It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog. But, after life dealt me a challenging blow and I couldn’t find online answers to many questions I wanted to know, decided the time was right to resurrect the blog and share my journey from super active, happy and positive – to benched for a bit, the waves of emotion that come with it, lessons learned (learning) – and physical activities that can done with one good leg.
How I Did It
My parents had me in gymnastics twice/week, tennis lessons, horseback riding and playing little league soccer all before I was 10-years-old – and except for maybe freshman year of college, I’ve hardly stopped doing something physically active 4-6 days/week since.
I spin and run as much or more for the mental clarity it gives me as the physical benefits.
Playing tennis is one of my favorite things to do…
I like to do headstands or handstands every day too. There’s something I find really relaxing about the blood rushing to my head
And some days I like to kick things…
Not putting at risk the ability to do these things are some of the reasons why I never skied.
Skiing is something I aspired to learn when I was younger, like grade school younger, but as I got older I learned the fear that comes with knowing how easily you could get hurt hurdling down a mountain and I accepted that it was a sport I probably wouldn’t have the privilege of enjoying in my life. I was ok with that. Being a writer who’s blissful vegging out in front of a fire with my laptop or a book, I love a ski trip as much as the next person and I snowshoe when I can. But, after more than half a dozen ski vacations with my best friend who likes to ski more than some professional skiers I’ve met, I relented and decided to try ski school.
I liked it. But, still scared that I wasn’t competent enough to control avoiding injury, I went to ski school three more times – and got lucky with a private lesson ¾ times! Each time I went I was told I was perfectly progressing and with a little bit of practice I could become a decent recreational skier. Skiing is one of few things where I only aspired to the middle, to be able to go on a few fun runs and return to my happy place by the fire.
My second time skiing sans ski school (Amber finally told me I’d outgrown my beloved Sesame Street run), I was feeling good. Post the craziness of Sundance Amber and I went to Powder Mountain, a gorgeous mountain in Eden, Utah that had very few skiers.
After a few falls on our first run as I adjusted to the new terrain (I’d never previously skied anywhere other than Mammoth Mountain), I got in a groove and was cruising. I got comfortable and was going straight down the catwalk runs, picking up speed and loving the adrenaline going over the rollers. I tried to breathe through my rapidly beating heart and enjoying the wind whipping through against my face as I went faster. “I could get used to this,” I thought.
All the way Amber was right next to me, in front of me or in back of me, staying close on runs well below her level to keep coaching me and make sure I was ok.
But, like a parent can’t protect a child from everything, coaches with even the best intentions can’t prevent the student from sometimes falling.
Maybe it was over confidence, maybe it was a patch of ice, maybe just bad luck or a combination of both, but I had a couple of spectacular falls after a couple of great runs and on that last one, I felt something in my need kind of pop. I’d just got my skis back on after my last fall where they both went flying along with my poles (garage sale!), but my leg was throbbing so much I wasn’t sure it would unbend. I gave myself a minute and tried and realized it was fine (or so I thought). I was a little shaky, but made it the rest of the run and then some back to the lodge.
It was a little sore after I returned my skis, but I figured I was just a little battered and bruised and was all smiles enjoying a beer at après ski with Amber and two of my favorite British imports Paul Oakenfold and Zen Freeman.
After the flight back to LA a few hours later my leg felt a little still and swollen, but still not bad enough that I thought anything was really wrong. When Amber noticed me limping at the airport she asked, “Is it really that bad?” and I thought I was being a drama queen, or just tired from the trip, but it just felt better to not try and walk.
The next morning my knee looked like I’d implanted a baseball in it. When the swelling hadn’t subsided by afternoon and my leg became so stiff I couldn’t walk I went to a doctor. After telling me, “It looks like you have some fluid in your knee (Captain Obvious) he moved my knee around and told me it was really loose – until he did the same to my other knee, the ‘control knee’ and it was the same. Then he said, “I think you’re fine, but I’ll do a precautionary MRI and you’re limping, so I’m giving your crutches.”
I had a couple of lessons up and down the hallway on crutches and was laughing, thinking about what Amber would say that my fall put me on crutches – I thought for the next day or two.
Two days and 20 minutes in an MRI machine later I went back for the results.
“ACL” the doctor said, before ushering me into an office to see the MRI on a computer.
He showed me a ‘normal knee’ with a think black band across the knee. “That’s an ACL he said.” Then he showed me my knee. There wasn’t a black band.
As I started to register what that meant I started crying – even though at this point I thought it meant I’d be out for a couple of weeks and maybe need surgery.
When the my doctor, who’s over 70 and brags about the steel rod in his body and his multitude of other ski injuries like they’re badges of honor started explaining that I’d need surgery and not be able to play tennis again for 9 months to a year, the tears came harder. He told me, “Get it together, you don’t have cancer.”
He did have a point, even if he didn’t have compassion. But, the tears didn’t stop. So, the doctor stopped talking. He said, “I’m not going to continue if you can’t stop crying, you won’t hear any of it.” I told him I could multi-task but he said, “Come back in two weeks after you’ve ingested it, you’ll be a new person.” I told him, “Yes, I’ll be a fat person.”
Ok, maybe I was a bit melodramatic, but I was, I am, fearful about what will happen to a person who’s been active and physically fit for so long, going from six days a week doing a work out – to Zero. I wondered what this this meant for the Grammy and Oscar parties I was slated to work, the trip to SXSW I intended to take, my tennis game I was finally getting good at – not to mention my bank account.
I asked if he had any instructions for me in the interim. He said no. I asked if I should ice my knee. He said, “If you want to.” I asked if it would help and he said there’s not much of a point after the first 48 hours, but do whatever I want.
Once I ‘got it together’ I thought it was odd that a doctor just told me I was broken and chose to leave me that way without further instruction until I came back a couple of weeks later to schedule surgery.
Which leads me to: Doctors & Insurance (Next Post)