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  #1  
Old 12-18-2015, 07:55 AM
Ed_Wischmeyer's Avatar
Ed_Wischmeyer Ed_Wischmeyer is offline
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,573
Default Surgery and Full RV Proficiency

The good news is that I'm getting my third (and hopefully last!) back surgery on Monday, but the challenge is maintaining the high level of proficiency required to make RV flying rewarding.

The brief history:
* Three years ago, laminectomy with bilateral foraminotomy. The challenge after that surgery was regaining G tolerance. I don't think that I ever got it back more than about 3 Gs, pretty low.
* A year ago was the mother of all surgeries, spinal fusion from L1 - L5, with full recovery taking a year. I started flying after six months (with a CFI buddy, a really good call, even in my docile old Cessna), and when the Cessna sold, bought an RV-9A and added a second G3X touch screen. What with weather, flu, and other interruptions, I'm barely up to comfortable proficiency with the G3X and have not flown the RV-8 nearly enough. My last flight in the RV-8 was within my acceptable limits but I was working too hard;
* Monday, I'll get extreme lateral interbody fusion L1 - L2 because, as sometimes happens, the last surgery didn't heal completely. No riding in cars for two weeks, no driving for six, but full recovery after 12 weeks;
* I'm now 66 and have been physically fit my entire life.

So here's what I've found with all these interruptions to my flying:
* Because I've got 3,000+ hours, basic flying skills are restored with an hour of flight time;
* Situational awareness is much slower to come back, and it's too easy to get fixated on something, especially with new glass. I think this has taken months and is not yet where I think it used to be;
* I've also noticed lessened ability to handle mild irregularities, like a bounced landing or too many distracting airspace alerts from the G3X;
* On the first flight after the big surgery, my body had trouble handling a mild unusual attitude. I think that this was a basic physiology issue as the recovery from that surgery had not progressed far enough;
* Physical problems can include getting in and out, reaching things on the floor of the RV-9A baggage compartment, how long you can sit in the plane, and how much your back hurts when you get out;
* After the last surgery, which has not healed completely, I can start to feel pressure in my spine at about 1.8 Gs. That's lots less than I want...

What I think I've learned:
* Don't lower your standards just because you've been off for a while;
* Don't be in a hurry to come back too soon;
* Stack the deck in your favor by flying with a CFI, choosing low wind days, short flights, etc.
* There's little if any guidance on when to come back after surgery or major illness. The rule that I used was that I would fly only after I was completely comfortable driving.

Frankly, I'm glad that I can get my back fixed the rest of the way and that I've got a great church and support network. I'm looking forward to returning to the air and re-achieving a high skill level in a body that can pull at least a few Gs.

Merry Christmas to all!

Ed
__________________
RV-9A at KSAV (Savannah, GA; dual G3X Touch with autopilot, GTN650, GTX330ES, GDL52 ADSB-In)
Previously RV-4, RV-8, RV-8A, AirCam, Cessna 175
ATP CFII PhD, so I have no excuses when I screw up
Vaccines kept me out of the hospital but COVID still cost me a month of living, all told...
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  #2  
Old 12-18-2015, 12:28 PM
Paragon Paragon is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 79
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Ed,

Ouch, that whole description sounds painful. I've had some unpleasant back problems due to bulging disks, but thankfully it usually clears up after a few days. Would not want to deal with than on an ongoing basis.

Good luck on your recovery.


Best Regards,

-Paragon
Cincinnati, OH
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  #3  
Old 12-18-2015, 01:32 PM
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aeroaddict aeroaddict is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: KEUL
Posts: 223
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Ed,
Merry Christmas and the best to you on your last and final surgery! If you are like me, it can be difficult to slow down and just sit on your b_tt. Try to slow down and focus on the healing, not the activities you will be missing.

Please keep us updated on your progress.

Cheers,
Dan
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RV-7 Slow Build - Sold

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  #4  
Old 12-18-2015, 03:08 PM
David Paule David Paule is online now
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
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Thanks for being specific about the effects of a flying interruption. These are helpful, very much so.

And I hope that the next surgery goes well and that you heal quickly.

Dave
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  #5  
Old 12-18-2015, 03:32 PM
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Brantel Brantel is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Newport, TN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_Wischmeyer View Post
* There's little if any guidance on when to come back after surgery or major illness. The rule that I used was that I would fly only after I was completely comfortable driving.
Ed
Ed,

Did you receive a SI medical due to your last surgery? If so, read it carefully as most of the time there is a statement on there requiring you to report any changes in your situation before acting as PIC.

If not here is some info I found:

http://pilot-protection-services.aop...-Certification

snip
"Those of you who have suffered a ruptured disc in the spine know how painful it can be. You should not fly during the acute phase. You probably would not want to nor even could fly when you are having the typical symptoms. Once the pain has resolved and you are no longer taking any pain medications, you will be able to resume your flying. Surgery to remove the protruded disc or “fuse” the spine is acceptable but you need to ground yourselves until the physician releases you to return to work and are no longer in pain and can move about normally. "
snip
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Last edited by Brantel : 12-18-2015 at 03:39 PM.
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  #6  
Old 12-18-2015, 09:12 PM
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Ed_Wischmeyer Ed_Wischmeyer is offline
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,573
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Did not get an SI medical. Instead, I renewed my medical right before surgery and it's good for another ten months. I've done this in the past -- it's easier to report that you're fully recovered than to try to renew a physical while you're infirm.

And when I restarted my flying, it was months after needing any funny prescription meds.
__________________
RV-9A at KSAV (Savannah, GA; dual G3X Touch with autopilot, GTN650, GTX330ES, GDL52 ADSB-In)
Previously RV-4, RV-8, RV-8A, AirCam, Cessna 175
ATP CFII PhD, so I have no excuses when I screw up
Vaccines kept me out of the hospital but COVID still cost me a month of living, all told...

Last edited by Ed_Wischmeyer : 12-18-2015 at 09:22 PM.
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  #7  
Old 12-19-2015, 07:11 AM
StuBob StuBob is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Posts: 258
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_Wischmeyer View Post
Did not get an SI medical. Instead, I renewed my medical right before surgery and it's good for another ten months. I've done this in the past -- it's easier to report that you're fully recovered than to try to renew a physical while you're infirm.

And when I restarted my flying, it was months after needing any funny prescription meds.
This is a wise approach, and proof that self-certification can work. We self-certify every time we fly.
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RV8
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  #8  
Old 12-22-2015, 03:38 AM
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Ed_Wischmeyer Ed_Wischmeyer is offline
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,573
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Was surprised and disappointed when they said they'd keep me overnight but boy was that a good call on their part!! Was hurting immediately post op. And I'm getting IV antibiotics.

As advertised, this surgery was lots less invasive than the last one - I was able to eat dinner the day of surgery. Letting the bone graft heal won't be any faster, though.

Will go home today to a very clean house.

Thanks to all for prayers and support!

Ed
__________________
RV-9A at KSAV (Savannah, GA; dual G3X Touch with autopilot, GTN650, GTX330ES, GDL52 ADSB-In)
Previously RV-4, RV-8, RV-8A, AirCam, Cessna 175
ATP CFII PhD, so I have no excuses when I screw up
Vaccines kept me out of the hospital but COVID still cost me a month of living, all told...
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