Hanging out at the crag (feat. new video)

Lately, Ostomy Outdoors has turned into Ostomy Indoors. It feels like it has been so long since I have been outside doing even the smallest outdoor adventure and our video camera has been sitting on the shelf untouched for months. This has all been due to the hip pain that I have been writing about lately. My orthopedist gave me the go-ahead to work out again, yet I am still experiencing significant soreness in my groin and hip. A small uterine fibroid was ruled out as a possible cause, so my doctor wants me to go in for one more MRI just to make sure it isn’t a lower back issue. This has left me in limbo-land; I’m unsure if I should proceed full throttle with my trail running and other strenuous activities, or if I should hold back until I know more. I can work through some pain, but I don’t want to cause an injury.

Maybe as a result of some of this uncertainty, my spirits have hit rock bottom lately. I have been feeling super tired despite getting lots of sleep, and my normally positive attitude has been playing hide and seek with me. Yesterday afternoon, after bidding my brother-in-law and nieces farewell after a fun weekend visit, I spontaneously decided that Doug and I needed to go rock climbing that minute. It was gorgeous outside, and even though I had a daunting to-do list, every cell in my body was telling me I needed to get my body on the rock for some inspiration, or the gloomy emotions that I was experiencing would continue. Also, I was sure that my sore hips could handle the smooth, methodical movement of climbing.

Doug and I are fortunate in that we live in close proximity to some amazing climbing areas. We quickly tossed gear into our packs and within 30 minutes we were driving up Clear Creek Canyon to one of our favorite local spots. As I grabbed my climbing pack out of the car and headed down the trail, an incredible peace came over me. Gone were all thoughts of painful hips. Doug and I were going to be on the rock in a few minutes, and that was all that mattered.

It is hard to describe how much I love rock climbing and how vital it is to my life. Doug and I got into this sport together and have been been climbing since we first met in the college dorms in 1990. That year, we bought our first carabiners, rope, and a beater Toyota pickup to use on climbing trips. We have so many memories on the rock and have made many life decisions based on our shared love of this sport, including my desire to have a permanent ileostomy to treat my UC. To be out climbing with Doug again is joy in its absolute purest form.

However, as I climbed that afternoon and into the evening, there were moments of disappointment when things felt harder than they used to. I had to constantly remind myself to quit comparing my performance to the days of old. Things have changed, and though I may eventually return to my previous climbing abilities, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that I was back outside, covered in that wonderful mix of sunscreen, chalk dust, and dirt, and loving the amazing feeling of my body moving upwards over the rock. I ended up having so much fun that I completely forgot about the special solar viewing glasses sitting on my bookshelf at home all set for watching the 7 p.m. eclipse. We completely missed it! At first this disappointed me too, but I decided an afternoon in the canyon climbing and laughing with my sweetie was  so much more memorable and important. It was exactly what we both needed.

The inspiration that the spur-of-the-moment climbing excursion brought was also much needed. I hadn’t filmed a video for Ostomy Outdoors in a while, and hadn’t really planned on filming anything yesterday. Along with being in a mental funk, I was also in a creative one. Fortunately, climbing outdoors rekindled the desire to film, and I was glad we had brought the video camera along. At first, being filmed again felt as awkward as getting back on the rock after not climbing outside for months. When the camera rolled, I felt tentative and unsure of what I wanted to say. I wasn’t even sure when we left the canyon if the random footage we filmed could be woven into a coherent movie. I hadn’t really filmed any tips or tricks and wasn’t even sure it had a theme. Once I got home though and watched the clips, a story did begin to emerge. This day at the crags and this little film is about reconnecting with my passion, and discovering its ability to infuse my life with the hope and creativity needed to keep moving forward.

8 thoughts on “Hanging out at the crag (feat. new video)

    1. Thanks for the link! I did manage to find some great footage of the eclipse. Of course, I wish I would have seen it in person, but photos and video are the next best thing.

  1. Another excellent video. This makes 17? You and Doug are really in the flow with video–great story, music, footage, editing. Seriously, I need a producer. Heidi, I’m so proud of you. Getting out, despite the obstacles and new physical limitations, reclaiming your life. The physical challenge is hard, but the mental is right there too. Comparing past healthy body to present day body is natural, yet so frustrating. I go through it regularly. The only way I can keep the sadness of loss away is by forcing my mind to compare today’s body to yesterday’s, no day older. It works, I think, because it’s a realistic, meaningful comparison and satisfies that part of my brain that stubbornly wants to self-compete.

    So good to see you again!

    Stay strong, Cary~

    1. Thanks Cary. It is hard to believe I have already done 17 videos! There are so many more I want to do once I can get on some bigger trips. It is hard dealing with the joint pain because I felt soooo good last summer comparatively. Wish I felt that good right now. It is difficult to not want to self-compete. This weekend I am signed up to run the Bolder Boulder, a local 10K. I have obviously missed out on all my training opportunities, but I think I am still going to go and just walk it. I know it is going to be incredibly disappointing to me when I compare this performance with my times from the past. I will somehow have to try to get my brain not to do that! I have to remember that a few weeks ago I didn’t even think I would be able to do this 10K at all. I should be happy with walking.

  2. Hey! I haven’t seen your blog before, and I am super glad I did! I too have ostomy and had Ulcerative colitis for a couple of years before I had to do the surgery. I think your blog is really inspiring because I also snowboard, actually just came home from four months in Val D’Isere in France! And I too love rockclimbing and has been doing it since I was like 12 years old. Im 20 now 🙂 I’ve had my ostomy for two years this summer and I havent once regretted the surgery. Life is so much better. Life is LIFE now. Before the surgery I was totally handicapped and could barely go outside my house, cause I never felt safe where there wasnt a toilet around. That SUCKED! So anyway i just wanted to say hello and tell you that you have an awesome blog! If you want to you can check out mine, i too have an “ostomy blog”. But it’s in swedish so i guess you won’t understand a thing:) But i have some pretty snowboarding pictures!
    I also have a question for you.. The hernia prevention belt you wore when you were out rock climbing. What is that? I always wear tight high-waisted undies to keep the bag in place, but it gets pretty warm during workout….

    / Malin

    1. Hi Malin,

      I am so glad you like the blog. I checked out your blog also and it is great! I added it to my links page. It is wonderful to meet another female snowboarder with an ileostomy who is also so happy with life after surgery! Fortunately, my Google Chrome browser does some translation so I can at least get a basic understanding of what you are writing:) Your snowboarding photos are amazing and make me want to go play in the powder. We did not have a very good snow year in Colorado. Hoping for better luck next winter.

      The hernia prevention belt is made by a company in the U.S. called Nu Hope. http://www.nu-hope.com/beltlit.pdf. They have a great team of people who will help you figure out what size you need over the phone. The belts are appliance-specific and made to fit the exact pouch and wafer you wear. I like their Cool Comfort Flat Panel belt as it is made out of a breathable mesh. I have a 6-inch wide one that I wear when I rock climb, backpack with a heavy pack, or do other strenuous stuff including snowboarding. I also have a narrower 4-inch wide one that I wear for running and other sports where I don’t need quite as much support. I basically wear them for prevention… getting a parastomal hernia would be awful with my active lifestyle. I usually wear a pair of the high-waisted undies over the belt to keep it from riding up to the narrow part of my waist. The combo can be a little warm while exercising in the heat, but I have gotten used to it. Better to get hot than get a hernia:) I am fortunate in that I can sweat buckets and my appliance still sticks fine. Otherwise, I find the hernia belt/ high-waisted undies combo pretty comfortable. Not something I would want to wear non-stop, but for the times when I am doing sports it is fine. I am planning to put together a short video on hernia belts in the next month or so. I have shot some footage for it, but need to film a few more things.

      Thanks again for writing!


      1. Haha glad to see you like my blog too! Thanks for putting me on the links page. I’ll do the same with your blog as soon as i figure out how to do it. Haha. Im not very good at this blog thing. I just write and post. That is about how far my knowledge goes.
        I spoke to a nurse about the herniabelt and she ordered one for me so i got it home yesterday! Haven’t tried it yet though, but i hope it will work fine when im climbing and exercising. She also showed me a couple of websites(swedish) that sells underwear for people with stoma. I’ve had my stoma for two years now and havent thought about these things until now! I mean i just recently discovered that there’s a whole world of ostomy-stuff, everything from clothing to blogs, It’s great and even though i havent had any huge problems i would have wanted to know about this earlier. I think it’s a shame that people who feel bad about their stoma, and get depressed about it, might not know about this either. The hospital/doctors should be more informative about these things without one needing to ASK about it. How was it for you, did the hospital give you these kinds of advice when you got the surgery or did you have to figure it out on your own?

        Looking forward to see your video!

  3. Hi Malin,

    Hope the hernia belt is working out for you. It takes a little getting used to wearing it, but after a while I don’t even notice mine is there while climbing etc. I still need to make that video. Summer gets so busy for me. Seems like I get back from one great weekend outdoor adventure with just enough time to get my laundry done and then it is already time to pack for the next:) I really should budget some down time to work on projects, but Doug and I are always trying to grab every non-working moment we can to get out into the mountains.

    I was really lucky in that my medical team prepared me well for surgery. My surgeon talked to me extensively about the procedure and what to expect afterwards. He also sent me to a stoma nurse to get even more information on what life would be like with a stoma and appliance. She told me about what I would likely be able to eat, clothing, different types of pouches etc. I felt very well prepared and everything they both told me to expect has pretty much been spot on. My hospital scheduled two different stoma nurses to visit me in my room to show me how to change my appliance so I could get two different opinions on methods. It was awesome. Once I got home, I had a home health nurse visit once to check to make sure everything was going well. They were available for future visits if I would have needed them. I saw my surgeon many times for follow-ups and he was available by phone for any questions I had. He is the one who first told me about the hernia prevention belt, and then my stoma nurse helped me figure out the size etc. Having all this support made a huge difference in allowing me to adapt well to life with a stoma. I hear so many stories of people who were told nothing about what to expect or who had little support from their medical team after surgery. I wish everyone could have the experience I did.

    Hope you are having an amazing summer!


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