Thursday, January 10, 2013

"A Farewell to Knees" or "Is the domain 'InvalidsSummit.com' taken?"

Cautiously optimistic; seems like a foolish statement now.  A week ago I used that term to describe the condition of my injured knee.  I could walk well without my brace and hell, yesterday at work while reaching for a shoe, I even jumped a small bit.  I felt stability when I moved laterally and pain was minimal.  I thought I would even try skiing again this week.  So I really wasn’t even sure why I was going to see a doctor yesterday?  Probably because my gut instinct at the moment of my crash, the initial thought while I hurtled headlong through the trees at Brighton was correct all along… my ski season is over.
Nice way to sum it up my now finished 2012-13 season.
I tore my ACL.  Unlike a 2008 injury in which I stretched my ligament to the limit without breaking it, this injury left no doubt.  My doctor didn’t need an MRI this time, he could tell by yanking on my leg that it was gone, and considering his client list includes many professional skiers, I have little reason to doubt him.  Now I sit, already out of shape from 2 ½ weeks of inactivity, drinking a Wisconsin beer bootlegged in by my father (who came out here to ski with me), wondering if I’m warranted more pity?  Of course not, but since I moved out west in ’99, there have been very few years where I haven’t been able to ski with the man responsible for getting me addicted to this amazing sport.  Now I face not only the sadness of knowing he’ll be out there in the Wasatch without me, but knowing that I won’t have any turns until next fall.  I really thought 2012 was a kick ass year.  My then girlfriend found an incredible job, we got married and had a wonderful post wedding excursion (neither of us like the term “honeymoon”) but within a week of years end, I had an entire ski season evaporate.  At least in ’08 my injury happened in March after a full season of skiing.  This time, I only got one day in on my season’s pass and will miss out on some backcountry excursions outside the Wasatch.  I’ve often thought that I’ve been lucky to experience more than a lifetime’s worth of great skiing since I moved west.  I couldn’t regret anything if I never got to ski another day in my life, but now, in addition to the pain of not skiing this season, I have to somehow wrestle with my “mortality” when I eventually do return to the mountain.  I’m 36, joints and muscles are only going to get worse from here on out, so do I dial it back?  Or will a change in my attitude just put me more at risk because I’m favoring my knee?  I have to admit, some awkward falls this season have had me thinking about my knee more than in years past, and moments before I felt that long, wrenching twist as I fell forward, the thought executing a clean, left turn in some narrow, steep trees crossed my mind, as if my subconscious distracted my from the natural act of skiing with a reminder, “Hey, don’t blow out your knee dickweed,” so what do I do-- panic and blow out my knee… dickweed. 

I went into this doctor’s appointment with a list of questions.  I never asked any of them because they were based on the notion that I wouldn’t need surgery.  Instead I thought I would need some more rest and physical therapy.  I figured we would at least need an MRI to make a complete diagnosis, but once the doctor started into the explanation, I could tell he was certain.  I went into a state of shock.  Outwardly I was calm and nonplussed.  When he was telling me details and important facts however, I could only glean out a few bullet points amongst my internal cacophony of “SHIT, FUCK, SHIT, FUCK, SHIT, FUCK”.  And of course, I walk outside and the smog has cleared enough that I can see the full glory of the Wasatch… “SHIT, FUCK, SHIT, FUCK, SHIT, FUCK”.

So tomorrow I have surgery.  The only way I’m going to keep from going crazy this winter is to focus on everything I do outside of ski season: cycling, camping, hiking, rafting.  I should be able to ride a bike in about a month, and once I pay off this surgery, maybe I’ll be able to get the cyclocross bike I’ve been eyeing.  So I’m sorry that this blog will be lacking in “ski” related material, but I hope I can still write something worth reading.  I have plenty of great Wisconsin beers to talk about.

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