bloodied but unbowed


I am in some amount of pain. I was a hardcore skater all through high school and it was around the time that I was thirteen or fourteen that I started hearing about snowboarding. I never had any money back then, so no matter how much it sounded like fun, I never went. As an adult I had friends who snowboarded, but no one was ever aggresive about getting me to go, so it just never happened. Until this week.

My friends Ryan and Ken and I decided to go snowboarding at night and the only place that was open was Ski Bowl. We saw an amazing orange and red sunset on our way there, but it was all dark once we were on the slopes. My friends asked if I wanted to do the little practice hill at all but I figured we should head to the top and I would learn on my way down. Anjali was not thrilled about my going because she knows how “risky” and “reckless” I like to be in my physical activities. She figured I’d be jumping off cliffs and stuff. My friend Ken proved a patient instructor and despite telling me that everyone falls off the lift and causes a pile-up when they first start, I never fell off, and it was he in fact who caused a pile-up. The most challenging thing for me was going from laying on my back to standing up on the board. Probably because my “core” is in such poor shape. I had to grunt and wheeze and strain to pull myself upright. There had been no fresh snow in a week and the snow was hard and packed. It was by far the most treacherous at the bottom where the patterns left by the Snow Cat were hardened into icy ridges. I was told that I did incredibly well for my first time, and I certainly got the feel of it, carving my way down, but the fall would always come eventually. And usually once I fell, I would keep falling. Working my legs to carve used otherwise neglected muscles and my legs got tired on the way down. The lower I got the more fatigued I was and the more I would crash. And as I said, the ice was hardest and most painful at the bottom.

I broke my wrist the last time I did some hard skateboarding and despite being told not to fall on my hands when I was snowboarding, that was my instinctual response. Every time I landed on my hand I felt that familiar pain and expected a break to occur at any time. No matter how many times I fell I learned that there were always new ways to land, new things to hurt, and new levels of pain that I could experience. Falling on my ass, flipping over my head, face-planting on the ice and going down the mountain on my cheek. After three runs I was so battered and bruised I thought that there is no way I can do two more hours of this without really getting hurt. At the bottom of the third run I found my friend Ryan. He was kneeling on the ground and said he really hurt himself. He was very calm and controlled, but he told me he was in so much pain that he had almost passed out. His wrist really hurt and the resting was not making it feel any better. “Sounds like a break,” I said from experience. We took him to the first aid station where they put him in a splint. Despite his being willing to sit out while we continued, both me and my friend Ken told him we were stopping so I could drive Ryan back to town, and get him to an emergency room. Even though I would have gone up for more punishment I was secretly glad that we were stopping for the night. I was already so battered and weary after just a few runs. In fact my second run was better than my third, because the fatigue was really getting to me. I have been in so much pain all week.  I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I had kept it up for another few hours, even if I didn’t manage to break something.

I told Ryan I didn’t mind spending the night waiting in the emergency room as long as I had something to read. Ryan never sees doctors or goes to the hospital so he thought the fact that he was insured would mean he would get some sort of expedited service. I however, knew I wanted a book. Sure enough we got to Providence around 11pm and didn’t get out until after 2am. Mostly we were just sitting around talking together, so the fact that I didn’t manage to get any reading material didn’t result in as much misery as I thought it might. My bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons did hurt. The achiness and pain got worse as the hours at the hospital dragged on. All the cords in my fingers have felt tight and painful ever since. At times they feel crippled like I have some sort of nerve damage. As I go days with aches and soreness up and down my arms and in my lower back I think about going back to the mountain to snowboard and also about getting back into skateboarding. Ryan’s bummed because he wanted to go back to the mountain as soon as his cast comes off but we realized the season will probably be over by then. I just want there to be some fresh snow the next time I spend a few hours falling down a mountain. Meanwhile I need to check out some of these new skateparks . . .


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