melissa i strong

rock climber, writer, photographer, working on life daily


Getting back to being ME!


All summer long I waved goodbye to Adam.  Some days these goodbyes were filled with acceptance others were filled with bitter lament that I was not going climbing.


Working 5 nights a week, 8-10 hour shifts, was not helping the healing process of my knee (after completely tearing my ACL and partially tearing my meniscus, MCL and fracturing my tibia in February).  It was swollen every night after work and I knew if I pushed it by hiking up to the Park to climb it would get worse—I knew because of course I tried.  These were challenging days.  I turned to my sanctuary in Little Valley, our home, our climbing wall and my elliptical machine.  This is what kept me sane.  Our 60 degree wall allowed me to try with out fear of landing taking comfy back falls onto mattresses.  Even this was limited as I only climbed a few days a week because my elbow tendinitis was still an issue.


I tried to push myself here and there and could feel just how weak and unstable that left leg was.  I started to ease back into running in August-  six months after surgery.  Coming back to running was with wrought with pain and setbacks like most of the journey but filled my being with joy getting back to things I loved.


SO that is what I did all summer.  Limited climbing on our wall and a few jogs here and there and worked a lot.


One last setback happened at the end of September on one of our busiest weekends of the year.  I slipped at work, bending bad knee in and almost touching it to the floor.  Customers who had no idea I had knee surgery recently exclaimed “oh your knee” when it happened.  I was shaken up by the fall--it was more violent twisting of the knee than my actual injury.  Dr. McCarty told me that after the ACL heals it will be stronger than your other one and it was.  The ACL held and my back and hip yielded over the knee. I really did not feel like I needed any more challenges and this just sucked.  The following weekend was my birthday and I tried to make the best of it.  We hiked to Chasm Lake—8 miles round trip, my longest journey post surgery.  It was beautiful and I was happy to be able to do it but I was in more pain and limping more than I had in a while.  The next day I tried to have my first day of climbing outside since Australia (which was half-assed climbing at best) and my back completely went out.  We packed up, did the hike down and drove straight to the chiropractor.


So the fall was a bust.  My knee was feeling better but hip and back were messed up and are still today but not as bad and hopefully on the mend.


We headed to Hueco after Thanksgiving.  Adam was feeling great and ready for a vacation.  I needed to stop working so much and lay off my knee and back.  I was happy to go even with elbow tendinitis going on a year and a half, a not so completely healed knee and a jacked back.  I now refer to it as my chossy* port side bing that all of the ailments on the left side of my body.


Afraid was how I started the trip. Every warm up top out I asked Adam to spot me.  Even if I was three feet off the ground I was scared.


The good news—I was able to do some boulder problems!  I wasn’t as weak as I thought and once I started moving I was actually climbing all right much to my and Adam’s surprise. I repeated some things I have done and sent a new boulder problem that was challenging for me, Wooden Mushroom, v9/10.   The trip is not over yet so hoping for a few more before I leave.  I have found a guy in El Paso that does active muscle release and is a chiropractor who is helping me out, Dr. Ponce at Aktiv in El Paso.  I am climbing in pain some days but not making things worse--it is manageable and I am healing what I can.


Adam on the other hand is out of pain!  He has managed his battle with tendinitis is climbing STRONG!  I am so happy for him!  I am also so happy that I just get to be out there enjoying the time with him and friends and getting to climb around.  It feels great to becoming me again!


I am back to running as well but not too much.  The key to this trip is patience with my self and taking more rest days than anyone would want to on a climbing trip.  I know that this all will heal with time but in the meanwhile it is great to be able to push myself a bit and see gains while being good to my healing body.


Elbow diagnosis before I left was that it is torn it will not heal on it’s own and get surgery when you cannot deal with it…  Obviously I opted to wait it out and see what it happens while working on it continuing with acupuncture, massage, needling, e-stem, gurus, ointments, oils, PRP, PT…you name it—going down with the ship on this one.

*choss for non climbers means low quality rock to the point of crumbling

the drive down

bathrooms in Hueco!

Kiel on Full Service

Gave up the brace 10 months after surgery

Getting to climb and catch up with great friends!!

Jingus Bells

Dustin Saunders sending Slashface


Graham doing Sex After Death

Adam trying 50 Shades of Red

From Chasm Lake birthday hike

Halletts Peak--from the day I attempted to climb and my back stopped me