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Saturday, 27 March 2010

St Etienne Infirmary Blues

 Final ski trip of the year, Vanilla Ski, 13th March, curtailed after only one day following major fall.  Details follow.

Type; Medical
Subject: Thomski
Date 14/3/10
Location: St Foy, Tarentaise Alps (Fr) below Col de l’Aiguille at 2600m
Symptoms: Released binding on turn completion leading to loss of ski and control. 
Complications: High gradient, speed acquisition, fast slide, terminal drop off onto hard piste. 
First Response: Stabilised and immobilised by expert ski patrol medical team.  Evacuated by helicopter to Bourg St Maurice Hospital.
Diagnosis: via X-Ray, CT Scan: Several structural components insufficiently specified for required tolerance of this impact magnitude, leading to some breakages.
Plan: Re-locate to specialist centre, repair and make good. 
Actual: Operation date - 16/03/10: Surgeon - Dr B Dumas: Facility - Centre Hospital University St Etienne: Broken Vertebra repaired and pinned:  Broken ribs -  auto fix versions fitted, self repair in progress.
Prognosis: Ok to go 7 days post op - Returned to UK 23/03/10 (Medicar UK)
Note for editors:  Will need several months running in before previous levels of performance restored. Also recommend possible review of current envelope settings.
Bulletin ends


The crash:  The slope was steep but conditions good.  Andy M, Bob, and Rog and John  had skied  it earlier and said it was in good shape, so they set off again, and  this time  John, the other Bob and I followed. The first turn felt solid, but outside ski glided slyly away from my boot, fall inevitable from then on.  Location of incident shown below.

Controlled face-down slide sans skis of maybe 150 metres in length and 100m vertical maybe i.e. about 40 degrees (Google Earth estimates) terminated by drop off onto piste and hard impact.  Fast response by Andy M to alert piste medical support and evacuation via helicopter to Bourg St M hospital.  (Learn later that Roger had also caught an edge and fallen on a line to my right, but had escaped with heavy duty bruising).  Rog and John visit, tests done, phone home (the worst bit so far), helivacced out to CHU St Etienne  around 9pm Sunday 14th March.

The hospital stay:  The first 3-4 days were enveloped in a morphiatic haze. Operation morning Tuesday 16th.  One year to the day from the thumb op....  Roger and John visited on Wednesday which helped reconnect to reality -  by Thursday 18th March  I'd moved on from morphia - but not far.  Sleepless, endless, faithless nights.  Drifting days blitzed by regular high intensity nurse input.  What was needed was more throughput........
Mobilised (i.e manhandled) out of bed Wednesday, ambulated the following day with inspiration from Nurse Helene avec les mains douce.  Dr Carole G brought some much needed English into Thursday's ward round....  Infirmieres Emily and Natalie also inhabited my one room world.

Margaret's arrival on Friday 19th triggered instant uplift in recovery rate, augmented by nuclear option red gel bomber system purge treatment.  Room converted into Hotel Anglais, new food supply established via Margaret from local patisserie, and things begin to sort of normalise. The nights became tolerable, with a batch approach to sleeping beginning to succeed.

Excellent, confidence building contact on a daily basis with surgeon, Dr B Dumas.  "Ze first day will be 'orreeble, ze zecond day will be onlee a leetle betteur, zen layteur you will wondeur 'ow zoon you can go 'ome".

L1 Lumbar repaired and connected with L2 and T12 

"Climbing this year?...."    No said Dr Dumas.

"Are you sure?"   . "I said No!!
said Dr D

Will see what the good people at James Cooke Hospital say

Who let all these women in my room?  Emily (right) Helene 3rd from right, Carole 2nd from left, pictured the night before departure.  Must get the hang of the iPhone auto focus routine.

Thanks to them all, can't remember all names but Eric, Ranya, Emily, Natalie, Elise, Jeannine, Helene, Melanie(?) come to mind.  Dr Gromolard and another orderly (who advised me to swap skiing for playing cards) also.  Thanks to many friends who kept in touch by text and phone, including Vikki, Sue, Roger, Norm, John and Margaret.  Also thanks for the added Karma from all who got messages to me by proxy.

The journey home; went for the road option (Medicar) as flight planning sounded problematic and could have taken days to set up.  Mondial Insurance via Ski Club GB insurance did great - thanks esp to Frederico.

Back to Blighty by 6pm but final leg blighted by A1 closures and diversions, finally home at 01.30 am - Great to be back,  Nurse Thompson providing full wrap around care package at home and abroad!
So just need to start recovery programme and look forwards to normal service resuming in 2012.  Think the whole experience just about qualifies for an EPIC

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Eden Rock

Would you Adam and Eve it - finally warm enough to get outside for the first time in 2010

A glorious afternoon out in the Vale of Eden

Seven routes done - all repeats except Slosh Wall (S)

Norm shown here at the top of Saxon (S)

Setting up for some sheep rustling