A Degree With Dyslexia

I have never been the most academic person in the class, I never did amazing in exams, despite working really hard when it came to revision. I always but this down to the fact I was climbing/training and I clearly didn’t work hard enough.

At A-levels I got a bad finger injury, putting me out of climbing for a while. I was devastated at the time but every cloud has a silver lining. It meant I worked by butt off for those exams. I’ve never worked as hard for anything academically. I but the most effort into biology. I still failed. My teachers knew how hard I worked and they told me they were sorry!

When I got to university I took a dyslexia test and it turns out I’m severely dyslexic, and they were surprised this hadn’t been picked up early in life. My visual skills were incredible however the processing of information didn’t quite work so well. It took me a while to come to terms with it. But it answered a lot of questions. Like why I never got the exam results I felt I deserved.

Once accepting my disorder, I realised I just have to work even harder than everyone else, and I’ve never been shy of hard work.

I struggled with exams and lectures. I’d sit there listening and taking notes to what the lecturer was saying. Id understand it but I’d walk out the classroom and barely remembering what the lecture was about. I found it frustrating. I couldn’t retain information from listening to a lecturer. I eventually found that watching YouTube videos would help a lot as I could visualise and remember the video. But I didn’t find this out until 2nd year. It was so frustrating. First year, I didn’t do too bad with exam results as a lot of the exams where practical as I do a medical degree and a lot of hands on work.

2nd year was hard. balancing working 30hrs a week plus lectures 5 days a week plus training really took its toll. I had a cold for 2 months which is when I realised I was doing way too much. So I quit one of my jobs so I could focus on exams. Despite the sacrifice I still struggled. I had a mental breakdown in a practical exam, which is supposed to be my strong point. My mind went blank. Which is what happened as soon as I panic. Ask me which way by left and right is when I panic and I will guarantee I will get it mixed up! There was a lot of written exams which again didn’t go great but I passed. I just scraped a pass. But a pass is a pass.

3rd year was stressful too. We crammed all out exams into the first semester so the second semester was all placement based. Whilst doing my dissertation. Which was climbing based which kind of gave me an excuse to go climbing! Again I struggled like hell, some written exam content wasn’t really learnable via videos which made it even harder. I failed one exam. I was devastated. But thankfully it meant I resat the exam a month later and started by placement straight after.

But after so many setbacks and challenges throughout university and the constant battle with dyslexia. I’ve finally about to graduate. And with a 2:1. Yes it’s not a 1st but to of achieved this and done it balancing work, uni and training made me so proud. An added bonus is that a placement provider called me and asked me to join the physio team for the football team! I couldn’t believe it. yes, I wasn’t an A* student, but I bet I worked as hard, if not harder than one. And you bet I tried to make the best impression as possible. All that hard work paid off. Oh, and I got an unconditional offer onto a Masters course in Strength and Conditioning.

Remember, always work hard. But not just in want you want to do. Work hard when you don’t feel like working hard. Push yourself. You never know where it will take you.

Initial thoughts of getting injured

So near the end of my Font trip, I ended up snapping my ankle. Fractured in two places and almost completely snapped my ligament. Great. I was meant to be going Mallorca for some deep water soloing in two weeks. The scariest fun you can possibly have if you’re a climber. I’d been looking forward to it since we booked the flight for my 21st birthday present. I’m even gutted I won’t be able to go snorkelling. That was my first thought. The fact I wouldn’t be able to climb in general almost brought me to tears. Then I think about trying to keep fit. I enjoy running and cycling and it helps me maintain/lose weight for climbing. I won’t be able to go for a run through the fields and valley for a while. What am I going to do?

That’s when the psyche kicks in. I think Liv, before this trip you knew you needed to work your finger strength. This is your chance to get strong. To work your weakness. I think about good climbers who’ve returned even stronger from similar injuries thanks to smashing the finger boarding. This is my opportunity and I know if I make the right choices, I could come back a beast. Alternatively, if I neglect rehab and let the negativity take over, I will return to climbing weak, unmotivated and depressed.

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There are pros and cons to being a sports rehabilitator when you, yourself gets injured. Yes, you know what exercises and protocols to follow to rehab the injury but you also know what you’ve done in a more in-depth knowledge and know how long it’s going to take to fully recover from the injury and also how hard the rehabilitation is going to be. You know how tedious and boring the initial rehab exercises are going to be. You know how hard it’s going to be to regain the strength lost due to muscle wastage from the immobilisations. It makes you realise just how strong you were pre-injury. Yet I’m sat here, leg up, dosed up on painkillers unable to weight bear on it.

It’s a roller-coaster of emotions. Positive thoughts and negative thoughts. One minute your psyched to get on the Beastmaker, the next your thinking about how long it’s going to be before I can climb again. Even walk. For me, it’s going to be 2 months. Two months of no climbing.

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As a person I am very independent. I prefer to do things myself and hate people helping me. Right now I can’t even carry a coffee to the sofa, it takes me forever to get up the stairs, never mind down them. I tried to get in the shower, and broke down crying. I couldn’t even get into the shower crawling on my own. I might leave something downstairs or upstairs and the thought of the stairs on my crutches puts me off. Il hold a wee in for longer than I should because of the faff getting to the bathroom etc. All these simple everyday life things I take for granted. Like walking, picking things up and having a shower or even just not being in pain. This is having such a negative impact on my motivation and positive attitude.

My plan is to set targets, short term and long term. Then to get a rehab programme and training regime to achieve these goals. Logging what I do, and keeping track of my progress. Not only will this help me stay motivated and psyched but I can find ehat exercises/ treatment works best, so if I know of any other climbers with a similar problem, as a physio I can treat them in a way I know has positive results. If I can come back stronger than so can they. Yes, keeping the psyche high will be tricky. As I’ve experienced so far, I have good days and bad days.  But my fingers will get stronger, my shoulders will get stronger, my core will get stronger and I will train the best I can and make the best of a bad situation. This is the cards I have been dealt, but its whether how I play the cards that counts.IMG_4706

Cul de Chien and L’hospital!

I was feeling pretty tired today, just couldn’t wake up properly. I hate the first day on after a rest day. But this place was where I wanted to try and get my 7a! Le Toit du Cul de Chien had my name written all over it! It was powerful and in reach and relatively high ball, although nothing compared to some of the other climbs id done in the past few days. I couldn’t get over Cul De Chien. We pulled up and parked in a forest, set off down a track and ended up in a sand covered mini dessert with massive boulders placed around. The setting was so bizarre that there was a guy playing the saxophone with a drone videoing him. For a music video maybe? Anyway I went for a pre-sending pee behind a boulder, and could hear this drone getting loader and louder. Looking around franticly I saw it fly overhead! So someone in France with a drone might just have me peeing on camera! Fame awaits!

I got my shoes on and did a few easy warm up climbs and then eventually got on Roof de chein. This was my 7a for the trip, I could feel it! I didn’t like the look of the start as techy climbs aren’t my thing. First go, my foot slipped straight off as soon as I pulled on! Well that’s the flash chance gone. I tried again and worked my way up the lay away to the good bit at the top, then got to the good pocket and stacked my first and second finger in, then attempted the high heel. My little arms couldn’t physically move out far enough to get my foot that high. Option number 2. Getting my left toe on a good dish and my right on a tiny smear. It meant I had to really lock that two finger pocked in with my right arm to reach up to the big positive pocket. I didn’t reach far enough! Maybe I needed to engage my core a little more.

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Fran leant me her Evolve Nexxo Shoes that were pretty down toe, which made pulling with my toe on the left dish foothold so much easier. This time I went a bit more dynamic and went a bit too far. For the next two hours, this is what my tries consisted of, getting close to the pocket, to eventually touching the pocket, to getting it but then trying to control the swing. I must have had 50 goes. I knew this was possible for me! This was my 7A of the trip! To get the 7a on my first trip to Font would be such an achievement! So many tries. Getting closer and closer, more and more controlled on the move. I was getting the pocket every time I just couldn’t engage my shoulders long enough to whack my foot on. I eventually moved on. The psyche was so high for so long I needed a break. And some food.

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We went and found the others and Charlotte and Ollie at a 7c and watched and encouraged them. On the way back, Lena and I wanted to have another go on the roof. If I had any chance of doing a 7a it was here, and this one. Lena and I gave it a few goes, getting just as far as before. Some German guys turned up to climb with us too. Okay Liv this is your go! I was about to go out to the pocket and heard them put some pads down. I went for the positive pocket and again couldn’t hold the swing and fell. CRUNCH! Pop! F**k! They had re-jumbled the pads about and added one on top. My foot rolled off the top of the highest pad then fell down the gap below it and smacked the floor. I grabbed my foot, and couldn’t breathe. The shock of what had happened was kicking in. I’d f**ked my ankle up pretty bad! I was gritting my teeth and holding my leg. I’ve only gone over on my ankle. I couldn’t cry. All the squad came over and I got some climbing tape and strapped my ankle up. Pros of being a sports rehabilitator. It was already swelling up and bruising!

Charlotte and Ollie took it in turns to piggyback me back to the car as I couldn’t walk on it. I felt so bad and guilty. I told them I’d repay them in peanut butter, and not just any peanut butter but the posh Meridian 100% buts peanut butter! Now that’s a pretty good deal!

We then headed back to the house to put some ice on it and see how it was. If it didn’t get better, it was a trip to hospital. After a few tears I couldn’t take the pain any longer. I needed to know if it was broken or not. Just to put my mind at ease. So after some really good pizza, Lena and Micky kindly drove me to hospital at 8:30pm-ish.

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We finally found it and soon found the hospital in Font speaks a lot of French and not much English! (Thanks mum for getting me climbing insurance!) After a 40minute wait, I finally got called through, the other two weren’t allowed through. I was on my own, and couldn’t speak much French. I was sat in a booth and an hour later a doctor turned up. It was like a game of Sharad’s trying to explain that I climb and what had happened. I was then passed around between doctors and nurses playing the game of sharards until I finally got through to them I needed an X-ray. An hour later and Id got my X-ray. I felt so alone and nobody understood me. Lena and Micky were still waiting for me, so I asked if I could talk to them, they let Lena through which is what I needed. It was daunting and intimidating. I needed a hug.

Eventually we kind of worked out what the doctor said had happed. Luckily, thanks to my degree, I had a good idea already. It wasn’t good news. My fibula head is potentially broken and my ATFL has completely snapped. As I’m travelling back Saturday they wanted to put me in a temporary cast and said I need to see an orthopedic surgeon when I get back to England, and be put in a proper cast for the next 2 months. I was meant to be going deep water soloing on holiday in two weeks! I’d been counting down the days to it. The disappointment of no deep water soloing and knowing I will be limited to training and rehab was over-riding the pain in my ankle.

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But this is life. You get knocked back. But this means I now have a chance to improve my finger strength on the Beastmaker and campusing. It means I can see what rehab works best for future clients with similar injuries. It means this last blog of Fontainebleau is entertaining. My first trip to Font won’t ever be forgotten!

Day 3 in Font – L’elephant

Imagine a sandy beach but without the sea and lots of big unusual looking boulders. This looked incredible and today I felt good! I felt strong and super psyched. Not just one or the other. Today was going to be my day! 3rd day on and it was the strongest I had felt all week.


I did a few easy climbs to get going. The rock felt sandier than everywhere else we had been. A few people were trying a super reachy looking climb. I had to have a go. The left start hold was an okay-ish 3 finger dish, the right a good undercut. You had to make a massive move to the intermediate, whack a heel on and go again. Me, my arms were too short. I gave it so many tries. I decided to just dyno for the better hold above. I felt like I trying a competition problem, just outside and not on plastic. Myself and Lena were giving it so many goes, try after try, I was so determined to get it. I knew I could do it! I couldn’t physically span keeping my right hand in the undercut to dynoing was my only option. It was in my reach, I just had to do it! Once I’d got the massive hold, the rest should be easy. 30-40 more goes later. I was giving up. I had tried double dynoing, I have grabbed but not held the hold so many times. My skin was getting thinner and thinner, but I was so determined to get it! Lena, gave it an awesome go, getting a match on the jug but couldn’t finish it. She kept her hand low and did it statically as her arm spam is bigger than mine. But I loved every try. I eventually gave up, but the psyche was still high! La Voie Michaud is definitely going on the project list! (Well done Lena for going back right at the end of the session and smashing it!)

I then found a 7a in the guide I really wanted to get on. So I went and found it. Turns out that was another dyno climb called Sein de Glace (7a). After lots more jumping and getting super close, I had to give up! But again, I enjoyed every try! Pushing myself to spring more from my legs. I was an inch off. If only I didn’t have a minus ape index! This just means I need to get dyno training when I get back and when I come back, Il be jumping my way up these climbs as a warm up!


On the way back to the others, I took a detour to La Dalle a Poly. Probably one the most iconic and famous climbs in Fontainebleau. I had to try it, but I only had one pad. The climb was an 8metre high piece of rock filled with massive positive pockets! Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t nervous at all. In fact, I’ve never been so chilled before a climb. Was it the past life of router coming out in me? Or are high balls really my thing? Either way I was so excited to get on and do the classic! I set off, it was positive hold after positive hold and next thing you knew I was at the top. Well that was easy. I hadn’t paid attention to the height or the fact I had one tiny pad below. I actually found coming down harder! It sickened me that I wasn’t scared in the slightest! But another climb in the bag and still an amazing experience!


I then found the others and got on a 6b+ everyone was trying. It looked too fun not to try! It started under a roof and you made your way along this ledge with heel hooks and foot jams, then getting to the end it then got pretty powerful. I pulled on, doing moves my hips didn’t even know they could, and made my way along the ridge, I got a double heel/toe jam then went to the good undercut. Then came the powerful move. I made the bad crimp then went again, and somehow reached the jug. I then had to match and get another heel hook next to my hand and match a sloper to then campus for the last move! I was so close but after many dyno attempts at the start of the day, it’s safe to say I was pretty powered out! I gave it 4 or 5 goes, coming off for the last move each time then called it a day!
On my way down I spotted a climb that looked pretty easy and fun to finish the day off on. I asked one of the girls to come spot me and I got a pad and went looked it up in the guide. 5b+ and 7 metres. What is it with me and high balls? I’m just drawn to them. I didn’t even think it was that high! All the holds were good so I just had to not slip. I felt my way up it. The sketchy part was that the footholds were really sandy and slippery! Not many people must try this problem! I won’t lie, I got pretty scared at one point when my left foot slipped straight off around 6 metres up. But I did it! It was a good warm down and I loved it! The climb down was even scarier!


All in all, I had an amazing day! By far the best day so far! I loved the climbs at Elephant. The climbs were more my style and just loved everything about the place! I could easily just spend a week there! There are so many more climbs I want to try there, too many climbs and not enough time… for the trip! But on my next adventure to Font, L’elephant is definitely on the cards!

Day 2 in Font 2017 – Franchard Cuisiniere


Today I felt much more psyched. I always do 2nd day on. We arrived at a boulder problem that looked pretty easy. It was hard because it was almost too easy. There was so many possible holds I didn’t know where to go. The first move pulling off the floor to the next hold was pretty powerful then I decided to move out to the right to a handle then shifted my feet across, tensing my core and went up to a side pull with my right. It was such a fun problem and had an easy top out which made a change and a good warm up. After helping some of the other girls on the problem we set out to find more boulders.


We stumbled across a climb called boomerang (5a+) which was a small gap between two rocks with a sheer face but a good arête. Some of the girls had a go and I decided to get my shoes back on. I was a bit nervous about it due to the top out. Something I’m not used to due to pulling on plastic. I pulled on, ignoring the spider crawling up my trousers and flung my heel around the arête and worked my way across. It got to the top of the arête and had to top out. I pulled myself over into all the crap on top. Most people whale themselves up problems like this. Me, I roly-poly. But I flashed it.

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After a bloody good sandwich, we went in search for some more climbs, walking through the boulders and trees. Then I saw it. Those who have seen Ice Age will relate when I say it was an acorn moment. When the squirrel sees the giant acorn and cue the heaven gates opening music. I saw this massive boulder in-between to rocks, the top glistening in the sunshine.  That was getting sent. I headed up there and saw the size of it. Okay, I definitely have a thing for high balling problems. The landing, once again had massive rocks at the bottom. Thankfully I had back up. About 7 of us turned up, luckily more pads than yesterday’s highballing climb. The climb looked alright, not too hard. I didn’t want to check the guide for the grade. Once we got the pads sorted I chalked up and reached the first holds. Wow, they weren’t as good as I thought. I faffed around on the bottom few moves for a while getting more and more frustrated. I so wanted to do this climb! I was getting so mad. Then Fran matched the bad pinch and made it to the rail. She gave it an epic attempt, which gave me the psych I needed, and the beta to get to the rail. Next go I got to the rail easily, then moved off to a crap crimp then had to really pull with my foot to get to the side pull. Then the top was pretty sketchy. I looked down and it was high! I was 7metres up, a crap landing and a crap left hand and didn’t have a clue where to go. I fell and landed on the mats. My spotters did a good job! My heart was going crazy, my hands shaking. I loved it. I loved the thrill. Another similar petrifying attempt. I needed to do this! It was my acorn climb!

This was it. After my heart rate calmed down I gave it another bash. This time I seemed to breeze up to the side pull. Instead of going over with my left I found a slopey pinch for my left lower down and brought my left foot to a high foothold. Then brought my right hand to the bad hold I was originally going to with my right then finally pushed over and mantled round the corner to top the climb! I did it! I topped my acorn!!! I was so happy! This is why I love climbing, for the thrill of feeling ecstatic, relieved and exhausted at the same time! That sense of achievement will always be the reason why I climb and push me doing harder challenges. My heart pounding out my chest, my hands shaking. I was so proud of myself. Physically it wasn’t a hard climb at all it was more of a mental climb- ignoring the rocks below, ignoring the 7 metre drop, ignoring the bad holds and trying to remain composed at the top. This has to be my favorite climb so far on the trip. Femme Indifele (6a) ticked. Yes it’s a 6a and this is why the grade in Font doesn’t matter.

 

Once I’d regained myself, I gave Le Rita Franklin (7a) a go. After wondering for a while where to put my feet to pull on, I made the first move to a relatively bad pinch and wacked a heel to hand but couldn’t pull through to the lip. I tried it from the move above and managed to get a heel higher than my hand and press out of it. How I don’t know. But unfortunately I didn’t make the lower move. Le Rita Franklin, you’re one for the project list!

I’ve found the grades out here are extreme. I’ve come so close on some 7as, yet come off 5as. Given up on 5c’s yet worked and smashed 6a-6cs. Its finding climbs that work for you. Ones that suit you and ones that don’t. Some that I will never physically do due to such a small arm spam and height, yet today I’ve found some climbs that have been advantageous for small people with super high footholds. Font is Font. Now I know why people say you can’t really train for Font, and Font is a place of its own. There truly is nowhere else quite like Font.

 

First Day in Font – Rocher aux Sabots

FullSizeRender 2_FotorMy first day climbing in Fontainebleau was an experience. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of bouldering. There was so much to go at, like a kid in a sweet shop, and there was so many people there climbing. Walking to the crag with the pads on our backs, I was getting the tingling feeling in my feet. It sounds strange, but when I get excited to climb or watch really good climbing videos my feet go all tingly. Is that normal? We met up with a few other friends and got our shoes on. Boulders upon boulders.

We started on some easier stuff and soon realized just how techy the climbing here was. Slopy holds and crap feet. Totally different to the grit at the Peaks. After a few climbs I saw this massive piece of rock. It was massive, and looked so much fun, I had to try it. I’ve never really done many high balls, other than DWS. There was a massive rock in the landing zone, but that didn’t put me off. So the start was about 2metres up, I had to stand on the rock to reach two massive pockets then run my feet up and do a foot to hand. From there the left hand had to turned into an undercut and my right goes up to a mono. Looks like those mono pull ups came in useful instead of just being a party trick! I then had to rearrange my feet and go again with my right hand to a ledge. I couldn’t span it and dropped back to the mono, looking down to the one pad on the floor 3 metres down and with a massive rock to fall on. F**k. I tried again and reached a terrible slopey bit, so I slapped to the right, it was even worse! Back to the mono. My heart was going crazy. I didn’t want to drop off onto one pad or hit the rock. My hand slipped and thankfully I landed on the pad. That was scary. My hands were shaking. But it was so much fun! After a breather I had another go, exactly same thing. Slapped to the bad ledge and couldn’t reach the good bit of it. After a few more goes I finally got it. I looked in the guide and found the grade. It was only a 5c. I had tried hard and left traumatized. How was this only a 5c? Maybe my 4ft13 arm spam didn’t help? Or the fact I didn’t use all of the potential holds on the climb? But, I loved it! On to the next climb.

 

After finally regaining myself I managed to do a slab climb. I’m all shoulder and not much tech. Even though it was easy, it was an achievement as the S word is one I tend to avoid! It took me a few goes as the feet were terrible. But I kind of liked it!

My boyfriend was also in Font and text me to recommend a climb called Graviton, so I set off with a pad to find it. After a quick foot pit stop I got my shoes back on and gave it a go. I definitely needed some beta on this. I wished he was here as he’s always good with beta! After trying it for a while I gave up hope. Went climbing some easier climbs with the girls and got more frustrated on more climbs. When we came back all the lads from our group were trying it, so I decided to get back on it. This time I got higher. It started matching on an undercut and I had to get my feet high to go up to a right side pull. The feet were terrible. From here I had to do a foot to hand with my left foot then found bringing my right foot up helped me slap to a pinch. I then wacked a heel on but the reach afterwards off the heel was massive. The top was so slopey and pretty hard. Two of the guys managed to do it after many goes. The guide said its 7B, but 6c for small people. How is that fair? I’m 5ft1 with T-rex arms, this was not a 6c! Yes, being smaller made the foot to hand move easier, however it made the top out long and flat! I was meant to push up to a small crimp. It wasn’t happening. Not today. And I wanted to reserve my skin for the rest of the trip. I went to the top to check out the top out. The ‘small crimp’ wasn’t even a hold. Yep, the finish would be harder than I planned. I walked away but psyched to add it to the project list. After all that’s what this trip is about for me!

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