Tuesday, February 20, 2007

David Heitcamp: Damaged but not discouraged and smarter for the wear.

David Heitcamp

It has been about two weeks since the run in Minnesota. There has been some discussion concerning the weather and how the race was conducted. I
wanted to collect my thoughts on this and give my 2 cents worth.

In a nutshell, it was as it was stated: a self supported race in
adverse weather conditions with 60 hours allotted to transverse the course. I had completed approximately 70 miles in the prior year with no adverse effects.

As I send this message, I have 10 severely frostbitten toes which need to be wrapped twice per day with solution, two frostbitten thumbs and two frostbitten digits on my left hand next to the thumb. My cornea on my left eye was frozen. I also lost a front tooth which when I grin makes me look like a character from "Deliverance" who lived in the backwoods.

I was transported to the International hospital in International Falls for two days. There, the hospital staff told me that it was probable that I would lose all ten toes as well as the tips of the affected hands. I called my wife of 11 years to let her know of the prognosis so as to ready her for the possibility. My son flew to International Falls from Ft Wayne and drove me back 800 miles to my family doctor in Ft Wayne, Indiana. I kept my feet elevated while I sat in the back of the van.

On the way home, we talked about everything. He is 31 years old and recently his wife gave birth to a new grand daughter. I had raised both him and his sister who is now 33 as a single parent since he was 2 years old. We laughed, reminisced and shared those silent moments that sometimes say more than all the words in the world.

When I arrived back home and went to my family doctor, the doctor freaked out and instructed met to immediately go the Emergency room in Parkview Hospital in Ft Wayne. My son transported me to the hospital. A member of the staff asked if it would be ok for them to show the new employees what Frostbite looks like since they did not encounter that degree of frostbite in the local area. There was conversation that I should ready myself for extraction the next morning and I should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight.

The next day (Feb 9th), a plastic surgeon was called in and unwrapped all my toes and looked at my thumbs and digits. After 15 seconds of inspection, he said that it appeared that I should be able to keep most or all of my toes and probably just some "shaving back" of my thumbs. He instantly became my best friend.

I started the rounds of going to the burn unit of St Joseph Hospital in
Ft Wayne two times the week of February 12th. I started back to my "day job" on February 12th. It was a very long week. In the evenings, I am continuing to prepare taxes because I am a CPA. Money is money and life goes on. I enjoy my life.

The staff in International Falls was professional, informative and in no way understated the seriousness of this run. I ran marathons for 20+ years before I started to run Ultras at age 50. The reason I started to runs ultras was so I could quit smoking. I smoked 2 packs of Marlboro 100's since I was 17 years old. I needed an addiction that was more powerful than nicotine and alcohol.

There are mistakes that I made in my run of the Arrowhead in 2007. I know that. Dehydration was the culprit. When you dehydrate, the decision making process is flawed. I did find the General Store after a period of time. Next time, I will use the "buddy system".

It will take approximately three months to resurge my energy levels. I will continue my Yoga and strength building workouts on a limited basis.
Full recovery will probably take one year.

I enjoy what I do. I am a Slow Dog. Sometimes, not the sharpest crayon in the box.

I appreciate this race and hope it remains the same.

Happy Trails.........................Dave

P.S. Feb 13th photo attached


http://www.arrowheadultra.com/Heitkamp_Feet_Feb13.pdf

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Pierre,

Just a short note. This picture was taken by the St Joseph Burn
Unit on Feb 13th. Rodriguez had asked me to send any pictures that I had so I asked the burn unit for a copy of what they had.

They are looking better than they intially did at the International Falls Hospital. It will still be a few months until everything sorts itself out.

Talk to you later. Dave

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