Living in ski country (Lake Tahoe), I was fully prepared to fall victim to the common ski injury of tearing my ACL this winter, to the point that I think I had come to terms with it (though it hadn't actually happened). I grew up riding horses competitively, fearing nothing, trusting a beast with my life. And I emerged from every gnarly crash by popping up instantly from the ground, because the last thing I wanted was some EMT hanging over me, telling me that I should lay in the dirt, even though I knew I was okay. Luckily I never sustained a serious injury.
It had been nearly a month since we had a decent accumulation of snow, so I decided to forego a trip to Vegas for a nice day on the mountain. Oh boy, I can't help but think "whatif" now. I was skiing alone all morning, until I ran into a friend. We did one run, and the snow was kind of sticky and choppy (not my favorite), but I was getting used to it, so I said, sure, I'd take another run. Near the bottom of the trail that I ski on a regular basis, I suddenly caught the edge of my ski on something, causing me to execute some gymnastic maneuver worthy of a 10 in the olympics. Just call me Nadia. Leave it to me to be able to catapult myself into the air, rotate, flip, and land backwards on a slope that was nearly flat. As my skiis stopped and my body kept going, I knew that something was not right. That moment when I was airborne seemed more like 5 minutes, and I can remember every fraction of a second, when my thoughts went from "this is not going to be pretty, but maybe funny" to "something's going to be hurting soon" to "oh yeah, that leg is broken!"
I landed on my back with a thud, my legs snapped over my head, and it felt like someone had kicked me in the shin, but the pain did not subside. I was yelling at my friend to take my ski off! Take my pole off my wrist! I felt my leg instantly swell up and my 2-day old boots (damnit!) didn't help the pressure.
Down comes ski patrol, and then see me sitting in the snow without my boot on. They're right up there with the EMT's in terms of people I like to see from AFAR, not personally encounter. For a moment I contemplated putting the boot back on and skiing the few yards to the lift--I was SO close! Ski patrol os horrified by this notion, and they encourage me to replace my boot. In goes the broken leg, to a position which they say will help stabilize it. Well it's already BROKEN, I think, as I see that my leg actually swivels, as in, there are now two halves of my lower leg that move independently from one another.
Ski patrol radios that "we have a possible boot-top". In my mind, I think, right, boot-top FRACTURE, just say it! They loaded me onto the sled, which they then hoisted onto the chairlift, as a line of people watched. Great, I'm THAT person now. Ski patrol rides up with me, making small talk, asking my name, age, etc. That's the LAST thing I'm in the mood for. Then they loaded me into the gondola cabin with my friends. Byebye ski patrol. I thought, well if I were alone, would they make me do this solo?
Then off to the clinic, where they took my boot OFF, and I don't plan on screaming like that until I give birth. To an elephant. Of course I was thinking, you know, I could have avoided that painful step, but nooooooo, ski patrol yelled at me. Anyway, the nurse approached me, open scissors in her hand, eyeing my sock. OH no, I said, I am keeping that sock, because, well they're nice new socks, worth about a day's wages and I definitely will ski again. She was most likely thinking, "Oh, okay, crazy girl." And the same goes for the pants...
I was distraught but under control. I immediately came to terms with my break, but I was bummed about the consequences i.e. loss of mobility and freedom. The doctor, holding my x-ray to the light was amazed. "This is a kids fracture" he said, because I had broken only my tibia, and not my fibula. "Well, I guess I'm just and underachiever" I said. "Looks like you're off to the hospital" he told me. A shot of demoroal in the hip took the edge off a little.