Archive for October, 2008

I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

 I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS

 

On August 3, a nice sunny Okanagan day, five of us local paragliders set off to fly from Kobou Mountain  down into the LZ in Oliver. The conditions were flyable , although not ideal, so I launched, got caught in a place I shouldn’t have been , rotored into the side of the mountain, and crashed. The crash happened about 10 minutes into the flight as the expected rotor tossed me like a rock on the end of a string, into the mountainside.What happens in  the next two hours makes this one of those “good stories”.

 

 I did the usual wiggling of body parts to determine how bad I was hurt. I guessed all things correctly except the punctured lung which I didn’t  know about until the next day. The winds were strong and my paraglider kept dragging me around so I made the Hurculean effort to bunch it up and stuff it into its sac. I also radioed the others on launch stating that I crashed, was hurt, and needed a helicopter rescue. They decided to drive down to the LZ then hike up and come to my aid. They didn’t hear or get the chopper part so I reached for my cell phone to call one myself. My cell phone wasn’t in it’s belt container as it exploded off me at impact and I couldn’t see it anywhere. I radioed the others to call my cell and , sure enough, I heard it ring about 20’ uphill from where I lie. After thirty painfilled minutes of crawling I found it and called for a helicopter. By this time an hour had passed and the pain was getting worse as the injuries inflamed. I started going into shock from the pain and the internal bleeding and , because I’ve taught wilderness first-aid for many years, knew this could more serious than any of the injuries. I needed to raise my legs but I couldn’t move them. I got the idea that if I could crawl into a position with my head downhill and my feet uphill that it might just prevent full-on shock. It worked. I was very grateful that I knew enough to recognize the symptoms and that I knew what to do about it. That was actually the scariest time for me as I knew the shock was progressing and that it could kill me. Once the symptoms disappeared I felt much better about that part. Another hour passed until my fellow paragliders found me and another hour after that until the chopper picked me up. It wasn’t the best 4 hours in recent memory.

 

 The helicopter took me into the Penticton hospital where I had WAY too many tests, drugs, pain, blah, blah, blah and was released a week later. The damage was a broken pelvis, several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and lots of internal bleeding….I hate it when that happens.

           

Here I sit a few days out of the hospital penning this report for all who have planned, or plan to plan, an adventure with me this season. I’ve cancelled everything in August ( Assiniboine, Baker, Robson), all plans for September, and hope to that Mt. Baker climb, the GUNKS trip, and the Nepal trip in October. Karma will play it’s part in all this but I’m counting on the same good luck I’ve been blessed with so far in my life and will be back doing what I do in a couple of months. The good side ( remember there’s always the bright side if you’re good at finding it) is that I’m getting good rest, catching up on my stack of unread books here in my office, and all sorts of the “paper work” we all hate. The most beneficial outcome from this one is that I get to develop the

 “ non physical” me, those skills that matter most and yet still get most neglected such as patience, gratitude, and a positive outlook on things. When the time passes and my body mends I hope to be an even better me than I was before the crash.  I think this may even help me find a new level with my guitar??J

My singing…..now that’s another story.

 

May it never happen to you.

Jim