So yesterday was Tuesday, otherwise known as Lora’s night off from work. Normally I spend this late afternoon / early evening time studying (i.e. goofing around on the internet), catching up with TV, pestering a friend or two around campus, or going on expeditions to my favourite coffee shop to get delicious tea and muffins.
However, yesterday was different. Yesterday I was on a mission. See, I’m a sedentary creature, a writer by nature and therefore a big fan of what boils down to sitting on my ass and staring at computer screens all day. I’m far from athletic, even though I’m definitely on the thin side (the result of malnutrition, vegetarianism and a freakish metabolism). I love to walk, and I try to do as much of that as I possibly can when I’m on campus, but that doesn’t really count as strenuous exercise.
It counts as looking at pretty nature though. UNL Campus is gorgeous pretty much all year round.
(Picture I took of Love Library last spring, pretty flowers in bloom).
So I talked to Jeff, and he works at the climbing wall at the YMCA on the south side of town. He spends most of his time there hauling small children around, and has been listening to me whine about being out of shape for so long that when I suggested I come visit him and re-learn the basics of climbing the wall, he encouraged me to stop by Tuesday night before he got off work at 8pm.
When I got there I was directed towards the climbing wall in the back section of the main hall, and was mildly intimidated by what I saw: a very high, very lumpy wall covered in multicoloured bumps. I’ve seen climbing walls before, but I haven’t been on one since I was in fifth grade and I went on an adventure weekend with my classmates.
Now, I’m pretty strongly afraid of heights. I hate being in airplanes, hate being up much higher than the third story of a building, you get the idea. But this didn’t seem so bad to me. Harnesses and ropes and other strange devices are involved in this indoor climbing business, right? And I was going to be spotted the entire time by Jeff, one of the few people I count on my hand as a person I trust with my life.
So that wasn’t a big deal. I got in the harness (definitely not the most comfortable thing in the world), was secured with a rope, and directed towards what was apparently the ‘easy’ part of the wall.
‘Easy’ apparently translates to ‘sheer hard plastic surface with little coloured tumours you’re supposed to grab’.
Swallowing my fear and embarrassment I grabbed onto the first two coloured handholds I saw at eye-level and began figuring out where to put my feet.
And it wasn’t so bad. Jeff was encouraging, pointing out possible next places for me to move my hands and feet, and so I climbed, slowly but surely, towards the top.
Not a couple minutes in and I was already feeling like I was getting that work-out I was looking for. I was breathing slightly heavy, my arms were starting to ache, and I was beginning to work up a sweat.
Yeah, I know. I’m out of shape. I’m in the failboat. Go me. *captains the failboat*
Things started to become worrisome as I rapidly approached the top of the wall. The little tumour-y coloured wedges were becoming few and far-between and I was starting to become confused and at a loss as to how to progress. And as I sat there in my harness, dangling like a worm on a hook, my hands jammed into two little rock pieces, my right wrist started to hurt.
I tried to ignore it, figuring it was just my muscles freaking out from getting some use for the first time in who knows when. I continued searching for a way to keep climbing, determined that I wouldn’t be showed up by the little girl who Jeff had been teaching to climb before I had showed up. Seriously, that kid was a fucking ninja, climbing up and down the wall like some sort of terrifying spider monkey child.
Then my wrists started going numb. And I couldn’t grip the nubby rocks properly, my fingers feeling as if they were permanently stuck in that sad, curved, ‘I’m a barbie girl’ position they have on plastic dolls’ hands. Not a good sign. I flailed around a little, and then insisted on being returned to the ground that I might inspect the damage I had managed to do to myself.
Let me explain:
I have RSI: Repetitive Strain Injury. I’ve had it in both my wrists since the Spring of 2007 when my doctor first informed me of what I have apparently been doing to myself for years as a frequent writer and typer. There’s not much that can be done for me as it’s not too severe, but I’ve been prescribed strong pain meds, wrist braces, and ice packs before along with insistence that I adopt a better posture while I am typing.
Clearly it’s been going on for a while, so I know how to deal with it, but it’s been fairly dormant for the last few months, my typing activities being less strenuous over the summer thanks to a lack of papers to write and such.
Then, just from climbing the rock wall at the YMCA for less than ten minutes, I’m in horrible pain and with wrists that barely work. They’re better today, fear not, but I still feel an unpleasant ache whenever I stretch my arms or reach out to grab something.
Disconcerting to me. Especially since the mother of all wrist-straining activities is about to hit in the next week: NaNoWriMo 2010.
I love NaNoWriMo. I love writing. It’s my calling in life, my passion and my sad nerdy daydream of success (to be able to live off my writing and be a novelist). But there’s next to nothing I can do about the condition of my wrists, except fight through the pain and hope it doesn’t get worse.
I really can’t stop writing, or typing. I want to write, and it’s simple as that. While the straining of my wrists at the climbing wall (and the slight bruising of my dignity at not being able to make it to the top. Sad pasta) was just an unfortunate accident, I know that in a couple of weeks I’ll be back in a brace, popping Ibuprofen until the pain goes away, since I can’t write novels without making use of my typing abilities.
Guess I’ll have to find another way to exercise. The pain is just part of the process. That and all the usual remedies of pain medication, braces, better typing posture and ice packs. It’s true that you have to suffer for your art, despite how melodramatic that sounds.
Just another one of my upcoming challenges this November. The results will be totally worth it.
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