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Everything posted by spencersmith233

  1. I saw my orthopedic surgeon today, from the same team that did my fusion. He took some x-rays and checked me out and I told him my plans. I was expecting a no, hoping for a cautious maybe. What I got was a resounding yes! He said go for it! And go ahead and play tackle football if you like that, too! He thinks that the main concern I should have from subjecting my body to these forces is not a slightly increased risk of traumatic neurological damage, but a slightly increased risk of degenerative disc disease in the area below the fusion. But... not only will we all face this problem in old age, fused or not, I already face a higher risk of getting it sooner because of my fusion whether I'm active or not. So I could baby my back for 20 years and still end up with problems. Obviously, it's not worth it. For any spinal fusion patients who read this in the future, I am fused from L3 to T4 and I have instrumentation going almost the full length of my spine. My surgeon used a surprisingly small number of pedicle screws and hooks to attach my spine to the rods. I hear that these days they tend to use the screws more. See you in the sky!
  2. I read some of your posts about that in other threads. Surely you've experienced a hard opening in the years after the fusion? If I love my test tandem jump like I think I will, then I will go to any length to do it as safely as I can and progress in the sport. I'm still playing to odds, but so is everybody. If a hard opening can paralyze a completely healthy person, like I read about elsewhere... everybody faces that risk. You're right, my disadvantage is not knowing what these forces are like and whether I can take it. I watched the video someone posted of his hard opening. To this total newcomer, it doesn't look as violent as he describes it. In the years since surgery I've been very active and never felt fragile, like there was something I shouldn't do because of my back. It's a lot to think about.
  3. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. Did his cervical fusion contribute to being paralyzed on the hard opening? Is a reserve expected to open hard? Do you expect injuries? Can hard openings (main) be prevented with the right canopy, lines, and pack job? Would a static line jump help avoid a hard opening, since you're going slower?
  4. Could my back take it? Good question. I've been reading stories from other scoliosis patients (non skydivers) who won't even go on trampolines. They have pain just walking around. See, I don't have any pain. I've treated my back as though I never had any surgery. I've fallen onto my butt many times, such as off a skateboard. I really felt it but my back was OK. My back doesn't feel fragile, at least. To give you an example, some of these fusion patients (from what they wrote) would have trouble just getting into a plane. Me, I jump around, dance and stuff. I just seem to have no problems. I guess for me, the risk of injuring my back would be in addition to the other risks that go along with the sport. If I'm willing to accept those... Then I read a thing where a girl was given no limitations by her surgeon. He told her, don't let the rods in your back interfere with your dreams. That was his policy for ALL his fusion patients.
  5. Couple more things. I see that some spinal fusion patients won't ride roller coasters or are advised not to. I have no problem with them, even rough ones. And I have no problem pulling 3 Gs in a steep turn in an airplane. Is that worth anything?
  6. Mark, I appreciate your thoughts. Since you're a skydiving orthopedic surgeon (probably a rare combination!), would you mind if I asked you a few more questions? I understand if you don't want to offer a medical opinion. This is very important to me, because skydiving is exactly what I want to get involved in, and not just for some cheap thrill, and it breaks my heart to hear that I shouldn't even try it once. I was told not to play football or skydive in the interview before the surgery. What is the actual reason for this advice? Is it the lack of flexibility in the spine? What are the risks to my back if it receives more load than it can handle? Broken instrumentation? Paralysis? Do non-fused jumpers face the same risks? Would you tell your patients in no uncertain terms not to skydive, as my surgeon did? And finally, could a tandem jump be, perhaps, a slightly less risky way of at least seeing if this is all worth the risk? I hope you aren't bothered by these questions. I want you to know that my interest in skydiving is very real and I'm not trying to justify a one-time thrill ride. I love to land planes, I love the sky and the earth, I love getting really good at something complex, and everything else seems exactly right about the sport.
  7. Student chutes are more gentle and slower right? Maybe I could always jump with a student chute.
  8. Good points. The last time I saw the surgeon who did the surgery (who is now retired) he said I was very flexible and my results were among the best he'd seen. I laid on my belly and practiced arching and it seems like I can do it as well as in the photos I've seen. Who knows what this next doctor will say tomorrow. If I can't do it, then what? Just sit at home and wonder what it might have been like? Hope that after a few years of medicroty I'll forget I ever had the desire? You guys all take the risk too. Even if you don't have a spinal fusion, you could NEED one from skydiving. Or just end up paralyzed anyway. A lot of people seem to think it's worth the risk.
  9. Would a tandem jump be less likely to result in a hard landing? It's not what I want, but if they say no...
  10. I was encouraged by some of the anecdotes I found here about spinally fused people who've done hundreds of jumps. But I appreciate hearing the downside to it as well. I guess anyone could be paralyzed by a hard landing -- the question is whether it's more likely with a spinal fusion. I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor for tomorrow. I'll share whatever I learn. I was very excited reading so many good things about the sport on this forum. It really sounds like it's something I could love. I would be very sad if I can't even try it once. But I guess I'll find out.
  11. I'm very sorry to hear that. Did your friend have a spinal fusion? Did it contribute to his injury. I don't understand why me hitting the ground hard would be any worse than you hitting the ground hard.
  12. I had it done for scoliosis 14 years ago and it healed perfectly. They say skydiving is one of those things I shouldn't do. I see no problem with it. http://www.scoliosisassociates.com/subject.php?pn=daniel-bthis kid had a spinal fusion and he skydives. will my DZ ask me medical questiosn? Or do I just sign a waiver and self-certify? I don't want them to turn me down. I'm comfortable with jumping, whatever some doctors might say. thanks in advance