1 year surgery anniversary follow-up

Matt pearly gates
Me, Climbing Mt. Hood, Oregon. Photo by Nat Bourne

Well, a year has passed. I actually missed the surgery anniversary date if you can believe it. More focused on the fact that my phone’s 2-year contract was up on the 21st. A bit ridiculous but it tells you my focus on my foot has really faded to the background. The above picture was January 31st, about 11.25 months after surgery.

I’m 1 year from surgery, 1 year and 2~ months from injury. Is there anything to report? Well, I think my left leg (surgery side) is weaker than my right leg. I’m fairly ambidextrous but I do believe it was my dominant foot/leg. But I only really notice it when I’m going up 5000ft of volcano with 20lbs+ on my back. And then I make an effort to work the left leg more, and just keep going–it doesn’t hold me back, just a sliver of awareness that my right leg is doing more work.

The only other time my lisfranc’d foot comes to awareness is when I’m landing a jump or fall. I notice it especially when I’m coming off the bar after doing pull ups and landing on both feet. Mentally I absolutely shy away from landing on my left foot, and needless to say it certainly gives me a jolt of sensation (not pain) none the less. I’ve been forcing myself to try to land more evenly and not baby it in these instances. It is a bit peculiar, when jumping from one foot to the other, I don’t get this hesitation, nor do I get it from jumping on both. But when coming down from a bit higher than an average jump it certainly comes into play.

Beyond all this my wife has had some absolutely severe and long-term/permanent health issues arise in the prior 8 months. I’m still shocked by a diagnosis of two different auto-immune issues, especially given that her health was excellent 12 months ago and all years prior—strong, energy, capable, no pain, no chronic issues. I almost don’t want to believe she has been diagnosed with her ailments, because while there was an acute stage of serious concern, there hasn’t been years of wondering ‘what’s wrong’. Without going more into it, I’ll just say I’d gladly take lisfranc and maybe life-long foot pain over an auto-immune condition. And one step back from all of it, as we approach 10 years together, both of our brushes with mal-health (hers far more severe) have brought us even closer together in caring for one another and being there for the other.

I’ll write another update if anything good (or bad) happens with my foot. Otherwise I’ll wait until December 26th 2015 and/or February 21st 2016 for my next updates.

Keep the good vibes alive! Summit of Mt. Shuksan, Washington. Mt. Baker in background.


One year anniversary of Injury

High Above the Clouds, near the top of Mt. Hood, Oregon

Well, I’m maybe still getting this in on Hawaiian Standard Time.. but it’s a few hours past December 26th and I’d like to just make a quick post to commemorate where I was a year ago today.

It was a cold, clear, and crisp December day. A high pressure system had parked itself over the Pacific Northwest and there wasn’t really much snow up on the volcanoes for us to go ski. My main climbing partner suggested we do some rock climbing at a park on the outskirts of town. On the first climb of the day, not 5 minutes into it, I fell a few feet and my foot sure hurt but it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t walk on it. My foot really never swelled or bruised. I continued to try to climb but just could do good energy transfer through the foot. I could walk but it felt ‘off’. And I knew it wasn’t a sprained ankle, I just hoped it wasn’t something bad or serious.. ha ha ha.. little did I know.

Anyways a year to the day, we’re still a little low on snow this winter but it is slowly but surely filling in up in the mountains. But I actually brought my skis up to 10,400~ft on Mt. Hood and skied down a solid stretch of it (pretty icy for a lot of it, and still don’t have all the ski-rust off..I was never a great skier to begin with!) I’m not the best at climbing or skiing, or the fastest or strongest for sure, and I might have other health ailments and such, but a problematic Lisfranc is not one of them!

I’m awed by the progress my foot has made! Huge thanks to all who have helped, my surgeon, my physical therapist, the huge peer support network online (ya’ll rock), my friends, family, and probably most of all my fantastic wife being by my side through it and beaming her spectacular attitude and grace down onto me through it all! Love you hun!

The foot is great. It never ‘hurts’. However if I don’t exercise for a few days, it starts to ‘bug me’. Normally I’m pretty good with my words but they really fail me to describe how it feels, but ‘weird’ is about as best I can do. Maybe even ‘restless’. Like the foot wants to exercise! It’s still ever so slightly weaker than my other one, but I only notice it when extremely fatigued (like after climbing up a mountain). I’m sure the foot is still remodeling and remodeling, two more months until anniversary of the surgery.

Basking in the AM alpenglow, far below the summit, Mt. Hood, Oregon

8 months

Haleakala Sunrise, Maui, Hawaii

I suppose I will do updates at the one year anniversary of injury and surgery, respectively, but for now, unless anything radical happens, this is my final update.  I’ve been remiss in saying much, but basically my last one capped off that the foot is good to go.

A few weeks after my last post I put my foot to its biggest test yet, climbing South Sister volcano in Central Oregon. It’s a 12.5 mile day with 5,000ft of elevation gain (and then loss), with about 4 of the miles being over lose volcanic rock of all variety. I wore trail runners and my foot and leg(s) held up like a champ. No pain during the way up or down, and the next day I felt the usual way I would have a volcano climb. This was a huge huge huge milestone since this type of day and activity is my bread and butter for recreational activity. SSisterKMKN-05688
South Sister, OregonSSisterKMKN-05767
Top of South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Oregon

My #1 cheerleader and supporter through this getting a well deserved kiss at the top. 🙂

A few days after climbing South Sister I had my final physical therapy appointment. When I had told my physical therapist that I went up and down without any issue he said that was as rigorous a test as needed to confirm I no longer needed to attend physical therapy. He left me with a final workout plan and told me to consult him if I needed to for any reason.

Beyond climbing South Sister we have gone on a longer day-hike and two backpacking trips, along with a big vacation to Maui! It was originally planned back when my wife was finishing her Masters degree and I was in limbo about just how much foot functionality I’d have come mid-October. We guessed that even if I wasn’t doing great, I’d be beach capable.

One of the backpacking trips was solo and off trail to a place I’ve wanted to explore on Mt. Jefferson. Here’s a series of images from that trip.

Whitewater Glacier High Camp, Mt. Jefferson, Oregon

JPHighCamp-06803 Sunrise from Camp, Mt. Jefferson, Oregon

Whitewater Glacier, Mt. Jefferson, Oregon


Verdant moss-scape, Jefferson Park, Oregon

At this point there isn’t anymore to say about my Lisfranconsciousness. So I’ll part with a simple but potent mandala I created at a dire time in life when I needed its healing properties.

mandala exploder
Mandala Exploder, 2002



5 months 3 weeks post op: progressively smoother sailing….errr..walking!

Mt. Hood Sunset, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

Well it has happened again. It has almost been a month since my last post. Though this is a good thing, as my last entry was positive–no news is good news.

I’m continuing a regimen of exercises from physical therapy that seems to get a new addition each and every week.

Right now I’m a week away from what I believe should be my final appointment with my surgeon on the official 6 month mark from operation. “High Impact” clearance here I come! I’m not sure it will come to fruition but I have a goal of climbing South Sister in September. My Sister-in-law and her friend will be visiting us and that is on the agenda (good weather withstanding)—it is about 14 miles and 5,000ft of elevation gain (and loss)—probably more ambitious than I should undertake but it is a goal right now as I’ve had goals at each phase of my recovery that have been a bit ambitious but I’ve hit each and find them to be great motivators.

Speaking of goals: A great friend of mine from college had planned a visit to Portland for fun and work back in the spring. I had hoped we’d be able to hike with him and maybe go camping—basically show him a slice of what our usual summer weekend life is like out here. He’s actually the guy who got married in Napa this spring so we had seen him recently, but I hadn’t ‘hung out’ with him in years. Well, we had a jam-packed weekend of fun with him. Non-stop really and I got to even see and experience new things right in our own outdoors backyard. That’s been a nice little feature of this injury actually, oddly enough. The physical restrictions on undertaking big mountain climbing and skiing and backpacking has had me dial back the types of things I do, so I’ve taken the time to finally check out some more of those “easy to access” roadside attractions that I’d normally have written off as too small or not worth my time. Let me say, there is a reason they’re called attractions! Highlights include:

  • Hiked to Bald Mountain for a great Mt. Hood View
  • Swimming in Little Crater Lake, a balmy 34 degrees!
  • Dinner at Timberline Lodge with a wedding happening below us
  • Camping at an awesome little spot I found on a hunch
  • Walking around Hood River and enjoying some morning coffee
  • Hiking the Oneonta Gorge and swimming under a waterfall
  • Eating an early dinner at Pok Pok (crazy awesome Thai place)

Jumping into Little Crater Lake, Oregon

Little Crater Lake, Oregon

Secret Camp spot, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

Swimming Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

RobDaHood-05283Rob and I, Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

In other news I also joined my in-laws for a family vacation and a wedding in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They rented a nice cabin by the New River Gorge and we had a fantastic time doing the bridge cat-walk, a high ropes course, and finally some zip lines. I was a little worried about my foot with the zip lines since you come into the landings with speed but it all turned out fine. It was a fantastically fun time, I haven’t had a family vacation like that since I was a little kid. All credit goes to my wife’s parents for organizing our activities and then for both of her sisters for coming home and making it a big fun happy time. Even swam for about an hour in Summerville Reservoir on the Gualey River. Growing up in Michigan lake swimming was a part of life. But out here in Oregon all of the water I have ever seen seems to be too cold to leisurely swim without a wetsuit.
West Virginia Fun!

Lastly, my mother and stepfather visited us last week. They hadn’t been out here since the summer of 2008 when we had lived here for less than a year and barely had established ourselves. Rather, we were still establishing our life out here. It was really nice to show them how our place is nice now (we have furniture!) and be able to drive around in a second vehicle that wasn’t like a sardine tin with four adults in it. We had dinner with them in town while they stayed with some friends at a B&B at the start of the week, then when they stayed with us we drove up to Mt. St. Helens to show them all the history and geological marvels that happen when a volcano explodes. And on their last day we went to the coast to see the ocean. But they’ve seen A LOT of ocean–way more than me probably, I think their next visit we’ll stick to the mountains and find a trail or two to hike.

parentshelensMt. St. Helens at Johnston Ridge Observatory, Washington


And finally, a mandala I made in what seems like a different lifetime. This one ushered in some good healing at the time.


10 Moons After, 2003

20 weeks post-op: A whole lot of activity (mostly good)

Sunbomb, Toledo, OH

Something I feared might happen—as my foot has come along, I’ve gotten more active, and the time keep abreast with LisfranConsciousness has gone by the wayside. It’s been a busy 10 weeks (wow.. almost 3 months since my last update!).

The short and sweet of it: My foot continues to get stronger. I seem to add a new layer of exercises about every week and a half at each physical therapy appointment. I’m going to the gym 4-5 days a week and trying to be active on the days I don’t. My limp becomes more subtle and slight from week to week. But at numerous junctures my foot has felt discomfort to level 1 pain in various parts. One week it is at the front of my ankle. The next in the forefoot near the 3rd and 4th metatarsals. Another week it is only when walking and is a slight pain at the ‘Lisfranc’ spot, reminiscent of how it felt after two months of being misdiagnosed. But at each instance whatever I’m feeling goes away after a few days or a week.

Longer version: May and June were extremely busy!

  • Went back to the Deschutes for another weekend and took my father with us
  • Went to San Francisco to visit friends, Napa for a wedding, and Boonville, CA (home of Anderson Valley Brewing Company, one of my favorite breweries). Danced at wedding! 🙂
  • Spent a long/short weekend in Phoenix/Grand Canyon. Flew in Friday night, flew out Monday morning. First time my wife has seen GCNP and first time since I was 5 that I’ve been there
  • Had a lot of awesome beers and went to some little beer events
  • Took my Father to Crater Lake!
  • Went to my wife’s masters degree graduation in Eugene and celebrated!
  • Harvested about 5 colanders of delectable backyard Oregon strawberries 🙂
  • Spent a nice day fishing on the upper Nehalem river with a friend (We each caught a nice keeper sized coastal cutthroat trout)
  • Celebrated our 3rd Wedding Anniversary!
  • Spent the 4th of July on the beautiful Oregon Coast from Astoria to Florence, walking on the beach, car camping
  • Booked a 9 day trip to Maui this October, our first time to Hawaiian islands
  • Bought Bicycles! We’re officially Portlandians—all of our friends had given us grief for being such active people but not owning bikes in this bike friendly city.
  • Hung out with friends and summer BBQ’d 🙂

SymboLiciousSoCal, 2003

On 7/10/2014 I had a check-in with my doctor. We took another round of X-rays and he said everything looked good. He said if all continues as is, in 6 weeks he’ll clear me for high impact activities. He had already left the room before the question percolated up for me to ask, what exactly is the definition of high impact? So, I’m looking at August 21st..probably nothing extreme this fall but looks like I might get to sample some of the delights of the mountains!

My physical therapist has been great with information and follow-up questions. I’m seeing him about once a week to every 10 days. I’ll give a plug for Black Diamond Physical Therapy in Portland, Oregon! They’ve been easy to work with for me. I really really appreciate how my physical therapist takes the time to discuss exercises and physiology.

I’ve got a lot of pictures from the above events but I’ve still got to finish processing a bunch of them from my camera. It’s full on SUMMER in Oregon and while I’m not doing exactly what I want, I still feel like I’m soaking it up and it is going by quicker than I want. Most of all, my foot isn’t holding me back from enjoying life and I have hope for a full recovery in due time.

SONY DSCSedum, Mt. Margaret Backcountry, Mount St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument, WA

Chipmunk and Volcano, Mt. Margaret Backcountry, Mount St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument, WA

12 weeks post op: Deschutes & Smooth Sailing

Deschutes bend
Deschutes River, Maupin Oregon

I must admit I’ve been remiss in updating this blog. The last month has been action packed. For now I’ll start with the first two weeks. Within a week of starting the shoe wearing process I was wearing a shoe full time basically. We went to the Deschutes River to try to catch the salmonfly hatch in full swing, which means great redband trout fishing!

It was good to be out. Wearing sturdy hiking boots I navigated the inclined bank, loose rocks, uneven terrain, and sand. Of course I moved judiciously, favored my foot, and didn’t walk tons, but it was more than serviceable and all without pain. I guess through this all as I’ve mentioned I’ve been very fortunate not to suffer much, if any, pain. I didn’t catch any but I did spot a beaver while I was fishing. And Kara got some great shots when she climbed one of the butte’s behind our camp.

Deschutes beaverThe next weekend was more or less a rinse and repeat. Similar meal cooked on the propane stove, took our new (relatively) vehicle out to the Deschutes again with my father. He’d never seen this canyon/river country before. Well, he was as enamored with it as I was, but we tend to be near clones of one another when it comes to our appreciation and intake of beautiful outdoor landscapes.

Again no fish though, seems as if we had missed the salmon fly hatch with the hot days in the middle of the week, as it cooled off when we got there. But it was still very nice camping and having a fire with him. It was the first time since last spring he had visited and we’d done much recreation other than when I did the ‘neighborhood’ skiing before I was correctly diagnosed.


The foot felt great through all of this! I had to baby it a bit but again I wasn’t in pain and I was able to do what I wanted. Fishing the Deschutes had been one of my major mental milestones that I hoped I’d be able to achieve—things had seemed promising for it per my recovery timeline but until it happened I wasn’t quite sure it would, if you know what I mean. Though no fish were caught, I did manage to pick up an excellent case of poison oak. Hah!
As I write this 2.5 weeks later, summer is in full bore bloom and gorging itself on life, but as recently as mid-may things still felt very spring like outside, and mentally.

ConsciousnessFlex, 2006


10 weeks — Physical Therapy & Shoes!!! (5/2/14)

oxDreaMTnectaroxDreaMTnectar, 2005

The above picture giving a nod to spring and regrowth, to the month of Taurus, the bull. My birthday is coming up. I’ve started physical therapy at Black Diamond PT in Tualatin, Oregon. First appointment learned a lot and given additional regimen of foot/ankle exercises to do with resistance bands. Looking forward to next appointment to recap some of the things we went over the last time–lots of information about how muscles function. My PT also rock/mountain climbs and participates in similar outdoors activities so it has been nice to have someone who truly understands my long term goals of rehabilitation.

My PT also appears to be a detail and communication oriented person, which is right up my alley. Unprompted, they spoke to some of the difficulties I’ve encountered while trying to communicate with my surgeon—they knew who he is and have worked with him before. Though they also relayed that they had only heard positive things about his surgical skill.

On Saturday I had an enjoyable solo drive to Tillamook Oregon for De Garde’s (brewing) first anniversary party. It was a good time and there were plenty of fellow fans to socialize with. The drive through the coast range was so lush and verdant-very beautiful. Puffy wisps of clouds were hanging out on the hillsides, silhouetted towering conifers served as promontories on the ridge lines. While the road followed along the beautiful Wilson River.

Siouxon Creek, Washington

When I got home I wore tennis shoes for the first time in over two months!! Go back to my earliest blog posts where I have my morning of ‘peace’ to enjoy my foot before surgery, it seems like so long ago.

While I have a limp walking in my shoes does not cause me foot pain! 1 hour on Saturday, 2 hours on Sunday, and so on. After about two weeks I suppose I’ll be wearing them during most of my day. Huge progress!

So far I feel like I’ve been unbelievably lucky as far as dealing with pain. Started back to the gym this past week as well and have tried to become a little more measured about drinking beer. Looks like I weigh the same as before surgery but obviously I’ve lost muscle and replaced it with fat. Time to reverse that and burn some of the fat and build more muscle.

Well, things are happy for now. My father will visit soon, our summer is full of wedding and travel plans, and we’re tentatively planning a vacation to Hawaii this fall as a way to celebrate Kara getting her master’s degree and me hopefully having a healthy foot again.

Central Oregon (Mount Washington, North & Middle Sister)