On June 7 I arrived at Breadloaves and promptly ran into Jill and Meg, friends from years past. That evening I followed them down to Bath Rock where Helen and Paul had an extra parking spot.
Jill and I climbed at Lost World. On the way over in my truck I saw her eyeing the rubber chicken I keep on the console.
“Don’t even think about squeezing my chicken!”
Jill promptly grabbed it and squeezed several times, with the chicken emitting a squeal each time.
“Aw jeez, why does everyone have to squeeze my damn chicken?”
“Hey, and old dude like you should be happy a woman wants to squeeze your chicken!”
The 5.9 at the far right end of Lost World has a bouldery start above a ledge. Jill started up but didn’t like it.
“Push me up, I don’t want to fall. Just grab my butt and push!”
“But Jill, my wife says I shouldn’t grab other women’s butts!”
“I’m a lesbian, it doesn’t count! Now push!”
It’s almost two months later and I’ve forgotten most of this trip. I also climbed with Suzy for a day. Joan, who Sue and I have climbed with a couple times before, showed up after a week and we made a good team for the remaining two weeks.
Joan is a solid trad leader and we were able to swing leads on some new crags I’ve never been to including the crack house on the back side of Castle Rock, as well as Creekside Crag. Both of those have a nice collection of 5.7 to 5.9 crack climbs.
My long Covid joint pain was on a down swing so I was only limited by my right knee which didn’t like high steps. I ended the trip with a hang dog ascent on Bloody Fingers. I hung at least 7 times, including the first 25 feet of rattly hands. But there were long sections where I had to climb above small gear, like a 00 brassy, or a sketchy cam. I wasn’t always able to pull on gear and had to really climb much of it. Near the crux at the top I was hanging-resting on a super sketch flared #1 red. Then I had to climb above that thru the friction crux. There may have been a semi good green, but after that it was go time to the top where I got in a tipped out yellow totem right before the chains.
I needed a lot more prep time to get ready for that climb. I basically went from 5.8 to 5.10, much too big of a jump.
A few days after returning Sue and I went to Squamish but my joints were acting up and I could barely bend my knees enough to climb 5.8. We bailed early after 5 days and I went in to to see my doctor. She gave me a 12 day tapered prescription for Prednisone. That was an overnight miracle cure. All my long covid joint pain symptoms vanished.
A couple weeks later I went back to Squamish with James to meet Chad and L. By chowing down on Ibuprofen I was mostly able to climb, but I was only half the climber I used to be. We thrashed up Sky Walker. That used to be a cruiser for me, but I was super sketched on most of my leads. It sucks losing all your skill.
We did have a fun time on Front Side 180. It’s a 9 pitch bolted 5.7 at Chek. The walk off is long and I was glad to have walk off shoes.
August 8th I went in to see a Neurologist. He diagnosed me with PMR, possibly triggered by Covid. But it could have also just been bad luck & old age. Similar to Menieres Disease, which I got at 40, PMR hits people at 60. Gosh, there are so many fun milestones while getting old.
PolyMyalgia Rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder. He said he can cure me and prescribed a low dose of Prednisone in a months long taper. I was very relieved to finally put a name to all these symptoms.
The drugs started working after 3 days. Most of my pain is gone. One of the warning symptoms that you are getting PMR is pain in the neck. Not surprisingly, I’ve had a trick neck for 3 months. I have trouble looking to my left. Now, finally, I can use my neck again. Necks are quite useful when they work.
Friday I went for a bike ride to the Amazon yellow box for a package. As I was coasting down a gentle hill in the mellow evening light, I saw an insect zooming toward me. I figured he’d just bounce off but no. He slammed into my bare neck and bit me right below the adams apple 3 times. I guess African Killer Bees have entered our town. It burned like a hot poker for the next hour. Then I started swelling up. It’s freaky to get bit on the neck right by the windpipe. I was worried it would start to choke me.
Then my entire body started to itch like crazy, from my feet to my hands and scalp. Everything was on fire! I realized I was having some kind of a reaction. I called Lisa and she said to take 2 benadryl. That seemed to stop the acceleration of symptoms but my chest continued to swell up and redden. Sue was worried I’d go into anaphylactic shock.
While all that was going on, Lisa went into labor at midnight. They couldn’t bring their 2 year old to the hospital so Sue rushed down to their house in the middle of the night. I was too messed up from the bee sting to go with her.
By the next day we had a new grand kid. I drove the Tundra down to see them at the hospital. They were there two nights but were home Sunday.
My symptoms have backed off to the point where I can play ping pong again. I’m half the player I used to be due to stiffness, but it’s nice to be back in the game.
I’ve been working through the Tundra 50,000 mile service. So far I’ve changed the gear oil in both differentials. Next up is the transfer case. It uses a flat 75 weight oil and has weird drain plugs. They use pipe threads with a 10mm allen bolt. You either have to apply your own sealant, like on a house water pipe, or buy the drain plug from the dealer with the sealant already applied to the threads. Craig advised the dealer route since there were no specs on the proper pipe thread sealant.