I recently watched a film called “The Dawn Wall,” about free-climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. They embarked on a six year journey to reach the summit of Yosemite’s previously unclimbed “El Capitan.” It was thought to be impossible.
As scary as it was to watch this play out, I couldn’t stop myself. I can’t help rooting for anyone who’s been told they cannot achieve a goal, however impossible it may seem. It’s just too easy to write people’s dreams off as folly.
Free climbing involves scaling rocks and mountains with your bare hands. Literally the only thing keeping daredevils on those surfaces is serious upper body strength and the skin of their fingertips. As I watched, I caught myself glancing down at my own hands and shaking my head. No way. No way could I do anything like that… for a multitude of reasons.
To start with, anyone who knows me is well aware of my fear of heights. Then there’s the lack of ANY athleticism. Oh, and my completely crap medical history. But – other than those things – I am 100% ready to free-climb a mountain.
All jokes aside, I’m acutely aware of the condition of my own hands. When I fell about six weeks ago, I did something to my right pinky – probably broke it. My doctor thinks that I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed it immediately because sometimes injuries take time to be felt. Plus, I had so much pain everywhere else. So there’s that. And then, last weekend, as I was prepping for the show, I set off something in my right hand that has only gotten worse.
According to my doc, it’s “trigger finger,” a type of tendinitis. I laughed initially, in a “you have GOT to be kidding me” moment. But it’s not funny. It’s so painful. And infuriating. And worrisome. And…. and… and…. It’s one of my worst case scenarios.
Countless times I’ve said, “I cannot lose my hands.” It would be too much. Too cruel. Obviously, we all need the use of our hands for writing, eating, hygiene, greeting people, washing dishes, and sewing. I’ll just say that my tailoring skills are not up to par at the moment.
The doc said that we can’t know how long this will last. My terror over things being permanent is useless, since we simply can’t know the future. But I am terrified. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
The burning sensation tells me that RSD could be involved, tendinitis doesn’t burn. When I wash my hands, it’s like pouring rubbing alcohol on an open cut. Or pouring it onto a sunburn. And I’m at a loss.
I stood in my kitchen earlier tonight and was overcome with sadness after running water over my hand. That’s when I cried. Is this my new normal?.
Tommy Caldwell made that climb despite missing a portion of his left index finger. Kevin Jorgeson battled the surface of El Capitan for days, the wounds on his fingertips preventing his progress. Every hand and foothold on that ascent is razor sharp. The scenes of both men examining the condition of their fingertips and seeing Kevin applying neosporin to his cuts, made me look at my own hands. I need them for more than the basics. I’m a maker. I create.
In the meantime, I’ve been ordered to get an X-ray on my right hand (for the pinky) and a new MRI of my spine. All of the running around at school has activated numbness and pain in my lower back, down my legs & into my feet. I guess we’ll see if the arachnoiditis is kicking up. Or if some new freakish diagnosis wants to guest star in my medical records.
And so I grasp onto the hope that things will un-flare. That my old normal will become normal again.
Wishing each of you a calm, manageable week.
Peace and painlessness,
#the dawn wall