Sometime last week Adam asked me if I’d like to go skiing over the weekend. I hadn’t been skiing for two years at this point, so I figured it would be a fun time out. Friday rolls around, I cut out of work a bit early to do some laundry and eventually head over to Matt, Rory, and Adam’s place. Adam was out with family, so Matt and I just chilled for awhile and ate some pizza from Imperial. Adam came home and we piled into Hawkeye and set out for Adam’s condo. About 2 hours later we got to the condo and met up with Scott (Adam’s brother) and Krystal, who I had met before, and Sue and Mike, who I hadn’t. We just drank. A lot. We also watched a bootleg copy of Team America, which is still hysterical, and it turns out it is actually more so when you are really wasted. Anyway, we were up until like 4:30am, and we slept until about 10:30a before we darted out of the house towards Loon.
We stop at McDonald’s for some breakfast which was impossible to eat because everyone was so hungover. I went to the place across the street to get some rentals and headed up to the mountain. After getting lift tickets, we waited on our first lift line for like 15 minutes. After making the top of that lift, we switched back to another to get higher on the mountain. At the top of this lift we chose to go down Flume, and started our way down the hill. Pretty early on I hit some ice, but held it together… Soon after that, though, I hit some ice that I couldn’t recover from, and went down. At this time, I started rolling hard over my shoulder, and while I expected that my ski would have kicked off, it didn’t until well after. I eventually slid to a stop and I instantly knew something was terribly wrong with my knee but went into denial. Matt came to a stop pretty close to me after having to bail to avoid hitting me (thanks Matt!). He let me chill for quite awhile while I was trying to figure out how to stand up, but after 15 minutes I decided that simply wasn’t going to happen. The rest of our party had been a few hundred feet down the hill and shouting up things like “Get the fuck up, pussy!” (some of you might take offense, but rest assured, this is just how we talk to each other). Matt notified them and anyone else passing by that we needed help from Ski Patrol and the guys started the hard hike back up to my position. This is when I was reminded that Mike was an EMT and a Firefighter, so I felt much more relaxed. A MA Trooper who part-times as a ski-patrol guy showed up and set up my skis above me in the crossed “peril” configuration. He asked me some questions, tried to check out my knee, but quickly decided that we needed a sled, so he called for one. At some point some guy was headed straight for me for hundreds of feet, with everyone in my party waving him off, and he just barely missed me… What a fucker. Mike and the Cop consulted each other and they agreed it was probably a dislocated knee, which didn’t seem awful. Eventually the dude with the sled showed up (could have been 3 minutes or 30, I was pretty out of it) and the two patrolmen strapped me in to a splint for my leg and then into the sled.
Just as the sled started to move, I realized for the first time that while I was still in serious pain I was far more comfortable than I was trying to not fall off my ass in the snow. I decided to close my eyes and try to space out the pain and focus on the comfort. I thought to myself that I thought the sled was moving fast, but felt relief because the faster I get to the bottom the faster I get to the Doctor. Speed seemed to be increasing, but it was only when I felt pain from bumps that I decided to turn my head and ask the guy to slow down. When I turned around, I saw the two handles of the sled hanging in midair with nobody attached to them… I was careening down this black diamond, gaining speed, strapped down to this sled head first. I managed to sidle up so I could press my shoulder into the handle and hopefully press it down and maybe engage the brake… I eventually came to a stop, but I later found out that it was because some random saint on the mountain caught the sled and brought me to a stop. I was freaking out completely… It turns out that the ski patrol guy lost his ski as he came over a bump and bailed, losing the sled. I asked how far I had been solo and one of my friends responded that they guessed it was about 200-300 meters. Eventually the patrolman caught up and approached me and said “Sorry”. In my mind I thought: “That’s all you’ve got? Sorry?”, but I was in pain so I kept my jaw shut. He got me to calmer hill and then readjusted me in the sled, and we progressed to the clinic at the lodge.
The lodge clinic was surprisingly well-equipped, with an on-staff orthopedic surgeon… They moved me to a stretcher, checked out my knee, got some x-rays, and then the surgeon went to reset my knee, which he said was much easier than it should have been. Turns out this is because my lower knee surface as well as my tibia and fibula were in several large pieces, and we weren’t talking simple fractures, either. This is when he informed me that surgery would be required, and it was going to be a big deal. I freaked out just a touch, but I’m a pretty down to earth guy, so I pretty much just accepted what I had done to myself… My crew eventually landed at the clinic, and I tried to convince them that they should get some more runs in, but that didn’t work so well… The doctor eventually said that with the leg splinted it would be safe for my friends to transport me to a hospital in Boston so I didn’t have to be so far away from all of my support. This was welcome news… The boys eventually got me into the car, back to the condo to fetch all our shit, and so I could pee, and on the road back to Boston. I had chosen St. Elizabeth’s as the destination because it is so close to my apartment which would make it easy for Coco to get there without a car.
Once we were on the road, I started to make calls…. First, I called home to let them know what had happened.. I got Mom on the horn, and she freaked out a bit, but not that much… She was in disbelief, probably because I am almost always bullshitting her, but she eventually accepted it. I also called Chuck, since he is my best friend as well as my old skiing buddy… I was a little less diplomatic with Chuck, but I was also high on percoset so it wasn’t that hard to cut the crap. I waited to call Corinna because I figured it was going to take 2 hours to get back to Boston, but only 20 minutes for her to walk to the hospital, and there was no need for her to helplessly freak out for that hour and a half, so I just held out until we were in MA to call her. I got a little sick from the percoset, trauma, and motion in the car, but fortunately we got a bucket from the clinic so it was almost completely contained, save for a little splatter on adam’s ski pants (I was wearing) when he brought the car to a stop. We arrived at the hospital at the same time as Corinna, which was fantastic.
I got wheelchaired into the hospital and waited for about 30-45 minutes before someone read me in to the ER… We had called ahead, but I have no idea if that helped our wait or not. I think Corinna was far less freaked out once she saw that even though my leg was clearly fucked up, I was doing reasonably well emotionally and had at least some semblance of smile on. I got into the ER, and was in there for hours before Corinna was allowed to see me… Fortunately Adam and Matt left well before that, because they wouldn’t have let them back there anyway… :) That night I was x-rayed again, my leg was CAT scanned, I had a chest xray and a flu test (so they wouldn’t cut me if my lungs were compromised), and given the real signature maintenance. I met several doctors and surgeons as I was moved farther up the chain of specialties, and ultimately Dr. Schena told me that he would have to do an Open Reduction Internal Fixation (use plates, pins, and surgery to rebuild the knee). He also told me that it was very likely that a bone graft would be required. I was confused, because graft generally means taking tissue from one part of the body and using that to help a damaged section on another part of the body heal. I couldn’t imagine where the replacement bone would come from, and he eventually explained to me that it would come from a cadaver. So, ladies and gentlemen, not only am I now a cyborg, but I am also part zombie. He said this would be a long recovery, and I would be unable to bear any load on the leg for 6-8 weeks, and I would be in the hospital for several days and apartment bound for a few weeks. It was a lot to take in, but I think I handled it pretty well…
The next day, Sunday, was the day of surgery, and I was given a slot somewhere between 9am and 12am, but just like the salon, they were squeezing me in, and it was a prioritized list, so I could get bumped… I went down to surgery around 2pm but didn’t get cut until 3… I didn’t emerge from the OR for 4 or so hours….
That’s about it… I spent several days in the hospital recovering, slowly weaned off the morphine drip and put back on percoset, introduced to several specialists and my new best friend, the constant passive motion machine (which is part of my therapy routine), and slowly brought back to some modicum of functionality.
This has really let me know who my friends are, though….. It’s good to know that whatever petty shit can occur between friends, when push comes to shove they will stand up for you. I can’t thank my friends enough. And Corinna, boy did she not sign up for this… She has been fantastic, helping this cripple get around the apartment and tolerating the fact that I am pretty much deadweight right now. Also, thanks to everyone who responded to my previous entry either with comments, cards, or phone calls.. You all rock and you rock even more since I know you won’t cry if I don’t respond to every single comment. :P
While the nurse was here today to change my dressing I asked Corinna to give me my camera so I could take a few pics of my stapled leg. They are included here below the cut, for those of you who wish to see them. I also hope to get scans of my xrays up here soon as soon as I get them from the doctor, they are pretty cool. The comments of this entry will assuredly get filled by those in/around the accident with different perspectives… I will also linkify this a bit better, so if you are actually interested I recommend checking back as my friends and family check in… :)