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  1. Yippee!! I think of my husband who has been obese most of his adult life-265 at his heaviest. Over the course of the past year and a half, he's lost over 80 lbs. I think slow, gradual changes are so much more sustainable. For him, it was the changes to his diet that really kickstarted his weight loss. Interestingly, he started to feel more confident, too. And women started checking him out. Keep it up!! It just gets better and better.
  2. Thank you! Absolutely! I trust Mark (the DZO) and Wendy and everybody else at SD Temple. I feel very fortunate to live close to this DZ. The impression I got from my two tandems there was that the staff are top notch. Mark must have high standards for the people he hires and it shows. Even my apprehensive husband feels better since meeting with Mark. He said if I'm going to do this risky thing, I'm doing it at a place where he has always felt safe to jump (tandems.)
  3. I am VERY happy to report that I finally swallowed every bit of my anxiety and contacted the DZO of my soon-to-be home DZ Skydive Temple. His response was that he would do everything in his power to get me skydiving!! The hubs and I met with him today at the DZ. He's pretty much told me the same things you guys have. SOS rig, definitely. His brother is an arm amputee who was heavily involved with pieces of 8. He's going to start contacting his amputee contacts all over the country tomorrow. He said they may have to have a rig custom built for me. In the meantime, gotta build that arm strength!! Hit the upper body HARD in the gym. And the suggestion about the pull down machine..BRILLIANT! Like, hello, obviously, right? Anyway, I started modifying my gym routine this week. And yes, he said it would take longer and be more difficult that a person with two arms and I am completely and totally okay with that. Actually, I like the challenge. I don't think I'd be interested if it wasn't challenging. Sometimes the hardest things are the things most worth doing. And I need the time to build my strength and rearrange my budget to accomodate this new and expensive hobby that I plan to do for the rest of my life. But, most importantly, he said he and his staff are 100% behind me as I pursue this goal. That just felt great. Thank you guys so much for you advice and support. I think it gave me the confidence to actually make that call and ask for what I wanted. Since you don't know me well, I'll tell you that I tend to by a little shy and anxious by nature, and saying I wanted to skydive was a TREMENDOUSLY bold step for me!! Interesting how this process continues to help me be more confident in other parts of my life, too.
  4. Great point, Dan G! My amputation was above the elbow which, I think, makes very big difference in terms of not having my elbow. The tumor originated in my elbow so there was no salvaging that. I estimate about 7 inches below my shoulder. I have full range of motion in that shoulder and a little muscle strength (I wrap an ankle weight around and lift in different directions) but I don't know how useful (if at all) my residual is in steering and especially flaring. Not for skydiving. I have a cosmetic prosthesis with a silicone glove painted to match my skin. I wear I to work, going out on a Saturday night, basically anytime I need to look nice. But it's a $20,000 pretty accessory. No functional use. Everyone I've spoken with who has ever jumped with a prosthesis has lost it at some point. Even if I had a more functional prosthesis made, they're so expensive; I don't want to run that risk. And I've been doing everything with one arm for 12 years; to have to relearn how to use 2 arms would be a learnin curve for me. My short term goal is to earn my A license. My long-term goal is to pursue freestyle. I may explore other disciplines if and when I'm ready to but for right now, freestyle sings to me.
  5. I know for me the primary issue to overcome is decreasing my sensory overload during free fall. I have an overactive nervous system (and I want to skydive; makes no sense but that's fine.) I know it's taken me several tandems to desensitize myself enough that I don't close my eyes, tense up, or scream when I exit the plane. None of that's going to work when I'm trying to learn how to control my body in free fall. During each tandem, I've felt less and less terrified and more in control of my emotions once I exited the plane. I also think on my second tandem, I was still on the fence about whether I wanted to pursue jumping solo. This is definitely not something to be entered into lightly; it's expensive and risky. But the way I felt after landing on my second tandem solidified my desire. I don't think any prior jumps (tandem or otherwise) are require to enroll in AFF, but I know myself. If Day 1 of AFF was my first jump ever, I don't think it would have been as good an experience than it will be if I desensitize my nervous system through tandems while not having the added responsibility of wearing the parachute on my back. I know the anxiety will still be there for a while, but I knew I would need time and exposue, maybe more than others, to get the anxiety down to a level more conducive to learning. I think one more tandem will get me exactly where I need to be to get the most out of an AFF program.
  6. Hey guys, I know this has been discussed on this board in the past but I would love to connect with any upper limb amputee who jumps solo. Whether that person is on dropzone themselves or if someone knows someone... I had a great time in Colorado with Tommy (computerdoc on here) and he gave me some helpful ideas to get started. Now, I want to talk with as many people as possible as I move toward pursuing this goal. Thanks in advance! -Jessica
  7. Oh, those tandems, man. They are dangerous. Not in the literal sense; it's gotta be one of the safest ways to skydive. But they hook you...keep you wanting to come back for more and more and more. I've done 3 in the past 4 months. It gets you high, doesn't it? Having had multiple surgeries in my life (pediatric cancer surviver,) I've had IV opiates for pain. The same stuff people get hooked on. The sensation I get during and after free fall is right up there with IV morphine. Skydiving and drugs (and a whole host of other things) act on the same part of the brain. I'm an absolute newbie myself-hope to start my AFF as soon as I can put some money away and get my husband on board (he's getting there) so I don't have much to say except welcome! I can offer a shout out from a fellow runner! Boston's on my bucket list. I'm pretty new to running as well, so I'm sticking with 5Ks for now. Good luck with working toward your goal. You'll get there. Keep us posted.
  8. Haha, yeah! I do want to do AFF at the DZ closest to my home where I've done all of my other tandems (you're right, I was on vacation in Colorado). My plan right now is to save up the money to pay for the full course up front. And I still want to jump in the meantime. You're right about the tandems, though...almost a 6 of one, half dozen of the other situation as far as the money goes. I may re-evaluate my plan.
  9. That's awesome! And I think it's good that you're giving yourself a reasonable amount of time to lose the weight. It seems too many people get impatient and set themselves up to fail by expecting too much too soon. Keep us posted on your progress! It's exciting when the pounds start to melt off.
  10. I giggled when I saw this because my whuffo friends have stopped talking skydiving with me because they think it's dangerous and they don't approve. On a positive note, several of my more "open to new experiences" friends have expressed an interest in skydiving now that they've seen me do three tandems and hearing me dispel the myths and talk about wanting to pursue my A license. It's funny that you talked about scratching the itch...I feel the same way. I describe skydiving as an itch that can't be scratched until you're back in the sky!
  11. That's awesome! Congrats! Such an amazing feeling, I'll bet. I hope to start going for my A license as soon as I can make it financially feasible!
  12. It is a great book and a fast read!! Helpful for new skydivers and, I think, helpful for anyone who has a dream of accomplishing greatness in any endeavor. Highly recommended!!
  13. Okay, so Colorado was AMAZING!! I discovered that I really like hiking so I've found another new hobby! Yay!! Skydiving in Colorado was so much fun!! My husband and I did tandems. When I told my tandem guy this was jump #3 for me, he asked when my previous 2 were. When I told him a couple of weeks ago and April of this year, he said "oh yeah, you're hooked." I described the feeling of skydiving getting under my skin and the way it felt like an itch that can't be scratched until I get up in the sky again. He said since this wasn't my first rodeo (my words, not his. I used to work in addiction treatment) he was going to have me open the parachute and steer. At 5500 ft he stuck his altimeter in my face and reached back, grabbed the ring and pulled, then felt that familiar opening shock. That was a amazing feeling. He put both toggles in my right hand and I made left and right turns, lifted my hand for full speed and pulled down to apply the breaks. Being a tandem canopy (400 sq. ft. I believe,) it was difficult for me to do any hard turns, like the corkscrew turns that I think are fun. Tommy discussed the 1:1 ratio of jumper to parachute and how, as a petite woman, I obviously will not be jumping solo with a 400 sq. ft. canopy. I guess the question is one of finding the optimal size; I weigh 115. I learned a lot from hanging out with Tommy in Colorado. He showed me his rig (which is an SOS). He's on dropzone too and has numerous videos (some he's done himself and some others have done) on his YouTube channel in which you can see him in freefall and upon landing and get a close up look of how he connects the toggles. His YouTube channel is 1armskydiver. I have a tentative plan to take a few days off from work and (among other things) do another tandem in Temple on a Thursday. I might ask if it could be a "training tandem" and count as a jump toward my A license.
  14. And of course thank you to Skymama, kenthediver and dthames for all of your warm welcomes!! It's still a little surreal to me that I'm actually taking steps toward becoming a full skydiver but I'm a fan of trusting my gut and this just feels so right; like it's exactly where I need to be.
  15. Hi Wendy!! I remember you, too! My Dad really liked loved his pics and videos!! He was sorry he didn't get the chance to tell you in person but I know y'all were super busy and I'm sure you were already on the next ride up! This is music to my ears!! I love your DZ! Obiviously, I guess, right? For sure. What I know for now is that he uses a carabiner to attach the toggles after the parachute opens so he can steer and flare. He just has to remember that it's reversed; pulling to the left turns right and pulling to the right turns left. I think he might be using an SOS rig, too. I'll find out for sure next week! (haha, I think I'm using the right lingo based on what I have been reading.) Awesome! This was advice Tommy (Colorado skydiving guy) gave me a few months ago whereupon I later discovered that there weren't any in Texas. And isn't one of the companies that manufactures those based in Austin? 'Bout time. Yes, it is my left arm. Weird, I was just reading last night about parachute rigs (this is my obsessive personality at work here) and remember reading that the ripcord to deploy the reserve is on the left side. That answered that question. Yeah, I remember calling back in April to ask if my amputation would be an issue. Mark then informed me that his brother was an amputee and had done 7000+ jumps. I think he was involved with Pieces of Eight...are they around anymore? We won't be anywhere near Denver on our vacation but that's okay. I would need to save up some money for AFF tuition anyway. Thanks! You, too! Wendy