Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wake-Up Call

It started out as a great day. I woke up, drove to the canyons and had planned to ski for a few hours then go into work for the evening shift.

The snow was pretty good, there was an inch or so of fresh everywhere and I was enjoying myself. I met up with some friends and we started hunting for powder stashes. We found one that we kept lapping. It was a gorgeous aspen stand and we were lovin it.

On my last run, I decided to hit a jump that I had been eyeing throughout the day.

I never knew that it would be the worst decision I had made all season long.

I came down from the jump perfectly. I had my knees to my chest and it seemd as though I was gona ride it out smoothly. But I landed too hard and too fast for my current ski setting. One of my skis popped off and my boot dug into the ground. I tomahawked once then just kept tumbling.

Once I came to a stop, I started making the most horrific noise I've ever heard. I was choking for air and the first thought that ran through my head was that I had a punctured lung. My friends immediately took off for ski patrol. The other friend stayed with me asking and telling me "What hurts?" "Don't move!" I couldn't answer. I still couldn't breathe and now my arms were tingling and I was losing feeling. I couldn't move without excruciating pain shooting through my whole body. I've never experienced something so painful and so scary at the same time.

After what seemed to be an eternity, ski patrol finally showed up. They immediately gave me oxygen and began talking to me. I had caught my breath by this time and I was able to speak to them clearly. I was happy to hear my own voice, knowing that I hadn't had any neurological damage. Thank god I was wearing a helmet.

Because of my contorted body position, it took ski patrol about 30-40 minutes to get me on a backboard and onto the sled. They took me down to the closest road and loaded me into a ski patrol truck to take me down to the ambulance. Once I was in the truck, I completely broke down. I had been focusing on keeping my composure for so long that I didn't have a chance to just let my emotions run free. I'd never been so scared in my entire life. As I was staring at the ceiling of the truck, with tears streaming down the side of my face, a million thoughts began to race through my head. What if I broke my back? What if I become paralyzed? What if I have internal bleeding? Right then, I realized how precious life really is.

I got to the hospital and spent a few hours there. Getting CAT scans and talking to doctors and nurses about my condition throughout my stay.

I ended up walking out of the hospital with a minor fracture in my ribcage and a severely sprained neck and back.

I'm sorer than hell and I can't move too well, but I couldn't be luckier or happier with how this ended up. It could've been a whole lot worse.

I've never taken life for granted, nor will I ever, but this wake-up call, this slap in the face from life has definitely made me realize how ridiculously dangerous skiing is. Who thought of this sport? "Hey I'm just gona go about 50 mph down this mountain on a couple of sticks. Doesn't that sound like a good idea!?" Don't get me wrong, I definitely plan to keep skiing, but I am going to become a bit more conservative with my style, though. And I won't try new stuff on my last run of the day! Always use your last run to just get down the mountain safely, damnit!!!

Anyway, I'll be taking it easy for the next few days and hopefully I'll be skiing and working again next week. Many thanks to those who visited me in the hospital and helped me get home. Thank you to my family and friends for your thoughtful phone calls and messages. I love you all so much.

And matter what life throws at you, always keep a positive attitude!