Cookie/Aerodyne brought me a GREAT Red Velvet Cake for my birthday
Cookie from Aerodyne brought me a luscious Red Velvet cake for my birthday; it was fun sharing with everyone else. Taya brought cupcakes.
Monkeyboy/Sean Horton did his 1000 skydive and was really edgy about being pied. The easiest way to pie him was for me to dupe him into eating some of my birthday cake, so I called him over to the concrete (my wheelchair didn’t do so well on grass) and he was BOMBARDED with pies from every direction. I’d like to say I felt badly for my part in the ruse, but of course I don’t. It was great being there.
Monkey/Sean being pied
Pepperell Manifest got me into both the Otter and the CASA as an observer on a couple of loads; it was a lot of fun to be on the aircraft with my friends. And coming down on the now-emptied aircraft was one of the most lonely feelings in the world.
An empty CASA is a lonely CASA
On my return from Pepperell, the next week was spent working on my trailer, figuring out the production gear, and making decisions about how I wanted to finish out the trailer that I intend to drag from DZ to DZ over the next year. The most exciting part of this week was that I was able to abandon my cane and walk on my own. Perhaps I was walking like a Neanderthal, but walking, nonetheless. The more I walked, the more my foot started to dismiss the CRPS. It’s still with me, but only just.
The next thing I knew, we’d arrived at my surgery date for my ACL/MCL repair. Which brings us to the present.
I’ve always been against organ donation for reasons of religion; my viewpoint has changed. My doctor gave me the choice of using my own hamstring or taking an Achilles tendon from a cadaver/donor. After weighing all the pros and cons of each, I opted for the cadaver/allograft. I hope I’ll be glad I did. I’m grateful to the young person who made this tendon available to me, and as a result of my decision, I’ve opted to ‘pay it forward’ and will be an organ donor myself (assuming anyone would want body parts from this broken old man).
Prepped for surgery on my ACL/MCL
Wednesday, August 26, my ACL/MCL were operated on, the MCL sewn together, the ACL replaced with cadaver tissue, and I’m placed in an immobilizer and a cooling system that resembles a beer cooler with hoses. Keeping it filled with ice is the most challenging part of the system, aside from disconnecting it each time I go to the boys room.
This was the final hurdle, the last obstacle of meaning that stood in my way of flying again. The CRPS seems to be receding, and although I’ll have to wear a brace for a while, I’ll be able to skydive again, very soon considering the distance I’ve run thus far in this race. I can see the finish line.
After ACL/MCL Surgery
June 8 seems like a decade past, and my urge to fly is greater than ever. This injury is a high price to pay for a sport I love, and love is a powerful thing. Napolean Bonaparte said “the only victory over love is flight.” For me, love is flight, flight is love. I can hardly wait to take flight again.
To sum up; I’m a skydiver. I’m responsible for myself at all times. Was I injured because my hands were cold after flying through ice? Was I injured because I was looking across the field at a couple spectators and lost focus? Perhaps I became complacent. After all, I’d done 1400 consecutive landings without issue, so it’s possible I had grown complacent? When I removed my hand from the front riser, perhaps I allowed my toggle to get caught on the riser a bit (On this particular canopy, I hadn’t fully determined brake length yet, so had left excess steering line so I could lengthen the brakes should I choose too)?
The myriad possibilities don’t matter. What does matter is that I walk away from these few months of extreme pain and sacrifice knowing that I’ll not repeat this mistake. I’ll do so in part by addressing each of the potential causes, being more conservative, and being more aware.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for walking this path with me as I’ve re-visited this life-changing experience. There isn’t a night that goes by that I don’t relive the accident so I’ve written this blog as a means of hopefully putting it behind me. More importantly, I hope that someone might learn from this incident and it might save even one person from suffering the same sort of rollercoaster hell I’ve endured over the past three-plus months.
And no matter how one looks at it, as mentioned in Part One of this blog, “The Best Is Yet To Come….“
“Go for it, run for it, dive in head first, live life with no regrets,
Put your heart out there, you might be scared, but it all works out in the end,
Because the best is yet to come…“ (Hinder)
Even as I write this, I learn of another skydiver in an almost identical situation (filming AFF eval dives, lost a toggle at the bottom of his swoop, open-book pelvis, broken coccyx, sacrum, and some lower lumbar. Sound familiar? The bitterness in me towards the non-observer at my dropzone that told the television stations that I’d done a low hook turn using a toggle should learn more about accident results, or at least understand more about the forensics of various accident types (and thank you Sparky, for analyzing my accident based on the injuries, canopy, conditions, and effectively confirming what I believed to be the cause of my accident), but I’m trying to learn to let that go. The broken bones speak for themselves, as do the forensics of hundreds of incidents before mine.
Today is also the day we learned of Eli Thompson’s fatal flight in Switzerland. While I didn’t know Eli well, I had a huge respect and admiration for his work, his passion, and his creativity. My heart goes out to his family.
Bad things sometimes happen to great people.
It just dawned on me that I did not thank each of my “Spot-watchers” (People who spend entire nights sleeping in my room or entire days babysitting me). In no particular order: Debbie, Jason, Ken, Mike, Tiffany, Joey, Linda, Kim, Chris, Rae, Mannie, Raeda, Dru, Amanda, and the awesome RN’s at IMC like “Guy in brown scrubs,” Derek, Will, Todd, Kevin, Heather, Mysty.Craig, Spencer, Deena
And while I’m thanking, even though I mentioned cards, etc above….thanks to you that sent care packages, cards, foods, books, texts, PM’s, emails, and the very rare visitor….Jack Guthrie, Jay Stokes, Nick Grillet, Dikla, Les, Cookie, Booth, Thank you again. Heapings of gratitude to Mannie, Linda, Chris, Dru, and Scotty. Y’all were the fuel and inspiration that kept me floating during those really bad times.