Monday before last year’s Labor Day I broke my leg shredding gnarly knee-high widow maker’s (surfing my SUP like a gaper) at Ledbetter Beach. This gave me time to pursue other interests. In addition to Bourbon I rediscovered the hangboard. I actually knew it was down in my garage the whole time, only now I would experience its subtleties without distraction.

This was not all bad. I tried to see this as an opportunity to buckle down on the type of training that could put to rest my remaining climbing goals. Definitely my fingers would benefit from the concentrated effort and hopefully I would be a touch lighter with a titanium rod instead of right tibia innards. Weight loss turned out to be super easy – 15 lbs came off right away. Mom and Grandma tried to feed me but I knew projects would crumble if I could maintain the heroin chic look.

To beef up finger strength I replicated on my Beastmaker 2000 two Santa Maria routes I had projected the previous season. The subsequent year of downtime also provided me an opportunity to write a training app for just this purpose, thus: Stricly Ballroom and Bodyguard from Beijing.

Months ticked by. It wasn’t that I was crawling out of my skin to get back outside but certainly an unfulfilling monotony had taken hold. Regardless, full on climbing in this condition would not be safe (which I proved).

For a few weeks in March I was walking around a bit, even got over to Kauai for a few days where I realized the TSA would flag me for inspection for the rest of my life. No longer would I be able to show up to the airport just in time for flights.

After about 6 months and easily (easily) 100 sessions on the hangboard I was ready to get back onto a rock. Instead, back to Cottage Hospital. Apparently things were infected. Now that makes sense. It was odd to be sweating all night during the winter and the appearance of colorful lump friends had me suspicious. In Latin they are called abscesses.

An impromptu surgery to remove the titanium gear, four more days in the klink, indefinite IV antibiotic treatments and I would be good as new. And one year older. It was unclear to everyone I asked at the hospital whether one could do pull-ups with a PICC line. Your mileage may vary but give it a shot if you find yourself here. I had no problems. In fact I thought it was so cool watching the tubes while I tried one-arms that now my left is stronger than my right arm.

And now I have a new Facebook profile photo.

Fast forward 10 months, I’m hobbling around with a sweet cane and my fingers have never been happier (at least since the previous hospital stint). I’m certainly over 200 sessions with the hangboard and, I gotta say, it was great. I never want to do it again but it was great.