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Hardly mentioned: I usually mention it only in passing these days, but it’s worth re-looking at what it’s like not having functional lower legs. In particular, not having functioning calves means things you take for granted like walking with a normal stride doesn’t happen for me- so I need to take 10 strides to your 7 to keep up. No front pointing on ice or vertical rock climbing either- the basic ‘ stand on your toes’ functionality is also gone. This basic element also impacts balance, force applied, and the ability to make micro adjustments to daily activities. My right leg also has ‘foot drop’- which means I can’t lift my foot in a normal stride- and that appendage just flops around uselessly. So, the ongoing challenge( helped by Turbomed Orthotics this year) is to get at least the foot drop part helped with their braces. When climbing, it’s often the case if using ‘French-ing”- rotating your foot to maximize crampon contact with ice/snow. There’s a limit to this however, so I choose routes that don’t have slopes beyond a certain steepness. There are lots of other pathologies I won’t go into here, but I haven’t found someone with my condition doing alpine climbing, and no surprise- it’s bloody hard as it is. Oddly, my neurologist thinks it’s probably easier for an amputee to climb than for someone with a foot or more that doesn’t quite work. An amputee can plug In a variety of different prosthetics to climb, run and walk. I am stuck with a dead foot and more. But frankly, most people don’t give a rat’s s**t about anyone else’s disability as it’s really a personal thing- until it happens to them. However, I’d like to think my 18 years of climbing has at least highlighted that we just need some help in creating a more level field for not just people to get back some normalcy but also some space for those ( like me) who want to push the envelope in a world of the ‘abled’. Life can give you lemons. It’s up to you to turn these into lemonade.

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