The holidays have come and gone and in a winter that was supposed to be filled with endless turns, things have come to an unexpected stop. As the world around me continues on at its normal pace, mine has been reduced to a room with a bed and a couch. Climbing mountains multiple times in a day used to be the norm, now I struggle to shuffle a few blocks, only to return home exhausted. Standing on the precipice of my 27th birthday, I face a mountain bigger than any I have ever climbed before.
When you don't have anything better to do, grow a mustache.
When I set out on this journey over a month-and-a-half ago, I knew it would change me. I sought adventure, but most of all, I wanted to learn something about myself. Backcountry skiing seemed like the perfect portal through which I could transcend into my true self. Wilderness and alpine environments demand complete concentration, focus and respect; injuries are no different. Setting out to recover from an accident requires the same planning, dedication and determination a backcountry trip entails.
Over the past three weeks, I have experienced pain, frustration and most of all elationfor I know one day I will climb back to the top of my form. Due to my inability to travel home, Room 221 of the Sand Man Inn in Vernon, BC has been my base camp for this expedition. As I acclimate to my injuries, I am faced with the long road ahead and the obstacles I have already overcome.
Passing the storm of pain, I slept 20 out of 24 hours most every day of the first week. Sticking my head out the door every once in a while, I searched for a sign of clearing skies. Slowly, my body started to wake up, but the days of the second week still blended from one day into the next. Bouts of dizziness coupled with the swelling in my hip kept me from straying far from the hotel.
With the third week coming to a close, my strength has started to return. I’m beginning to venture farther up the mountain that is the parking lot and up the streets leading to the summit. Each day I set new ropes by doing small amounts of rehabilitation, but each day I return home exhausted.
Every morning brings a new view of the route I will follow. While I lay in bed in the hospital’s emergency room, I fretted about calling my family. I knew it would throw them into a flurry of trying to figure out how they could help. At eight thirty the next night, my father arrived at my bedside. With the risk of blood clotting and the severity of my injuries, I would not be able to return home for some time.
Facing a $2,600 deductible and the mounting costs of my hospital stay, my thoughts turned to my already dwindling savings account. Fearing my health insurance might not cover the mounting bills, I tried to prove to the hospital staff I was ready to be released. Tuesday night, two days after the accident, I stood up and walked out of the hospital on a set of crutches. While lying in the hotel room, other concerns and, most of all, replays of the accident flew through my mind. I couldn’t help but ask the questions: "What if…?" And, "Why me…?"
On top of it all, this year was my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary. Instead of getting to spend it reflecting on the great times they’d spent together, they were faced with a nightmare all parents dread.
The days surrounding Christmas remain a blur to me. However, I do remember a flood of phone calls from my family. It was like I was right there, in my grandmother’s kitchen, as I talked to my relatives. Although I was 1000's of miles away, my family felt closer to me than it has ever before.
Meanwhile, my father and I made the best of the situation, and the two of us ventured out of the hotel on Christmas day. I relished the blues skies and fresh snow; the beauty of the crisp winter day breathed energy into my battered body. Santa was good to me, as I rose to my feet and did not get dizzy or light headed for the first time on Christmas day. Up until that point, every time I stood up, my head would spin and I would nearly black outa result of the massive amount of blood I lost.
Later on that week, my second Christmas present arrived in the form of my mother. Like a maniac, she searched the Internet tirelessly for flights for both her and my father. A day after she left, I sit here at the computer, baffled by how lucky I am to have the support of my wonderful family.
Situations like these make you realize the importance of family; they also demonstrate how many good people there are in the world. I have experienced the kindness of strangers, as Whale and Pinky did not hesitate to offer me their couch and to take care of my dog while I was in the hospital. Their support has continued by rousting me from my bed to get me out to the bar for a few laughs. Rebecca, a person I’d only met briefly a few times, came by my room every day for over a week to practice acupuncture on me. Aaron Cooperman invited my father and I to come up to the Sol Mountain Lodge and recover there. I couldn’t think of a better place to heal! The emails from friends and people reading my dispatches have all contributed to the overwhelming wave of positive energy I am going to ride to recovery. I can’t thank you all enough.
For the moment, I may not be skiing, but my journey is far from over. My condition is not going to permit me to travel home, so I will be recovering here in BC. While I break trail up this steep and arduous slope, I continue to meet new people and learn new lessons paramount in navigating my way through life. Just the other night, I ran into a guy whose recovery is far more amazing than mine. Hopefully, I will get to speak with him in a couple of weeks. But for now, I will be heading up to Sol Mountain Lodge. Mentally, it’s what the doctor orderedbeing back in the mountains will lift my spirits considerably.
This is my father and yes he is wearing a mullet wig...Why? Why not?