The full ski-experience

We're a week back now from a short ski to the French Alps, where we explored skiing in the gorgeous view of the Mont Blanc as a family for the first time.  

I'll post later on more on the trip and how wonderful the boys picked up this new sport etc.  Since I already referred to it in count my blessings,  I first want to explain that this ski trip gave me the full experience...including a mountain evacuation and a trip to the hospital. 

The result is that my mobility is greatly reduced as I slowly walk a bit with a brace holding my knee together, since my cruciate ligaments are to some degree damaged.  Well they surely didn't support me anymore on the mountain.  

So what happened?

On our third day we had just done 2 runs in the afternoon as a family since our children were having classes in the morning.  I enjoyed being together with all 4 of us although my boys had already levelled my skiing skills in just 3 mornings.  But at least we could gently curve together from some blue slopes together, with me doing most and widest curves so always arriving last at the lift. 

I started to feel fatigue in my muscles so I figured one more shorter run with them after which I'd install myself on the sunny restaurant terrace with view on the Mont Blanc. Lovely spot to hang out!  We all sat on the ski lift with the 4 of us, me being most in the right position and Kabouter to my left. 
Upon exiting he did not ski forward but surprised me with a sharp curve to the right, forcing myself equally doing a very sharp and unexpected curve to the right with a scream....straight into the net and poles at the edge there.  My right ski disconnected and flew a bit further while I was still stuck on my left ski. 

At first I thought I was just in shock from the fall and surprise. I took a moment to breathe, relax, gather my ski's and with my poles I slowly got up while Jan, the children and the lift operator checked if I was alright.   I thought I was, so I decided to slowly leave on my skis again and just go to the restaurant terrace further within view via the relatively flat green slope on top of this mountain. 

But my first 2 curves felt wrong in my knee and I didn't dare to continue.  So Jan took my ski's and went ahead to the restaurant with the boys (Beertje was already ahead, he's our impatient skier always waiting at the bottom before I realize it).  I decided to walk and cross to the snowshoe track next to the ski track.
Well...that didn't happen.  In the 10 (?) steps I tried to take, my left knee collapsed me 4 times with a big blob and me crying flat out in the snow.  Such a scary experience.  Clearly my knee did not support me anymore and I could not go anywhere.  

Kabouter had not dared to continue and was observing me in some distance, yelling whether I was ok.  Also a group of snowshoeers kept an eye on me.  I yelled I was not ok and phoned Jan to come back and search help.   The walkers came to me as well and were so nice.   While laying down, I felt fine and reassured that everyone came to help.   The man in black ran to the lift of the green slope to let them radio for help there, the others asked how I felt, if I was warm and comfortable and advised me to adjust my position slightly while we observed Jan returning on foot again.  I was kept up to date on the progress of everyone and relaxed a bit in my fate that I'd need to be evacuated from the mountain. 

The scooter arrived with a very nice first aid lady and together with all the walkers they stabilized my knee and lifted me in the scooter.  After checking whether I was insured and giving me the choice for just a ride to the lift or a call for the ambulance (as if I had a choice...I needed the ambulance and a doctor's visit).  They all waved me away for my full 2 minute drive to the lift cabins.  The walkers along the way waved and I also crossed Jan and the boys that were already on their way with my skis to the lift cabins as well. 

A new transfer to a different stretcher that would roll me in the lift down, and the boys followed a few cabins later.  They waved at me when I got transferred to the ambulance stretcher and off we went to Chamonix.  On our way I tried desperately to spell to the French nurse my name and address data which turned out impossible if I check the result now on all the data. (hmm would those invoices ever find me?).  Many road turns while fully dressed in 2 sweaters and ski jacket and still with my ski helmet on my head, made me arrive in a sweaty nausea panic attack.  

Fortunately, the nurses who transferred me to the hospital stretcher were very nice, calmed me, helped me unpeel some layers of clothes, wheeled me to the toilet much to my relief and got me into the investigation booth...where I got Jan's text message if I had the flat key with me...oops yes, the boys were in ski outfit in front of our locked door. 

While I got RX's of my knee and a doctor's analysis, the boys travelled in ski outfit by bus to Chamonix and found me ready in the waiting hall when they arrived.  My cruciate ligaments got stretched out or torn to some degree, and I had to get to a pharmacy for a supporting brace and potentially crutches. And RMI scan back home had to give conclusion to which further therapy I needed.  

What followed was a bit of a slapstick trip with Jan pushing me in a wheelchair through the town of Chamonix to the nearest pharmacy, only to find out that the brace I needed was no longer in stock. With time running out on us for open pharmacies, the boys and I camped in a little cafĂ© on the other side of the square and Jan bussed back to the apartment to fetch the rental car keys and came to pick us up to return the wheelchair to the hospital and get me in a pharmacy just before closing time to get my brace.  Fortunately, with brace, I managed to step carefully, which would make our return to Belgium less of a logistic nightmare. 

Back at home

The return to Belgium went rather smoothly, and I managed to sit rather ok in the plane home and wobble with the brace to our car. But what a relief it was to be home again! 

The last week I was stuck in more homeworking, wobbling around the house, stressing over the long delays to get an MRI in Belgium, starting some physio exercises and participating in the office in 2 days of international workshop with my colleagues incl evening dinner since I got rides with them.  

Frankly now, after one week of bad nights with this brace, fatigue and stress from arranging all practical appointments of the boys with babysits and helping parents hits me strongly.  Jan is travelling a lot in the coming weeks! While I'm actually objectively fine: mostly pain free, not entirely immobile and stuck at home, with help from friends and in the end with an MRI appointment that isn't too bad at all, I feel so tired.  And I know this isn't going to be a quick journey of recovery.  

Well bleh,  the Mont Blanc will now always have a strong connotation in my mind.  In the office they all said before I left "don't break anything". Well I didn't.   Next time, they should add "don't overstretch any joint" to their advice. 


Anne said…
Wat een avontuur. Maar het doet me deugd te lezen dat er veel lieve, behulpzame mensen zijn. En dat is mooi.
Goofball said…
@Anne: die groep wandelaars rond mij heeft me ook echt gerustgesteld en gekalmeerd. Ze bleven ook echt tot de scooter rescuer zei dat ze ging vertrekken en ze niets meer konden helpen. Dan ben ik fel uitgezwaaid.
yab said…
Toch een straf verhaal. Blij dat je uiteindelijk niet moet geopereerd worden!

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