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Jeremy Fields on the Mer de Glace in the French Alps -- before he had any injuries that stopped him from climbing or running.
Jeremy Fields on the Mer de Glace in the French Alps — before he had any injuries that stopped him from climbing or running.



The text was so simple I knew something was really wrong.

“Call me”

I called my husband. Something popped, audibly, in his leg, and now he couldn’t weight it at all.

Rattled, I hung up and told my friend Cheryl, who I was climbing with, what had happened.

“I can’t take it if he has another injury,” I said to her.

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Jenn Fields blogs about Boulder’s great outdoors at fieldnotes.pmpblogs.com.

I was on my last nerve, and I wasn’t even the injured one.

My husband acquired his first injury in March. Something wasn’t right in his shoulder. It lingered mysteriously all spring and summer. He started physical therapy for it in the fall, even though they weren’t quite sure what it was.

When he quit climbing to let it heal, he quickly injured his foot by trail running too hard too quickly. Again, the doctors weren’t exactly sure what it was, but told him to stop running.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, an MRI revealed that he had shoulder bursitis and a partially torn supraspinatus. He got a cortisone shot and distracted his time away from climbing, running and cycling with skiing, the only sport that didn’t bother his foot or shoulder… and the only sport left we could do together.

Now he couldn’t stand on one leg. He wasn’t dying, but for an active couple, one more injury felt like, well, adding triple insult to injury.

Cheryl graciously said she was done climbing and sent me home to take care of him. On the way home, losing it, I called a friend to vomit out the frustration I’d built up over months of his injuries.

I know my husband is tough; he’s been an athlete his entire life. But the shoulder injury was a mystery until he got the MRI, and for whatever reason, it took an MRI for me to trust his ongoing angst over the achy shoulder.

Now he mysteriously couldn’t walk? I couldn’t deal.

Our friends rallied around my husband that night. Cheryl and another friend, who saw me leaving the gym early, checked in. A massage-therapist friend offered some advice to get him through the evening and another friend, an acupuncturist we only recently met, called with more advice.

It was a heartwarming show of support. But it made me realize that all along, I haven’t been there for better or worse.

I didn’t take his shoulder injury seriously when it first happened in March, and I didn’t take it seriously all spring, summer and fall. I simply found new partners and kept climbing. And getting stronger. And coming home plagued with tunnel vision for more climbing, which he had to listen to, for better or worse.

I suddenly felt like I’d brought bad healing juju into our home for months. It was a big fat lesson: I’m not merely plagued with tunnel vision — I’m solipsistic, and solipsism is bad for a marriage.

The next morning, I drove him (again) to the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine to see a doctor who knows him well now. The doc wasn’t surprised: calf strain, he said, and it can happen any time, even in your sleep. He brought in an ortho boot and crutches and told him to ice his leg often over the next few days.

Solipsism shatters under the visual impact of seeing your spouse — the cyclist, runner, climber, skier, athlete — crutching into the kitchen for an ice pack.

Now, he’s on the right track for healing both this latest injury and the foot injury, because that foot is stuck in the ortho boot for another couple of weeks.

I’m on the right track now, too, but I have to be careful. It’s easy to get wrapped up in sports and forget that one of the reasons they’re so addictive is the relationships you build while doing them.

Those relationships — for better or worse — are more important than the sport itself.

Jenn Fields’ Field Notes runs every Monday in the Colorado Daily.

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