Day 21: Damaging fall from dice ways

A hard fall climbing didn't stop me from joining some great Phuket friends for some laser tag that night. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli

LAURA and I wake to the sound of her phone going off.

Her friend's landed in Bangkok.

She rolls out of bed, gets situated on hers, and then takes what I presume is a video call. I doze back off. When I wake, she's nearly finished packing, her friends waiting for her downstairs. She doesn't know where they are staying in Koh Samui or how they are getting there – she's happily just going with the flow, letting him book it all.

She slips out of the room with her stuff, leaving a pile of French novels by the trash bin. I fall back to sleep.

The dice decide on my coffee, then it's time to grab an MTR to the BTS to a taxi to Rock Domain, the other gym in Bangkok. Robs, another climbing friend whose in town for work, Yok and I are meeting up for a solid climbing workout.

My body feels much better today – imagine that, sleep and no lingering alcohol in the blood stream is making a difference.

Rock Domain is an enormous wear house gym, with a focus on short, hard bouldering problems. It's a packed house with most of the ropes routes in use by groups of Thais, a very different crowd than the young expat crowd that dominated Urban Climbing.

While Robs and Yok start on the lead climbing wall, I return to bouldering.

Upstairs, a guy is working on a sick V6 problem. Though the ratings at the gym are pretty light, allowing me to blow through V4s and even nail a few V5s, this problem looks fantastic. I jump in.

I wedge my foot between the start hold and a bowl-shaped hold for a solid knee bar on the over hanging wall. Locked in place, I'm able to free both of my hands, twist and delicately reach up for the next hold. It's hard work, my heart's pounding. After matching hands two moves further up, I'm starting to get some height.

There are no good foot holds to take weight off my arms, hands on the verge of slipping I shoot for the next hold.

I miss.

Having totally committed to the move, without a spotter below, I come crashing down on the pads – right arm locked out.

The pain is instant.

The pads are only able to do so much to soften he compression forces on my locked out arm.

A deep breath in; I lay back cradling my elbow.

A deep resonating pain is only dulled by the onset of shock. It's not so bad that I go into full shock, just a whisper of it. I stand and walk away from the wall, laying back down out of the way, still cradling my arm.

It's not that bad, well doesn't seem to be that bad. I massage it, instinctively holding it against my body, a similar reaction to when I broke my collarbone playing baseball back at Bloomington High School South.

The wiry Thai guy who's working on the problem apologizes for not spotting me, though he really doesn't need to. I should have fallen with a bit more control.

Either way, he shows me another problem that he's working on. I make the first move, but the next move is a huge, muscly cross – I just don't have it in me.

I call it a day. Robs and Yok are still climbing, but about ready to head out as well. Outside, Yok hails a taxi for Robs. Then he and I grab one – we're headed the same way.

With street food in hand, I settle in at the hostel for a short rest before a session of laser tag with Robs, Karen (also from Indiana), Yok and Karen's daughter – London. In total there are six of us, Karen brings another friend along.

After several fun sessions of laser tag that consisted mostly of me in a black mock turtleneck and dark blue trousers being blasted by countless people, we call it a night. Feeling slightly guilty for not having given the dice more control on the day, and still feeling very concerned about the serious pain in my elbow, I'm glad to call it a night.

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