Monday, February 3, 2014

It's All Fun and Games, Until...

"It's all fun and games, until somebody gets hurt.  Then it's hilarious." Have you seen this slogan floating around the internet on plaques and t-shirts? It has always given me a little chuckle, and makes me think of my sister-in-law from Colombia. No one laughs like she does while watching America's Funniest Videos. Every pratfall gets to her every time. I love to watch her laugh hysterically when people accidentally run into things or slip. My brother swears her whole family is the same way. He thinks it's a cultural thing; it may just be a universal thing, though, judging from the popularity of all of the videos showing hilarious accidents. Some of us just laugh harder at them than others. 

Yesterday afternoon, as I lay on my back, looking at the sky through a skiff of snow on my face, I tried to see the humor as I struggled to get my skis out from under me, around to my side, and back in front of me. Perhaps if anyone had been witness to my sudden lurching movements that sent my ski poles skyward as my eyes widened in terror, and my eventual tumbling down the middle of the hill, we both could have laughed it off. As it was, there was a searing pain in my left knee, not unlike the feeling I had a year and a month and a day ago, when I tore my MCL.

Repetitive numbers are a thing for me. I love numerical patterns, so it is no surprise that it occurred to me what was happening. On 1-1-13, New Year's Day last year, I had a similar experience, finding myself stranded in the middle of the steepest slope I'd ever skied, unsure if I could get back up on my skis. ( Skiing Ain't for Sissies )  The purple lift ticket attached to the zipper on my parka yesterday read, "FEB 2, 2014, the bee's knees." Hmmm... 2-2-14. My son Dylan was born on March 3.  I am going to write myself a note to remember to refuse any invitations to ski with him next year on his birthday. There will be NO skiing on 3-3-15. I'm not willing to take that chance! I'm ending the cycle.

An aside:  "the bee's knees" phrase on the lift ticket, we can assume, is to prevent the not-so-honest from printing their own counterfeit tickets at home. The phrase changes daily. The knee reference entertained me for a moment, as I considered my predicament on the slopes.

So there I was, not even halfway down the steepest hill of the Tunnel Vision run, with no one to help me. Getting up was going to hurt more than it already did; that much I knew. I removed one ski, to make it a little less painful, and laboriously got up. Good, my knee seemed stable at least. I gave myself a little pep talk, and continued to traverse my way back and forth down the hill, trying to maintain control, and go as slowly as possible.

Sometimes when my fear of falling sets in, I start talking to myself. There is a running monologue in my head of every tip I've ever heard about skiing.  

"Toes up.  Arms out in front of you. Shins to the front of your boots."  

The chatter in my brain was incessant as I made my descent. I even gave myself the advice instructors were giving the children skiers I'd overheard that day from the chair lift. 

"Pizza...French fries." (Those are the terms they teach the little ones about snow plowing in a pizza wedge shape, and keeping skis in a parallel position like two French fries, while making wide, slow turns.)  

When I start to over-think think things, especially on steep slopes where my fear is most likely to rear its ugly head, my body gets confused. The natural rhythm escapes me, and I forget how it's supposed to FEEL.

And that's when it happened for the second time. Gravity took over, and I repeated the same tumbling sequence, and found myself near tears, on my back, toward the bottom of the slope. I'd almost made it to the easy part of the run. 

"Dang it!"  I muttered over and over, or something really close to that. Skiing injuries bring out my vocabulary from my old days as a sailor.

A snowboarder came flying down the hill.  "You okay?" she yelled over her shoulder.

"I've wrecked my knee," I said, as she continued on her merry way. "Thanks for asking," I muttered.

It was comforting to me that I wasn't actually crying. Last year, when I tore my ligament, I cried. And let loose my entire repertoire of sailor words. Since my emotions weren't spiraling out of control this time, I took that as a good sign that perhaps less damage had occurred.

When I finally made it down to the ski lift, who should I see but my cheerful snowboarding friend, who did actually seem to be concerned. I hobbled/skied to the ski lift operator, assuring them both I'd be okay, and plopped myself onto the double chair, and braced myself for the long ride up the hill, my knee screaming with the weight of my boot and ski pulling it downward in a bent position.

A nice kid on the shuttle back to the lodge noticed I wasn't moving very well, and helped me gather my skis and poles, and tried to help me off the bus. I headed for my car, wishing I were home, in my recliner, warm and dry, and comfortable. After depositing all of my gear in the trunk, I walked stiff-legged toward the ski patrol hut. A friendly face greeted me at the door.

"May I have a bag for some snow?" I asked. I learned last year that they don't distribute ice packs at ski resorts.  Such clever folk; they use their most abundant resource. The EMT pulled off a 20 gallon size kitchen can bag for my use. I looked at him questioningly. 

"Are you SERIOUS? Don't you have anything smaller?" He laughed, and managed to find a more suitably-sized grocery sack from Walmart. I filled it with snow, and hobbled back to my car to wait for the boys. Luckily, I had some of Marley's doggy-doo bags in the car, and double-wrapped my bag of snow, and settled in for a wait.

In hardly any time at all, the boys surprised me by showing up at the car. They had had their fill, too, and started removing all of their snow gear. The ride home seemed to last forever, but was as enjoyable as it could be with the boys bantering back and forth about their day, and the good-natured conversation helped me focus on something else. The ibuprofen and ice worked together so that about an hour down the road, as long as I didn't move, I felt pretty well.

Would I do it again? You bet I would. We braved the minus 11 temps of the morning, and skied long enough to see the thermometer see 19 degrees. My rheumatologist would not be impressed that I'd taken another chance on skiing, but I decided last year, life is for living, and not living in fear. Life is more fun with plenty of fun and games. I'll take the pleasure and the pain. As long as I keep living, and trying to laugh about the mishaps that are sure to befall a klutz like me, I should have plenty to write about for years to come.

More Mishaps and Misadventures in Skiing:

Too Big for My (Ski) Britches

The Novice Skier; That Would Be Me!

Learning to Ski as a 50-something

Overthinking Skiing

No More Skiing?

Goodbye, Skis...

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