Mount Rainier from Crystal Mountain
Luckily for me the splint protecting my thumb still allows me to hold onto a ski pole. With Crystal opening for the weekend tomorrow and me in dire need of exercise I skinned to the top of the ski area today to check out the conditions and test my new splint.
While I might not be ready to haul a 200 pounder down the mountain in a toboggan, I was able to hold a pole in my right hand for the first time since the injury nearly a month ago. For anyone with a superstitious bone in their body, it is interesting the note the date of the fall. It was Friday the 13th.
Unfortunately the surgeries aren’t over for me. I also tweaked my left shoulder that day and now that I have the use of my four right fingers I figure I might as well get the shoulder surgery out of the way.
Still plenty of snow in Green Valley
A day in the mountains is a good reminder. This could very well be the last weekend of skiing this season for me. With sunny weather and warm temperatures in the forecast the snow might melt before I recover from my next surgery. So today I slowed down and experienced every 15 minute segment of the day. It was quiet and buttery and easy skinning.
The conditions are prime right now. The snowpack has cooked down to a creamy, not-too-sticky consistency and my turns down were heavenly. The snow cats were out on the hill, which made for some lovely private groomers for me. It almost felt like I was cheating. Almost.
If this is the last weekend of the season, then so be it. It was worth it. For those of you coming up for the weekend, this will be the best spring conditions we’ve had so far. Not too much has melted out and the snow has finally started a legitimate melt-freeze cycle.
Corinne taught me how to ski with an injured hand, and how to be nice to people when they offer stupid advice.
According to everyone I talked to during aprés ski hour on the patio yesterday, Skier’s Thumb is the world’s most common ski injury. Skier’s Thumb is when you fall onto your outstretched hand and forget to let go of your ski pole. It’s when you shake yourself off as your brother-in-law gathers your fallen equipment from the slope above you and you think to yourself, “Whoa. That hurt. But I’m okay. I think everything’s okay. No broken bones. Oh, but my thumb hurts like Hell,” and you shake it a few times Grease Lightning style, hoping no one sees those tears behind your goggle lenses. But then you take off your glove and realize that the thumb joint is unstable and you ask yourself, “Do I even use this thumb?” and for an hour you actually convince yourself that thumbs are totally overrated.
If Skier’s Thumb is the world’s most common ski injury then I guess I’m doing pretty good. I made it almost 40 years of skiing before I finally did it to myself. Last Friday, I was skiing Middle Ferk’s with John, Scott and my brother-in-law Steve, and I fell hard. But I’m a tough gal and I laughed it off–even after I noticed that I couldn’t touch my thumb to my forefinger without sending spikes of hot iron down my wrist into my arm. A little thumb jam wasn’t going to keep me from a day of skiing, even if I did have to just hold my right pole under my arm like a purse.
In fact I was reminded of skiing with my friend Corinne in Verbier. She was recovering from a broken hand and skiing without ski poles. I told her to just, “pretend like you had poles” and she kindly told me that my “sage” advice truly helped her. She’s a very kind person.
After an x-ray and an MRI and an exam from the world’s best hand surgeon, I’ve been diagnosed with a full ligament tear, aka skier’s thumb aka gamekeeper’s thumb. So tomorrow I have surgery and will be on pain meds for a few days, so I can’t entirely take responsibility for anything that I post between now and say Friday. I might not post anything, or it could be drunken ramblings or could even be poetic, semi-lucid truisms. Probably not, but you never know. One can always hope.
Fortunately I have the world’s best mom and she promised to come over and help me button my pants and dry my hair for the next few days. Not that my husband couldn’t do all that, but he doesn’t have much practice in hair drying, nor can he manage those tiny hair bungees to tie my locks back into a ponytail.
The mission of the High-Fives Foundation, based in Truckee, CA, is to “raise money and awareness for athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports community.”
Started in 2010 by Founder Roy Tuscany, who injured his spinal cord while skiing at Mammoth in 2006, High Fives has raised funds, secured alternative treatments and aided in the recovery of over fifteen athletes.
The Push to the South Pole, an expedition including two adaptive skiers, is sponsored by High Fives.
Also included in their programs is the very cool B.A.S.I.C.S. (Being Aware Safe In Crazy Situations) program, headed by the very rad J.T. Holmes. Check out the video here.
The foundation also offers REAL ANSWERS, a place to ask questions of athletes who have suffered injuries, as well as meet these personalities who have all chosen positivity in the face of hardship.
The Winter Empowerment Fund is an opportunity to help recovering athletes with the financial support necessary to get back in the game. Previous recipients include K.C. Deane who suffered a C-2 injury in 2010 while filming in the Tahoe backcountry. High Fives supplied the financial means for him to return to a professional level through physical therapy with Scott Williams, PT, OCS.
On August 10th, 2011, the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation opened the CR Johnson Healing Center as a service to commemorate the professional skier and beloved Truckee resident’s birthday.
The CR Johnson Healing Center is replete with physical therapy equipment used by healing professionals that High Fives works with. Along with the Healing Center’s workout facility the Johnson family has generously donated an infrared healing sauna.
You can donate to the High Fives Foundation and make a difference for these athletes. Check out their website. These guys really do deserve a High Five.