Reflections from life with external fixators and two broken ankles

April 21, 2013 Uncategorized 8 Comments

x ray

It seems like an eternity has gone by in the blink of an eye. This has been the most challenging journey of my life and I have barely left my bed. Countless sleepless nights have been spent staring at my wall and massaging my feet, wondering why this happened to me and what am I going to do once I’m healed. I clearly need some sort of life change, and apparently shattering both my ankles was necessary for this change to occur. Maybe this change is as subtle as becoming more aware and conservative, or maybe it means moving to the ocean to become a chilled out surf bum farmer, I am still unclear what my future holds and am trying to heal the best I can in each moment.

hospital bed

It’s been two and a half months since I cased a big table top jump and shattered both my ankles. I feel like a science experiment with external fixators screwed into my shins and through my heel bones. I am ecstatic to be getting this hardware removed in a few days, but am also slightly bummed that they will be replaced with old school hard casts which I will get to wear for another month. A month seems like a long time but I know that I will be getting these camo and blue casts removed before I know it.

ex fixes


It seems like every time I see the doctor he reveals a bit more of the severity of my injury. Dr. Clanton finally told me that in his 27 years of trauma and foot/ankle specialty this is the worst ankle break he has worked on. I’m not sure if I should be proud of that or not. Go big or go home right! Ha, this ski town mentality is exactly what I’m trying to change. Well actually, the problem was that I didn’t go big enough. I was a few feet short of making the transition. I knew I shouldn’t be hitting the park, but for whatever reason I didn’t listen to my intuition and I found my self in the zone, landing a big 360 of the first jump, then having a fun run through the pipe followed by a few rail slides. I was in a state of flow and didn’t want to stop, so I pointed it toward the massive booter at the end of the park and flew to my fate, oops. Two and a half months later and I am still sitting in bed, Aspen Mountain has closed, spring is trying show its face but the winters biggest storm is painting the Elk Mountains with a sparkly fresh coat of white. I’m ready for summer but we need as much moisture as we can get. Skiers can forget that growing food, drinking water and maintaining the water table is more important than skiing pow or chillin in flip flops.

open ankle 1

Time is certainly not constant. I’m not sure if it goes by faster when I’m stuck in bed for months or when I’m on a ski trip in Italy. I don’t know if it goes by faster when I’m present or when I’m dreaming about all the cool stuff I’m going to do in the future. Two stints of 6 day hospital visits with IV’s pumping me full of opiates and god knows what else now seems like a dream from another life. The upcoming sleepless night seems like an eternity in purgatory, but that too will pass into a memory from a different life. I am trying to be present, living moment to moment like my tarot card reading told me shortly after my injury. But how do I stay present when the present sucks and all I can think about is chillin on the beach with my feet in the warm sand, and an off shore breeze standing the waves up into turquoise barrels. Are we really alive when we are not living in the present, when we are dwelling on the past or dreaming about the future? Its hard to even believe that the past has happened or that the future will come, but it always does. Pain forces me to be present, focusing on healing and enduring the discomfort. It seems that life can only get better from here, and that’s motivating to think about. While I am confident that I will recover even stronger and wiser than before, there is always that demon that reminds me of other possible worst case scenarios. Doc told me that this is often a career ending injury and there is a possibility that I would have to get my ankles fused. Infection is a main concern, and could lead to amputation. I know I am only limited by my imagination, and I am imagining my self as a healed and strong Jedi Ninja Yogi. I will heal stronger than before, and I will ski hard again, and I will dance and surf and run and fly.

surgery room 2

I feel like I have been challenged and tested to the fullest. This journey has been nothing short of a vision quest, a true test of my spirit. I have spent two weeks in hospitals, reliant on opiates and my nurses. I spent two weeks inserting a catheter every time I had to pee, as well as working with numerous male and female nurses with the awkward and painful process. A laxative bullet was pushed up into me so I could poop after being plugged up with pain meds. Nerve pain feeling like burning man or a star wars battle was going on in my foot has consumed the majority of my attention and energy and has caused over a month of sleepless nights. For this nerve pain I am taking Lyrica, which shuts off of the chemical communication between my nerves and brain. I am completely reliant on my angelic mother to bring me food and water, clean my bedside commode, and everything else I might want or need. I sure hope this has been the dark night of my soul.

didge blast

Although the past two and a half months have been painful and have challenged me past anything else, I don’t see this as an accident but rather a blessing. Accidents don’t exist and everything happens for me rather than too me. What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger. I am doing my best to keep a positive, loving, and grateful mind set and am doing everything I can to heal quickly and properly. I had one of the countries best foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Clanton, carefully put my ankles back together using three plates and twenty-two screws in each ankle. I am using an electromagnet device to enhance the signal that tells my body that this particular bone area needs extra healing. Ross Douglas has given me acupuncture and other Chinese herbs, which has seemed to help my nerves and pain. Pam Moore’s magical healing hands have been working on me and helping my body wake up and remember what its like to be healed and whole and working properly. She fed me helpings of her special bone marrow soup. Rob Wergin energetically activated my kidneys and the flow of energy through out my body. He put me under his crystal color chakra device, which looks really cool. Reuben and Joey have been didge blasting my feet with ultrasonic surf gravity healing vibes. I had a pull up bar installed above me bed and have been maintaining my upper body strength with pike pull-ups. I have been doing handstand press through’s on my commode. Sleepless nights are filled with push ups, bicycle crunches, leg lifts, cobra and bow poses. I am taking a plethora of supplements and vitamins including; Mens One, Liver Support, B 12, N- Acetyl-Cysteine Capsules, 5 HTP Synergy, helychrysm, Lyrica, Dixie Drew Drops Edibles, and Premier Research Labs Tranquinol, Melatonin, Probiotics, as well as other smoothie additives. My mom makes me a dank green smoothie every morning. I am making a manifestation book by pasting magazine pictures and snippets into a book filled with art, compassion, gratitude, and infinite potential. I am learning the guitar and can kinda play redemption song. Having my friends visit and keep me laughing has been critical to my survival; thank you all so much!

pull up

groover stand

I am open and accepting to any outcome but am also visualizing a perfect recovery. Here is a mantra and food blessing that I like to repeat. I am gratitude, I am love, I am compassion, I am strength, I am nourishment, I am healed, I am infinite, I am walking, I am running, I am dancing, I am skiing, I am surfing, I am flying, I am perfect. I am that I am.

jeoy healing

I have spent countless energy and time wondering why this happened to me but I have learned that why is not what’s important. The important thing is how I choose to heal and show up in the present moment; how I choose to learn and grow from my experiences. I am so grateful for all the love and support that this incredible one of kind community has shared with me. Supplements and tools can only go so far, but what is truly healing is Love and friends. I am surfing gravity in my own way and will slowly but surely get back to the big waves of life.

surgery room

bed baloon

open cut


8 Comments to “Reflections from life with external fixators and two broken ankles”

  1. Mathew
    Much love to you Bro. Thanks for sharing your story! Your attitude is inspirational, but I expect nothing less from you! A Jedi Ninja Yogi indeed!
  2. Jean Norris
    Just had knee replacement 10 days ago From gruesome 33 year old ski injury. Sending you healing blessings and love. Hang in there, it will get better! You are an inspiration to power of life!!!
  3. tyler manchester
    nick my long ago friend, you are strong, you are infinite, and it is all within you right now! I too found myself "in the flow" (except for that quiet, little voice in the back of my head) and, it too, resulted in me lying face up on a surgeons table. Fortunately my opiat haze is waring off and my consciousness is becoming clearer. My positivity is revamping, and the struggle to be at peace with the universe, and to be active and engaged with the present is getting easier. I like your "I am" montra. I think I am going to write it on my fridge. I know being in the present moment is hard, especially when it is overflowing with pain, stress, and monotony, but IT IS your salvation. Try not to fight it. Let the pain be what it is, and let it say what it needs to say. Embrace it. I hope you can find the strength. Remember that there is more wisdom and power in one single cell of your body, than in all of medicine and science, and human consciousness for that matter. Feel your cells, encourage them to work, reinforce their success. Do not let your mind get in the way! (If you would like a good book on that subject, check out "The Biology Of Belief" by Bruce Lipton. Its an easy read) It sounds like i need not remind you that you are what you eat, but as you heal, try not to forget it. Let this experience sculpt the way you eat and nourish your body for the rest of your life. Gotta love the morning green goo smoothies! Thanks for the post, it brightened and encouraged my day. In the words of Xavier Rudd, "I know you are strong, may your journey be long, and I wish you the best of luck" ~Tyler
  4. Heather Paul Featherman
    Hey Nick, just stumbled across your blog and read, sorry to hear about your accident. I am most impressed with your attitude and glad you have some wonderful love and support. Your words are filled with strength and courage and positivity....good on ya! Keep your chin up and keep living your mantra! Best of luck for a strong recovery...I'll be thinking of you and sending good healing thoughts your way. Heather Paul
  5. Lollie Schweitzer
    Hi, Nick. I'm Joey's grandmother and like to follow you guys and your spiritual journeys. All you can do is keep up the spiritual attentiveness through being present and open with no expectations. Just let go!! Through meditation and stillness come the answers. All things arise out of the emptiness and you will know in your heart space when the right action comes to you. The most wonderful thing is that you all recognize your spiritual reality, and as you put it out there for others to see and experience with you, you are bringing greater awareness to the others of what is truly important in this life. Maybe others will follow, and if they do, your evolutionary example will be of great help and healing for this struggling world. Sending healing love to you.
  6. Sammy
    Did any of the pins of your external fixator ever move? I have one currently on my right foot and I have one bar that is actually in the top of my foot..its like it is popping in and out of whatever little pocket the surgeon made for it to fit in...just curious..Seeing the Ortho man tomorrow. Great to see an inspirational recovery...with hard work I hope to be there too!
    • surf81611
      I just got my casts off and m felling great, super stoked to be doing PT and getting outside. My eternal fixators never moved. Healing blessings!!
      • Sammy
        So happy for you. I am blessed to have only one leg on the mend. Good luck with PT keep your spirits high...happy thoughts your way!!

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