I did for my
After waiting to recover for exactly 15 months (not really that long considering the damage), I was finally gonna get back into the sky. And what a long road it has been. I've gone from, "He'll be lucky to walk again." to "He'll never be able to drive a clutch again." to "His knees will never be strong enough to handle skydiving."
|Well, we all know I'm walking and driving my car
again. Granted, I'm not running, but I think once I have the hardware removed from my
knees things should get better. At least that's the plan. And that's kinda what lead me to
making a tandem jump.
It started in August when I got my leg brace to support my left knee (it was the point of first impact and suffered the most damage). The knee hyper-extends slightly and the kneecap is sitting on top of my thigh (not a pretty site with all the screws sticking out). The brace makes all the difference in the world and allowed me to walk all over the World Free Fall Convention in August and all over Holland in September. With the brace, I could get more exercise and things were steadily improving.
Unfortunately, surgery is almost a month-to-month occurrence with me. With this in mind, I have a limited amount of time in which to do things, otherwise I'm recovering from surgery and letting my body heal. Well, I had made plans to go to Holland in late September and I didn't want to risk making a skydive before then and ruining my vacation. I therefore wanted to wait until after that.
Not to be unexpected, I only had two weekends to jump once I returned from Holland. My next surgery, removal of two screws from my right foot, was set for October 7, 1998. I didn't really *seriously* think about doing a jump until after I got back, so as to not get too anxious. The first weekend was rainy, which actually was OK with me, because I was still recovering from my vacation to Holland.
During the next week, Rabbitt mentioned to me, "Are you ready to come out Saturday?" I reminded him that this weekend had to be the magic weekend, otherwise I'd have to wait more. He replied, "I know..."
So, that was the extent of the planning. Saturday arrived and I drove out to Skydive USA, hoping to jump, but not knowing how things would play out since nobody at the DZ was expecting me. I was slightly concerned about the DZO Chuck Akers not wanting to let me jump without a doctor's release, but as he said, "Well, I guess if you were the suing type, you would've done it already." Which was exactly my thought and I was relieved to hear Chuck say that.
He and everyone at the DZ were really surprised to hear about my wanting to jump. I know I was getting charged up and having great weather and great friends around just added to the exitement. Throughout my recovery, if I feel down or worn out, I'll make a trip out to one of the DZs. I call it "recharging my batteries." There's a special kind of energy around the DZ that I feed on.
Just like the alien creature in Star Trek that fed on hate & anger, and makes Capt. Kirk and the Kingons fight on the Enterprise; I feed on good vibes, skydiving and friends. Not to mention a ride in the airplane occassionally.
Rabbitt's girlfriend Roo agreed to do the video (the darling was sick that day too) and I just needed to sign a waiver. Sign, sign, sign, initial, initial, initial. Intial a little more... and here... Geeze, this waiver has an initial at every paragraph! Alright, you're just getting anxious.
And so, here I am heading for the plane. I mean, it was that quick. I was on the next load. The wind was a gentle breeze, perfect for landing. The sky, partly cloudy and blue. Oh yeah!
So, go ahead, watch the video and come back. I'll talk to you about what happens after we land. :)
OK, so my knees are still kinda weak and I have trouble climbing alot of steps, especially if I don't have a railing to pull myself along. So, we're rushing towards the ground at 120 mph, how was i going to handle that? Indeed, that was the question in my mind. I wasn't worried about the landing as Rabbitt was absolutely not going to let me down. He, above anyone else, knows exactly how well I'm doing since he helped rehabilitate me ("Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a skydiver...")
Anyway, my legs felt great in the wind! My arms felt great! Everything was humming along and my partials (teeth) even stayed in, too! The wind was extremely soft and gentle. It's so difficult to imagine the wind being gentle since we hear about how damaging hurricance force winds are on buildings and such. Well, in skydiving the wind flows around you, almost thru you, gently pushing you this way and that. And that's OK since you have miles and miles of nothing but space around you. It is flying!
In the video, you see me land and it's quite nice, especially since Rabbitt was there. I reached a 90 degree point with my knees bent and I couldn't stand back up! I was sitting in the harness suspended from Rabbitt and he had no idea I couldn't stand back up. Yeah, pretty sad, but not enough to stop me from making a tandem. Yep, nothing like another set of legs.
So that's basically it. I tested my current body configuration and it works. So what's the next step?
Little did I know at this time, but Bridge Day was right around the corner. ;^)
Streaming video of the tandem: CLICK HERE