It has been many moons...or months. However you wanna say it it’s been awhile since I have updated my blog. My apologies for those who take the time to read it...and who also like to follow along with my ski racing and life adventures. The main reason for my lapse in writing was the sudden end to my season at the end of February which ultimately left me confused and shocked as to what happened…I'll give a run down. It’s a bit comical really! Sort of...ehh
SOOO….I was racing World Cup as I do, but not a typical race for me. An Alpine Combined, a discipline I have not raced in many, many moons (years) so I started dead last as my ranking is quite high (yikes). It was a Super-G Combined event so I had just one run of speed to give it my all and then sorta fake it for the slalom portion. As I was racing and giving it my all, pushing myself and trying to take that risky line I blew out of the course and ultimately my day was finished.
I was a bit perturbed at how my day was so suddenly finished, and in general frustrated with ski racing...sooooo as I was making my way to the finish on the side of the course I had to pop back into the track to come over the last roll as that was the only route availible as there were coaches and people all over the place on the side of the track. Without thinking I pinched off a gate as I was coming over the final roll and my skis hooked up as I went over the terrain and I ended up hitting the gate way harder than I ever planned.
Immediately I had a dead arm and could not move my arm. I figured I just sorta stunned myself and would shake it off in a couple minutes. After a few minutes I wasn’t shaking it off and it hurt like HELL. I was trying to act casual but kinda thinking I should maybe get it checked out. Everyone was coming around for the slalom portion and wasn’t too focused on my DNF or me so I just stood there for awhile till our physio (Martina) came by and saw I was in some discomfort (like WOW, it hurt). She then took me down to get an x-ray at the small medical facility at the hill. At the clinic I had the x-ray and the doctor wasn’t “sure” so they did and ultrasound (red flag #1) of my elbow and declared I had a “hematoma”! “Ok, sweet!” I’m thinking this is "awesome" and I am going to walk away from this unscathed for the most part.
After the race we made our way to Barcelona to fly out the next morning. During dinner that night my arm swelled up like a balloon, I could barely fit it through the sleeve in my hoodie. I drank copious amounts of wine, so that helped with the pain though probably not the swelling so much. It was still hurting and I was trying to laugh it off as much as I could even though I was incredibly embarrassed, and honestly still am a little bit.
In the morning I flew to Paris to meet up with my sister for four days of exploring the city and fun having. We walked, we sightsaw, we rented bikes, we stayed out late and had an incredibly fun time. The whole while my elbow was hurting, and the bruising was insane, as was the swelling, but since the pain was a bit less each day and I could almost straighten my arm I didn’t think anything was wrong. A tiny part of me thought it might be broken but after having an x-ray in Andorra I figured that wasn’t a real possibility.
After Paris I took the train to Zurich, picked up one of the team vans. Of course it was a manual. (yes, a stick shift, a real treat to drive with my elbow), drove all the way to Innsbruck (a 3-4 hour drive), met my technician Miha, picked up my duffel bag, two heavy ski bags, my boots and Miha’s metal box filled with all his tuning equipment (that box was SUPER light, NOT) as we were headed to Aspen to race Nor Am’s and he was going to meet me there in a few days. I then drove 3-4 hours back to Zurich. Oh, and did I mention that 75% of the drive was in a blinding snowstorm? I also got a speeding ticket.
I then flew to Aspen the next day, lugging two ski bags filled with speed skis, a heavy duffel bag filled with all my racing gear and dirty laundry, two pairs of boots, and the metal Zarges tuning box through check in and customs. In the airport I kept carrying my boots with my injured elbow/arm as I figured the weight from my boots would provide some traction on my joint and loosen it up a little bit...ehhh. Jeez.
When I got home the bruising was still really bad and it looked like I had gangrene so I figured I should maybe get it looked at. I had another x-ray and met with Dr. Viola, all the time assuming I maybe had a little hairline fracture. He came in, looked at the bruising, looked at the x-ray for about six seconds and declared I was going in for surgery on Wednesday (it was currently Monday). WHAT.JUST.HAPPENED. “Oh yea Alice, this is a really nasty fracture, looks like you SHATTERED your olecranon” I went from thinking I was going to be racing Downhill in Aspen on Wednesday to having my arm sliced open and nailed back together with who knows how many screws in the time span of 15 seconds. At first I just laughed, seriously just laughed like a crazy person. Dr. Viola was just a little confused by my reaction. Thinking back over the whole season of struggles and how I had recently been gallivanting around Paris for four days(riding bikes!!), driving a junk van with a temperamental clutch through a snowstorm, all to fly home carrying my boots with my SHATTERED elbow was just too much. I had to laugh.
So, onwards. Let's do this. Initially I was thinking since it was only an “elbow” Dr. Viola would do his magic, and I’d be ready to go for April camp in Mammoth, but it ended up being more like two months till I was really able to do a whole lot.
The first hint that something else might be in store for me and I might not be skiing in April was right before surgery when Dr. Viola said “ ya know Alice, I bolted Ted’s (Ligety) hand back together and he won a World Cup less than ten days later, BUT that’s not what is going to happen to you.” Uh? Wait a second? Whaaaat? Oh, and I’m asleep. Let the slicing and dicing begin.
After surgery I wake up and find some horrid looking x-ray from surgery on my bedside table…"why are there soooo many screws in that photo?” Who’s elbow is that? Oh dear, my name is on that photo. WHAAATTTTT. Turns out the damage was worse than even Dr. Viola suspected from the x-ray in his office and he had to put in a plate and 12 or 13 screws (I’m still not certain how many are in there) and spent over two hours fixing it. Oh, and I was supposed to go into surgery at 2pm that day, I went in at 7pm. With no food or water all day. I was HANGRY. Gimme some graham crackers and saltines STAT.
The next two weeks my arm was locked in a splint at 15 degrees, with no motion at all. Then full gas, let’s get this thing to bend. NOT, honestly one of the most painful things I have gone through were some of the therapy sessions trying to get my elbow to bend again. Ok, shattering my tibia plateau was pretty painful but this was dang near close. Turns out the elbow is a really tricky joint and a fickle one, you kinda just have to force it at times. I might have cried a little bit during therapy. I might have bit my physical therapist at one point, but that’s a different story for a different day.
After almost four months and another quick surgery to pull one screw out and shorten another I am almost fully functional. I can’t quite straighten my arm all the way yet, but that will come with time. My tricep is a bit sad looking still but I am getting stronger by the day and will be good to go come New Zealand time (end of July).
At some point I will have another surgery either in the fall or next spring to remove the plate and screws depending on how things go.
Looking back on the whole scenario it is kind of humorous. Icing on the cake for a less than ideal season.
As frustrating and stupid as my injury was and still is there is not much I can do other than to enjoy the lovely summertime, work out, get fit and come back for the upcoming season rejuvenated and excited to race again! Which I certainly will be. Sometimes life is just plain hard, but that’s ok! We always find a way to carry on and still enjoy the process.
So that’s my funny/ dumb story about how I shattered my elbow. Lesson learned, next time I need to take a season’s worth of frustrations it will NOT be on a gate. Hahah ughhhh. So stupid. Oh well, we all do dumb stuff. Ain’t that the truth! Don’t you dare deny it… :)