My latest ski trip was quite an adventure. We travelled to Banff, Alberta for a few days of skiing before Christmas and decided to go to Sunshine Village for our first day. The morning went well. One wrong turn did lead me to a double black diamond run called the Waterfall. After careful consideration, I walked down the last half. But even that wasn’t too bad as no eight year old schussed up to me to ask, “You okay, Mister?”
After lunch we headed back up the mountain. Two of my sons were with me along with my nephew. They wanted to use the terrain park and practice some jumps, so off we went. To get to the terrain park we had to go down a wide open green run, through a small valley and up a hill on the other side. No problem. Just pick up a bit of speed on the downhill portion. The boys would cut off into the park while I skied down beside it to meet them at the bottom. Everything was going fine. At least for the first two times.
On the third run I was doing a slow left turn and just starting to pick up speed when there was a sudden flash of green and orange and that was it. My nephew was uphill from me at the time and said the snowboarder was going straight and fast when he hit me. I never saw him coming and it sounds like he never looked. When I stopped tumbling I was bleeding from a cut on the bridge of my nose and my right shoulder was dislocated. The worst thing? The guy who ran me over didn’t even stop. He took off as fast as he could while I lay there waiting for the ski patrol.
The ski patrol arrived within minutes. I couldn’t lower my arm from ninety degrees so they put me in an airplane splint and loaded me on their toboggan. I couldn’t lie back as the raised sides of the toboggan pressed into my injured shoulder so one of the patrol team got in behind me and I leaned against her back while they got me down the mountain. Once we reached the infirmary the next phase of my adventure began.
The resort had a physician working with the ski patrol and he took over. My oldest son, in his third year of residency for ENT surgery, assisted while my youngest and my nephew watched and informed the world through texts and posts. First the resort physician tried to reduce my shoulder by giving me nitrous oxide, (laughing gas), and slowly pulling and pressing on my shoulder. If I remember correctly this involved a lot of groaning and a bit of screaming on my part. It didn’t work as the pain just got too severe. The doctor proceeded to start an IV and give me some meds.
This particular medication started life as a horse tranquilizer and is now used as a fast acting, short lasting anaesthetic. It is good as it does not suppress respirations but causes a dissociative state in which the patient does not recognise pain or discomfort. Great for reducing dislocations and fractures. I now know that it is just plain weird.
The good thing was that I did not feel any more pain. The bad thing was that I was confused, disorientated and having a few minor hallucinations. I was unable to remember where I was and at one point who I was. I started to feel nervous when I felt like I was losing myself. Fortunately, that was when I came out of it. My shoulder was back in place and I was staring at my hand trying to figure out why my fingers wouldn’t move when I told them to. They did eventually listen but there seemed about a three to four second gap between my thought and the resultant action. Like I said, weird.
I’m now in recover mode, getting physiotherapy and doing exercises and stretches two or three times a day. Some of those things hurt. But it could have been worse. I’m glad that my wife talked me into wearing a helmet a couple years ago or I might have had a concussion. I’m glad I spent more money than I intended on a high quality pair of goggles or the face plant I did might have lead to something besides the lenses being cracked. And I am glad that the ski patrol and resort physician were as capable and professional as they turned out to be. But the thing I am most happy about, is that through it all I have felt the presence and protection of Jesus, His love, and His healing power.
(And snowboard guy—slow down! Next time it could be worse.)