Well and Truly Grounded
By Ed Wischmeyer
There’s a trick to avoiding having the FAA ground you for medical reasons. Just like in telling a joke, the answer is “timing.”
In my latest case, the problem is scoliosis, meaning, that my spine is not straight, but rather looks like the ground track of a pilot landing with a tailwheel for the first time. That spinal curvature puts pressure on the nerves coming out of the spinal column (stenosis) and that causes pain and, I’m guessing, eventually, could cause lack of full functionality.
The king-kong fix for this is spinal fusion, meaning, the doctor opens his erector set catalog to “implants” and gets all the metal bits and pieces to hold the selected vertebra in place until they can grow together, i.e., fuse. The downside of this is that with those vertebra rigidly affixed, stresses accumulate at the end of the fused region. A real world example is that on many sailplanes with extra stiffening around the spoilers, eventually the paint cracks around the end of the spoilers, indicating the stress.