Expedition Impossible - Behind the Scenes, Episode 7
by AFB Staff
[Editor's note: the following post originally appeared on Erik Weihenmayer's blog, http://www.touchthetop.com/blog/, and is being republished here with his permission. Among Erik's many notable achievements, he is a CareerConnect mentor as well as the first blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. This summer Erik has been starring in ABC's Expedition Impossible. You can catch the show Thursday nights at 9 EST. Learn more about Erik at his website, http://www.touchthetop.com/.]
Prior to this episode, a lot of people have been asking about Ike because he has been underrepresented on the show. At last, Ike had his chance to shine!
It's crazy that there have been so many opportunities to get hurt—running along riverbeds, jumping off cliffs, charging down rocky slopes, plunging through snowfields—and Ike trashes his ankle getting into a taxi. In Morocco, there is a gutter between the sidewalk and the road and that's what caught his foot.
Jeff and I didn't immediately comprehend the seriousness of the injury as we all clambered into the car. But by the time we got to the airport, it was obvious that the game had completely changed for Team No Limits.
In 2007, Ike's right leg was severely broken during a firefight with the Taliban along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. It required multiple surgeries, then a full year of recuperation, before he regained most of the strength and function to his leg. So another break on the same leg could be very serious. Even a bad sprain could cause irreparable damage due to all the swelling and pounding on it for another week.
Fortunately, we had about an hour for the medical staff to examine Ike while Jeff got to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. When Ike failed a test known as the "Ottawa ankle rule," the medical staff decided he had to go to the hospital for an x-ray... meaning we were out of the game.
At that point, the show's Executive Producer, Lisa Hennessy, stepped in and made the decision to put the call back in Ike's hands. Now this is a guy who has been deployed in war zones three times and has earned two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and a host of other medals and awards. Suffice to say, he's tough and he's not a quitter. Ike simply said, "I'm good to go."
So No Limits was back in the race but now we were a team with two major disabilities: a blind guy and a gimp. The irony is that instead of being a liability, Ike gets out in front and hammers the whole day.
Jeff and I told Ike multiple times that we understood he didn't want to let the team down but he couldn't risk a permanent injury that would prevent him from serving his country. No matter what we said, Ike insisted on soldiering on. He'd just grit his teeth and say, "I'm good." He was given ibuprofen and a mild narcotic but you could clearly tell the pain was intense. At one point I asked Ike, "On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your level of pain." And he clearly says "Ten" and continues to hike.
Not only was Ike charging on but he was thinking clearly too. He solved the puzzle that Jeff and I couldn't figure out if our lives depended on it. The ability to focus despite considerable pain is part of what makes Ike an exceptional soldier. For him, it's all about pushing through adversity and giving everything he can to his team.
By the end of the day, No Limits went from down and out to second place! As a bonus, we got to hang out with the pretty and smart California Girls too. Our pace was about the same as theirs so it gave us a chance to get to know them better. It was interesting to discover that Brittany is a semi-pro golfer who works for Callaway, while Natalie is a teacher, and Christina does PR for Intel. All three are super nice and I really enjoyed talking with them.
It was definitely sad to see the Country Boys leave. They are the epitome of Southern gentleman and I'm proud to call them friends. Out of all the people on Expedition Impossible, Chad was easily the funniest. He has a sassy style of humor that was always cracking me up. It's surprising the show never mentioned that Nick was in severe pain from a horrendous blister on the bottom of his foot. It was very bloody and starting to get infected so it was probably a good thing they left when they did.
As soon as the stage was over, we headed to the hospital with Ike. I'm assuming some of this drama will air next week so stay tuned!
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