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trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries).

 


Tetsuya109  (B 235669)

Jan 27, 2013, 10:43 PM
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trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). Can't Post

Long story but it's somewhat needed to understand. Basically like everyone else I fell in love with jumping. I saved up what little money I had while attending college in order to go through AFF and solo jump. I have crossed paths with many a great people...and was lucky enough to land an EXTREMELY frustrating job but one in my career field (technical support for an ISP). Naturally, my salary increased and so did my visits to DZs. I was finally happy, when I had frustrating days at work I jumped on my days off. I missed out on alot because of my work schedule (I worked friday - monday 1:30pm to midnight) but I had more opportunities to do coach jumps as it's slower on weekdays. I was also saving for newer gear as I owned a vector II with a pd silluoette 170 and no AAD at the time. Again I was finally happy as I was looking to becoming a coach while saving money for new gear. I was also waiting for a military bonus I was supposed to receive in march 2012 that I was fighting for and finally won. Those who knew me knew how much all of this meant to me. Unfortunately that all changed august 22nd.

It was a normal day...I did 4 jumps and was going to come home as my cousin was visiting with her newborn child for the first time. At the time I was sitflying all day as no belly flyers really exist at this DZ (I like both disciplines equally but i prefer to mix it up while I am there as I had a goal of becoming a well rounded flyer). Well on my last jump of the day i'm in a sit with a friend and all is going well....I felt something hit my thigh around 4500, looked down and saw nothing. I figured it was my suit as I am a skinny guy and the suit i had was a bit baggy. I go into a backtrack away from said friend and turn over to wave and dump. Next thing i know I see sky, ground, sky, ground, and then both like I am under canopy. There was only one problem, I could not breathe at all.

I calmly struggle to get the lines from around my neck thinking that it wrapped around and i could get them off easily....the more i struggled, the more i realized it was time to chop.I got a grip on red and before I could pull I went black. Woke up on the asphalt to one of my friends waving people over. Made a loud moan and all I could hear were my friends calling my name....asking me what i feel from what I dont feel. I quickly thought of another friend I met when I started who got hurt and is now in a wheelchair so i began moving my toes. Good, they work! I thought as I began to move other parts of my body. Friends began screaming dont move man we dont know whats wrong. I then realized something, I still am having a hard time breathing. I tell my friends to lay me on my back because I believe my own weight is closing my airway. Again, they dont listen. So I tried pushing myself onto my back. Laying on my left side I began to push off with my right arm but I did not have any strength. I couldn't understand why. I was finally picked up by EMTs and flown to a hospital. After a full body MRI I had a fractured right ankle, a fractured right pelvis, fractured right rib, fractured right elbow, and a fractured C5/C6 cervical. 3 weeks later I had the surgery for a plate in my elbow. After a month in a neckbrace my spine doctor explains that I am not healing properly and I need to have a 3-level spinal fusion. I was informed that I would lose 30 degrees in every direction turning my head. I completely broke down when he told me he did not recommend I jump again. In my past I had something in my life near and dear to me that was ripped away from me. Now to find a passion, a sport that I loved so much I care more than just about anything, to have history repeat itself again was just too much. I went through with that surgery and an acl surgery after fighting with another doctor who was a know it all who swore that there was nothing wrong with my knee (even though I could not walk without my knee buckling right in front of him).

Since then I have recovered, I am still in therapy for my acl repair (that I was totally right about after the doctor went into my knee and saw for himself..MRIs don't tell the whole story) but I'll be honest, I'm pretty depressed. I haven't gone to my gear that is stored in my attic because I can't look at it right now knowing I just might never be able to jump again. There were so many things i wanted to do like meet professionals like melanie curtis, people who managed to make this their career and are so happy. Words do not describe how much I envy them. Now I have to live with this and submit my medical records to the air force reserve (my second love) and PRAY they dont separate me. I since have purchased a camera and will try to at least take shots of swoops to have an excuse to come out to a DZ just ini case there really is no way to come back. Now after this sad sob story I have a few questions:

1. Is there anyone else out there with at least one of these injuries that is still jumping? If so what precautions have you taken (besides the obvious) to better protect yourself?

2. Is there another way to become heavily involved in the sport without jumping? The only ideas I really have are something like riding co-pilot with the camera attached to a helmet and get exit shots and thats if the pilot is even patient enough to wait for me to get back to the co-pilot seat (HUGE long shot but I dream big).

3. Is there anything that can prevent hard openings? This is the reason I am worried about coming back. Im forced to take every doctor's advice with a grain of salt because they do not understand why I jumped. Everyone has a story...but to think of it as barbaric even though you practically live in a hospital and have no time for anything else is just ridiculous.

any info or responses would be appreciated since I seem to have a hard time dealing with this. I'd also like to add that the bonus money I was fighting for from that military that was 3 months late finally came in a week after the accident. To say that was bittersweet is an understatement. I was planning to use that to get more coaching at the axis flight school and purchase a newer container.


(This post was edited by Tetsuya109 on Jan 27, 2013, 10:57 PM)


tb182  (D 4226)

Jan 28, 2013, 5:34 AM
Post #2 of 25 (4110 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a 3-level spinal fusion (C4 to 7). My right arm was paralyzed. Returned to jumping 20 months after surgery and made 8 jumps and started to have pain in my neck again. The problem is the openings. I didn't seem to have much of a problem with mobility in my neck. Also have a friend who had a 3-level fusion who also went back to jumping and is now facing another surgery. You have to weigh the risk versus the reward. Jumping is fun but so is walking and talking.


(This post was edited by tb182 on Jan 28, 2013, 5:39 AM)


hcsvader  (E 2952)

Jan 28, 2013, 5:53 AM
Post #3 of 25 (4095 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

If opening shock is going to be the issue that prevents you fro jumping why don't you look into another air sport like paragliding.


Premier skybytch  (D License)

Jan 28, 2013, 6:15 AM
Post #4 of 25 (4076 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

My spine is screwed up for different reasons, but I have some of the same issues. Lower back fused 11 years ago, neck will likely need it within next 5-10 if I keep trying to live an active life.

I know a few people who have had cervical fusions and jumped again - one even does camera. So it's not unheard of. But only you can decide if the rewards are worth the risks.

The key for me and my neck is jumping a slow opening canopy and listening to my body. I fly a Spectre with Dacron lines loaded about 1.0; it opens like melted butter. I don't jump when I'm hurting. And I've accepted that I am putting myself at additional risk by jumping - even my mushy Spectre could whack the crap out of me.

Can you be happy making less money? Working in the gear industry is a great way to be involved in the sport (and meet some AMAZING people), but the pay generally sucks.


tunde

Jan 28, 2013, 6:18 AM
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
3. Is there anything that can prevent hard openings?

No.

Therefore, if a hard opening could leave you paralyzed, then you need to find some other sport which you can love as much as skydiving, but which won't carry the risk of ruining the rest of your life.

Get a pilot's license and work towards becoming a jump pilot, or something like that.


(This post was edited by tunde on Jan 28, 2013, 6:19 AM)


ArneA

Jan 28, 2013, 8:32 AM
Post #6 of 25 (4029 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been registered for about a year and this is my first post ever. Been lurking the forums about everything skydive related (offcourse Smile) and especially about spinal fusion/back problems,... I'm a person with a bad back myself and i am in a similar situation as you are. Even though i only did about 10 jumps total, i also fell IN LOVE with the sport. I can't get skydiving out of my head, every day looking for new video's, checking this forum,...

It's been about 2 and a half years now since my last jump, even jumped that one without goggles Laugh (forgot to put them on and instructor didn't notice that when he was in the door).

About a week after my last jump, while i was working, i tought something was gonna fall down on me, so i braced myself and that's when it happed. Felt something "break" in my back... The pain kept comming in waves and a half day later i could'nt even walk anymore. I was in excruciating pain for about 2 months. I had some epidural injections and needed to change my career because my factory job wasn't good for my back either. I lost everything that moment, my job, skydiving and even some confidence...

After some rest en those injections (wich i NEVER want to have again!!) it started to heal. They also took some MRI scans wich showed wear and tear from L4 - L5 - S1 and harniated discs between those vertebrae. Docters told me it would't heal and that they would fuse the sections that were hurt. Because i heard so many complaints about backfusions, i decided not to do it. So now we are 2 years and a bit later, im walking, running, doing everything i want, except skydiving because i'm afraid of the opening shock and landings,... I still have the occasional backpain but nothing serious.

Just like you, i'm very bummed that this is it for the rest of my life. Had so many dreams, so many things i wanted to do... I'm 24 years old and i have the back of a 70 year old...

All i do is hope they come up with something that can "fix" a spine so i can go jumping again! I also do the training to increase core strenght and offcourse, not lifting heavy objects, putting myself in a weird body position,... The normal things a person with a bad back have to pay attention to.

And excuse me for bad typing, english isn't my native language.


BIGUN  (D 23385)

Jan 28, 2013, 8:49 AM
Post #7 of 25 (4005 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
I haven't gone to my gear that is stored in my attic

Unless your attic is climate controlled.. this is not a good idea.
As to your back. I'm not sure I know of many who have been jumping and that are over the age of 30 that don't have some form of back or neck issue.
The question that only you can answer is... what will the degenerative effect be 10-20 years from now and am I will to pursue that course.


airtwardo  (D License)

Jan 28, 2013, 9:10 AM
Post #8 of 25 (3985 views)
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Re: [ArneA] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Because i heard so many complaints about backfusions, i decided not to do it.

In reply to:

I had the bottom 3 vertebrate fused 20 years ago, I have two 9inch rods with 6 of the largest screws they use in humans holding it all together...I rehabbed my back slowly, working every day to be stronger.

I went 364 days from surgery to my next jump.
Since surgery - I've made about 2000 sport jumps, 500 demos & 200 Tandems.

I realized some concessions would have to be made, so a couple years following the fusion - I quit doing tandems as I was worried I might do more damage & I changed the types of demos I do, not carrying more than 50 pounds of extra gear, I'm also pretty selective on landing areas.

I jump a fairly large canopy (210 main 220 reserve) which I always pack myself. Never had a hard opening or landing...but I focus on those things knowing they are more detrimental to me than others.

I work out almost every day concentrating on core strength & flexibility, both of which are paramount in my continuing in the sport.

I don't know what 'complaints' you heard about fusion, but I wouldn't be doing any of the things I do had I not gotten the surgery. It takes some thought, but life is 'near normal', in fact I hiked 500 miles across Spain in a month last august, no pain -no problems!


I'm an old fart...and not a doctor, but if at MY advanced age, I can get enough strength & flexibility to do this with 1/3rd of my spine solid from fusion ~

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0Leo42yeX4

~ I have NO complaints. Quite often - where there's a will there's a way! WinkSly


airtwardo  (D License)

Jan 28, 2013, 9:14 AM
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Re: [BIGUN] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

 I'm not sure I know of many who have been jumping and that are over the age of 30 that don't have some form of back or neck issue.
The question that only you can answer is... what will the degenerative effect be 10-20 years from now and am I will to pursue that course.

In reply to:

Gettin' old isn't for pussies! Wink


BIGUN  (D 23385)

Jan 28, 2013, 9:29 AM
Post #10 of 25 (3964 views)
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Re: [airtwardo] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Nor is getting pussy for oldies... LaughLaugh


Abedy  (D 10153)

Jan 28, 2013, 11:00 AM
Post #11 of 25 (3881 views)
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Re: [ArneA] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Docters told me it would't heal and that they would fuse the sections that were hurt.

"Herniated vertebral disc" is quite a general diagnosis as the amount of damage, the location etc are to be considered. There are other options, but these depend on the number of vertebrae (or vertebral discs) involved. If it's only one there are some other methods available. Two discs, usually one on top of the other, pose more problems.
If conservative therapy doesn't help one might seek medical attention from highly trained specialists, but I dunno if this is covered by Australian MediCare as such specialists might opt to exclusively work with private patients.
Long story put short: Hope you heal well and if not, ask for other options. Fusions often lead to further damage to other vertebral discs (called Etagenwechsel = "changing floors" in German) which might be prevented by daily exercising (see Twardo's post) Good luck!


Mattiefly  (D License)

Jan 28, 2013, 11:42 AM
Post #12 of 25 (3847 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Last April I shattered my femur and burst fractured my L5 bouncin! Was rehabbing for 6months before jumping again. Didn't have a spinal fusion but did have a rod, three screws and a large pin in my leg to hold it together. Been jumping again for a couple months with no issues.I also work out at least 5 days a week and also do yoga 3/4 days a week. I agree with the others that have posted here about core strength and flexibility without gaining those 2 things back jumping would be extremely difficult without hurting yourself again. I would focus on getting as healthy as possible and then see what you think you're body can really handle. All that being said I have made about 100 jumps in the last 2 1/2 months with no issues. One hard opening, didn't feel good but nothing broke. Good luck!


darkwing  (D 4164)

Jan 28, 2013, 5:09 PM
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Re: [tunde] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
3. Is there anything that can prevent hard openings?

No.

Therefore, if a hard opening could leave you paralyzed, then you need to find some other sport which you can love as much as skydiving, but which won't carry the risk of ruining the rest of your life.

Hard openings have paralyzed and killed completely healthy people. If that risk is above a person's threshold, then mitigate it by jumping a squishy opening canopy with dacron lines, or stop jumping.

No matter how many testimonials you get, I am convinced that there is no sport canopy made that is immune to hard openings. Bad outcomes are a risk from jump #1. Your entire life is risk assessment. So think about it, and do what you want.


airtwardo  (D License)

Jan 28, 2013, 10:21 PM
Post #14 of 25 (3674 views)
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Re: [darkwing] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

No matter how many testimonials you get, I am convinced that there is no sport canopy made that is immune to hard openings.


In reply to:


If ya want a guarentee but a toaster as they say...Wink

However you can still get a big F1-11 canopy with an oversized pocket slider...not 'immune' maybe but pretty safe odds.

-then again there IS the reserve to think about. Devil


jackwallace  (Student)

Jan 29, 2013, 12:34 PM
Post #15 of 25 (3593 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

  The biggest problem is you have to go by the worse case scenario. Terminal reserve opening in an uncontrolled body position. I've had a reserve opening on a hop and pop, because of a total that twisted my back, where I couldn't breath or stand.
If you want to stay around the sport, become a jump pilot, a judge, a rigger.


ArneA

Jan 29, 2013, 1:11 PM
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Re: [Abedy] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Indeed, the herniated part isn't the "big" problem for me, it's the space between the vertebrae. The doctors exact words were "you have the back like 70 year old, who worked very hard his entire life".

That's the main reason i didnt let de doctors operate me. I heard from the problems to the vertebrae above. They told me that if they fused those area's, they would be likely to have to operate the section above in about 5-10years.

Ive seen new methods like disc prothese, but the long term effect or efficiency hasn't been proven yet. The medicare here doesn't cover these prothese discs yet until they got proof they are decent, like a fusion.

I heard they do quite a good job in Germany with back surgery's...


Dean358  (D 28881)

Jan 29, 2013, 5:34 PM
Post #17 of 25 (3533 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Tetsuya,

Very sorry to hear this. I have a broken L-1, six broken ribs and a a bunch of other less-than-fun stuff from a climbing / skiing accident a long time ago. I jump at The Ranch, albeit with less flexility than I would like. The main thing about these type of injuries, IMHO, is that they take a shitload of time to heal. I recall sitting in City Hall Park about one year after my accident, in a big brace, in pain, being very depressed about how long I had been like that. But it does get better, you just have to give it time! As you know, we have some jumpers with much greater physical challenges than you or I face and they still jump.

To answer your second question: you need to take some time to heal. But, while you're doing that there are many other wonderful aviation sports near The Ranch: two sail plane (glider) operations, paragliding, ballooning, dozens of flight schools for airplanes, ultralights, helicopters and more. PM me if you'd like details. Of course, none of them are as much fun socially as The Ranch (but most things aren't) so by all means please don't stop hanging out. You might find it rather satisfying to go soaring with the hawks during the day followed by the bonfire / shenanigans at night (if you can come up on weekends). The sky will be there when you feel you're ready to come back.

As for what precautions to take, rather than take advice from the interwebs I recommend you have that conversation with instructors Linda, Pete, or Kim. Bottom line: no question this is a tough thing to deal with but please give it time. And, if I may, one minor quibble with your post:

Quote:
At the time I was sitflying all day as no belly flyers really exist at this DZ

?????? Tell that to the Sportsman, 4-way teams or the cadets! LOL

Feel Better,
Dean


(This post was edited by Dean358 on Jan 29, 2013, 6:20 PM)


jakebaustin  (A 65240)

Jan 29, 2013, 6:44 PM
Post #18 of 25 (3493 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Read Dan Brodsky-Chenfelds book Above all else. That might shed some light on your situation.


ufk22  (D 16168)

Feb 7, 2013, 6:31 AM
Post #19 of 25 (3312 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

OK, this has been out there for over a week and no one has asked, so here goes.
Why were you sit flying with a V-2?
I jumps one for many years, but gave up sit-flying with it after a couple of jumps because when I did, my cover flaps always opened up. This rig was never meant for sit-flying. It's perfectly safe on your belly but is not safe for a sit.
From your description of the incident, it soulds like you had a premature opening???
I'm not trying to flame you, just a reminder to other jumpers that this type of older gear isn't necessarily safe for certain types of jumps.
Hope you heal well and can continue in the sport.


ksudiver87  (C 38895)

Feb 7, 2013, 8:35 AM
Post #20 of 25 (3212 views)
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Re: [ufk22] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

If you want it bad enough you can make it happen. No motion in the neck> then jump solo, at a small DZ with little canopy traffic. Hard openings/ landing? upsize to a very large Sabre2( softest openings i've ever had) and great flare for landing. And of course i dont have to tell you the most important part of skydiving is the beer and S*** talking afterwards :) Heal fast!


wmw999  (D 6296)

Feb 7, 2013, 12:23 PM
Post #21 of 25 (3159 views)
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Re: [ksudiver87] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
If you want it bad enough you can make it happen
Sometimes the right answer really is to quit, if you want to keep moving around as you get older, too.

Wendy P.


NvyZero  (D License)

Feb 8, 2013, 8:44 PM
Post #22 of 25 (3054 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a a back fusion of my whole lower spine. i had cancer (ewings sarcoma) in my back (L3) at 17. I went through some intense chemo then had surgery to remove the rest of the tumor, i currently have rods, screws, mesh, and a bone graph from my rib. i just began jumping last year, and i have found safe landings and a large parachute are the way to go. I am currently at a 1:1 wl and its kept me alive from some double fronts action right into the ground Pirate. You could say i was not all together that morning Tongue. This was also right after a canopy course from the weekend before! Sorry to ramble but yeah it is possible to still jump with my whole lower back fused together!
Blue Skies
-Texas No Helmet


jumpwally  (D License)

Feb 15, 2013, 6:28 AM
Post #23 of 25 (2900 views)
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Re: [Tetsuya109] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

Did you ever figure out what happened,,your story lacks some clarity,,,thump on the leg,,,,on back sky,,ground..sky,,,wanting to chop with lines wrapped around your neck ?


fastphil  (D 5801)

Feb 18, 2013, 11:56 AM
Post #24 of 25 (2793 views)
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Re: [jumpwally] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Did you ever figure out what happened,,your story lacks some clarity,,,thump on the leg,,,,on back sky,,ground..sky,,,wanting to chop with lines wrapped around your neck ?


Yeah, "sky,,ground,,sky" got me intrigued...


Tetsuya109  (B 235669)

Feb 19, 2013, 8:21 PM
Post #25 of 25 (2694 views)
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Re: [fastphil] trying not to give up the sport i love and continue skydiving with a 3 level spine fusion (with a few other injuries). [In reply to] Can't Post

not sure what you mean that there's no clarity....could you point out what doesn't add up?



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