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    skydive the ranch
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  1. 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.