Forever Metal, June 4 2016 - Mark Rafferty

As I came home just a few weeks before my hardware removal surgery, I was touched by the unique beauty of the hills. It’s not that I just came from a shitty place or anything. I came from a very well known area, Bozeman Montana. Home of the Rocky Mountains, dozens of rivers, beautiful mountainous landscapes, and just an hour away from Yellowstone National Park. To most people its an absolutely amazing place with large amounts to do. Maybe I’m biased, but for myself I find the Black Hills more adventurous and unique. Not that I’m dissing on Montana because it’s gorgeous there, but its not as unique as the Black Hills. You can go to dozens of locations along the western United States and find places just like Bozeman. I have yet to find a place that stands alone in its own style. Geographically it’s an Island in the middle of the prairie with some of the most unpredictable weather in the Unites States. It has dozens of lakes and streams that are connected with many hiking trails that run along side thousands of rock formations and spires, sculpted into crystalized faces of pure granite that get up to 500 feet tall. All accumulated just minutes away from the road. Its a climbers paradise. So when I come driving through the hills after a long absence, I begin to be overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation to get out and do what I love most.

So for the last few days I had before surgery I went out and climbed the main classics in the area. When I went in for surgery on the 12th of May, I was nervous and disappointed that I would have to force myself to stop climbing and recover once again. Even though it would only be a short recovery, its one that takes me away from climbing in my favorite place. The plan for surgery was to remove the two lower screws that held my ligaments between my tibula and fibula. As the surgeons began operating on my ankle and started to remove the lower screws something didn’t go as planned. Only half of the screws they planned to take out broke inside the bone. In order to remove those broken pieces entirely that would involve a very tedious surgery that has a higher risk of hurting the bone. The unlimited decision was to just leave the screws in as if they were pieces of bone. When I heard this and saw that X-rays I was a little worried that I would have overall ankle problems for the rest of my life. However normally with breaks like mine they leave the plates and screws in all together because most patients don’t tend to be that active again or are getting to that older age. Overtime those patients would break the screws and that would be it.

Hearing this information I wasn’t near as worried for ankle problems but I was nervous about the mobility of my ankle. As said by my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Eckrich, I was be able to feel a thing after the swelling goes down. For my checkup a few days later I was told to take it easy and no climbing for about 4 weeks. I took that information as a “of course you can climb just don’t push it too hard for 4 weeks.” Ever since that check I’ve been outside ever since with my ankle getting stronger and stronger everyday. Sometimes babying an injury isn’t the best so if anyone asks I’m “strengthening” my a ankle for future projects. Reading over this post makes me realize how idiotic I can be at times. But in all reality what the hell am I suppose to do for 4 weeks if I can’t hike, slackline, or climb? Not worth it.