Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ouch, that really hurts

On Wednesday I was skiing on Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire.

I didn’t make it through my second run.

It was my first time skiing Cannon, so obviously I was on an unfamiliar trail. I was already going fast when the trail suddenly turned steeper. I picked up speed, hit a bump, lost control, and fell.

At that point I was sliding on my back, backwards, at a fairly good clip. I was sliding down and across the trail, and soon came to the edge. Instead of being stopped by the netting that marks the border between the trail and the woods, I went under it, on my back, headfirst.

I came to a sudden stop when I hit a tree with my head. A literal head-on collision.

I was wearing a helmet, or I’d be dead.

I almost blacked out.

An off duty ski patroller stopped and pulled me out. (Off the trail, the snow was about three feet deep.) He asked me if I could ski the rest of the way. I said I thought I could, but then, when I stood up, I felt dizzy. After that, and especially after I told him (a) I hit a tree at high speed with my head and (b) two years ago I suffered an as-yet not completely healed herniated disc (C6) from another skiing accident (I collided with a demon snowboarder) he was not going to let me ski.

So I ended up on a backboard, strapped in, head, arms and legs immobilized. Fairly humiliating. They loaded me on a sled and skied me off the mountain, right to a waiting ambulance, and off to a hospital.

The worse part was in the ER. I was still strapped to the backboard, now placed on a gurney. The strap around my jaw was incredibly tight. It was hot, and I still had my ski jacket and, even worse, my ski boots. The nurses would not loosen the straps until a doctor checked me out, which took some time.

An angel of mercy took off my boots. And finally I got unstrapped. Off to radiology for X-rays, and everything looked OK. (The radiologist could detect my earlier injury—pretty impressive on an X-ray as opposed to an MRI.) While I was waiting, three or four other people were brought into the ER in the same state: immobilized on a backboard. Under one doctor’s lab coat, I could see a t-shirt that read: I survived ski-week in the ER.

The next day I felt as if I had been in a car wreck. My neck was very stiff, and my chest ached.

By Friday I was exercising again. Everything seems to be healing nicely. On Saturday night, New Year’s Eve, our church held its annual Hogmanay Ceilidh (Scottish folk dance.) The Master of Ceremonies, one Stuart of the Campbell clan, told of my incident to all those present for the festivities, and insisted that I wear a hard-hat during the dancing.

So much fun and excitement packed into one short week.

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