I am very sorry to announce that on Sunday January 18th 2009, while cleaning up the moss on the roof of my house in Seattle (in order to comply with my house insurance agent requests) and while taking the regrettable risk of working without a safety harness, I made one quick wrong move, and fell 15 vertical feet.
As a result, I landed hard on my posterior on a slab of concrete.
I spent thereafter a tense week in the trauma dept at the Harborview hospital in Seattle, where my split L1 vertebrae and relate joint were successfully fused with my T12 and L2 vertebras with the help of 6 titanium screws and wire, therefore avoiding potential paralysis.
While in the hospital, I especially did not care to have for three days non-stop a flexible tube going through my nose and into my stomach keeping my digestive tract empty and therefore helping it to restart faster. Surgeons believe that the practice reduces the likelihood of vomiting and related aspiration pneumonia.
Now, I am out of the hospital and in convalescence.
Indeed, I am definitely "grounded", having to spend the next 3 month wearing a “turtle shell” which reminds me a bit of the short story “the metamorphosis” by Kafka.
It does indeed feel like I just woke up from a bad dream stuck inside some funky animal shell…
However, I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be here today, safe and able to write.
I definitely regain a better appreciation for life over the last week in the hospital and especially after having spent part of my last day there trying to learn to walk again down the hallway of the trauma dept hall...
I will specifically remember the sign written by a nurse on another patient's room which read "I have been hit by a drunk driver, please be kind to me”…
Now, looking ahead, this accident is obviously impacting my immediate future plans and even potentially more distant future plans.
I was originally due to travel in Pakse, Laos in the next few weeks to support logistically the Aloha Medical Mission medical team providing help to Burmese IDPs (internally displaced persons) minorities.
After having being involved over the last year locally in Seattle with the support of relocated Burmese refugees, where I taught basic computer classes and helped move donated furniture for newly arrived refugees, I was very excited about having being invited to participate in this project as well as two other ones in the South East Asian region in the consequential weeks and prior to returning to Russia.
While going through Alaska and Far Eastern Russia, I have often received a tremendous amount of help from the local population and this is in part what is driving the most to want to return the favor and help other populations in the most efficient way I can.
However, taking into consideration my current medical condition (an open wound, a turtle shell and not being allowed to carry more than 10 lbs for the next few months...), I have decided that the smartest thing for me to do at this stage was to focus on healing my body, therefore potentially allowing full recovery.
This should allow me, I hope, to actively participate in similar medical missions in the future.
Finally, I now need to wait to regain strength in my back before I can ever consider being able to pull again a 250+ pounds sled in the Russian tundra.
Therefore, after having talked with the surgeons, I cannot foresee that I will be able to return to Vayegi in Chukotka and continue the latest trek/ski section until late March 2010!
In the meantime, I plan to post over the next few months numerous pictures, videos and diaries which will reflect the progress made over the last few years by Nexus expedition between Anchorage, Alaska and Vayegi, Chukotka.
Flying mossman signing out...