I’m alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You have no idea how relieved and thankful I am today. What would you like first, the GOOD news or the REALLY GOOD news?

The good news is that for the next four weeks, I’ll be featuring YOUR trip reports on the home page.

The really good news is that I will be skiing for years to come. (After four weeks off)

Yesterday I walked(very painfully) into the McCaig Tower at Foothills hospital for surgery on my spine, an L4-L5 decompression, to mitigate the effects of spinal stenosis.* It had been scheduled several months ago.

SkierBob’s backside

I was operated on at 1:30 pm, and woke up at 4:30 pm, extremely happy to still be kicking.

From the recovery room, I went to the McCaig presidential suite. Not having spent much time in hospitals, I may not be an authority, but this truly is a marvelous facility. As much as I liked it, however, I’m happy to be back home tonight. Walked out under my own power.

Being wheeled into the operating room is an eye-opener. For someone who is at home in the forest and mountains, I was awestruck and intimidated by the alien and sterile atmosphere, but re-assured that I was getting the best care possible.

The personnel are understanding, and adept at making you as comfortable as possible. I whisperd a quiet “thank you” to Tommy Douglas for our medical system.(a side-note, Tommy Douglas started his crusade for free medicare near my home town in SK).

I had some misguided notion that I’d be back skiing within a week to 10 days, but unfortunately, today the surgeon in his post-mortem post-op consultation, said four weeks minimum.

Your trip reports are more valuable than ever, so keep ‘em coming.

If I had been able to get back skiing within 10 days, I would have bluffed my way through this, but with four weeks off, I thought an explanation was warranted. After skiing five times a week, going four weeks without skiing would look awfully suspicious.

*I’ve been afflicted with spinal stenosis for 10 years, but it became increasingly painful in the past two years. It mostly was affecting my ability to walk. I was still able to ski reasonably well, but lately, I was having to pop a lot of painkillers. It’s a good thing I went through with this, as the surgeon said when they opened me up that it was far worse than the MRI had indicated.

It’s mostly a result of aging, I had no injury or anything. You can read more spinal stenosis.

Anyone ski the Birkie today? How were conditions? How about on main street in Canmore?


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  1. This past Friday (2016 02 19), I had my minimally invasive spinal decompression surgery at the FMC – McCaig Tower. I was very impressed with the professionalism and demeanor of the staff. I didn’t get to stay in the Presidential Suite but spent the night in the Spine Ward in the Main Building. Friday evening, I was able to walk and stand like I haven’t been able to in about two years. I had very little to no pain, not even from the surgery. Overnight, my back stiffened up a bit and it’s gone stiffer and sorer (today is Sunday) but that’s to be expected. Looking forward to being able to stand, walk, dive, and ski like I did a few years ago.

  2. Hi Bob. Here’s hoping for a speedy and full recovery for you. I’ve had 3 back surgeries (L5-S) and I can tell you that recovery after surgery takes longer than you think to get back. I’ll echo DaveC and tell you to trust your physio therapist. Being an athlete, I felt I knew my body best and went back to playing squash tournaments waaay too soon. I didn’t make that mistake on the next two surgeries, and in fact, I still do the core transverse abdominal exercises that I learned in physio to this day.

    Good Luck and Best Wishes,

    Thanks! -Bob

  3. One week update:

    It was exactly seven days ago when I had my surgery and I must admit I feel like I’m unable to do much, let alone ski. When I was entertaining thoughts of being back after 10 days, I guess it was wishful thinking.

    Thank you for all the kind wishes and words of encouragement. The ski conditions are good right now, so don’t let them go to waste. I’m happy reading trip reports(for now, anyway) -Bob

  4. Met you this winter on the Goat Creek Trail. Wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery.

    Thanks! -Bob

  5. Hope to see you and your Skihere toque on a trail soon. All the best for a quick recovery.

    Thanks. I’ll be watching for a good result in the Cookie Race(where I met you last year) -Bob

  6. I wish you a speedy recovery Bob.

    Thanks! -Bob

  7. Here’s to a speedy recovery. After pulling my calf muscle in January 2010 I know all too well how slowly 4 weeks can go by during ski season. Don’t rush it. you will be back to being “skier” Bob in no time.

    Thanks. We missed your reports and photos while you were recovering. -Bob

  8. Wow, the butt end of…. never-mind, Good luck/best wishes on a complete back side recovery!

    Thanks, Gord! -Bob

  9. Skied PLPP trails Sunday afternoon starting from Boulton Bridge,up Boulton,Fox Creek, Hydoline, Lookout, then back down Lookout, Pocaterra,Lynx, Amos, and Wheeler. All trails in very good shape. However some of the steep, south facing slopes of South Lookout were starting to get icy. Don’t think I would want to take this route down! It was trying to snow up high but no noticeable accumulations. Elk Pass was shrouded in fog. Temp. varied from -1C at bottom to -5C at top.Swix purple worked OK for me today.

    Bob: My best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. Pass on the same to Cheryl. Regards: Tom

    Thanks. I’ve skied down the south side of Lookout in excellent conditions and barely survived. -Bob

  10. Wishing you a quick (and complete) recovery. I wish I could tell you that conditions at PLPP were awful today and that you won’t be missing anything – but I can’t: it was great out there.

    Thanks. I read on the trip reports that you skied my favourite loop. I just skied it last Sunday, but I’m still envious. Can never get enough of that one. -Bob

  11. Wishing you a speedy recovery Bob.
    I skied the Birkie yesterday and echo the comments of the others who posted a reply. The tracks were in amazing conditions considering the snow they had to work with. It was a cold start but a great ski under sunny blue skies. My 13th Birkie and still having fun.

    Thank you. I saw your name in the Birkie results, congrats on a good race. -Bob

  12. Hi Bob hope you make a speedy recovery and get back out on our trails. My guess is the rest of Feb and March we will be getting lots of snow so we should be skiing well into April. I didn’t ski the Birkie but I was one of the 3 main groomers that set the course. We used two old Pisten Bulleys one from 1981 and the other a 1986 beauty plus the Hawk which is a Bomardier groomer bought by the Birkie Society. In the first 10km or so we kicked up lots of leaves and a bit of dirt and my Kananaskis grooming stomach was churning away at the quality of track or lack of that we were leaving behind. After reading some of the comments on here and seeing the results of the fastest skiers it looks like for the most part the conditions we pretty good all things considered.
    For those of you that skied your first Birkie this weekend welcome to one of the best events you will ever have the pleasure of skiing. To those of you looking to challenge yourself on a 55km course that has lots of ups and downs challenging corners and warm friendly volunteers I highly recommend you come up and ski the Birkebeiner.

    No doubt your expertise was needed and appreciated at the Birkie(not to mention experience with old Pisten-Bullys). Glad to get an accurate snow forecast!-Bob

  13. I guess I will have to wait a bit before you can show me how to change lanes on my skis! My best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    I’m glad the doctors took the time to identify which cheek was which. I’d hate to guess what they would have cut open if they got that mixed up! Almost two years ago I shattered my left fibula like an eggshell (greenstick fracture) at the ankle, and managed to tear three sets of ankle ligaments at the same time. I’m now a happy owner of a permanent plate and 7 screws (including a huge one which bolted my fibula to my tibia) and a slightly gimpy ankle that never quite does what I want it to. Anyway, I couldn’t walk for 3 months nor run for almost 9 (I used to be a marathoner). If I have one piece of advice it’s not to rush back too soon. Listen to your doctor, physio, and your body before you listen to that voice in your head telling you to ski just like you did the day before the surgery because the 4 weeks is up. I was way too head strong in my recovery and caused a couple set backs that ultimately cost me months in my recovery. Rest is the best medicine! Hope to see you out there in March, nonetheless!

    I appreciate the advice, and will take it to heart. Looking forward to meeting you on the trail some day. -Bob

  14. Hi Bob, all the best for a quick recovery! I agree with the comments above on the Birkie, awesome volunteers! Be warned though, the results are not right yet though, zone 4 is showing everyone after a certain time, me included, as a dnf. Hoping to get it sorted tomorrow.

    Hi Liz; Knowing your determination, I knew those results couldn’t be correct. -Bob

    • Ah thanks Bob! Results are now sorted on zone 4 – just shows again how amazing the Birkie volunteers are and how well organized the race was.

  15. Wishing you a speedy recovery Bob! I suffer from a bit of stenosis in my upper back. Unfortunately I’ve also broken my back three times ( climbing accidents and consequences of stupid stunts I barely survived when I was young!) I can attest that back problems/injuries are among the worst as they can effect everything. That’s why I always tell friends to take care of their backs or they’ll end up like me!

    I enjoyed reading your trip report, especially hearing about your daughter skiing the south side of Lookout. It’s rare that I ski that side without taking my skis off at least once. -Bob

  16. I did the 55km Birkie ‘lite’ (no pack) today- first time out there so most everything was a surprise to me. I was originally most worried about the cold- -20’s I think w/wind (?) at the start, but I ended up wearing one too many layers and being warm for most of the race when you were blocked from the wind. But at least I didn’t have to worry about klister, and the awesome Track N Trail volunteers at the start area did an initial wax for me w/V30+V40, and I was able to carry my own V40 for later very necessarily application.

    Supposedly conditions were ‘great’ but when you’re spoiled by the deep base of snow at PLPP, I guess it’s all relative… I assume the base was thin at points since when a hundred+ people skied in front of me, I was sometimes left with tracks where the grassy field below your skis is very evident. But the plentiful aid stations and numerous unbelievably helpful and cheerful volunteers more than made up for any slight disappointment at the thin snow (and the falls I had on the sharp turns on the downhills). I highly recommend the race- and especially the long distance event b/c it was sooo much faster than anything I have skied closer to Calgary!

    • I can echo Wendy’s comments re: the Birkie. Conditions were fast yesterday with a chilly start but under unbroken blue skies the remainder of the day was a great ski. Yes, there were thin spots, particularly in the first 10-15km and quite a few patches of leaf debris that had been kicked up by the grooming, but the tracks got a lot better after that. The army of volunteers involved did a tremendous job, absolutely. As a Birkie newbie as well, I can echo Wendy’s comments about a handful of sharp turns – I was caught by surprise on a few of them, and although I managed to stay upright, it was only due to some bizarre and grace-less balancing acts. It’s a great event – for anyone thinking about skiing it, stop thinking about skiing it one day and go ski it – you won’t regret it.

      Rest up, Bob, and we’ll see you on the ski trails again before too long.

      I’ve had lots of fun and some good results at the Birkie, although I haven’t been there for five years. I enjoyed the atmosphere, especially those mass starts with hundreds of skiers. It’s a memorable experience, and worth doing. -Bob

  17. Wishing you all the best, Bob so you can get ‘back’ to skiing.

    Thanks. I’ll be looking for a trip report. -Bob

  18. You still skied circles around most of us Bob. Your enthusiasm for skiing shines through on your blog.Skiing vicariously is what many of us readers do at times. Now it is your turn to sit back, recover and hopefully your fans will keep you entertained. Glad you were looked after before any long term damage occurred.
    See you soon,

    Thanks. Make sure you let Ezzy know that I’m okay. Can’t wait to see her again. -Bob

  19. All the best for a full recovery Bob. We’ll keep the tracks fresh for your return. From your friends at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

    Thanks, Jamie. I know the tracks are always good, but make it an easy trail. -Bob

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