I endured arguably the biggest injury of my life last week. I was on a girls ski trip and took a major tumble down what could be considered the most benign slope we skied all trip. Wrong patch of snow, wrong edge, wrong timing, too fast, just careless enough, BOOM!!! As I flew through the air and crashed into the slope I felt my skis eject, and my left limb as well. When I landed and realized that my left leg was, in fact, still attached, I knew I had dislocated my hip. Plenty of thoughts raced through my brain: excruciating pain being the dominant, followed by "well if ski patrol can just pop it back in I'll be on my way", and back around to "there's no f'ing way I can ski myself off this mountain". A girlfriend was close behind me, raced off to call ski patrol, then hiked back up with another girlfriend to help ski patrol load me into the sled, as I agonized over any micro-motion of the injured joint. Considering the sky's status was blue bird and the light, fluffy snow we had been enjoying, this was the first dose of lemons.
The first patroller on the scene was Kim, one of the few badass women to patrol for their winter living. She advocated for me the entire way down the slope, moving swiftly, yet checking in often until she handed me off to the base crew. The ambulance arrived after a painful 20 minutes or so and we descended the hill to the ER. Another painful series of boxes were checked before they took xrays, consulted the on-call ortho doc, and aligned all ducks in a row to prepare for my hip reduction. Prior to being put into conscious sedation, I was told that the xrays showed an acetabular fracture (aka a pelvic fracture). After the hip reduction I would get a CT scan and 1 of 3 paths would be determined: rest & heal, get back to Denver for surgery ASAP, or another ambulance trip to Spokane for emergency surgery. 2nd dose of lemons.
The first attempt proved to be unfruitful in reducing my hip, but fruitful in an audible "grind/pop" in my knee, perpetuating what was probably already a torn ACL. More lemons. The second reduction attempt was successful and I awoke to the hum of the CT scan. The hospital team had prepared me for the worst and I tasted the first, sweet & satisfying, sip of lemonade when I learned that the CT scan came back clean! No pelvic fracture, no ambulance to Spokane, no emergency surgery! This of course made the torn ACL seem like lemon meringue pie.
Upon discharge I joined 14 of my best girlfriends back at our ski chalet for dinner, war wound talk, and so much TLC. The next day of rest was welcomed as the group headed out to ski, but then the snow started to fall. By evening it was DUMPING snow & the group woke up to ~14" of fresh POW. An opportunity that graces skiers dreams, on the regular. This is when the tears started to fall. I maintained a relatively stoic persona throughout the series of horrific events and into recovery, and my default is always a positive attitude. As the gravity of the 9-12 month recovery set in, and the snow continued to accumulate leaving me with a beautiful view but no fresh tracks, I declared it my "SAD DAY".
You see, even the most committed optimist needs permission to be sad. We are human, emotion is what makes us normal. I covered the gamut that snowy powder day on the couch: anger, why me?, sad, scared, lonely, insecure, what if?. And consciously I thought to myself: get it all out today on this SAD DAY, because tomorrow it's onward & upward. Head up, chest high, smile on, and I will move forward. And that is exactly what happened.
As humans we can't and shouldn't pretend everything is always ok. We need to feel our deepest pains and sorrows and show them to the world. After-all, what is a life of constant happiness without any contrast? What is equally as important as allowing ourselves sadness, is the ability to pick up the pieces and course correct. For me, the mental countdown of a "sad day", was what I needed. It is what I needed to mourn the injury, the grueling recovery, and the activity I was missing out on. It was also what I needed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and move forward on the journey of life.
How have you managed to turn the corner when adverse events occur in your life?