View Full Version : Thoughts on fear.....(wing suit)

02-15-2014, 11:39 AM
I found this wing suit video after the recent base jump death in Zion last week and have noticed similarities in fear.

When they jump off for the first few seconds, the free fall is the scariest part above the cliffs just before their wings get filled with air. As the flight levels out, fear levels reduce as the feeling has become adjusted to. Its similar to our fears in surgical decision, where many would say, no way am I jumping off a cliff, but then some of us have to....

The flight proceeds with a level of fear, then after all that excitement, they land so so smoothly.....

Ohhh, I want to do this..... More fear based decisions to conquer...I know, base jumping probably isnít recommended for fusion to the pelvis. (smiley face)

Enjoy this fantastic video! BTW, this is Switzerland.



02-15-2014, 12:01 PM
I think you are right about fear, Ed. Once you take the plunge, fear is irrelevant. No matter what it is that we are doing. I was terrified of having my shoulder surgery, more so at one point than I would be for scoliosis surgery. I heard horror stories from everyone that has had shoulder surgery. The doctor told me that it would take at least a full year to recover. Once I made the decision to do it, I was as calm as could be. It actually turned out to be the easiest surgery that I've had. I'm five months out and fully recovered. I was, for the most part, fully recovered at three months out. Everyone was astonished, especially the doctor!

That was some really beautiful footage. They looked like flying squirrels! But, they came a little too close to those rock faces for my comfort. One gust of wind slamming them into the side of the bluff and it would be all over. Sometimes I think people take thrill seeking and the desire to fly a little too far. But, it's not me out there. I'm sure it was an adrenaline rush like no other. Just think of how many miles/kilometers they covered in flight!!! WOW

02-15-2014, 01:35 PM
My shoulder surgery rated a 1. I also took only one Celebrex tablet for that recovery! That was an easy one...

My scoliosis surgeries were a different story however, my fear really was an issue, now thatís all in the past. The mental roadblock had to be knocked down.....I also had the same anxiety while ski jumping years ago....and would have a certain level of fear even after 100,000 jumps.

Fear in the mind creates a useless harmful anxiety. Its this anxiety that keep us from following through with our dreams.

ďAvoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothingĒ Helen Keller

Here is another video....


02-16-2014, 09:59 AM
Ed...really...avoiding a danger...????
how about protecting the surgery that was so hard and
quite the heavy duty recovery...???

please...think about what you went thru before you
go jumping off cliffs...

honestly...NO ONE thinks fear limits you...
good judgement and good sense, on the other hand,
should make you pause and wonder about what you want
to risk...

Sparky jumped out of a grocery cart once...scared me half to
death....thank goodness he wasn't hurt...

i know you have more sense than a baby puppy...

jess...and Sparky

02-16-2014, 11:40 AM

That was a Helen Keller quote...(A story of determination and conquering fear)

You can relate the thrill of base jumping or wing suiting to making that decision to have surgery. There is no reward unless you conquer your fear. Surgery is a gamble, base jumping the ultimate gamble.

Base jumping and wing suiting is extremely dangerous and a life or death gamble. I used it since itís the ultimate in decision making. Many of the deaths happen due to parachute malfunction which results in death. But then they wouldnít have the EXTREME reward as shown in the videos I posted. To fly like a bird has been dreamed about since the beginning of man....Who hasnít dreamed about this?

Every surgical candidate had or has to weigh the odds of their surgeries and control their fear. Every postie here can relate.....We jumped off that decisive cliff....Yes, it was a gamble we had to take and many or most will say it was worth it.

I have jumped off cliffs on skis for many years now and know about fear....I also know about the odds involved for the reward. Chances are that my wing suit dream will never happen.....I really wanted to scare the birds (smiley face)

This thread really isnít about me conquering my fears.....its about making decisions and the results of those decisions. Reward and fear.

We want to fly and we want straight pain free spines. These dreams and goals will never be met unless we conquer our fears and weigh the odds. The videos are reminders of this.

BTW, Helen Keller introduced Akitaís to the United States....


02-16-2014, 02:58 PM
Yes, Ed, I understood what you meant about fear. I really do have to disagree with Helen Keller, though. We have fear to keep us safe from harm. Some fears are for our good. Other fears, however, can become unreasonable to the point that they turn into a mental illness. I think those fears are what Helen was talking about. Wing jumping, while awesome to watch, is a really STUPID sport.

Really, your shoulder surgery was a 1? Mine was a piece of cake. The first night hurt, but after that it didn't hurt as bad as before the surgery. They only increase my oxy by two pills/day. My "soft tissue" surgeries were MUCH worse than the shoulder! So I DO have legitimate fear should scoli surgery be lurking around the bend.... Oh, my!!

That last video was super scary. Those guys couldn't have been more than six feet off the ground! It's just stupid to cut it that close, if you ask me. One iota of a second of loss of concentration or strength... BAM! I can only imagine the physical strength and mental acuteness it takes to "fly" for that long...

02-16-2014, 04:06 PM
Helen Keller and her idea of fear hits dead on when trying to decide weather or not surgery is worth it. I was terrified when I did my first surgery because I had the fear that it wouldn't work since it was not created for a double major curve, but just like jumping off a cliff I had the excitement that it just might be an alternative and do not regret the decision to try it even though I had to have it revised. Fear holds us back, not keeps us safe because fear keeps one from thinking objectively and giving into it allows (in our case) the scoliosis to win over an take control of every aspect I our lives. I refused to let my condition control me. However, surgery is not the option for everyone but the fear of the I know shouldn't dictate our outcome.

Ed, your words an analogies are always so eloquently put and I enjoy seeing and reading how you are going to put things into a new perspective for yet another person to understand things in a new and adventurous way. You also give me hope that my dream of diving can still come true.


02-16-2014, 05:56 PM
I loved that bit of footage, in fact, I dreamed about it last night. But as Rohrer said above, there were a few too close for comfort near-misses of that rock wall! For me, the fear of surgery initially, was paralyzing. Thank goodness my GP was able to help and my super-fit partner got me into exercise and my fear was completely turned around in a reasonably short time from, "I can't do this," to "Let's get this show on the road!" There were so many people in my life who helped my mindset become positive, I will never forget them, or the part they played in my surgery.

02-17-2014, 04:48 AM
I was seeing Dr. Hu for scoliosis and surgery evaluation the same time the Irina was. In fact, I looked on the UCSF website for a second opinion and when I saw Dr. Hu's name, I called for an appointment with her since Irina recommended her (as well as Linda), Plus i checked her out every place that i could. Irina said that she could relax about surgery and have confidence in her surgeon as soon as she made the appointment for surgery.

So, I thought, cool I will just make an appointment in a week or so for surgery after Irina and as soon as I schedule surgery, I will relax and have confidence in Dr. Hu. So, I made my appointment and waited to be relaxed and confident.....and I waited........and I waited. I was still nervous about having spine surgery, fearful that all of the events that occurred to the people on the "I am sorry that I had surgery" would happen to me. Not just one bad outcome, but ALL of them! I figured out that i wouldn't die in surgery as i was too mean for that! I copied Dr.Hu's picture off the Internet, pasted it on the back of my cell phone above the word, TRUST. I looked at her picture over a dozen times everyday and repeated the word, "trust" to myself. To my amazement, at exactly 2 weeks before surgery, I totally relaxed, had no fear of surgery, and had complete trust in Dr. Hu. (And no, I was not using/smoking any weed!)

Honestly, if Irina's surgery went poorly, that probably would have been a major setback for me. But Irina looked pretty good when I visited her in the hospital, so that increased my confidence (little did I know the problem that she would have!)

I asked for no sedation prior to going to the OR and even asked if I could walk to the OR. The reason that I wanted to walk was because it represented to me that I was voluntarily having the surgery and I knew that my R butt would hurt with every step, reinforcing that surgery was a very good idea. The reaction to my request was, "you really want to walk to the OR?" And "nobody has ever made that request". And then, "no, our insurance won't cover it". So, I went into the OR on a stretcher and enjoyed checking out all of the equipment until they needed to start.

Why did I suddenly lose my fear? I don't know, but fortunately it came just in time. I decided that I could not continue to live an active life with the pain that I had. Since I had degenerative scoliosis, I also figured that I wouldn't get better with time, but worse and I was already 66. I had exhausted the conservative treatments. And, since I was going to have the surgery, it would probably go better if I had a good attitude. Time for a major attitude adjustment!


02-17-2014, 12:27 PM
I wonder how they train for wing jumping? You can't just JUMP and say do or die, can you? Do they practice in wind tunnels? Hmmm... It would be really cool to do that IF you knew you wouldn't get hurt. I've never even heard of this sport until you posted it. It's the closest thing to human flying I've ever seen. I've always thought that hang gliding was the closest thing. But, these guys really do look like flying squirrels. I'll bet they got the idea from watching those little critters!

02-18-2014, 02:13 AM
i feel really badly for those who risked and lost the battle..
the ones not on here anymore...the ones who did not have
good outcomes...or need more than one revision..
or for whom revision didn't fix it enough...
the ones who risked or gambled and are not happy they did..

yes, i get the Helen Keller thing...
she was one gutsy lady...
but i do agree that fear protects us as well...i agree with rohr...
healthy fear...respectful fear...like fearing the power of
a beautiful tiger...there was one i got to talk to and know
personally...closer than i can say...
awesome beauty...but i never underestimated his power...
and his instincts...his wild instincts....
his care taker taught me that...i never forgot it, much as i loved him.

and i watched animal planet Dogs 101 about Akitas...
beautiful powerful dogs...important to train them well...


02-18-2014, 11:17 AM
I hope that the fatalities for wing jumping are higher than those for scoliosis surgery. I'm not saying that I wish any wing jumper to die! I just mean that wing jumping is a gamble on one's life just for an adrenaline rush and the desire to fly. Scoliosis surgery is done to improve health and even to save lives! No one going into this surgery should be taking an unnecessary gamble on their life, such as the wing jumpers are. If the fatalities for surgery are higher than that for wing jumping, then maybe we should all suit up!

Yes, Jess, Helen Keller was an outstanding woman! I think her fears were many and paralyzing, for obvious reasons. A fear she might have may seem unreasonable to us, but would be totally legitimate for her. She had a lot to overcome... and she did! We have a lot to overcome whether we have surgery or not. We are forced to deal with fearful situations whether we want to or not. Choosing surgery or not isn't always an option, as in my case. Helen Keller HAD a choice. She could live in dark silence hidden away from society, OR she could learn to overcome her fears of the unknown. She chose the latter. I suppose those that have surgery also choose the latter. But, on the other hand, NOT having surgery can also push us into the world of the unknown and scary. But, for those who have surgery as an option, the Helen Keller analogy does fit quite well.

02-18-2014, 10:05 PM
My story is exactly like Susanís where the pain levels were out of control. My fears kept me in pain for many years......it got to the point where I had no choice it was that bad.....If fear wasnít a barrier, it would have saved a lot of pain over the years...Susan, you did the right thing by posting all your questions here and preparing.

I guess its obvious that the younger you are, the more critical the decision is. Even though young people generally do quite well as far as their outcomes, its just hard to stomach any remote possibility that something could go wrong. Fear has different levels and intensities depending on the situation and how its perceived.

These wing suit jumpers start out with a skydiving class and jump out of an airplane. They become adept at parachuting and then move on to base jumping.....Base jumping is cheaper since there are no plane rides to pay for. Base jumpers move on to the wing suit for some control. From what I have read, base jumping is the most dangerous.

People that enjoy doing these things will not quit. I broke my shoulder but I have not quit skiing. I have come very close to death many many times on skis. Its all about controlling your fear and your perceptions....controlling your stimulus. For those that want to do anything and have people doubting or infusing negativity, this makes it harder. I have relatives that always seem to point out whenever any skiers die....Lovely! I am always the first to know. Iím so used to it now that it doesnít even register at ALL anymore. And you guessed right, they donít ski. Skiers die all the time, all over the world. How many scoliosis patients are dying?

Here is todays skier death, want yesterdays? (Donít bother looking)

Its like having all my inner circle telling me (on a daily basis) that scoliosis surgery was going to kill me

Its insane. Its THEIR fears that transfer over that only make things worse! It just proves that being positive about things is the only way to get anything accomplished.

BTW, thx for everyoneís posts here. I am hoping that someone will think about some of the thoughts here and make informed educated decisions.


02-19-2014, 11:57 AM
I guess I'm the opposite. My pain keeps me in fear, not the other way around. There's no solution for me. If I had surgery, it wouldn't fix the other problems that are causing the pain. It might fix some of the pain, but then it could make it worse in my case simply because of the condition of my muscles.

An interesting thought just popped into my head that I'd never even considered. I've always been thin, active and fit. Not the athletic type but a massive hike in and out of the Grand Canyon on my honeymoon with ex on the Kaibab trail is no small feat! I experienced what it was like to have 100% muscle fatigue where I could not force my muscles to move no matter how hard I tried (this was about halfway back UP the trail). So, yes, I had to be pretty fit to accomplish what I did. When I had a c-section with my third child, the doctor said he had trouble closing the incision because the muscle would just fall apart every time he put a suture in, so I had to be sutured with only half the normal amount (probably explains my messed up lower abs!). I did't know about the muscle disease at that time. My father hadn't even really put together that something was "wrong" with him even though he was symptomatic, always had been since I've known him. Looking back, I now even remember seeing that he had torticollis, too! In his 60's his head was bent over to the left and slightly tilted downward. More evidence of heredity.

It might all seem unrelated to thinking about having a surgery for scoliosis. But, if my muscles tore that easily in my "prime", what would they do now? With the cervical dystonia (torticollis) I can only imagine if one of those affected muscles were cut... It would probably contract into a tight ball the NO ONE would be able to pull out. Because of the location of my scoliosis, THOSE MUSCLES WOULD BE CUT. How ever could anyone put this humpty dumpty back together again? Fear of this surgery just grew by leaps and bounds. My muscles may either tear or coil. Neither is a good situation. Would it be worth it to me to risk that for very little return as far as pain control? Absolutely not. Now the condition of my heart is another story. Would I risk it to save my heart? Absolutely!

So fear can also be driven by the perceived benefits one may or may not gain. Heading into scoliosis surgery, no one has ANY guarantee that it will help. For those of us that have been told (and I have) that we will never get better, but only worse. Is risking your life on a surgery worth it? Or are we satisfied that we can endure extreme pain for the rest of our lives?

Since at this point the surgery for me is not an option, I choose to take medication that helps me endure. Am I ever pain free? NO. Will these drugs decrease my life expectancy? Yes. I suppose I could let fear of dying young from the medication prevent me from taking them. But, then, what quality of life would I have being bedridden and screaming in agony for decades? Yes, it would be that bad. It is that bad sometimes WITH the meds. My fear of pain drives me to take a chance with my life on meds. The same could be said with those who opt for surgery.

Your welcome, Ed. It was more food for thought than I'd imagined it would be. =)