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The Climbing Club • View topic - Broken again/new found down time: F@$% Canada

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
It is currently Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:19 pm

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:56 pm 
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Chapter 1: Steeze-monger to yard sale

It was a perfectly fine day of skiing at Mt. Washington, BC. Soft snow still laying about in the trees, just waiting to be pilfered by my long, stiff skis. Visibility was pretty fine too. Lift lines were mysteriously long at the beginner lifts, but barely bothersome on anything worth sliding my neon-clad carcass down. I skied on and off with my brother throughout the morning, and despite being a bit heavy (the snow, not me after lots of holiday treats) the getting was pretty good.

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My mighty planks. Bow to them in their roof truss stiffness.

I skied down some rocky mogul fields on the back side of the mountain, which gave way to a bit of untracked booty in some nice steep trees. There were like 8 people on the entire back side of the mountain. That was okay.

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The intimidating entrance may have kept the masses at bay

After pillaging the backside for most of the late morning, I dropped back over to the front to meet up with my little bro for lunch. Walking into the lodge to open up my brown bag, I solved the mystery of why the mountain was so quiet - everyone was for some reason packed inside. Finding it hard to believe that people paid $71/day to sit in this small lodge trying to figure out how to turn on their gopros, we ate quickly and vacated a table we "shared" with a very loud, very large (both in numbers and in circumference) family.

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"Wait, but if I put the camera on my head, how will I put the bar down on the chairlift :shock: ?!"

Back on the mountain, I was recharged and ready to, well, charge. My brother suggested we hit an intermediate run to ease back into things, and I begrudgingly agreed.

Unloading the lift at the top, I noticed that a goggle fogging issue from earlier in the day had resolved itself, and accordingly set my phasers to shred. No matter this run being populated by gapers and rugrats I reasoned, I would make it look there was gnar and I was shredding the shit out of it.

I lit off down the strangely groomed surface, only the crinkling of Gore-Tex signaling my whereabouts from amidst a trail of jet fumes and testosterone.

The turns flowed as gracefully as the thread through a sewing machine operated by an underpaid sweatshop employee, and I was a bit more than halfway down before I disappeared into a glorious white cloud - induced by a full speed hockey stop - to wait for my bro. He caught up and I took off again, eyeing a wind lip several hundred meters downhill. I approached at mach 3, did some quick calculations and put on the brakes until mach 1 was reached.

About 10m away from lip, still feeling steezy. 5m, like a boss. Leaving the ground, wow I'm still going pretty fast. Mid air, my calculations may have been off. Touchdown...fuck.

"Matthew, call ski patrol."

"Are you sure?!"

"Do I look unsure?! Call ski patrol!"

To be continued...

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"There were people out there putting themselves in places they weren't supposed to be…and I knew right then that I wanted to be there too." -180 Degrees South


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:18 pm 
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hahahaha this is epic. can't wait to see what happens in pt. 2.....

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YOLO


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:55 am 
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Jason, you turn quite the phrase. Looking forward to the next installment, although I can't support the circumstances that led to the series...

How do you feel about knitting?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:42 am 
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I said crocheting, but hey, either way we get scarves?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:43 am 
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Location: too far from a pint.

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experience comes from bad judgment.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:12 am 
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When do we get to read part 2? The suspense is agonizing!


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:27 am 
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Chapter 2: It's okay to scream...

"It's okay to scream" the oldest of the three ski patrollers said after they aborted their attempt to splint my leg on the hill.

I had landed tip first, and at the time I just knew that things felt very wrong and that my leg was most definitely broken. I took a few ibuprofen from my first aid kit as I waited for ski-po to arrive, but I was really just looking for something productive to do while I waited for what I knew would be a long afternoon to start. Retrospectively I can say that in a motion that was a combination of twisting and folding, I could feel my shin stray from its normal anatomical alignment (aka "not broken") into some alternative configuration. It didn't start to hurt for a few seconds - but I still knew.

Since my leg had broken right above my boot (well at least some of the fractures were up there), their attempts to lift my leg effectively levered bone fragments into both each other and the surrounding soft tissue. In other words, it hurt more than any pain I had experienced in my life thus far (current tally = 6 bone breaking events, 10 bones broken). As I finished screaming as loud as I believe I ever have, they assured me that was okay. Which was good, because there was more to come.

They eventually got me onto a backboard (on my side) and then into the toboggan, and commenced sliding me slowly, face first, downhill. For the record, the toboggan ride wasn't as bad as I was expecting on the bump front. I then ended up in their (surprisingly well staffed) first aid hut. On staff were nurses, professional patrollers, and eventually and ER physician.

Well staffed it was, well organized it wasn't. I really just wanted some pain meds and a hospital. That was a while down the road. They attempted to start me on "entonox," which is literally nitrous oxide and oxygen. They asked me after several minutes if I could feel it working, and I told them it didn't do shit. This surprised them, so the looked to see that the canister they brought me was empty. They brought another out and started it.

For those who are familiar with nitrous, you may know it for its use as an illicit drug. You probably have not heard of it being used for its analgesic (painkilling) properties. This is because it has almost none. It effectively separated me from the world of reality, but left me with most of my (considerable) pain. When they asked me for my birthdate, it was as if I was surfacing from one strange nightmare directly into another. I do recall the ER doc getting there and wanting to expose the injury. As they were about to start cutting my pants off he said, "Stop, those are Arc'teryx! They're too expensive to cut off." Thanks bud.

Shortly thereafter, they took my boot off. I'm not aware which drugs I was or wasn't on at that point, but it didn't matter. It hurt. So much. From within however many layers of delirium I was enshrouded, I came cascading out into a state of full awareness when that hunk of green plastic separated from my mangled leg.

I never actually saw my leg before it got fixed, but apparently it was visibly displaced. The ER doc called around and found out that the nearest hospital with an orthopedic surgeon on call was Campbell River - about 45 minutes away.

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"There were people out there putting themselves in places they weren't supposed to be…and I knew right then that I wanted to be there too." -180 Degrees South


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:36 am 
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Chapter 3: Canadian hospitals aren't free

The ambulance ride went fast, as by that time I had been given some morphine and splinted. I was just glad to be warm and out of pain.

At the hospital, they signed me in and made a copy of my insurance card. But they also asked for my dad's Visa card. This will be important later.

I don't really remember the hours between my arrival and the surgery. The surgeon told me I had a bad break and they were going to fix it. I wasn't in a mood to disagree. I went into surgery at about 8PM, ~7 hours after my accident, and I'm told I got out around 10PM. I'll have to take their word for it.

Before surgery, my leg looked like this (on the inside):
Image

Image

Image

The next day I woke up and had to pee. A lot. I flagged down a nurse and alerted her of my predicament. She brought me a lovely urinal in which to deposit the fluids they had been rapidly been pumping into me all night after my surgery. Apparently I bled a lot. This happens when they drill into your bones.

Without going into detail, the food was terrible. My dad joked that the food was the Canadians' way of getting their citizens out of the free hospitals. In my case it was a very cruel joke, because I was not staying for free. Not even close.

I had little awareness of my surroundings most of the day. I was in a hospital bed with a curtain around me, nurses scurrying about outside, and a neighbor on the other side of the curtain who had severe gastrointestinal problems and professed to be a marijuana dealer. For the record, he was a pretty nice guy. He, along with what I later found out to be seven other patients sharing our "room," had been given an ER gurney. We had not been admitted to the hospital. We were in, and I quote, "surgical daycare." My neighbor had been there for five days. In apparently agonizing pain. On a gurney. My dad: "This would be illegal in the U.S."

That night, 24 hrs, 3 doses of IV antibiotics, about 10 urinals, 3 nursing shifts, 3 bowls of gruel, unknown doses of morphine, and at least 3 bags of saline after my surgery, they let my dad and brother spring me from that place into a hotel room. The surgeon prescribed me a bottle of Dilaudid, told me not to bear weight for at least six weeks, and sent me on my way.

A week or so later, the bills started coming in. Interestingly, they chose not to bill our insurance (what is that anyway? they wanted to know). My dad started seeing charges on his Visa card. But they didn't stop. So many. Eventually he cancelled the card so they would have no choice but to bill insurance. How much does it cost to get fixed in Canada, land of the free healthcare? The cost of my surgery alone - not including anaesthesia or operating room time - totalled over ten thousand dollars when charged to Visa. Yeah. This whole billing fiasco is still being resolved.

Moral? Don't break yourself. But in case you do, buy travelers' insurance and/or know what to do with your health insurance if out of the U.S.

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"There were people out there putting themselves in places they weren't supposed to be…and I knew right then that I wanted to be there too." -180 Degrees South


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:04 am 
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Chapter 4: A bit of a scare/Aftermath

Five days after my surgery, back at my parents' house in the U.S., I woke up feeling genuinely bad. But this seemed highly inconvenient being that I already had a broken leg, so I just went back to sleep. Several hours later, I awoke in a pool of sweat and felt worse. My mom had just gotten home from some errand, and I asked for a thermometer because, well, it just seemed like a good idea. My temp was 102.7 degrees F, which was bad. I was thinking systemic infection from my surgery - the timing and symptoms fit - so we called my dad (a urologist) at work. He said I should come in right away and get a check up.

I got there and barely made it from the car to the office on my crutches, out of breath and feeling lethargic. I had risen to a temperature of 103.4 and had a heart rate of 110 (my normal resting heart rate is about 54bpm). This arose suspicion of either a pulmonary embolism (PE) or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), either of which can really ruin your day (or kill you). I was pretty unstoked at this point.

As we left the office and headed for the ER yet again, my dad's friends from various other specialties got word of my condition and came to give their advice on testing and wish me well. Pulmonologist, nurses, an ENT, and more friends from the medical professions clustered around giving their opinions on how to minimize my radiation exposure due to my young age and which tests would be the most useful. I just wanted to know if I was at risk for dying pretty soon.

After having lots of blood tests, a chest x-ray, a chest CT, some physical exams, and more x-rays of my leg for good measure, the nice doctors at the Port Angeles ER told me I was medically fine. I had, in technical terms, the flu. That was a long day.

--

Today, I'm sitting at my computer in a compression sock and a plastic boot. The incisions are mostly healed, and the pain is gone. One can still feel the cracks in my lower leg, and a sizable bump of internally fixated bone midway up my shin. I have a titanium nail running through the bone marrow of my tibia from knee to ankle, held in place by four screws. This provides adequate stabilization to make a cast unnecessary, and keeps my less messed up - yet still broken - fibula in line as well.

It will be a few weeks before I can start to walk again, and a lot longer than that before I'm back climbing or skiing. My knee is pretty sore. To put the nail in, they cut right down the middle of my patellar tendon and spread it apart. When my dad was at his home hospital, he watched his friend (an orthopedic surgeon) do the same surgery on some other poor schmuck. He called me later and told me he understood why my knee hurt, and that I should look it up on youtube. If you have a strong constitution and are curious, you could have a peek too: .

The good news is that things should heal up just fine eventually. Some physical therapy and hard work ahead, but hopefully nothing permanent. My biggest problem is being pretty bored. I can't walk and I can't carry stuff, and that really cramps my style in terms of leisure activities. So, any and all suggestions for fun activities a cripple would be able to perform are welcomed.

Stay healthy friends.

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"There were people out there putting themselves in places they weren't supposed to be…and I knew right then that I wanted to be there too." -180 Degrees South


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:26 pm 
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Thanks for sharing your story Jason. I'm hoping for a speedy and full recovery for you. Maybe you can fight the boredom by studying for the MCAT? At least that might help free up your summer more for climbing when you are recovered :)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:56 am 
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Latest x-ray of leg in question (doctor says this is apparently acceptable progress after 6 weeks):

Image

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"There were people out there putting themselves in places they weren't supposed to be…and I knew right then that I wanted to be there too." -180 Degrees South


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:11 pm 
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Nice joint gap in your knee and gorgeous articular cartilege on the superior surface of the tibia, as shown in the 1st x-ray anterior view.

On the last x-ray (directly preceding this post) fairly nice alignment of the mending fibula.

Keeping physically active and especially aerobically active is your best mood enhancer and recovery catalyser. For less than $250 you can buy a new weight bench and a series of dumbbells. Dumbbells are for a single hand and barbells are for using both hands together; I'd recommend dumbbells. If you're handy with craigslist then you can fetch a used bench and weights for a song!

I just checked Big-5 online and $129 gets a nice bench with the standard extras (no weights) and $149 gets you a similar bench and 100lbs in weights (no dumbbell handles). Free weights, dumbbell handles with weights are as low as $29 a set and a full set for $119.

A used exercise cycle goes for $40 tops and many are FREE. With the proper tension set to create friction on the wheel allowing you to spin at 90rpm - 105rpm your mending bones shouldn't mind a bit. And that is an excellent way to get in 30min to 60min aerobic workout every day.

Getting your heart, lungs, circulatory system in the "working zone" of 120bpm to 160bpm for at least 30min everyday is magicsauce for maximizing your recovery level and minimizing your recovery time.

And an exercise cycle is great way to begin introducing stress to the mending tissues in a good way such that osteoblasts are laid down in correct alignment to handle the stresses the bone is intended to handle. Without stress during recovery the new cells are randomly oriented and result in an inefficient and inferior mend.

Best of luck with your extended road to 101% recovery! make yourself stronger than before!!!

Dave.


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