Monday, 31 March 2014

Day 12 - Touching the Void

Today was a quiet one, with 40 laps walked and a visit from my dad's girlfriend-type-person (it hurts my head to try and figure out if they're together or not, so I just accept that she's around, and that she cares), who is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. Thanks to her I managed to get outside in the sunshine for ten minutes for the third day running. I can't describe how good that feels when you have been deprived of it.
I also got a call from my ex's dad, who has just got back from doing Kokoda and had promised to call and let me know how it went. Hard to believe that he called me before he left, which was on my... second, I think, night here, and here I remain, waiting for surgery, when he has spent the time somewhat more productively completing such a challenging walk. Not to mention the fact it's a walk I would have liked to have done. Never say never, but probably not high on the list of "things I am quite likely to do in the near future"!
I got a visit from the surgeon quite late in the day. I think it was around 6:30pm, and it was brief, and not especially informative. The fact they haven't bothered moving me into the public hospital overnight and that I will get breakfast tells me that it is unlikely that they will operate tomorrow, but, again, never say never! That said, I'll believe it when I see it...
The bulk of the day was spent thoroughly absorbed by a book that a friend had lent me. I read it cover to cover, and although I am hesitant to stand up and declare that it has inspired me, it has kind of made me think that it might be possible to do more with myself. Physically, I mean. 

The book was Touching the Void, and was written by Joe Simpson, a mountaineer who broke his leg on a climb in Peru during a descent. His climbing partner Simon tried his utmost to get him down, but eventually Joe got into a situation he couldn't physically get out of, and Simon then had make the incredibly difficult decision to cut the rope from which Joe hung, knowing he would probably die. Joe falls down the cliff, into a crevasse, survives, decides to have a crack at getting out, then crawls about nine miles back to camp over the course of a few days with a shattered leg.

There were a few things that struck me about it.

One was Joe's determination to keep going, which resonated with me. Perhaps I'm delusional, but I like to think I'm a pretty determined person (when my courage is not failing me), and tend to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Some may call that pig-headed or stubborn, but I call it life. I quite simply don't find the alternative - which is to rot away, sitting on my mum's couch - to be at all acceptable. And don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing my life to the near-death experience of a mountaineer with a busted knee crawling on his hands and knees for miles on end, but I admired his determination, and that he (or "the voice") did not allow himself to entertain the alternative for long.

Another was that it took place in Peru. I jokingly say that I left my heart in Peru, but it's kind of true. Peru is where I climbed my last big mountain (by my standards! Obviously not by the standards of mountaineers or even of more ambitious, casual hikers), and where, in the days afterwards, I was hospitalised with a previously-undiagnosed heart condition. I had no idea that fateful day what an impact it would have on my life, and what a huge readjustment it would take to quell the sometimes-crippling, daily fear; and to silence or at least quieten the voices that tell me you can't. My heart is in the outdoors, and I guess Peru marked the end of a time that I could do whatever physical activities I chose in a carefree way.

Finally, in his acknowlegements, Simpson mentions his parents - "Lastly, and most important, I wish to thank my parents for encouraging me to write the book, helping me get my mind and body back to normal, and patiently accepting my decision to continue climbing." The mountains I climb ain't got nothin' on Simpson's, but he has quite accurately described the support I have received from family and friends alike, and the patience with which they have humoured my outdoorsy whims. Some of them - and I'm sure they know who they are - have played a huge, consistent role in supporting me, whilst others have let their own fears about what might happen take over. But I can't expect everyone to be at peace with my decisions, especially those who care about me and have a vested interest in my survival; after all, I live in this body every day, and think about it every day, so I'm obviously better-placed to make those choices and to deal with those fears.

I admire the courage of mountaineers like Simpson. He writes in such a matter-of-fact way, which can not possibly describe the level of fitness or skill that these guys must have had, and I am in awe of him, and others like him... even if they don't have a near-death experience!

(Abridged version: read the book!)

Anyway, that's enough reflection.

I'll leave you with a Pyjama Selfie, because if I do go in for surgery tomorrow then I will be sporting a sexy hospital gown, and ain't nothin' gonna incite me to post a picture of THAT for the world to see!

The flavour of the day is giraffes. I guess I'm just a woman with altitude today. Ha. Haha. Hahaha SO FUNNY!!! (get it? Giraffes are tall. I'm tall. Mountains were climbed...)

Pyjama selfie:

Woman with altitude (and FYI, I used to have a T-shirt with this printed on it!):

If tomorrow turns out to be The Day then wish me luck! I'm trying not to think about it. Don't wanna have to psych myself up all over again. Last time was soooo messy. I'm hoping that this time it'll be all like, BAM, GAME ON.



  1. ARGH, I'M A TERRIBLE PERSON BECAUSE I'VE ONLY BEEN TO SEE YOU ONCE. I had plans to visit over the weekend, but then Ava was staying and it was Grandma's birthday and everything got crazy hectic. And I was going to visit tomorrow but I now have to go to work. So it looks like being Thursday. Keep me posted as to whether it will be a pre-op or post-op visit!! xx

    1. That's okay, you're in good company! I think people are getting sick of me cos I'm pretty much down to one visitor per day, and even those are a bit of a surprise ;) At present it looks like it'll be pre-op - it's nearly 4pm and they let me have lunch and afternoon tea, so I'm thinking it'll be Friday...


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