Friday, February 23, 2007

My Old Football Injury

I have always been pretty timid on downhill skis. In fact, the first time I skied, having mastered the bunny slope, I went up a lift with my husband, father, his girlfriend Susan, and my cousin. We were going to take a beginner's green trail down. However, when we got up there, the green trail was closed, so we had to take the intermediate blue. Not fully armed with the ability to control myself, beyond a pretty lame snow-plow technique, I went way too fast. I couldn't slow down. That hill was very large and it didn't level off. There was no way I could do it. Add to this general wimpiness when it comes to all things athletic that I was early in my first trimester of pregnancy. The doctor had assured me that the baby was safe and sound and well-cushioned and beginning attempts to ski would not hurt her. However, I think it got into my head, and made me even wimpier. "I can't do this," I said, as I stood over to one side after purposefully falling to stop my initial descent. I ended up walking down. My husband was patient, although a bit annoyed with me. He was also helpful, carrying my skis and poles for me as I made it down the mountain slowly.

I believe that I skied again a time or two, on the easy green slopes, over the next couple of years. Several years later, we took a ski trip to Taos, New Mexico with another couple. I took a lesson, and began to feel a bit comfortable. However, after the end of the second day, I was so tired. I hadn't been skiing with proper form and it had taken a toll on my legs. That last morning, we sat at the restaurant by the slopes eating breakfast (delicious breakfast burritos with green chile). The guys left to do their manly no-holds barred skiing. Richele and I sat in the coffee shop. "I'm scared. I'm tired. I don't know if I can do it." Richele was patient. I began to cry. Crying is an integral part of my skiing experiences, brought on by general self-doubt and paranoia. My friend was surprised to see this side of me--different from my general air of self-confidence and willingness to do anything. We ended up skiing a bit, but I went back early and waited for them to come in.

The next year, we took a trip with another couple (our slow cooked friends) to Copper Mountain, Colorado. We each took a lesson separately, according to our abilities, and I ended up taking three consecutive lessons, because they were a great deal. At the end of those three days, I finally felt confident skiing, although I was still no expert or daredevil. It was our last day on the slopes--the first time that all four of us were skiing together, due to varying levels of ability and some lessons that we took separately.

Tammy got hit first. This man dressed in a lime green ski suit came down the mountain and cut over the tops of her skis, causing her to fall. This made his descent even less controlled and that's when he made contact with me: full-on in the middle of my back. I tumbled head over heels, skis and poles went flying--mine, his. I was surprised at the suddenness of the stealth attack. When I feel out of control, I make sure that the skiers downhill are aware of it, because I like to assume that they are more skilled than I and could get out of the way if needed. Not only was he mute as he careened down the mountain, but as my husband come over and collected both of our things for us, he was still silent.

"Are you okay?" my husband and friends asked him and me. I don't remember hearing his answer and when my answer was, "I don't think I can get up," I certainly don't remember hearing any concern. My knee was Jello. I just wanted to sit in the snow. I knew that my knee wasn't going to hold me up, and certainly wasn't going to carry me downhill. My husband convinced me that I had to get up out of the snow, and at least try. He pulled me up, and I stood on one leg. "I can't bear any weight on it." The culprit got up and left when Terry told him that we were waiting for the ski patrol, who my friend had called using the emergency phone right downhill from us. Fairly quickly a snowmobile and a snow boarder wearing jackets emblazoned with the red first-aid cross came to us. I was strapped into the stretcher, my knee was supported, and I was cocooned in for the cold ride down. "You comfortable?" he asked. "I guess so," I replied and readied myself for the headfirst ride down the whole mountain, since of course this travesty happened at the top. It felt like we were going fast. Later, my husband told me that he could barely keep up as he tried to ski down beside the snowboarder who was pulling me. I will never think of snowboarders as showboating, edgy, slope-hogs (although, I have always felt a bit wary around them since I'm not sure what their pattern going downhill might be). This guy did a very good thing for me.

The first-aid station had given me crutches and a brace and some pain pills. When I returned home, I saw a doctor and it was confirmed that I had torn two ligaments in my knee. Surgery to repair the ACL followed a month later.

To be continued. . . .


Susanne said...

Oy vay, skiing and me don't get along either. I went a few years back with my girl on the grade 5 trip. While I loved being in the mountains and fresh air and snow the skiing part was not all that fun anymore. I didn't have the confidence and I'm sure I transferred that over to my girl.

Hope your knee is now okay.

Lori said...

This is a great post so far Jennifer because I also just can't picture you crying and being worried about skiing. You are always so confident and full of esteem.

Even though I remember hearing about your injury, I can't wait to read the rest of the story.

Katrina said...

Just reading through your account makes my knee hurt! I look forward to the rest of the story.