Date of Surgery: 10/4/2018
Update (5/2020): Cody has returned to patrolling full-time at Alyeska Resort.
My name is Cody Burns and I live in Girdwood Alaska. My passion for skiing started as a young kid in June Lake California. I grew up and competed with the race team through 7th grade and then began competing with the Mammoth Mountain Freeride team through high school. I was very close friends with Eric Diem, the patrol director at June Mountain, and I always thought that it was the coolest way to get paid to ski for a living.
In 10th grade when I was 16 years old, I overshot a large jump in the main park at Mammoth Mountain and I missed the transition, landing completely in the flats. I compressed discs in my back from L4-S1 and I was left with horrible sciatica pain down both legs. I tolerated the pain for 17 years and tried every treatment recommended to me before the doctor finally suggested I needed a spinal fusion.
After I finished 2 years of college right after high school, I was offered a job on the ski patrol back home at June Mountain. I saw this as a great opportunity to move back home and work at my home mountain. I was immediately hooked and it felt very rewarding to assist people who were in need of help on the mountain. As my career progressed, I took advantage of trying to obtain every certification that I could, and after 6 years, I was a fully certified APP/NSP patroller.
I moved to Girdwood Alaska in 2011 to work on ski patrol at Alyeska Resort. Since then, I have played roles as a regular patroller, night supervisor, and assistant patrol director. I am a certified NSP toboggan and Outdoor Emergency Care instructor and I have involvement in most of the training we do for the job. This year will be my 15th season ski patrolling and I couldn’t imagine doing any else with my life. I am currently 1 of 3 fully certified NSP patrollers in Alaska and I work year-around at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.
Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan
After trying every possible option available without success, it was suggested by a great doctor in Anchorage Alaska that I get a ALIF spine fusion on L4-L5-S1. The procedure took about 4-5 hours and I stayed in the hospital for 2 nights after the surgery. Incredibly, the doctor had me up and walking the same evening after I had the operation on October 4, 2018. I recovered at home for 6 weeks before I returned to work as a light duty dispatcher until mid-February. About 4 months after my surgery, I was close to being pain free and I was back on skis! This winter is the first winter in 17 years that I don’t have nagging sciatica pain.
"The foundation was extremely supportive of every single thing I needed help with and they covered all the financial costs that I needed help with. Not only did the foundation help with the surgery, but they helped with the cost of pain management medications directly after surgery and physical therapy afterwards to help me get back on my feet again. I would not have been able to afford any part of the surgery without their assistance, and the relief of stress from the financial cost was priceless. I can't thank the foundation enough for giving me a fresh start on life, enabling me to recreate and do everything I love to do again."
- Cody Burns