It’s a funny thing finding your life flipped up on it’s head in a split second, the range of physical feelings and emotions you experience are numerous and extreme and all in very quick succession. The physical pain, the fear, the disappointment, the shock and the general annoyance that you didn’t do something differently that day.
Of course none of this really matters when all said and done, as you realise the final feeling, the gratitude. The gratitude that you are still moving, breathing and able to experience all these thoughts and emotions, all of which go along with living a human life and getting the chance to live another beautifully boring day.
So what happened? Well in short I recently had a bad snowboarding accident where I ruptured several ligaments in my knee and fractured some bone. I’m aware that for most people, my story won’t seem all that important or dramatic, but for me it’s been pretty life changing.
The consequences are that I can no longer work this year and for several weeks have been unable to walk. For anyone that lives in these energetic, high octane ski towns, what that means is understood but for those that aren’t privy to it, I’ll lay it down; It means no money coming in in an extortionately expensive town while rent continues to go out, it means huge hospital bills, it means long journeys out of town for hospital visits, it means not being sure what country you’ll be in next month for surgery, it means days in bed out of it on medication, it means your plans for the winter and everything you have worked towards professionally is on hold for another year at the very least and for me, it meant I couldn’t do the thing that lights me up most in the world, teaching skiing and snowboarding.
The day of the accident started off very normally, it was one of my two days off that week, I was super excitable (as usual) as I’d been really busy with work over December so was super stoked to be riding with my pocket tunes and hunting out some new terrain with my friends.
We decided to head to some trees called ‘Upper Back 40’ These are very tight and very steep trees but so bloody fun! We were having a great time until *Next sentence not for the squeamish* I felt my knee separate and my patella and femur go in opposite directions causing me to bail out into a tree well, I was then dug out and we waited for patrol.
The patrollers were with me in about forty five minutes and following some very painful immobilisation and manoeuvring, I was tobogganed out. The taboggan felt more like a bobsled ride/log flume as the patrollers carefully navigated the massive moguls, the drops and the narrow trees while trying not to tip me. I was then taken in an ambulance to the hospital where I awaited treatment.
Tree wells for those that don’t know are a not so fun aspect of tree skiing, they’re areas underneath trees that don’t get as much snow as the surrounding areas due to the branches acting as an umbrella, and are a cross between quicksand and as the name suggests a deep well that can be up to 20 ft deep. If you fall in one, you are often unable to get out unassisted and people can and do drown.
I was one of the lucky ones, my glorious friends were with me in 30 seconds, within which time I managed to cough out the snow that was around my head and neck and create a space to breathe/belt out some horrendously panicked screams for help, knowing full well that I had limited time to get people’s attention and no way of getting myself out of this potentially very bad situation.
It’s a crazy thing self preservation, it kicks in immediately in those moments, the basic need to survive overrides any ego you ever had and you just know you need to do everything and anything you can to stay here and to keep on living.
Those are the facts, that’s what happened but what I’ve learned through this is what came next, the way in which you process the facts and how you choose to move forward is exactly that, it’s a choice and it’s something I’m navigating on a day to day basis. I could choose to feel unlucky that this injury happened to me, or I can choose to feel lucky that things weren’t a lot worse, and it’s key that I remember, they could have been much much worse.
For me, it has to be the latter, I feel extremely lucky. I feel lucky that that day I was riding with a tight knit crew that were back country savvy, switched on and didn’t disperse in the trees, I feel lucky that everyone I was riding with had whistles (minus of course, me) to get the attention of patrol, I feel lucky that I was riding second in a five strong group and within seconds there were two people digging my head first, busted knee ass out of the tree well and most of all I feel lucky that I’m here writing this post and pretty bloody happy to still be kicking.
So that’s where I’m at, that’s what’s happened and I’m generally in really good spirits, feeling very grateful for people, as well as for my own resilience. I’m also happily filling my days with card games, friends, coffee, reading, writing and waiting for my next surgery appointment while allowing myself to feel all the things and maintaining perspective on the situation.
Don’t get me wrong, I of course have days where I feel weak, I feel the injury completely, the pain, the fear, the annoyance and the disappointment all come back, but I’m learning that that’s OK too and actually quite necessary to move forward.
I have learned to let myself have those days, to allow the emotion to wash through me and over me so that the next day I can get up, dust myself off and crack on with my day. Which, I will continue to do, I’ll continue to move forward with my adjusted life remembering so clearly and regularly how lucky I am to have had the people with me that day that I did, to have had the support I have had every day since and once again for getting to live the next beautifully boring day.