Tales of Traumatic Knee Injury, part 1

My first Colorado ski season distracted me from being a better writer, because for the first time in my life, doing exercise is my most rewarding non-professional activity.  Here I am at the beginning of the season in December, wondering, “What could possibly go wrong?”  


My ski career began around age 4 on the icey slopes of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.  I was fearless, stupid, and limber enough that I quickly recovered from all injuries.  This year was the first time I had been on skis since I was 18, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could bounce right back into blues and some blacks.  After 8 or 9 ski visits to Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Keystone I was feeling pretty pro, and skiing way too fast.  As you can see from the picture above, my season rentals were a little bit novice for my tastes so I upgraded to some narrower, sharper Rosignols.  

But then, as things do happen, Saturday happened.

We were on the last run before a late lunch, I tried to avoid crashing into another skier  caught an edge, and had a fantastically terrifying egg-beater down the run.  I had fallen plenty of times before, but never at this high speed and never with my knee twisted behind me.  I let out a blood-curdling screams, punched the hill, and dug my nails into my friends’ arm.  The pain that followed was so excruciating that I have a little panic attack every time my brain relives the moment.

30 seconds passed and the pain subsided.  Ski patrol checked to see that I could still say my own name and whereabouts and fit me snugly into the stretcher/sled system.  At the base of lift #1, I tried to get up and walk.  No luck.  My left knee wasn’t supporting any weight.  Rather than have me somehow ninja roll from the ski lift, I was loaded up into the stretcher once again, attached to the lift, and taken down to the Keystone ER clinic.

Knee injuries are a dime a dozen in a place like that, but I was still completely crushed and visibly shaken when the ER doc brought out the knee model.  An ACL tear?  Seriously?  A meniscus tear 70% likely?  Oh great.  Commence hysterical sobbing in front of strangers.


So here I am, post-ortho follow up, post-pre/hab PT,and pre-MRI hoping that the meniscus (menisci?) in my knee aren’t shredded to bits.  I am on crutches unto further notice and am working to perfect my science instruction from the safety and security of a wheely office chair.

I know that this type of injury is very common and very repairable, but I can’t help but feel immensely pissed.  The crutches hurt my shoulder.  I can’t shower without assistance.  Opening doors is an exercise in extreme patience.  Cooking dinner or any activity takes three times longer than usual.

I am going to push myself to stay positive, continue to make jokes, accept help, and realize that I can do things with only partial effort and the world won’t fall apart.  For right now, in this moment, I’m going to give myself space to be upset and tired from the four days of struggling and uncertainty.  Breathe in, breathe out. 





About jacqandthemountains

I teach middle school science, and I like to play outside.
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