The best thing about having to have surgery to repair my ACL is the instant jock-status that it gives me. People know I had it done, or see the scar, and wonder, "In what sort of athletically challenging activity was she involved in when that happened?" I am absolutely not an athlete, so I sort of like how it makes me sound. The worst thing is that being physically disabled is hard. I was on crutches for two or three weeks before the surgery and for at least a month after the surgery, and then had to wear a knee brace for a couple of months after that as well. I even had a temporary handicapped parking tag, which did come in handy while on crutches or slowed by a brace, while also keeping up with a four-year-old daughter. The funniest thing is that my daughter was well-aware of rules at that point in her life--not parking in the handicapped spots being one of them. At some point a few months after I was no longer taking advantage of that status, someone was talking about being handicapped or using the parking spaces, and Amanda contributed to the conversation, "My mom used to be handicapped."
Last year we took a little ski trip to Vermont. I chose not to ski. Partly, I was scared, but I also knew that with my skiing personality of taking a while to warm up to it and gain some level of confidence, it wasn't worth trying until I knew that I might be skiing regularly. With Kyle still being young, I wasn't going to be skiing regularly any time soon.
Last week, we took a family trip to Lake Placid, New York. Amanda had really enjoyed skiing for three days last year, and was really making progress. We wanted her to be able to ski again this year, if possible. Coincidentally, my husband, who is an athlete, was hurt in a challenging game of basketball and had to have his ACL repaired last June. The fact that he wanted to try to ski and would be willing to take it easy with me, that Amanda is at a level that I could ski with her (she will surpass me very soon), and that Kyle loves childcare type situations and will soon be old enough to ski on his own, led me to want to try to hit the slopes. I was a little nervous, but I did not feel the worry and fear that often gripped me on that first ride up the chairlift.
The first day, Terry and I hit the bunny slope while Amanda took a lesson. I felt okay. I wasn't scared. I didn't get frustrated. We went on a long beginner green run (that had two small hills that were more in the intermediate blue range). A couple of times I was going fast and did feel a little out of control, but in general I remembered what I was supposed to do, and I did it. When we broke for lunch that afternoon, I was very tired (as a result of still not using great form, and working hard to control my speed, and--oh yeah--being pretty out of shape). I sort of wanted to quit for the day. In fact, I told Terry that I would be really happy if I had brought a book to read, so that I could just wait for him. We took a nice long lunch break, and then skied again for a couple of more hours. Our last trip down was on the same run on which we had started, but the second steep blue-sy hill was all chopped up from frequent use. There were several skiers stopped along the sides, wondering, "How am I going to do this?" and one man was even walking down it. But I did it! It was hard, but I did it (without crying).
The plan for day two is that we were all three going to ski together. Kyle returned to the nursery, quite willingly: "Play? Go play?" My legs were a little tired, and my "bad knee" was a little swollen. We went down the bunny slope a time or two to warm up and see how Amanda was doing. My confidence wavered. "My skis are slipping. I don't feel like I'm in control. I'm not really trusting this knee completely," I explained to Terry (without crying, but considering it). "You just need to get warmed up," he assured me. After a few runs, I indeed felt better. In fact, I even allowed myself a bit of speed, knowing that I could stop if need be, and even if I did fall (which I had done a few times the day before), I could get back up and continue.
At lunch I asked Amanda if she preferred being in ski school or skiing with Daddy. "That's a silly question," she answered smartly. "Why Daddy, of course." I plied her for more information, and she explained that Daddy was very patient and he was a better skier than the instructors and he let her go at her own pace. She is right. He was very encouraging and patient--both with her and with me. Note to self--in seven years
After lunch, we did a few more runs, and I went back down to the lodge, where my book awaited. Terry had asked if I wanted to bring a book, just in case I didn't want to ski all day. I had already planned this, but I thought it was very caring of him to suggest. As with the day before, it wasn't that I didn't feel capable of continuing, it was just that I was done with it. I had enjoyed it, and I was ready to move on to something equally enjoyable: waiting with a book. I'm just not a athlete. While I enjoy skiing, I get the maximum enjoyment out of about 3 hours or so. I do not have the desire to ski from 9:00am until 4:00pm for three days in a row and cover the entire trail map. I do enjoy some other physical activities as well, such as hiking, swimming (having fun in the water) or water skiing (My dad accurately describes my aptitude in this area as "a good skier for a non-athletic person").
I have no idea why I didn't get rattled this time around. I think that part of the answer is that at the time of my attack, I was actually skiing fairly well for me. Perhaps another part is having survived the worst, so to speak. I not only had an accident, but I had to have surgery as a result of it, and I survived. I could choose to lead a completely sedentary life (instead of the mostly sedentary life that I now lead), or I could choose to try and join in with my family and be involved in an activity that we can all enjoy together.