Trip Report
C3 - C7 a psycho-physical Trip Report from an A type personality.
Wednesday August 17, 2011 12:04pm

Confused by the mist of uncertainty.
Level headed perspective. Clearing mists and potential growth
Level headed perspective. Clearing mists and potential growth
Credit: philo


And so it began with a question to the collective consciousness of the climbing clan. A question about a condition I had just been diagnosed with. A condition that finally caught my attention and disturbed me greatly.
"Here's lookin' at you kid".
"Here's lookin' at you kid".
Credit: philo

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1488621/Hyperreflexia-and-Clonus-Any-knowledge-out-there

At first it only caught my attention at all because it effected my Rt leg. The same Rt leg that had had surgeons hands into it twelve times in ten years. The same Rt leg that now had a twenty year old and obsolete prosthetic knee.
A total knee replacement right before closure.
A total knee replacement right before closure.
Credit: philo
It really is fortuitous that it finally whacked out my Rt leg as I otherwise would have continued ignoring it like all the other pains and symptoms I had mentally blocked out for years. The stabbing and shooting pains, the burning and electrical tingles, the arm or hand that would go dead in the middle of a lead or even while scratching my back, the pounding headaches and tinitus, the myriad maladies that for so many years I had filtered out of importance because it wasn't about my Rt leg. But then my Rt leg went rogue on me. It would start shaking uncontrollably if I tried to press through the toes at all, even on something as mundane as the car accelerator. My metal knee seemed as if it would buckle at any moment and without warning. Just like it had two years ago, leaving me with amputation anxiety for four months waiting while the tests were misunderstood.

I started noticing about six months ago. At first I was mostly irritated because my foot would bounce off of hard Rt side stems or stumble over stones on the trail. I could climb fine as long as I flat-footed every right foothold. But as conditions rapidly worsened I started having to place my foot by hand to be sure it was where I wanted it to be, then move on and off of it in under three seconds so It would not Elvis off. But then I fell off the approach boulder to the West Ridge in Eldo landing in the swollen and surging river and rupturing an elbow bursa on the way.
Credit: philo
Credit: philo
Credit: philo
Shortly after that, and far more disturbing as-well, I bounced myself right off a ladder at work. In decades of experience I have never ever fallen off or from a ladder.
OK, so now my attention has been solidly caught and the odyssey of diagnostic testing and discovery began, from the knee up. My orthopedic surgeon was the first to diagnose Hyper-reflexia & Clonus and determine that while the prosthetic knee was effected it was not the cause. She rapidly got on her phone calling the Neurosurgeon she works with directly and setting me up for an urgent appointment in twenty minutes time. Well that was all outside of my health insurance coverage and would have been completely out of pocket. So I said "whoa now hold on there just a Boulder bump, maybe we can wait on this a bit" She sad "Be sure to pay your bill on the way out and it's been nice knowing you". What she really said (without actually defining why) is that this condition should be considered extremely urgent and that I should push my insurance provider to expedite my case. OhhhhhhhKaaaaaaaay.
Of all the imaging, poking, prodding, tweaking and testing I went through there is one process I wish I could forget. It is euphemistically called Neural Mapping.
Credit: philo
If you ever have it recommended I suggest you tell the Doctor to go first. Let's just say it involves freakishly long needles and repeated electrical shocks. I think it was developed at GitMo 'cause I would have confessed to Shooting Abe Lincoln if they'd asked me. Along the way from GP MD through specialists and neurologists I was constantly told this should be consider URGENT. They wouldn't tell me any details other than it meant surgery and I should let the neurosurgeon tell me what I needed to know. But I had work to do- which is the down side of being self employed in an owner/operator business-so I put off setting the next appointment till I could earn some more scratch. But it was not to be. A day of work would level me for a day or two. Two days work would virtually incapacitate me for two or three. Things were worsening and rapidly. Then I took the fast ride off the ladder right in front of my eldest son. I looked straight into his 19 year old eyes and saw the strain of my own fear and anxiety. Surgeon called- Appointment made- Surgery scheduled ASAP!
OKAY, I get it, I get it already. Go home lay down and wait. Sure, sure, sure so who pays the bills? They didn't have answers to that question. Much of what I do as an lighting designer/electrical contractor is physically brutal work in adverse conditions.
The new rig Rocks and Rolls!!
The new rig Rocks and Rolls!!
Credit: philo
Like laying prone face first in a several feet of blown in insulation in a 130 degree claustrophobic attic in summer trying to drill though to the wall below while not being skewered by the roofing nails above. Or commando crawling for hours through 18'' or less of clearance in grim and freezing crawl spaces. And then there are the hours and hours on end of looking up at the work your hands are doing over head.
Credit: philo
To accomplish the creative outcomes I work my beast of burden backside to the bone. When my business (aka Me) is up and running at full capacity it is a great generator of revenue. But the last many months had me at the point where the CoPay for the neurosurgeon's consultation meant I couldn't finish paying the business end of my rent. Carol my awesome landlady was patient the Surgeon was not. What to do, what to do?



My Sister Laurie suggested I put it out to the family. She also urged me to curb my pen and keep it short and to the point. She is smart! So I emailed family and decided to put it on my FaceBook page as well.

Hello Family & friends.
I am sorry to do this and am loathe to request help but I have no choice.
Circumstances have led to the discovery that I need immediate and urgent spinal surgery.
The Neurosurgeon considers it somewhat miraculous that I am still walking.
To the point; My cervical spine from C3 to C7 is trashed and needs plating and fusion NOW!
Surgery is scheduled for Wed Aug 31st and will be moved sooner if it can be arranged.

Which got picked up By Bob Culp (Bobert) and brought to the SuperTopo cyber camp fire community.
In the form of this thread.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1579215/Tacos-Philo-needs-help
out of which came this FB page established by my friend Lauren di Scipio to help manage the fund raising.
http://www.laurendiscipio.com/pages/Philo.html

The response has humbled me. I have come to realize that I belong to a much larger family than I could have ever imagined. The outpouring of generosity, support, well wishes and sincere concern has threatened to dehydrate me from daily tears of gratitude. I can unabashedly say that I love this whacky tribe at the TacoStand. We can all gnash teeth and rattle chains at each other but when the cjips are down the compassionate step up. I honestly don't know what I would have done with out you all.


More later... This will be my progress blog for those who want to follow along.

  Trip Report Views: 6,259
philo
About the Author
philo is a trad wall climber, one time Eldo Prancer and has been Black Canyon Wannabe hardman from somewhere halfway over the rainbow.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Aug 17, 2011 - 12:05pm PT
I have an appointment and will post more later. Thank all of you wonderful folk for the emotionally overwhelming support and encouragement.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Aug 17, 2011 - 12:06pm PT
Best of luck Phil.
Captain...or Skully

climber
  Aug 17, 2011 - 12:23pm PT
Belay's on, broman. Now get your butt up there.
fattrad

Mountain climber
GOP Convention
  Aug 17, 2011 - 12:41pm PT
Good luck Phil!!!!


Jeff
Allen Hill

Social climber
CO.
  Aug 17, 2011 - 12:49pm PT
Good luck with all this. Sounds like the surgery will clear all this up. My left leg gives me grief when I get hit with a bad MS flair up. I totally get it. Just with they could somehow cut the MS out of me with a knife!
Gal

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Aug 17, 2011 - 12:58pm PT
Good luck Philo-I hope the surgery cures all the trouble. Wish the best for you!
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Aug 17, 2011 - 01:09pm PT
Still looking at the 31st?
rurprider

Trad climber
Mt. Rubidoux
  Aug 17, 2011 - 01:28pm PT
Best of luck Philo. I hope the surgery resolves all your health issues.
Silver

Gym climber
  Aug 17, 2011 - 03:39pm PT
Philo

All I know is you could have fooled me the other day when I saw you. You look to be in good health and fine spirits.

Sorry to read about this and I hope you get well soon. Look forward to seeing you in October.

Silver
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Aug 19, 2011 - 04:42am PT
Things are looking up. Which is good because I shouldn't be looking up right now. I do not yet know what else will ultimately be involved or required but I just found out an hour ago that my Medical Insurance Provider has approved the surgery scheduled for 8am Wed Aug 31st at St Jo's in Denver. Without the incredible generosity and support of this most wonderful clan I would be unable to proceed even with the anxiously awaited approval. And so I thank you all from the whole of my very humbled heart. I decided to start a Trip Report of this oddventure that wouldn't clog the important stuff of the forum front page. I will post updates and observations along the way and invite anyone interested to come along for the ride.

Silver, I have been 'fooling' myself at great risk for so many years it's not funny. The Neurosurgeon's diagnosis was a sucker punch to my psychological solar-plexus. I knew surgery would be inevitable but I had no idea it's was going to need to be immediate.

Locker thanx ever so for turning down my offer to come down that day.
I know we're all gonna die, but that coulda kilt me. And I don't mean plaid skirts amigo.
I'd still be happy to stop by and inspect it for a greening.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 19, 2011 - 09:46am PT
All the best of luck to the Cozmic Bandito Road Tour transportation savior. He who drew forth the Silver Surfer from the confines of the garage and gave generously so's we old dawgs could get around the mountains.

Thanks man.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Aug 19, 2011 - 05:10pm PT
Well, that's good news. The sooner you have your surgery, the sooner you'll be back at it. Although I guess there'll be some physio and rehab to go through.

Did the docs say anything about the cause(s), or is it simply cumulative abuse and strees, and aging?
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Aug 19, 2011 - 06:40pm PT
Philo thanks fer gettin' this TR goin'. Lookin' fwd to updates. In the meantime, you guys hafta check out BOBERTS thread & make some bids !!!
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Aug 25, 2011 - 10:15am PT
PART 2


My "other" rack of gear for many a year.
Credit: philo

So I have been fitted for the cervical collars I will wear day & night for at least the next 3 months. I have past all my pre-op tests and labs and have a green light for surgery next wednesday. Through the incredible support and generosity of the amazing SuperTopo network I will have the co-pay situation under control. That has reduced my stress level to such a degree that I decided now was the perfect time to throw quitting tobacco into the mix.

To be continued...
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Aug 25, 2011 - 11:56am PT
I'm there with you Bud!

Moss
Silver

Gym climber
  Aug 25, 2011 - 12:08pm PT
Philo

I will climb for you while you're down and we will keep you in our hearts and pray that all goes well in Denver for you. I will see you in October.

Day to day bro take it easy.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2011 - 08:13pm PT
1/2hr pre-op
When the tin foil hat was on things made so much sense. <br/>
When the tin foil hat was on things made so much sense.

Credit: philo


2 hrs post-op.
Credit: philo
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Aug 31, 2011 - 07:44pm PT
Phil-

I would like to say "you look great," but other than looking as though you've been dragged through a knothole a$$backwards, your cheerful demeanor speaks highly of your surgical outcome! Take your time and don't try to rush your recovery. I made my mistakes that way last year, and I don't recommend emulating my stupidity. Heal well and completely, and then we'll go climbing.

Best Regards,

Rodger
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 31, 2011 - 09:06pm PT
Heal up!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Aug 31, 2011 - 09:07pm PT
Hope you're doing fine, Phil!!!!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Aug 31, 2011 - 09:10pm PT
Well, he's posting a report and photos, which I'll take to be a good sign. Heal well!

And about those pharmaceuticals that Tami mentioned...
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Aug 31, 2011 - 10:50pm PT
Glad your through the surgery,Hang in there Philo!
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 1, 2011 - 06:16am PT
GOOD MORNING ALL!


Getting checked out.
Getting checked out.
Credit: philo

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE.

CARPE DIEM - CARPE MANANA
Silver

Gym climber
  Sep 1, 2011 - 06:21am PT
Phil looking good. That smile is bigger than I remember.

What is that contraption in the post op pic? Is that a post op bong?

Get well see you soon
steve shea

climber
  Sep 1, 2011 - 06:31am PT
Looking good Phil. Those photos bring back memories of my orthopaedic adventure with my fusion. I remember a SORE throat and having to be very careful swallowing pills for a while. Just take it easy and heal. Steve
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Sep 1, 2011 - 06:32am PT
Takes guts to post this stuff. Good to see you up and about. I didn't because for some reason I couldn't take a single picture of myself wearing my cervical collar. I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I still have mine - one for day-wear, the brown one for the shower. I could not shed those things fast enough and yet I doubt I'll ever throw them away.

Appreciate your courage, heal up Philo.

DMT
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 1, 2011 - 06:35am PT
Yay! You're up'n'at'em. Glad to see that big grin!
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Sep 1, 2011 - 06:41am PT
What was the ultimate outcome? That is, what did they end up fusing? Bone or metal or both? What comes ahead?
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 1, 2011 - 07:00am PT
C3,C4,C5 & C6
Cadaver bone plugs and titanium plate with titanium screws.
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Sep 1, 2011 - 07:39am PT
Be sure to take a photo of the post op xray! It'll be cool! Heal up!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Sep 1, 2011 - 07:49am PT
You look really great, P! Best wishes.
tinker b

climber
the commonwealth
  Sep 1, 2011 - 08:54am PT
who does your hair??? glad all went well, take it easy and allow yourself to heal.
peace,
jolynne
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:02am PT
This looks encouraging.
a photo 2 hours post op? Amazing.
Best wishes, and
Keep Using that Spirometer!!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:09am PT
Yeah Phil!, I notice that both of those nurses are standing around the open part of your gown in the back. Maybe that's what has your hair all "up and wild":-) (maybe Locker snuck in and gave em some toys...hah!)
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:16am PT
Don't make him laugh too hard yet. The man iiisss wearing a neck collar. :-) I'm glad you are up and about Phil. Best wishes on the recovery.
stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:53am PT
Ze hair is similar, no?

ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Sep 1, 2011 - 10:03am PT
I was thinking more like Trotsky - after all he is from the The People's Republic

Trotsky
Trotsky
Credit: ydpl8s
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 1, 2011 - 01:14pm PT
OK now, you guyziz2phuny. I got discharged before noon and was able to pick up meds and a smoothie while introducing STer Altiebo to Mo's bagels. Alton (aka Altiebo), our new house mate, came and got me and my wheels from the Hospital this morning and patiently drove me around Boulder for my errands. Currently I am on my back, on ice and on drugs. Nap time.
Captain...or Skully

climber
  Sep 1, 2011 - 01:17pm PT
Sounds sweet. Awesome hair.
Rest up & heal up. All is well.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Sep 1, 2011 - 02:36pm PT

That's GREAT, Phil!!! I hope you're doing pretty much pain
free. Let me know if you need anything, really!!!!
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Sep 1, 2011 - 04:11pm PT
Phil,
Glad that's over. Hoping you heal quickly and are back outside soon.
Rick
fattrad

Mountain climber
GOP Convention
  Sep 1, 2011 - 04:14pm PT
philo,

You look great, glad the procedure went well.



The evil one
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Sep 1, 2011 - 04:36pm PT
hey there say... great to see that all is well on the way to being well again...

:)


three cheers...
prayers sure are neat at times like this...
:)
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  Sep 1, 2011 - 04:46pm PT
Get well soon!
Erik
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:42pm PT
The neurosurgeon had to recreate the proper curvature of the cervical ...
The neurosurgeon had to recreate the proper curvature of the cervical spine. Mine had been progressively curving in the opposite direction.
Credit: philo
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:49pm PT
That looks like it'd sting. :) Wild stuff isn't it!
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:58pm PT
I do bear a resemblance to Dr Strangelove except I quit tobacco before my surgery.

Yes Crimps, very wild stuff.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Sep 1, 2011 - 09:58pm PT
Ain't modern medicine great, and aren't we lucky? I mean, when you consider the alternatives?
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
  Sep 1, 2011 - 10:02pm PT
Looks like they put it in backwards.. :-p
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Sep 1, 2011 - 10:21pm PT
Big grins fer healin' up phil!!!!
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Sep 2, 2011 - 07:06am PT
I see what you mean about setting off the metal detectors! Not to mention I think I see my own neck's future.

I'm really glad that everything's gone so well. Remember, patience is a virtue and things take longer to heal now than they used to. And the rocks aren't going anywhere.

Take care and know that you have a great future!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Sep 2, 2011 - 07:29am PT
It's the million dollar man, or is that Data, or maybe the Borg. Heal up quick Phil!

Moss

Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Sep 2, 2011 - 07:32am PT
If we thump you on the head, will you behave like a tuning fork?


Hee hee. :)
onyourleft

climber
Smog Angeles
  Sep 2, 2011 - 08:24am PT
Best to you on your healing.

I had C6-C7 fused with a cadaver bone plug and a titanium plate and screws in 2001 and it worked perfectly, I am thankful to report. I had about two months of downtime and then slowly went back to full activity.
I remember a high-speed skiing fall that happened less than a year later where I head-planted and went from 50mph to 0 in about a yard. First thought was "well, the head's still attached, the surgery must have worked."
I am so grateful that we have lived long enough to reach the future in terms of medical procedures.

Trust in your healing, give it the full time needed, and you'll be back out there soon.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 2, 2011 - 09:02am PT
If we thump you on the head, will you behave like a tuning fork?


Probably more like a Hogwart's Whomping Phillo.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Sep 3, 2011 - 04:06am PT
"well, the head's still attached, the surgery must have worked."
Now there's a good motto for you!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Sep 2, 2011 - 10:37am PT
Phil,
I just got the package you sent me. You are too kind!!!! It will have a place of honor in my humble abode. You are a gem among humans.

Heal quickly, Moss
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 2, 2011 - 11:44am PT
I sent it before surgery and am glad to be here to say it was my pleasure Moss.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
  Sep 2, 2011 - 01:25pm PT
SEIZE THE CARP PHIL! CARPE DIEM!
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 4, 2011 - 09:10am PT
I'm just gonna' bump this in case Philo wants to give us an update on how he's doing!!
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Sep 4, 2011 - 09:37am PT
Email chatted with him just this morning. Says he's doing well though tired and sore. Sounds like the worst is some trouble swallowing (not surprising given the procedure). He's just taking it easy me thinks.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 4, 2011 - 09:48am PT
That's encouraging news!
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
  Sep 4, 2011 - 10:04am PT
Sending good vibes your way, Phil.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 4, 2011 - 11:28am PT
Credit: philo
Credit: philo
Credit: philo
Credit: philo
I will be glad when these boxes are empty.
I will be glad when these boxes are empty.
Credit: philo
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Sep 4, 2011 - 11:34am PT
Lovenox burns like a mofo doesn't it!?!?! Yeow. I no likey.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 4, 2011 - 11:41am PT
Well Crimps, lets look at the recent list of discomfortures.
Divorce
relocating
Ruptured elbow bursa
quitting tobacco
spinal surgery
And anticoagulant injections for 3 weeks.

All things considered, I think of the Lovenox "burn" as a warm fuzzy just for me. lol.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Sep 4, 2011 - 11:43am PT
What's Lovenox?
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
  Sep 4, 2011 - 11:45am PT
Prayers for a quick and FULL recovery, Philo!

Thanks for keeping us informed...and facing life's travails with grace, humility, and guts.

Cheers,
DR
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Sep 4, 2011 - 12:14pm PT
Having dealt with most of those, and being weak, I find the most recent discomfort as the one that burns the most. :) Glad your perspective makes it no biggy!

Here's some info on Lovenox Mighty Hiker:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000158/
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 4, 2011 - 12:33pm PT
Lovenox is used to suppress formation of post-operative blood clots that could lead to erther pulmonary thrombosis or stroke. Either one is far worse than the burn of the self-injected drug. I took the shizzle until I got my PT-INR to an acceptable level after my fall last year. The down side of the stuff is the pain-in-the-billfold, as each injection is $125.00.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Sep 4, 2011 - 12:46pm PT
Clearly they put the collar on, Philo, so you won't chew the stitches.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
  Sep 4, 2011 - 02:12pm PT
LOL Peter. Probably going to start voting Democrat now too. Good to see you're healing up.



woof
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 4, 2011 - 03:24pm PT
Lovenox is an injectable Anticoagulant.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Sep 4, 2011 - 05:04pm PT
Phil, any mail from Canuckistan lately?
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 5, 2011 - 08:57am PT
Yes Anders, thank you!


Here is a video of a single level fusion where mine will be at least 3 but it is otherwise the same.

WARNING this is fascinating but really graphic. Please don't watch if you are squeamish.
Although if you are in Squamish then by all means watch away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnxDlSTCznA
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
  Sep 5, 2011 - 09:03am PT
Although if you are in Squamish then by all means watch away.

heh heh.. too squeamish in squamish for me. I'm glad you are keeping your spirits up and your head up, though with all that titanium and braces, you obviously don't have a choice. haha..

I love the dog photo. Just don't hang your head out the window of the car with one of those things on..
rhyang

climber
SJC
  Sep 5, 2011 - 09:55am PT
Sounds like the surgery went well ! And welcome to Team Fusion :)

I remember Lovenox .. when I was in spinal cord injury rehab a nurse would inject me with the stuff in the stomach every morning for several weeks until they decided it was no longer necessary (they ultrasounded my legs for clots).

No worries about airport metal detectors -- they don't seem to respond to the fusion hardware. The advice I was given was to wear a shirt I could unbutton so I could show the TSA folks my surgical scars if any question arose.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 5, 2011 - 10:07am PT
Rhyang thanks for the "Team Fussion" welcome. I have been a member of the titanium body parts (total knee) club for 20 years already so I am familiar with the TSA drill. In fact I have been warned that any more body jewelry after this and I will have to change my favorite drink from Mocha Java to 10W40
with a WD40 chaser. Hic!



Daze the Carp seize their per diem.

Of course that could be the meds talking.

Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 5, 2011 - 11:41am PT
Are they keeping you on Lovenox that long? Woohee! That's some expensive schitt. Did they even suggest coumadin (rat poison!)? I took coumadin for 4 months and it nearly killed me early on with internal bleeding.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 5, 2011 - 11:51am PT
Rodger, it was discussed at length among all the key medicos involved.
3 weeks of daily Lovenox injections were deemed best for me as they discovered I have factor 5 Leiden clotting disorder when they were treating and testing me for the earlier blood clot. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/factor-v-leiden/DS01083

It was decided that not having to monkey with stabilizing my inr for a long haul protocol was easier and less invasive.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 5, 2011 - 12:39pm PT
Phil-

The Lovenox is definitely the safer approach to take, but with the time frame involved being only 3 weeks I understand the situation. After I was initially discharged from Boulder Community Hospital they had me on 3 mg a day coumadin; the lab didn't notify me that my PT-INR had exceeded 5 and that I needed to cut the dosage back to 1.5 mg. I nearly bled out internally and I had 3 liters of fluids removed from my chest cavity after readmission. Take care my friend; I want to climb with you after this current schizzle is over!!
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 5, 2011 - 01:31pm PT
So after surgery was deemed a success
Credit: philo
And some of my wiring was deemed salvageable.
Credit: philo
I went home, layed low, started looking freeky and began to stink up the place.
Credit: philo
But Goldiee the wonderdog and my guard dogian angel
Credit: philo
gave me her Jedi light saber eyes and said clean up your act smelly human.
And so I did. Having my first post-op shower, shampoo and shave.
Credit: philo
Boy do I feel like a million Kopeks.
Just got to deal with a little pain in the neck
Credit: philo
and I will be ready to get creative.
Credit: philo


LOOK OUT WORLD HERE I COME!
Just at a very slow pace for a while.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Sep 5, 2011 - 06:31pm PT
Philo I hope you received the little sumpthin' that Skully paid fer the painting.....


Heal up well & THANKS for taking a SHOWER & A SHAVE !!! Could SMELL YA FROM HERE !!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
charley

Trad climber
nw pa.
  Sep 5, 2011 - 07:33pm PT
So glad you are doing well. Praying for your recovery.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Sep 5, 2011 - 07:39pm PT
hey thre say, phil... great to see you doing so well...
saw a neat pic on facebook, too... :)

yep, once you COMB your hair, you know you are feeling better, ;)


ALSO:
say, charlie, nice to see your post...

well, got to hurry all... got projects to do around house, now that my foot is getting better...

fast check of the ol' taco and then see you later, :)
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Sep 5, 2011 - 08:22pm PT

Go Philo, GO!!!!!

Such a handsome fella too!!!!
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 7, 2011 - 06:31pm PT
Had my one week post-op check up with my primary care provider. So far everyone is fairly impressed by the incredible neurological improvements I have experienced. The Clonus in my leg has disappeared and the right & left sides of my musculature are in balance again. It seems remarkable that only a week ago I had my throat slit and today I drove myself to a doctors appointment and grocery shopping. I will see the Neurosurgeon next wed at the two week post-op point. At that point there should be a good amount of healing to evaluate and an opportunity to anticipate recovery. I anticipate climbing by ice season. Woo Hoo that'll Kick Ice!




I have to admit I had a restless night due to a disturbing post-op nightmare. In this all too lucid dream my coughing fit had shot my voice box out of the incision in my neck. I was running around the shopping wall looking for help. Sadly no one took me seriously because I sounded like Donald Duck.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 8, 2011 - 08:43am PT
These are my current benchmarks.
One month pre-op. Top roping 10d. multiple neurological issues including drastic muscle imbalance, Clonus or Elvis leg and temporary burning dead arm strength loss.
Credit: philo
One week post-op. Climbing in and out of bed and onto porcelain throne. Most previous neuro-issues gone or fading. The rest will likely have to wait till I am off pain meds to be sure off.
Credit: philo
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 12, 2011 - 12:58pm PT
So I had my roughest night 2 days ago. I was suppose to get out to a birthday party for a friend that evening. So I took a preemptive nap only to wake up thinking I was having a heart attack or a blot clot issue. I couldn't breathe or swallow and it hurt like H, E Double Toothpicks. Panic was welling up when I managed a feeble burp. To my surprise it helped. So I struggled to burp again and again till I could breathe with out pain. Obviously the throat is a complex two way mechanism where burping and breathing must harmoniously exist.

Wednesday I go in for my 2 week post-op check up and stitch removal. WooHoo!

Today I feel like I am over the hump having swallowed the lump so I'll get up off my rump.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Sep 12, 2011 - 01:08pm PT
Back when your Mom was so skeptical of your need to practice burping,
little did she know how important it would become.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Sep 12, 2011 - 03:26pm PT
hey there say, philo.... wow, see... folks do not realize all the troubles from the mouth, throat, or swallowing, etc, type issues that can trouble someone...

that's why i wrote my jake-series...

now, YOU however, are a real example to HELP OTHERS get through such difficulties, :)


god bless... :)
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 12, 2011 - 04:01pm PT
Phil-

Way to go!
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Sep 12, 2011 - 04:54pm PT
Glad to hear your recovery is proceeding well, despite the occasional burp. Maybe you shouldn't have eaten what you did the night before? Chewing gum will do that too.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 22, 2011 - 09:32am PT
Three weeks post-op and I am pretty amazed at the out come so far. I can stand -unsupported- for an extended time on the toes of my -prior to surgery- uncontrollably shaky right leg. I can scratch my own back again without my arms falling asleep. The horrendous inner ear tinitus and pressure headaches are gone or unnoticeable. Even my poor sore throat is almost normal. I am off (non-combustible) pain meds and only have two more Lovenox injections to go. Getting up and moving no longer takes more than an hour of working through all the pain. After I was post-op stable I saw my neurosurgeon who explained both how remarkable my spinal cord response was even during surgery and how very frighteningly critical my cervical spine had become. I will see him again in another week for the one month check up and will hopefully be allowed to start picking up more than ten pounds again. Mostly because I have hated having to use a smaller coffee cup. Driving with my "neckless" on is a bit of a hassle but manageable particularly since the new work rig has such better visibility than the van did. I even arranged labor help with my work so I can get up and running again while still sitting down. I have had a couple of full days this week which were fatiguing but satisfying. Actually the hardest thing right now is letting my customer base know I am available again. I have come too far down this miraculous path not to believe even that hitch will work out.

My hope is to be climbing again by this ice season. But if I have to wait it is still better than the alternatives were.

Thank you all again for your support and encouragement without which I would not have made it.

I feel ALIVE!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Sep 22, 2011 - 09:29am PT
Sweet!

DMT
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Sep 22, 2011 - 10:15am PT

Glad you are feeling alive again, must have been tough from the looks of those gnarly fotos.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Sep 22, 2011 - 10:29am PT
Philo, great news! You are a man of many goals and the ability to achieve them beyond what most would be able to do in your situation. Your attitude is an inspiration to all of us that have to occaisionally go through a rough pitch.

Get those creative juices flowin!!!
Moss
frog-e

Trad climber
Imperial Beach California
  Sep 22, 2011 - 06:46pm PT
philo - i'm not buying a word of it...

lol

get better or else...


:-)


(alkalize or die)
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Sep 22, 2011 - 07:06pm PT
That's AWESOME, Phil!!!!!
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 23, 2011 - 11:06pm PT
Even though having my cervical collar off made me more nervous than Painted Wall pegmatite I finally got the nerve up to shave across my new surgical incision. It was a daunting challenge for several reasons. First is the eerie proximity to the jugular vein. Then there was the post-op skin sensitivity and the difficulty finding an angle in a mirror to see it well enough to shave.

Credit: philo

I had progressively narrowed the unshaven patch to a 1/2" by 3" area around the incision.
But at first the skin hurt too much to shave. Mind you I often shave my face dry so I obviously have pretty tough skin under normal circumstances. But then I found an odd looped stitch sticking out of the right end of the scar. When I tugged on it I would feel it pull on the opposite end of the incision. This would really freak me out and shut me completely down.

Credit: philo

Coupled with how unnerving it has been to have the cervical collar off and I had only managed two showers since surgery. Until today. I finally manned up and shaved down.
but it was still weird particularly when I snipped and pulled this long nylon stitch out from inside my skin. It was like pulling a shoelace out from under the arch of your foot.
But it's all good now. The scar doesn't look too bad at all now that it isn't hairy.

Credit: philo

So I have to wear this groovy gear for the foreseeable future. At least it is stylish.
But there is no reason that once free of it I can't get back to the mountains.
Cheers!!

Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Sep 24, 2011 - 07:53am PT
I was just thinking about you today Philo and wondering how you were doing. Thanks for letting us know.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Sep 29, 2011 - 07:56am PT
Today I see my Neurosurgeon for the first time since the ACDF surgery that fused the C3, C4, C5 & C6 vertebrae of my cervical spine. It will be my one month post-op check up. Hopefully the Doc will be able to answer some questions. Like; Can I now lift more than 10 pounds? And; How soon can I do a sit up, a push up and a pull up? I have mastered all the down exercises like; Sit down, Lay down and Calm down. But frankly I am getting a little stir crazy and worried that too much inactivity could cause me to morph into Jabbaski the Polish Hut. Occasionally when I have been up and going too long I get really creeped out by a "crawling out of your skin" need to rip of the collar off and move the head and neck all around. That is when a down exercise or nap time is in order.
I'll check back later this afternoon with the latest info and his prognosis.

Thanks everyone for sticking by me through this journey.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Oct 19, 2011 - 09:47am PT
Well here I am at seven weeks post-op and going stir crazy in a big way. So my long term bud Chuck ( http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/984383/Chuck-Grossman-Master-of-Strings-and-Stacks ) Grossman comes up to Boulder to take Goldie and I on a walk. This will be my first 'real' hike since before my cervical fusion and I am pretty eager to see how things are working. To start with we walk thee road behind the Bastille in Eldo and down to the Rattlesnake Gulch trail head. No big deal but a nice warm up with stellar views of the incredibly colorful walls of Eldo. Our timing was great and we caught some prancers pulling through the crux 4th pitch of the Edge. Goldie certainly hadn't had enough and I was feeling spry so we convinced Chuck to continue.
Credit: philo
Credit: philo
Up the Rincon trail we went. Hiking trails with a cervical collar on is unusual to say the least. You can't see your feet so you have to navigate your way like a white water boatman, planning in advance where you will go before you get there. Honestly my hard as nails wall rat friend Chuck was like a nervous nanny with a newborn. He knows me well enough to know that I would not be easily dissuaded from my test task but he helicoptered around regularly suggesting that maybe that was far enough. Every time the trail got steep, loose or rocky he would ask if I was sure about continuing. The exercise was great, I was feeling fine but it was clear he thought I was pushing to hard to soon.
Credit: philo
Deciding that it really was enough to get to the start of the talus traverse I sat down feeling the same sense of accomplishment I had when I led my 1st 5.10 in the dark ages of last century.
Credit: philo
I know it sounds insignificant and silly but this was a serious victory for me. There is a sense of a future now. I am encouraged that there were no adverse physical effects the next day.
Credit: philo
Thanks Chuck for being there the whole way.



fattrad

Mountain climber
GOP Convention
  Oct 19, 2011 - 09:30am PT
Nice to see you out philo.




The evil one
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Oct 19, 2011 - 10:18am PT
Great news Phil!, you look like you're just about ready for another trip down SOB with your self medicated Euro buddy :-)
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Oct 19, 2011 - 10:29am PT
Thanx Moss, but if you are referring to this; http://www.supertopo.com/tr/The-Silver-Surfer-rides-again-Tales-from-the-land-of-diminishing-returns/t10759n.html (and I think you must be) then you will be pleased to know that even I am not bull headed, foolish or Polish enough to attempt that any time soon. Well at least not this year. But it is amazing to have so much debilitating pain eased and eliminated.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Oct 23, 2011 - 08:21am PT
I was feeling spry enough that I hinted to a few friends about a desire to climb the 3rd Flatiron. Initial responses were favorable. Then, in under a minute, three friends in a row reassessed the situation and stated they didn't want to be known as the person who crippled me. Wiser heads prevailed. Back to hiking. Thank you friends.


Even on a bad day I can't be looking down.
The cervical collar plays a small role there.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Nov 8, 2011 - 07:32am PT
Well... I was doing extremely well with healing and recovery.
Then two things happened.

Last week while driving on the turnpike I was changing lanes to move around a slower vehicle. All mirrors checked out so I hit the turn signal and started moving into the left lane. Out of No where an A-hole in an Audi whipped past me at 90 or 100 mph with of course a cell phone in hand. That caused be to jerk hard the other way sending an electric shock wave through my spinal cord from head to toe. I thought I was going to black out. I even had the classic tunneling vision. But in the heavy traffic I had to keep it together for almost 15 minutes before I could exit the hiway and pull to a very shaky stop. A few days past and I felt like I was OK. BUT THEN...

Yesterday I missed a step and fell down a 1/2 flight of stairs. After 20 minutes of fear and crying like a baby I got up feeling as Lucky as a Lotto winner and went to work. But then the adrenaline wore off and I started taking stock. I don't know what to think yet but so many pre-op pains and symptoms have retuned. The gnawing headache, the lower back pain and most disturbingly of all the Elvis leg has returned. I can only hope this is a temporary adrenaline fueled set back.

But honestly fear is my latest passenger.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Nov 9, 2011 - 09:54am PT
It is phenomenally difficult for a once hard man to be caged and so physically limited. I had hired two guys to do a roof heating system installation for me recently. Ooops it doesn't work and now I have to do it right for free. Most of what I do is very creative and detail oriented. Most folks do not get it. It would be akin to having someone draw Tamitoons for her because she broke your wrist. Good idea and great intentions but the outcome will never be what you would produce from your own uninjured hand. You can hire random laborors but finding an artisan is nearly impossible. I have been wracking my pea brain on ways to make ends meet under these circumstances. I had so hoped and expected that by now I would be flush and able to begin paying back the wonderful souls who stepped up to the plate in my recent dire need. That doesn't seem to be possible yet. So what to do. Tami, your inspiration of auctioning off your painting gives me an idea. I am fully aware that my art pales in comparison to what you create and as such has far less collectable value. But... I think I may see how the idea of auctioning off the originals of my 'toons and art floats. I don't do well not being able to carry my own weight. What do you think? Good idea or waste of time?
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Nov 9, 2011 - 04:59pm PT
How about posting some samples for us to see?
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Feb 12, 2012 - 08:31pm PT
Credit: philo
Under six months post op and I am leading ice again.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Feb 12, 2012 - 08:50pm PT
What do you think? Good idea or waste of time?

Sorry to have missed this first pass.

Sick that yer leading ice. You sure the quacksters din't remove yer brain ? :-)

Sell yer originals? I dunno. It's worth a try but you hafta put them up to folks who
a/ have money and
b/ want yer stuff

I find I've had best success for donating my stuff on behalf of others. Not so much selling work on behalf of my own "profit" :-)

How'bout seeing if you can get together a gallery space in BoCo, invite a passel of friends and foe, show the originals and have folks squander their ducats on your drawings AND on booze.
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
  Feb 12, 2012 - 09:08pm PT
My wife had c-6 and 7 fused, she had experiences much like yours.

You will heal solid if you let it, and you will get used to turning around and looking behind you by TURNING AROUND. She has.



But look guy, for hte life of me, I personally believe (without any evidence) that John B's death was partially an issue of the "dead arm strength" idea. that he began climbing again on stuff too soon, and I absolutely KNOW how that happens, I can't STAND not doing my things.

But if you WAIT for it, you WILL heal SOLID (as it were).

Guy, I got L-3 thru 5 fused, and I am a MONSTER when it comes to crashes. I can crash a ski, a bike or just screw up a climb and take a whipper. I SLAM down on occasion, and my back seems solid as all get out.

For almost ten years now.





But the iomportant thing to remember is, WAIT fot it. In five years you won't remember so much the misery of being grounded for a year or even two. DON'T ruin all the work you have put in, be PATIENT.

It IS HARD top be patient, and you never know when long enough really is, but TRY to be patient.




And a bike with a soft shock is a great training tool... You can ride smoother than you can walk, if you don't fall off...
A5scott

Trad climber
Chicago
  Feb 12, 2012 - 09:44pm PT
I feel your pain brother, and it's amazing to see you leading ice so quickly after surgery. How did you feel after? are your symptoms completely gone?

wishing you all the best

scott
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Mar 1, 2012 - 06:55am PT
Thank you all for your support and concern.
Knowing there were people like you out there really helped me make it through the darkest hours.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Mar 1, 2012 - 08:14am PT
Well, you've shown quite a bit of toughness.
I have a question about your present function.
Does this fusion mean that you will be bothered less by looking up
(belayer's neck), or will it be worse, or just impossible to do?
I suggested the belay glasses earlier, but I wonder if the point
might be moot.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Mar 1, 2012 - 08:33am PT

Thanks for asking ScruffyB. The great news is that belayer's neck is no longer an issue. It had gotten to the point that looking up would make me feel nausea and as if I was going to pass out. No problem there any more as I am no longer strangling and cutting into my spinal cord. I had already adapted to the loss of motion in that portion of my cervical spine so there is no issue with adjusting. Call me crazy but I am planning on a return to the Black Canyon climbing trip this year. That will be the real test. Peace, love and respect to all.
skyblue

Trad climber
malibu
  Mar 5, 2012 - 08:41am PT
Miss you Philo! :) I'm so happy you have come through this time...Spring is here! Bodhi says she misses "The Wonder Dog" very much.

Going to Cochise Stronghold to climb with Kevin for a couple of weeks...come join us! xo
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  May 16, 2012 - 09:24am PT
Oh Mama Mama 5.10b
Oh Mama Mama 5.10b
Credit: philo
Nine months ago I was one month out from cervical fusion and climbed the 5.10d v grove in the center of this picture. Now at eight months post-op and I am on the 5.10b off finger crack and heading up.
Work has picked back up and I may be in a position to start repaying my generous benefactors in the near future. Life is good. Particularly when compared to wearing dirt for a shirt.
Much Love and respect to my clan.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Aug 3, 2012 - 12:07pm PT
Next week I celebrate being one year post-op from a life saving spinal surgery. This picture from yesterday prooves two things. 1, that I have made a remarkable recovery, and 2 that I am still stupid.
Credit: philo






Credit: philo
couchmaster

climber
pdx
  Aug 3, 2012 - 06:47am PT
Good to see the progress is there. if there is any chance you can start being the phone and billing-office person who schedules the 20 year olds to climb up in the ceiling and do the real work, I'd be thinking of that. A gym membership will compensate and give you a workout that is less stressful and more productive.

Good luck!
FrankZappa

Trad climber
Hankster's crew
  Aug 3, 2012 - 07:14am PT
Phil, we are very happy for you. Glad to see you so happy!

But,

flip-flops + ladder = Bad idea
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Aug 3, 2012 - 10:36am PT
Hey Frank, that way I can use my toes to grab tools. Now if I only had a prehensile tail...
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Author's Reply  Aug 8, 2012 - 08:14pm PT
365 days post-0p as of today.
Seems like only yesterday that it was taking forever.

Cheers All.
jahil

Social climber
London, Paris, WV & CA
  Aug 14, 2012 - 02:37pm PT
Lets hear it for the prehensile tail
Let me know when you get yours, I'd like to sign up for one too !
:)

steve
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Aug 14, 2012 - 02:42pm PT
best of luck bud and keep lookin up. all one can do.
i very much appreciated the vibes you sent my way so heres a few comin back atcha.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Mar 14, 2013 - 10:32pm PT
Somehow I glossed over this one. Really sorry to have done so, I'm afraid I still had some lessons to learn. I'm learning them now, so thanks for being there for me Philo. You are truely one remarkable human being, and this place is obviously a lot more than I used to realize.

Mike Cowper
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