Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Adrenaline junkie, limping along

I'm limping around now with my latest orthopedic injury.  It's been a while since I've hurt myself being athletic, and it's fun to revisit the orthopedic stomping grounds, so to speak.

Last month, I went to Boulder for my brother's wedding reception, and eight of us piled into two cars and drove to Keystone.

Need I say it was great to be back in the snow?  For five days, I had so much fun with this group of people, plus kids, that I didn't even have a second to consider writing my excitement down.

It's been many, many years since I've skied.  Boots, poles, skis, gloves, jacket -- I love gear-based sports.  I know myself, that I am like a newborn calf on the first three runs, totally unable to point my legs in the right direction, and then I'm fine.

At Keystone, it took me one run to remember how to turn.  And turn I did ... into a maniac!  I realized that (a) I am not in as bad shape as I thought I was, and (b) having become a reasonably good hockey player since I last skied, I have a much greater understanding of using my feet and legs to edge and turn.  Oh, and (c) I am an adrenaline junkie.

I'd forgotten the last, but boy did that come back, too.  Adrenaline is why I love hockey. Primarily, my adrenaline high comes off of speed: I love skiing really fast.  So I found myself throwing myself down the mountain on just this side of control, lightheaded from altitude and asthma.  I am a really aggressive skier.

I managed to get to the backside of Keystone, to the incomparable, endless Starfire run, which since I had last been there (and since last week, apparently) has turned from blue to black.  In California there would be no question it's black.  Starfire is where my legs started to burn.  On the final, icy, steepist pitch I rested, saying aloud, "If I'm going to injure myself today, it's going to be right here."  My cousin, Steve N., said, "You could take it slowly."  Even now I laugh at that one.

I did take it slowly, take it to the bottom, and announce that it was my last run of the day.  I may be an adrenaline junkie, but I also know when to stick a fork in me.  Of course, to get off the mountain we had to go back up and then down the front.  I chose a green run for the way down.  A long way down.  As I stopped to periodically rest my burning legs, I was so wiped I would just fall over sideways.  On a nearly horizontal surface.  Really a lame way to fall.

A hundred yards from the bottom, I looked ahead and saw my brother and cousin waiting.  And ran over my ski pole.  Also a lame way to fall, but a much more dramatic one.

While the east coast has been blanketed in snow, and California has had El Nino rain, this part of Colorado has been very cold and very dry.  All day, we were skiing on hardpack with the occasional ice.  So when I skied over my pole, I landed very, very hard.  First on my butt, and then my head whacked the snow.  Arms and legs and skis tangled up, sliding down the hill, trying to protect my knees as I managed to get my twisting skis below me.  I lay there gaining my bearings and shouted "I'm all right" to the passing skiers.

Steve N. swooped down from above, did a perfect hockey stop, snowed me, and said, "Are you all right?" before realizing the person he had accidentally snowed was not a stranger.  We had a great laugh at that moment.

My brother had made me wear a helmet, so my head was protected, although it really just felt like I'd hit my head on the inside of a helmet.  I wondered aloud if I was going to pull a Natasha Richardson.  I also wondered aloud if I'd broken my hip.

Since I survived the following day, my head was in the clear, although I had quite a case of whiplash.  It all comes back to the hip.  While if I had actually broken my hip I would definitely be walking like a newborn calf, since that day I've been in pain.  Last week, I took a long walk, and the next day I couldn't put weight on my leg.  I have diagnosed myself with trochanteric bursitis, and I know what I need: a cortisone shot.

I love cortisone shots.  I've had uncountable shots ... probably uncountable because if I did count them I'd be disappointed at how few I've had.  Hip, knee, elbow ... knee more than once.  I love them because they feel so good.  Really, the part I like is the lidocaine they put in it.  Because it would be incredibly painful to inject a bunch of fluid into an already fluid-filled, inflamed area, lidocaine is added to enable the shot to be self-numbing.  You feel this pressure and this internal coolness -- and the pain goes away!

And then you have to take it easy for 48 hours, and you can feel smug, because professional athletes get cortisone shots all the time, and you've had to get one for an athletic injury.

I have a referral to an orthopedist. My primary care physician seemed to think that I might not get a cortisone shot.  Certainly, for non-professional athletes doctors like to try gentler approaches first ... like months of physical therapy.  I am going to fight for that shot.  Adrenaline and corticosteroids: aren't they just two sides of the same coin?


Amy said...

I'm sorry to hear you're still hurting... hope a shot (or something) heals you soon. I for, one, the anti-athlete, had a great time even if I came down every run at 1 mph! Very glad we went.

Lisa F. said...

Amy, you were awesome! Each run, you added another mph, and by the end you were still standing and looking good and still improving.