.

One of my few days in the Park climbing this summer.

Chapin, Chiquita and Yipsilon with Chelsey and Lisa.  September 27, 2015


Chasm Lake with Jordan October 8, 2015

Yipsilon Lake and our search for Spectacle Lake with Sam and Jonna October 15, 2015.  Spotted a big boulder 4 miles back.

The Homestead meadows with Kathleen and Cassidy. October 19, 2015

Cub Lake loop with Jonna and Olga October 23, 2015

Fern & Odessa Lakes with Sam, Jonna and Lisa, October 26, 2015


Mills Lake, Shelf & Solitude with Jonna, Lisa & Angie.  October 29, 2015

Bluebird Lake with Jonna, Sam, Angie & Joanne.  We got lucky with a great sighting of these two moose on the way to the trailhead.  November, 2 2015

Lumpy Ridge Loop with Lisa & Jonna.

November 11, 2015.

Some fall images from around Little Vally and Estes.  Adam putting up the town's lights.