This weekend I used two of my very very precious vacation days to go meet up with my family in Utah for a long weekend of skiing. I’ve been going to Utah since I was a baby – my father owns a timeshare at Snowbird, which is where I learned to ski and have spent many a winter vacation throughout my life.The past few years since my parents divorce, I had been visiting almost exclusively with my dad. This year, however, my mother decided to come out as well. I am grateful to have parents that are able to be mostly amicable around each other – but throw two divorcees in a small condo and there’s bound to be some less-than-smooth moments. Luckily, my uncle and cousin also came out from the Bay Area to stay with us, so their presence softened the tension somewhat. Or at least had everyone on their best behavior.
Overall it was so lovely to spend time with my family. I don’t get to see my Cali relatives often, so it was nice to meet in the middle. As I’ve gotten older I’ve really grown to appreciate time with family – I love traveling with my friends, but there is nothing like having a few days off to fully let your guard down around your fam.
We enjoyed two full days of skiing together, Saturday and Sunday. I’ve been skiing since I could stand on two feet – so it’s the one thing I truly feel comfortable saying that I’m legitimately good at. There’s very little terrain that I’m not capable of tackling, whether it’s navigating cliffs, woods, or steep slopes. At times this leads me to be overly confident, often testing the limits of speed and agility that my skis will allow. I’ve had a few near miss moments – catching an edge at a high speed, getting a little two much air off a jump – but I’ve always landed on two feet with no other afflictions than the pit that forms in one’s stomach upon realizing just how wrong something could have gone. It’s a thrill.
Unfortunately, this time I had one of those near miss moments that landed me on the wrong side of that fine line. I landed wrong coming off a jump and immediately tore my ACL upon impact. I’ve definitely been bumped and bruised before skiing, but the popping noise that I felt and heard when I landed let me know immediately that I would not be walking away from this one unscathed. As someone who has never seriously injured herself in her life (a true miracle knowing my clumsy nature), it was a horrifying experience. Upon impact I collapsed and proceeded to slide down the slope in a tangled mess of skis and poles in utter agony unable to stop myself.
We’ve all seen those videos of professional athletes hurting themselves – the ones where it’s so difficult to watch yet you can’t look away as you cringe clutching your own limb and feeling their pain secondhand. When I tore my knee it was like living one of those videos. I felt the join dislocate momentarily, tearing far enough to snap the ligament inside. In the moments after impact, before my uncle stopped my mess of a self from sliding completely down the mountain, I remember having so many thoughts rush through my head – the primary one being instant regret. Could I please just rewind time 10 seconds and not go off that jump? I knew right away that I had done damage, and the second thought I had was the fear of finding out the extent of my injury.
I haven’t cried from physical pain since my childhood – but man oh man was I screaming. It’s funny, because making such noise wasn’t going to help me (people were already calling ski patrol and my family was with me), but it was the only thing that could distract me from the pain. I was also crying because my whole future was rushing before my eyes – how would I go to work? How would I follow through on all of my plans/responsibilities/housework/fitness?
The ski patrol got there in record time, and by then my adrenaline had kicked in and the pain began to subside. The stabilized my leg in a splint and lifted me into their sled, at which point I somehow managed to smile and throw a thumbs up for a very necessary photo opp.
The journey to the clinic was very interesting and at times anxiety inducing. I had to ride up a chairlift on the sled, which they attached to the back of the chair with some metal framework. I was holding on for dear life and rambling on about how “I’ll probably never walk again” and “how will I ever manage to move into my new apartment at the end of the month?” (If we’re honest I’m still grappling with that one).
We then had to ride down the tram to the main plaza where the clinic was located. Thankfully, my mom was able to accompany me this whole time and talk me down from my naturally anxious/hypochondriac mindset. She is a nurse and also tore her ACL skiing 20 years ago at the same resort – so she knew what was up and was able to rationalize my worst case scenario thought process.
Once at the clinic they took and X-ray of my knee to confirm (thankfully), I had not broken any bones. The doctor then did a test for latency in my ligaments which involved her tugging the joint in various directions to see which ligaments were still intact (and would provide tension for her tugging), and which were not (my ACL!). Luckily my adrenaline was still strong at this point, so this was minimally painful.
The remainder of the day was not as bad as I expected. I was discharged with crutches, a brace, and explicit instructions to exercise my injured leg as to not lose my muscle tone and range of motion. If I rehab my leg correctly, there’s a 30% chance I would not need surgery. I went to the pharmacy to fill my “just in case” pain med prescription (which I don’t plan on using because I have an irrational fear of heavy drugs), had a quick bite to eat with my family before they went back on the mountain, and took a shuttle home to assume my couch locked position for an afternoon of icing my knee and binging on Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
I’m writing this now from back in NYC, laying in bed with ice on my knee. Supposedly I’m supposed to ice this thing 8 hours a day. Good luck! I just flew home today and am curious how navigating my daily routine will feel tomorrow. Everything I do takes twice as long, whether it’s showering or walking. Perhaps this is a sign to slow down in life a little bit. I really have no choice!
Either way prepare for more stores of a girl on crutches in NYC!