Posted 2009.05.29 21.54 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Not long ago, I was pondering the correlation between aches and pains, and weather. While I don’t have any further data or revalations to add to that post, I figured I’d explain a bit more about why my back hurts like hell at times… You see, back when I was 18, my friend called me up and asked “Hang Gliding or Parachuting?”

It didn’t take too long to figure that one out. Hang gliding is insane crazy dangerous, where you risk your life hanging from a bunch of aluminum tubes and nylon. Whereas with parachuting, your life hangs from nylon and rope. When you crash with a hang glider, you risk impaling yourself on aluminum tubes. When you crash with a parachute, there’s nothing to impale yourself on (other than stuff on the ground.) And finally, if you go parachuting, at least you have a parachute!

So we went to the Parachute School of Toronto – conveniently located some 100+ miles away from Toronto. There, we spent about 6 hours in class.  Half of it learning theory, the other half jumping out of wood mockup planes, off of wood mockup platforms, and hanging from mockup parachutes. Learning how to jump, how to land, and what to do if your ‘chute opens into a blob of knots and laundry. At the end of the day though… we were strapped into a surplus army parachute, flown up to 3000 feet above ground in a plane that was held together with duct-tape and prayers, and instructed to jump out a big hole in the plane’s wall.


Jump!The adrenaline rush lasted three whole days. Nothing can compare to the sensation of falling for 3 or 4 seconds before the chute opens… in 3 or 4 seconds you can fall almost 300 feet – the height of a 30 story building. Then the chute opens and you are hanging there, in silence. Look down and see your boots, and then a half mile of air. It is simply incredible.

So, we both survived our first jump. We signed on for a year’s membership, and were up there at the drop zone almost every weekend. (We rarely actually jumped, but it’s a heck of a great place to party in the evenings!)

We did jump more of course, when the weather was just right and all. Maybe once every other month. It was still a blast, a huge thrill that you have to experience – I mean literally, I think everyone should jump at least once in their lives.

Finally, after some time, I had my 5th jump. It never got routine, every time was a blast. However, this fifth time, I had a bad landing. Did something to my back, hurt like hell. I tried to walk it off, ignore it, etc. but it continued to hurt like hell for the next few weeks. Finally I went to see a chiropractor. He checked me out and did a few X-rays. Appearantly, and much to my surprise, I had broken my back. Specifically, a compression fracture of one of my lower vertebrae. Aside from the pain, it wasn’t actually crippling or anything. Regular visits with the chiropractor helped and after a few years it felt ok. And we moved so I stopped seeing him, and eventually forgot all about it.

Fast-wind till last July, when I was suddenly stricken with crippling pains in my lower back. After a month, I finally went to see my doctor. She had more X-rays done, and when the results came back, they told me I had arthritis in my spine.  Spinal arthritis?  I’d never even heard of this crap. And I’m not even 40 yet, I’m too young for arthritis! How the hell could I have spinal arthritis? Eventually I remembered the parachuting, and that last jump. 

Who’d have ever thought that a broken back could have repercussions?!

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