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nordique
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PostFri Jan 22, 2021 10:11 pm 
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What a scary litany!  I guess I've had better luck than most.  My first serious injury was on the first day of the 1968 Tet Offensive, in Saigon.  I was taking telephoto pictures of all the action, from a prone position on the rooftop of one our unit's buildings.  I had just 30 days left in my active duty obligation in the U.S. Army.  I was 'armed' only with my 35mm SLR with a telephoto lens.  A Vietcong sniper put an AK-47 round into my right tibia, just below the knee.  I'd rolled over onto my back once I came up fire.  That bullet ricocheted directly down my tibia, tumbling, and stopped at my right ankle, creating a large exit wound.  I left my camera and climbed down to a more protected poisition, one-legged, and my army buddies bandaged up my wounds and  used an army blanket as a stretcher to carry me down to the door, where they set me up in the back of a jeep.  I was given a steel helmet and flack jacket for the ride to the hospital, and a .45 to cover any fire from behind us.  We made it to the big army hospital near the airport in short order where my buddies turned me over to hospital staff.  The hospital of course was also under attack.  Right after I was put on the operating table, the hospital came under attack, so I was moved under the operating table.  As soon as there was a lull in the action--thanks to U.S. tank fire--I was moved back onto the table and  put under.  I woke, the next morning, on a stretcher on the hospital lawn.  In every direction were huge numbers of wounded GI's like me.  Instead of breakfast, I received a purple heart, attached to my pajamas by the commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam. When he was pinning it on my pj's, I extended greetings to General Abrams from his sister Abbie--which surprised him.   How do you know Abbie, he said.  I replied that she was my father's assistant, back in Massachusetts.  He wished me well and moved on.
Not long after this encounter, my stretcher and all of them around me, were taken to the airport and flown to Japan, where we were bused to a variety of overloaded army hospitals.  I was there for two weeks--until a new doc asked why I was still there, and not back in the states.    They cranked up my bed so I could talk to him--which caused me to pass out--as
I did whenever I was cranked up to eat or drink.  That doc said I needed blood.  As soon as I got some, I could sit up and eat and drink!  I soon then had a chance to fly in many aircraft from Japan to New England, just an hour's drive from my parent's home.  I spent the next year hobbling around on a crutch and with a large brace on my right lower leg.  I was eventually able to return to my grad school work-study program at Harvard.  But, as many doctors warned me, I could expect a good recovery--but I might have a difficult old age when all these injuries would come back to haunt me.  I've had eight additional surgeries since the original one in Vietnam--but I managed 125 hiking days last year and eight hikes so far this year!
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Gil
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PostSat Jan 23, 2021 6:50 am 
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Amazing! What a harrowing experience, followed by a great recovery and wonderful life.

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Friends help the miles go easier.
Klahini
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Sallie4jo
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PostSat Jan 23, 2021 9:12 am 
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Just want to say wow and thankyou.   I want to keep this post as a go to when I start questioning..should I.  It is clear to me that taking 1 step at a time is what is needed to heal.  For a number of years I was suffering from extremely painful feet.  I felt as though I was always walking on rocks.  When I sought help, the 1st podiatrist told me I should stop hiking/backpacking..take up biking/swimming.   I walked out saying that's the wrong answer..it took time AND changing insurance to find the right Dr.  I had a 6 hour reconstructive surgery 1st on my left foot.  The bad news happened days b4 I would get off of crutches.   I took a flying leap down my steps..resulting in a bi lateral fracture of my pelvis and much more..but the foot was ok.  I remember telling a friend I feared never being able to hike again as I began to try and walk.  3- 4 months later, the 1st try, big 4 trail.  It took several hours to walk that mile or so.  On the way back, I was In great pain and had to lay down on the trail to try to regain strength.   Two years later i had the right foot done...and almost 20 years since hiking has been my life blood.   Then..i started to fall..was hard to know exactly what happened..1st..fractured wrist with 8 miles to hike out with a full pack, then a face plant orbital fracture with 7 miles with full pack to th.  Then rt knee replacement (what a gift!) Then lt shoulder replacement..3 falls in 2 weeks, something is really wrong..last year had my hip replaced and I stopped falling...  but all the falls have made me a bit fearful..and very cognizant that I am more vulnerable,  but getting out into the forest is my lifeblood.   I am slower, not as bold, but planning next backpacks and dreaming of what I hope to see and feel this year..so thank you all for keeping on, keeping on.  The mountains are calling us.

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I choose to live in a landscape of hope.
                           Terry Tempest Williams
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stever
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PostSat Jan 23, 2021 10:54 am 
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Guess I'll add my list....three retina detachments in each eye followed by cataracts in each eye so 8 operations on my eyes.   I can see fine for distance but close up the number of surgeries have caused my eyes to not be aligned right so I have double vision from about 6 feet or closer and my double vision is one on top of the other not side by side.  I wear special corrective glasses with prisms to correct that so I can read and watch the TV without seeing double of everything.

One heart procedure and one surgery to correct Atrial Flutter (not A Fib).   The procedure was shocking my heart into normal rhythm which didn't work so they did laser surgery and burned the problem areas which was a success.

One surgery and a number of treatments for melanoma.  I had a mole that was bothering me and was diagnosed with melanoma.   That is under control for now.

All of this has occurred in the last 9 years.  I was good up until age 50 but since then yikes.  The one thing that has kept me going is hiking.   That clean fresh air, the views, the feeling of accomplishment when completing a tough hike or climb.   I'm going to do it as long as I can.

SR
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RumiDude
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PostSat Jan 23, 2021 5:40 pm 
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RumiDude wrote:
As far as injuries go, I tore meniscus in both knees but the right knee is worse.  It affected my skiing more than anything else, but I can still do a 25 mile day fairly easily, depending on the weather and my load.

In 2010 I lost almost all sight in my left eye and over 50% in my right eye due to glaucoma.  As a result, I have no stereopsis depth perception. This makes climbing down almost anything problematic.  I cannot judge even the roughness of a rocky trail.  Additionally, I have difficulty seeing anything in both low light and bright light conditions.  This means I cannot see the surface of snow so I no longer ski or snowboard.  I do continue snowshoeing but never go alone, always with another person.  I cannot find my way around in the dark, even with the brightest of headlamps.  This obviously means I no longer hike at night.  In camp I have to have everything set up before nightfall.  This makes winter camping a real adventure.

I still hike solo, but I have to be VERY carefull.  I can still scramble up many slopes, but I usually forgo anything that might get me into trouble.  I still off-trail, but again avoid anything iffy.  It has taken me a bit to regain my confidence solo.  It has been a process of each time trying to push my confort zone a tiny bit more without being stupid. I am always discovering my limitations and then some way to get around them safely. It took losing significant sight to force me to become much more aware of my surroundings.

One of the biggest disappointments is I am no longer able to see the stars, which was one of my greatest enjoyments in the backcountry. It took a bit of attitude adjustment to get over that.  I must now be content with my memories of what the night sky looked like and the thrill it gave me.

Rumi

To update my condition, next month I go in for another glaucoma surgery. This is about the 12th surgery I have had over the last decade. The intent of the surgery is to allow the eye fluids to drain better, thus reducing the internal eye pressure which kills the optic nerves. I am slowly losing more sight but still able to get around. Nothing like Backpacker Joe has experienced.

Anyway, I turned 68 yo this year and was kinda thinking about my age, deteriorating vision and everything else that comes with aging, wondering how much longer I can do this backpacking/hiking stuff I enjoy so much. Then I was reminded of my father. At the age of 69 he learned to SCUBA. At the age of 70 he learned to ski both XC and downhill. He continued both of these pursuits into his mid 80s. So I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and get out there and do as much as I can for as long as I can.

Rumi

PS: I recently went out to Hurricane Ridge to renew my ice axe skills and do a little snowshoeing. Twas fun! I hope to get again soon because I discovered my muscle memory for self arrest was kinda sluggish.

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"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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JonnyQuest
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PostSat Jan 23, 2021 6:40 pm 
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Haven't seen this thread before.  Reminds me of the galley scene in Jaws.
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nordique
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PostSat Jan 23, 2021 6:59 pm 
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That was a great scene in Jaws!  Apt comparison!
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RumiDude
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PostSat Jan 23, 2021 10:11 pm 
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JonnyQuest wrote:
Reminds me of the galley scene in Jaws

You knew Mary Anne Lamuffet also?


Rumi

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"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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Sallie4jo
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PostSun Jan 24, 2021 11:16 am 
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Yes, and yes..continue finding new paths.

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I choose to live in a landscape of hope.
                           Terry Tempest Williams
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Celticclimber
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PostThu Jan 28, 2021 5:21 am 
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I have some really great stories (3 biggies and 6 not so big: I hope I'm not a cat)
Yet to this day. I would still rather be hearing them, than telling them.
Amazing what one can survive; when they want to.

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Live every day like you will die to-marrow.
For some day that will be true.
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coldrain108
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PostThu Jan 28, 2021 10:54 am 
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My wife had to walk out 12 miles after spilling a pot of boiling water on her foot.  Luckily she was wearing some fairly sturdy sandals when it happened. The water burned all the exposed areas on the top of her foot but the area under the straps was spared. That way she could wear them for the hike out.  If not for that stroke of luck there would have been no way for her to put a shoe on for the walk out.  The blisters were HUGE!  Was nasty watching the doctor at the ER cut the blisters open... eck.gif

That was our worst "in the field" incident.   We were back at it in a couple of weeks. She still has aches from it, especially in a hot shower or a hot tub, and it was 20 years ago.  That was when she realized that pain is just an electrical signal transduced to mean pain.  She said once that thought settled in the pain just stopped.  Once she acknowledged the warning light.

As a hiker we must be able to redirect pain signals or we would just turn around and go back to the car. I call it the litany of pain - my ankle hurts, now my knee hurts more than my ankle so I forget about the ankle, now my lower back hurts more than my knee so I forget about the knee, then my foot etc etc etc. and suddenly I find myself 10 miles from the car.

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"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch and do nothing"  - Albert Einstein
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Sky Hiker
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PostTue Feb 02, 2021 1:35 pm 
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Then suddenly what you thought was 10 miles was only 1 that seemed like 10!! smile.gif
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Kascadia
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 10:47 am 
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Well shut my mouth.....

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55846897

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It is as though I had read a divine text, written into the world itself, not with letters but rather with essential objects, saying:
Man, stretch thy reason hither, so thou mayest comprehend these things. Johannes Kepler
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Forum Index > Trail Talk > Wounded hikers climbers and skiers that just wont quit.
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