After my fall, after lying there and thinking, What the hell just happened?, a nice man that was part of ski patrol stopped by to help me. I don't remember his name, but do remember feeling thankful that he saw me and stopped. I was in the middle of the damn mountain, after all. He asked if I could stand, and I said, "No. It's my knee. I blew it out." I'm usually in tune with my body and know when something is very wrong, especially when it's about six times the normal size and on fire. I knew I had torn ligaments, most likely my ACL, and maybe a few others. The nice man got on his radio and asked to have a sled sent to me. How embarrassing. He popped my skis off for me, since they clearly failed to pop off on their own, and waited for the medic to arrive. With a little bit of assistance, I was loaded onto the sled, and down the mountain I went. Looking up at the beautiful blue sky, so many things rushed through my head: How long is this going to take to rehab? My Bali trip is most likely out of the question. How did this happen? Will I need surgery? I have about three more trips to cancel. Can I just ice this so the girls can enjoy their day? Holy shit this hurts.
I arrived to the first aid station and my friends, Suriya and Ariel, were right behind me. I had a very cute, teal helmet on this day, so they saw me coming down on the sled. Good thing I like to stand out. The nurse started to help me get my boots and ski pants off, then asked if I could bend my leg. "Hell no," I replied. He told me that I did some serious damage, considering the size of my knee, and that I should go to the ER to make sure I didn't break anything. (There was no way I broke something, my fall seemed so uneventful.) I was annoyed by this suggestion, but Suriya and Ariel said they would immediately take me to the ER in Truckee. I told them they didn't have to and that I would just wait in the lodge and ice so that they could get a few more runs in. They looked at me like I was crazy. I waited for them in the clinic as they changed out of their gear and pulled the car around back so it would be easier to load me in. After the challenging, and ridiculously painful, 10 - 12 hops to the car, we were off to the ER.
The pain gradually grew and emotions started to set in. I would start to cry about the million and one things that had just been altered in an instant, but then hitting a bump in the road (pun intended) would bring me back to reality and the physical pain ensuing. Once we arrived, we checked in and they got me back to their orthopedic center pretty quickly. Surprise, surprise, they were very used to, and equipped for, injuries such as mine. They gave me a bag of ice as I waited for Dr. M to come back and talk to me. She took one look at my leg and ordered x-rays. She told me I would get some pain medication as soon as they were done with those. I was okay with this and still tolerating the pain, as I have a decently high pain threshold. However, those were the most painful x-rays of my life and I was very ready for some heavy pain killers - intramuscular please. The x-ray showed something that required a CT. I thought to myself, Really?! I actually did break something? Awesome. Back to CT I went, sans pain relief. The technologist helped me get setup and looked at me calmly and said, "You're in a lot of pain, aren't you?" "Yes, yes I am." I did my best to keep a smile on my face, but had started to shake from the intensity of it. He promised me relief when I got back to my room; he didn't break his promise. Suriya was there waiting for me and made sure I got something strong (Amen for nurse friends), and intramuscular at that. After a nice shot of Dilauded to my left glute, I was hopeful for quick relief.
Dr. M came back in shortly after this and said, "I have good news and bad. Good is that you don't need surgery today, and bad is that you have a lateral fractured tibial plateau and you need to get an MRI as soon as you get home." Super.
At this point, I still hadn't told Adam what had happened and he called me just as we were getting ready to leave. After being in urgent care the day before because I was so sick, his response to my news was laced with shock and was something like, "Are you serious?! F*ck,Claire. I am so sorry." "Yeah, me too," I said back. It was turning out to be a very rough weekend. He told me that he was headed back to his house and would meet us there. I told him that we were right behind him and would see him in an hour or so. I hung up with him, had a full leg brace put on and crutches handed to me. Out the door we went.
Let the internalizing begin.
The next 36 hours were R O U G H. I cried, a lot. I was so sad and frustrated and couldn't think through anything logically. I knew I had to make phone calls, but I just didn't want to. It made my situation reality. I was in pain, immobile, halted some major goals and plans, and still had to figure out how the heck I was going to fly home. After talking through my options with Adam, Suriya, and Ariel, I decided I would suck it up and get on my flight Tuesday morning. I knew I had to be back in my space, with my doctors, so I could start this healing process and put my mind at ease. I called my roommate, Mary, to let her know what was going on. Without hesitation, she said she would meet me at LAX and take me straight to my orthopedic surgeon. I was beyond grateful. With this decision, Suriya and Ariel took off back to San Francisco on Monday morning, and I stayed in Tahoe one more night. My anxiety was starting to rise. Patience has never come easy to me, and this was a true test of it. I was a sitting duck, and couldn't do anything to get this healing process started until I got home. I was ready to get on that flight.
Thankfully, I had the first Southwest flight out of Reno and it wasn't a full flight. I had the entire first row to myself with plenty of room to keep my leg protected, and straight. My flight was much easier than anticipated, with plenty of help from the flight attendants and airport staff. I can't say the same about my arrival to LAX. After a very chaotic assist with the wheelchair, including a dropped crutch on top of my knee, I was elated to see Mary at baggage claim. I got out of that wheelchair as quick as I could, and kept my frustrations and critical comments to myself. I knew I had a long road ahead of me that would no doubt be testing my patience and lack of independence, so I took this as practice. Mary got my bag for me, grabbed the car, and took me straight to my doctor appointment.
Let's do this.