An awkward tumble – Ouch! (TomO on the trampoline)

Urban Tramp
TomO – “The Urban Tramp”

With the balance of a cat, the carefree attitude of youth, and fitness beyond his years, TomO is quite an amazing trampolinist.

He got his first trampoline at age 2-years, and outgrew two of them before advancing to an Olympic size mat about two-years ago.

Initially, he undertook training at the local YMCA, but he has never wanted to compete, preferring to think of himself as  “TomO – The Urban Tramp”.

And in many ways the YMCA was all about winning the Olympics…

“It’s all about free-style these days, Mum and Dad…”

And I must say, I’m with him on this.

TomO and Milo
“The Boys” and Milo (The wonder dog)

He is a delight to watch and it takes me back to his age when I also did a lot of trampolining, and to all of you out there that want taut muscles and fantastic abs, do yourself a favour and buy a trampoline. I still get up and have a jump with him in the back yard!

We’ve had 10 years of injury-free trampolining…up until last evening!

We we’re having a get-together for family arriving for the Christmas break, and TomO always likes to put on a bit of a show and was “on the mat” doing his thing.

TomO on the mat
TomO on the mat

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Oddly enough, no one saw the awkward way he landed on the mat, but he came down to the house, holding an elbow and tears streaming down his little angelic face.

He wasn’t used to this happening, and the shock and pain were taking its toll on our little bloke!

TomO
TomO

 We secured his arm and headed straight for the hospital.  And thankfully on the way his spirits started to lift; he was asking whether he would still be able to use his iPad – yes a good sign that he was at least settling and recovering from the shock!

After numerous x-rays, and an examination by an emergency room doctor it would appear to be a soft-tissue injury, however they are going to take another look on Christmas Eve, just in case there is a small fracture that they couldn’t see due to the swelling, which wasn’t actually too bad.

Our biggest challenge lies ahead – keeping him off the trampoline to allow the injury to recover, as TomO isn’t one to dwell, he’s stoic just like his mother, two peas in a pod!

Janet and TomO
Janet and TomO

 And we wouldn’t have him any other way.

 Get better soon mate!

ps: You may notice two springs missing on this mat. This mat has been replaced…

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Crikey – check these guys out (Mother and Son dance)

Janet and TomO

Well it has been a day of rest just like the doctor has ordered which hasn’t been hard as I must say I still feel pretty lousy with this virus I have contracted.

 But one thing that has brightened my day has been seeing two wonderful people in my life, Janet, and TomO, off to the “Mother and Son” dance at Barker College, in Sydney’s northern suburbs, the school the little nipper goes to…

 What a lovely couple, hey?

Strewth – You’ve been where? (In Hospital)

Baz climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

It is often said that 24 hours can be a long time and I’m hearing that loud and clear at present and counting my lucky stars that I managed to do my climb up Sweet Dreams last Sunday without any problem. It might have been so different, but for 12 hours…

 I’ve only managed to be hospitalised three times over the years, and one I’m not really counting as I really shouldn’t have been there, but more on that later. However, there was no doubting this time around, hospital was the best place for me…

Sublime Point, Sweet Dreams – Not the place to get sick!

 The Blue Mountains is about a 90-minute drive from Sydney and after Sunday’s climb up Sweet Dreams I headed for home, ensuring to hydrate well as I drove as it had been quite a warm day out there on the cliff-face and I was beginning to feel quite fatigued…

It was an ominous sign that went unrecognised …

Sunday night I woke up feeling cold and I was starting to shiver despite it being a reasonably warm night, but I didn’t think much of it.

Janet rolled the other way mumbling something about me being hot.

I just said, “I know!” 

By Monday something had taken hold of me and was giving a real good kicking, so I rested in bed, sweating profusely.

Perhaps this is what Janet meant when she called me hot, I thought?

There was a rapid deterioration on Tuesday and our family doctor sent me straight to hospital where I was admitted for assessment and observation. It turns out I had contracted a form of pneumonia called, mycoplasma, the walking pneumonia”.

Well, at least that is how they are treating it…

After 24 hours on an intravenous drip and blood tests showing some improvement, especially in terms of hydration, they elected to send me home for some more rest…

Some rest?

 Crikey, I had to look that term up…

I thought you got to rest when the “big guy” upstairs blows the “full-time whistle” on you…

Anyway, I am well on the way to recovery thanks to the wonderful medical team at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Sydney’s northern suburbs.

And I’m back home now and in Janet and TomO’s tender care! The little fella was a bit upset at seeing his Dad all hooked-up to a machine last night, but he gave me a big long-hug and told me to get better soon!

Geez, he was brave, and he made me feel real proud!

And Janet, she winked at the nurses and said don’t worry I’ll make sure he rests, with that look that you never cross! So rest it will be…for a few days anyway!

And how is this for a co-incidence, as the wardman was taking me down for a chest x-ray, I said how lucky I was that it didn’t happen on a climb I was doing on the Sunday.

He said, “Yeah, that’s for sure”

“What were you climbing?” he asked,

“Sweet Dreams”…

Baz – Climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

Awesome was his response, he had climbed it just recently so we were able to share a discussion on the climb while I was getting x-rayed!

But, geez, just how lucky was I that my condition didn’t become acute 12 hours earlier while I was half-way up Sweet Dreams. It has been a good reminder to me that you must always consider your physical well-being at all times when undertaking something like mountaineering and climbing, or any activity that exposes you for that matter…

Not that I didn’t consider my well-being mind you, I felt fine, but it did highlight what might be lurking just around the corner, anywhere, anytime!

And on those other times in hospital?

Well, I did break my “bum” in 2008 in a mid-air incident whilst skydiving, which resulted in doctors’ needing to reattach my hamstring to my right butt and a spell in hospital! And what a great job they did, it just so happens that a local surgeon is world renown for this very type of surgery…

And the one in dispute?

Strewth, I was 5 years old and I feel that I fell victim to a misdiagnosis. Well that is the way I’m calling it.

I threw up mum’s cooking one night and she swore there were “toadstools” amongst the “throw-up”.

A lollipop?

 Stone the flamin’ crows, how would you know what was in that mess I made?

I swear to this day I never ate them on the way home from school, but worn down by the constant questioning I simply said; they just “popped in my mouth” – what else could I say?

It got me a 5-day hospital sleepover whilst under observation!

Crikey, I don’t remember eating them, and maybe that was just the point.

It’s no wonder the Noddy and Big- Ears television show took on a new dimension that afternoon on the tellie…

Anyway, as usual, if all else fails, just remain out of control and see what develops…

Ps: I’m all good!

A Death Trap in the Mountains (A tale of human frailty)

As a financial markets professional in the fast paced world of foreign exchange trading I must say one of the most enduring lessons I have learnt is an old adage that has served me well – “plan the trade and trade the plan.”

 Mind you, a career in financial markets was not always goal my and as a young school boy growing up in Townsville, Australia, I frequently looked out the school window to watch the military aircraft landing at Garbutt airbase.

Townsville is a military town and home to a large contingent of air-force and army personnel.

My heart was set on a career in the air force flying aeroplanes.

Of course, in reality, very few people get to achieve that dream. Mine was cut short when I discovered at the air force medical that I shared an impairment common in males, colour deficiency.

Over the years it has been graded as moderate to severe, seemingly dependent on what test was being given, and who was interpreting the result.

Naturally it was hard to accept that something totally outside of my control had cut short a potential military flying career. 

As the years passed, I decided that it was time to look back at my goal of flying aircraft and in 1994 I gained my Private Pilot’s licence and purchased an aircraft.

Being a methodical planner and risk manager, I relished the task of planning trips; although many didn’t come to pass because of my conservative approach.

In fact, many people both within the flying fraternity, and outside of it, congratulated me on this approach, but of course hidden within this seemingly good trait was a dangerous flaw.

 Eventually it bubbled to the surface, with almost tragic consequences.

Many years ago I planned a flight from Sydney to Melbourne to visit a family member who had just given birth to their first child.  The flight was planned under the Visual Flight Rules (VFR), which requires you to stay clear of cloud at all times.

The flight path was programmed in the aircraft’s global positioning system (GPS), and on auto-pilot this would guide the aircraft.

The weather was to be fine for the first stage of the flight, with some showers developing along the mountain ranges closer to Melbourne.

As I was approaching the half-way point of the flight I made the required radio calls for clearance through a particular control area.

The air traffic controller gave me the necessary clearance with a word of caution. There were showers on the western side of the ranges and I would most likely encounter these along my route.

Would I like to consider diverting around the weather as the skies were clear not too far to the west of my planned route?

I took the time to process this suggestion, after all the weather ahead still looked okay, despite what I was being told, and I would always have the option to backtrack, or divert should conditions become unacceptable for VFR flight.

Of course, what really was happening was a reversion to the “plan the trade, and trade the plan” lesson learned all those years ago.

I had planned this flight immaculately, it was in my GPS, it would be a hassle to change, and besides sticking with a well thought out plan had always served me well, I rationalised in my mind.

Perhaps that might have been a reasonable decision to make if experience was on my side, and if I had the capacity to not only realise when the flight along the planned route was no longer acceptable, and only if I was capable of acting immediately once realised.

I informed the controller I would be continuing as planned, to which he put the question one more time – would I like to divert to where the weather was fine.

He’d now asked twice, he was covered in the event this all went wrong!

The cloud base was lowering as I got closer to Melbourne and I had to continually descend to the aircraft, dangerously low, to remain clear of cloud.

In an instant the weather deteriorated significantly and not surprisingly in the most mountainous region of the flight.

I was now confronted with the possibility of doing a precautionary landing, which was not without its risks, and I was looking fervently out the window for a place to do this. There wasn’t one, I was in the mountains!

In any case, I don’t believe I was fully committed to this action.

The second flaw was now kicking in, a failure to act.

Seemingly I was delaying any action in the hope luck would be on my side.

I could almost touch the tops of the mountains; I was only moments from a disaster, from being a statistic.

I contacted the air traffic controller handling arrivals into Melbourne, and was given clearance to track towards the airport.  The weather had improved slightly and as I tracked west it cleared into a fine day, highlighting that had I amended the flight as suggested earlier it would have been much safer and certainly less stressful.

I have frequently looked back at this flight as a defining moment on many levels.

It encouraged me to go on and obtain an instrument rating to enable flight in cloud, providing a higher level of safety in these situations.

But importantly, it demonstrated to me that I was very inflexible once I had planned something.

It may have saved me and my employer a lot of money over the years, a product of “planning the trade, and trading the plan”, but this inflexibility has no place in an aircraft cockpit, and of course it almost cost me my life on this particular day.

An invaluable lesson was learned, one that I’ve thought about each and every day since…

The flaw is still there as it is a personality trait; I just need to keep it in check…

And as I head to the mountains it is forefront of mind and as part of my mountaineering training I am focussing heavily on my “human frailty”.

What traits do you have that work in some situations, but could have dire consequences in others?

Footnote: I have logged in excess of 1,000 hours as a pilot…and jumped out of them frequently! The aircraft pictured and the cockpit shot is of the aircraft we purchased. 

Crikey – Wire me up and check if I have a heart (beat)

Recently I wrote about Acute Mountain Sickness and the effects it can have on the body as you gain altitude when climbing. As we all know the human body was never designed to function at extremely high altitudes and supplemental oxygen is usually required.

And although Mt Everest and other 8,000 metre peaks have been climbed many times without the assistance of supplemental oxygen, the occurrence is rare.

I am taking a number of steps to help prepare for the climbing I am doing over the coming year. I’m training intensely to ensure I am in a peak physical condition, eating a well-balanced diet, and another consideration is to ensure that I do not have any medical conditions that might create issues for myself or others.

Monitoring the latter is an important process.

Grey's Peak New Zealand
Grey’s Peak, New Zealand

I routinely see a Specialist Sports Doctor for ailments and issues associated with exercising. I just saw him a week ago to discuss my high altitude climbing and to obtain a referral to a cardiologist so I can undergo a full coronary check-up, which is something we discussed a few months back.

I don’t expect the tests to reveal anything adverse as all indications are I am in good shape and have no family history of coronary disease. Mind you, if they do produce a negative result at least I can deal with it now!

Friday this week is my appointment day.

Well, as it would turn out I have been suffering a low level cold for the past couple of weeks, you know the type, nothing too serious to cause concern, just enough to be irritating. Janet, my partner has been suffering a full-blown cold for the past few days, although she is recovering now, and TomO, our son has also had one.

On Tuesday this week I woke up feeling a little tight in the chest, wheezing, runny nose, and feeling a little short of breathe. I’m making it sound worse than it was, but I’m a mere male and you know what we are like when it comes to being sick!

And with some rock climbing coming up this weekend in the Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, I wanted to ensure I nipped this in the bud before it got any worse. Later in the day I visited my local General Medical Practitioner in the hope he had some instant cure…

mountaineering
Rock-climbing, Blue Mountains

Crikey, didn’t I open a can of worms!

After describing my symptoms he immediately sent me for an ECG, chest x-ray, and a plethora of other tests, including cholesterol, blood sugar, prostate (phew, at least I got the pathological test) and a couple of others for good measure.

I did suggest that I would be having most of these tests this Friday, but he wouldn’t be swayed. Just as well as I didn’t hear any sirens at the time otherwise I would have been in a mild big panic thinking it was an ambulance coming to collect me!

And don’t get me wrong, better to be safe than sorry, after all he has my health at forefront of mind for sure.

So there I was, lying on the bed, I had more wires on me than you could poke a stick at, and everyone asking did I have any chest pains.

It was just a common cold surely and I just wanted something to make me feel better!

As an aside, when I arrived at the reception of the pathology company the nurse reviewed my requirements, but asked would I mind waiting while she finished ordering her stores for the week. I wasn’t sure whether she meant her groceries or something for the medical practice.

Either way I didn’t mind, it was just a common cold after all I reassured myself. Geez, my heart was starting to beat a little faster by now…

About 10 minutes later when we entered the ECG room she immediately asked whether I had any chest pains.

I just chuckled to myself and said,  “no”. Really I was glad she got her stores done!

Must be an insurance thingy, maybe the waiting room is still on my watch, not theirs? Cark it in the waiting room, well bad luck, but just don’t do it in the consultation room, that’s far too much paper work…

I’m pleased to say all the tests were normal and I still have my specialist appointment tomorrow which will include a stress-test. In fact, for the most part, the results are above average for my age…

But as I was having my ECG I got to thinking that many of us exercise for fitness, health, and general well-being and we assume that it goes a long way towards that goal.

I’m sure it does.

Rowing in the Shed
Baz on the C2 Rower

But equally, there is most likely a point where you can push the body too far, a point at which the exercise undertaken may become detrimental to your health…

I can’t imagine changing anything I do, despite that possibility as I enjoy pushing to the limits, but it is always something to be mindful of!

So how much is too much, what do you reckon?