Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Tennis Career Is Over Before It Even Began

Sorry for my silence this week but, unfortunately, I had a little spill on the slopes last weekend.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my son’s school gives the whole week of President’s Day off for “Ski Week.” Jason and Shane drove up on Monday and enjoyed a week of skiing despite the lack of snow in the mountains. Mammoth Mountain is having a drought.

By the time they picked me up from the airport on Thursday evening, Jason had crashed while sledding at the new extreme sled park, which boasts a 420 foot long run. I held my breath every time Jason got up as he would moan, grimace and grab his back. He was the brave man for most of the weekend.

On Saturday, my second day on the slopes, the weather was nice despite the lack of snow. We spent most of the morning taking runs from mid-mountain and down.

About 1pm, we decided to break for lunch. On our way down to Canyon Lodge, the boys decided to cut through the “Art Park.” The new terrain park is a way to merge skiing and snowboarding with art. It features jumps, rails, bumps and boxes.

We had been through the Art Park several times since Shane loved to go over the bumps and I had avoided all extreme features the park had to offer until…

Somehow, my ski caught some ice and, due to the lack of snow, I face planted (quite violently I might add) into an embankment that was the side of some bumps created for the park. Since there wasn’t any fluffy snow for me, the hard ice did nothing to soften my fall.

First, I must say, thank you for my helmet. This is my first ski season wearing a helmet and I can’t believe I haven’t before now. But all that really matters is that I had one on last Saturday.

Once the stars dissipated, I tried to take inventory of what had happened. Another mom skied up to me and asked if I was OK. I answered her honestly and said I didn’t know.

My skis had come off, so she helped me to gather them. Once I tried to get up, I realized that I was unable to use my left arm. I had to use all my core strength in order to get up. Thank God for yoga.

In a daze, I skied down the mountain a bit and found that Jason and Shane were waiting for me. Jason said they could see that I was down; but I was too far up for them to do anything.
On skis, we made our way down the rest of the mountain and found a seat outside the lodge for lunch. Jason promptly handed me a glass of wine, good man! But, once I took off my helmet, it was apparent that I had bonked my head good as I was already bleeding.  Wine did not seem to be a good idea.
After a trip to the restroom, I realized my head looked a lot worse than it was but my arm was useless and beginning to throb.
I left Jason and Shane to ski with our neighbors and I made my way to the gondola which would start my journey to Mammoth Hospital. I arrived into the ER about 1:40pm on Saturday. I knew I was in for a long wait, but little did I know what lay ahead of me.
My time in the waiting room went pretty quick and I was reassured by the sign that read if you have been waiting for more than a half hour, let the receptionist know.
After filling out my paperwork, I looked around the waiting room. There were chicken wings as far as the eye could see. No, not the kind you eat but the human arms that were wrapped haphazardly by ski patrol.
Within the hour, I was moved into triage where a nurse took a look at me in order to be admitted. The first thing I realized is that they were more concerned about my head than I was. They asked me the usual questions: Did I pass out? Did I throw up? Was I nauseous? Do I know what day it is? No. No. Yes. Yes.

They asked if I had anyone out in the waiting room that I wanted to come in and be with me. I said no, I drove myself to the hospital and boy did they exchange looks. [Disclaimer: Jason felt terrible sending me on my own, but I wasn’t sure how long I would be and I couldn’t think of anything that would make me feel worse than to force Jason and Shane to sit with me in the hospital. I forcefully declined.]

They put me in a chair by the nurses’ station to wait for my turn to get x-rays. The nurses would periodically, ask me if I was alright and if I knew what day it was; I would keep saying that it was still Saturday the last time I checked.

Obviously, I appreciated their concern and they were just doing their jobs, but I was more worried that I didn’t have the use of my left arm and it seemed to be getting worse.

After another hour, a technician came to get me and she took some x-rays. She then escorted me back to my chair near the nurses’ station in triage. An older woman, who seemed to be a volunteer, brought me some pillows to prop my shoulder. By now, the pain was starting to intensify and the little bit of grandmotherly affection made me feel a bit emotional.

When they transferred her from the gurney to the hospital bed, she let out a blood curdling scream. Everyone sheltered behind their curtained triage rooms immediately stopped talking and hid from her pain. Except me, I had a ring side seat as my chair sat facing the poor injured girl's room.

They began trying to take off her snowboarding gear and that scream came again. She begged them to just cut it off, but the nurses said they could get it off her without ruining an expensive jacket.

Before they started to do so, I creatively visualized the big pink bubble that would deflect any of the other Tracy’s negative and painful energy that seemed to be oozing out of her little cubicle. I was correct in doing so as she screamed and then she got pissed and started yelling and cursing at the nurses. It was right about this time that the anesthesiologist arrived.

I was thinking that the clothing removal would have gone much smoother if he had arrived first but, hey, what do I know.
They got her hooked up and then rushed into surgery. Once she was wheeled away, it was as though everyone else who had a lesser injury could breathe again. We all thought, I hurt but at least it’s not that bad.

By now, it was about 5pm and I had been sitting in that chair for a long time. The unknown of the extent of my injury was starting to weigh on me. Finally, they moved me into my own room, tucked me into bed, and handed me the remote control to the TV on the wall.

Two hours later, the doctor finally made it in to see me. He was a very nice man and did a thorough exam of my head and arm injury. After looking at my x-rays and the exam, he asked me if I was a tennis player. I said no, a runner. The doc said that was good and let me know that he suspected a torn rotator cuff.

He suggested that I wait a few weeks and let it heal a bit.  Then he said I should follow up with an orthopedist once I know where the injury stands. Basically, he said it was a small tear and those usually just heal themselves. If the pain and poor range of motion continues, then surgery may be necessary but he said that may not be the case.

I was severely disappointed to be injured and tried to look at the bright side of my dilemma, at least I wasn’t the other Tracy. I can’t even imagine how her injury has impacted her life.

Well, when I drove myself home six hours after I had arrived, I thought it was a very good thing that I really wasn’t interested in a tennis career.

Up until this point, it had been mostly arm and shoulder injuries with a sprinkling of hurt knees and ankles but the other Tracy was about to arrive.

According to the nurses, who spoke in hushed voices around me -- but acted like I was a blood pressure machine because I had been sitting outside their office for so long -- the other Tracy had shattered her elbow.

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