My story of tearing my ACL isn’t all that cool at all. (Which I have heard from my other ACL friends in Aspen, that that is usually the case.) According to Wikipedia, my source for everything, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a crudiate ligament which is one of the four major ligaments of the human knee. See picture below:
I was on rather new skis, I hadn’t skied in a while (from the previous “mishap” of the femur shatter possibility) and I wasn’t as strong as I normally am. It was a sunny Friday on Snowmass Mountain, I was with three friends and we were cruising down a “groomer” (named after the fact that it has been groomed: the process of manipulating snow for recreational uses, usually using a snow groomer vehicle- Wikipedia). Keep in mind I have skied for 23 years, including 7 years of racing in high school and college and I have taken some pretty nasty falls. I caught an edge on Naked Lady- a run I have heard gets its name from all of the bumps and curves, and fell fairly hard to the ground in a flurry of snow. I laid there for a second, in shock, until an older gentleman skied up and asked if I was okay. I said no and to call ski patrol because I couldn’t move my leg. I wasn’t in pain so I knew it wasn’t a broken bone but my leg felt limp and I just knew something was wrong. He skied down the 500 yards to the chairlift, called for my friends and called ski patrol.
Meanwhile, two older ladies were attempting to get my skis off, to no avail. I was right below one of Naked Lady’s “bumps” and in danger of being smashed into. Ski patrol was on the scene rather quickly and my friends had made it up the pitch. Ski patrol strapped me into a sled and the ride down would have been fun had I not been cursing myself for the stupid fall. We arrived at the Snowmass emergency clinic, a place rather familiar with this type of injury. I was stripped down to disposable shorts, x-rayed and examined by a doctor.
Bree took this picture “just in case this is nothing and we can make fun of you later.” Which it wasn’t. Thanks Bree. :)
Sidenote: I was reminded at this time of the motherly saying: “Always wear clean underwear, you never know when you might have to go to the doctor.” Although I was wearing clean underwear (too much information??), I had not showered and my toes were disgusting from lack of a pedicure in weeks. Although I am sure they have seen much worse, I encourage the advice and remind you that I had not planned on going to the doctor that day.Always wear clean underwear.
The conclusion was a torn ACL (the test is simple for this: the doctor looks for stability, strength, range of movement, swelling, and tenderness. Tests for stability include a Lachman test and a pivot shift test. The Lachman test compares the degree of looseness, or laxity in your knees). I also probably had a tear in my MCL (see above picture again) but that isn’t treated through anything but ice and time. An MRI and a visit with an Orthopedic Surgeon would determine the next steps. I was amazed at how easy it was to have a debilitating injury such as this. It was a simple slip on my skis and now I was about to undergo about 6 months of my life being altered.
They sent me home with a prescription for Vicodin, a brace, crutches (with the fancy ice grips on the bottom) and a bill for almost $1,100. Another sidenote: Get insurance if you don’t already have it. This is only the beginning of something which I have heard costs about $50,000 not including Physical Therapy. Yikes.
That afternoon as I sat in my room going over the fall over and over in my head, I realized how much I took for granted in my life. This sort of injury requires TONS of assistance from other people- getting up the stairs, carrying stuff, changing ice packs, etc. I am lucky to have so many people in my life who can help me with all of this. That evening, my roommate made a delicious dinner and I sipped on a glass of wine, knowing that I was going to get through this with flying colors because of all of this help from those around me. And I felt fortunate to have them in my life when there are so many people who do not have that kind of support. I felt at ease, even the first couple of days when it hurt to move and hurt to think about what I would be missing in the coming months. Thank you to those people who put me at ease, you know who you are.
Last sidenote: Do not drink wine with Vicodin. Even one glass and I was off my rocker. Woops.