Friday, February 27, 2015

Two Years... and a Lofty Goal Met!

I honestly don't even know where to start with this post. It's pretty clear by now how much it means to me to be skiing again and working with DSES. It's also pretty well-known how grateful I am for everything that I can do, because I know I shouldn't be able to do any of it. At the same time, I still have nightmares about being on chair lifts - sometimes keeping me up all night. I can't do anything to change what happened, but I can keep pushing forward to get my life back. That's what I've been committed to for the past two years...

The Weekend of Preparation

Saturday morning brought a lot of excitement, and a tiny bit of nervousness as Dave dropped me off at DSES. I was excited to be back with DSES for the weekend and the forecast of fresh snow, but a little nervous about Monday. I had a blast skiing with Jaclyn in the morning (it's always a great time), even with initial tense moments for me on Whitebark Ridge (very firm and fast), and fun in the choppy snow near McCoy. The afternoon was spent working on technique with Aaron and Carlynn - trying to fix my skiing technique when I use my poles (my poles and I aren't always friends... sometimes we're flat out enemies). We even skied down and looked at Patrolmen's - I was tempted to just go for it then, but resisted. Maggie and I had been talking about it for so long that I wanted to wait to ski it with her...and Dave and Moosie. It was a fun day for sure! 

Sunday brought more of the same, but with chilly temps and a winter wonderland (it snowed all day). I finally got to ski with Carolyn again (we hadn't skied together since my first weekend with DSES) and Neal. Heck, Dave even followed us around - it was the first time I've skied with him all season! Sometime during the morning, things just kinda clicked and fell into place. I still had a few issues, but the feeling was just amazing! I even skied Broadway for the first time - it was crowded, but not as much as it normally is. Things carried over to the afternoon as I skied with Aaron and Kelly. It was cold and snowing still, but it was a blast! I could tell that progress was made, and I was feeling really positive for skiing on Monday!

The Re-Birthday

I practically didn't sleep on Sunday night - the lift nightmares wouldn't let me. I was more nervous about being on a lift on the two-year mark than I was for potentially skiing a black diamond. I'd been on lifts for several weekends prior, some even more stomach flip-flop inducing than the one I fell from (have you ever dealt with the swinging and oscillating of Chair 12?!), and yet lifts were scaring me more than a black diamond. Even lifts with bars were making me queasy. I'd mentally gone into the day thinking I'd just ride the gondola to McCoy Station all day, just to avoid the situation. 

As we were driving up to Main Lodge, all the fresh powder had me stoked on the potential for skiing Patrolmen's. It was still going to depend on whether Maggie thought I was ready, but at least it seemed pretty much guaranteed that the conditions would be perfect. After a quick breakfast with Dave and Moosie at Main Lodge, I headed over to DSES to try and relax and get mentally ready before going out on the snow. I don't know if any relaxing really happened because the butterflies in my stomach came out in full force - more so than my first lessons of the season. Maggie let me know that Mark was checking out the conditions on Patrolmen's for her, and that we'd head out in a bit. When everyone came in from clinic, I heard that the conditions on the run were good, and the snow was awesome! I knew that constraint of my goal was met. One down, one to go...

Maggie and I sat down for a bit before heading out, just to see where my head was. I admitted that the lifts were making me queasy, mostly because of the memories of two years ago. Right around this time, I got a message from Moosie that Dave took a tumble and was waiting for Ski Patrol. Then I got a message from Dave. Let's just say my mental state was a mess before going out on the snow...not what I wanted it to be. Thankfully, Maggie was great about keeping my focus off the lift and the unknown situation with Dave as we warmed up on Sesame Street, St. Moritz/Lower Mambo, and Stump Alley. Don't get me wrong, I was worried about him, but I also knew that I needed to focus on my goal and having fun with Maggie on the slopes. 

As we got off Chair 2, Maggie asked me if I was feeling adventurous. I hesitantly said yes, and off we went. As we started skiing down Upper Mambo, I was wondering how this was adventurous because she knows I ski that run a lot. Well, then Maggie started heading down the shortcut to St. Moritz and Patrolmen's. We crossed the merge with St. Moritz, and Maggie kept skiing down, not turning to ski St. Moritz, but heading down the initial part of Patrolmen's. Holy crap, we going for my goal right then!! I guess I'd met the other constraint for skiing Patrolmen's! Maggie was great about coaching me down it - and I was thankful she was doing so! About halfway down, I took a little break to soak everything in and catch my breath. I still couldn't believe how awesome the snow was, and that I was actually skiing Patrolmen's. As I was about to start skiing down to the bottom, I saw Moosie heading down. She skied to the bottom to capture the moment. As I started skiing down to the bottom of the run, I couldn't believe that I actually skied Patrolmen's and met my goal for the two-year mark! There were many hugs and tears of joy shared with Moosie and Maggie. After soaking in the moment, I totally wanted to ski it again - and I did!! 

More than halfway down Patrolmen's and all smiles. PC: Maggie P.

I was still somewhat in shock that I skied Patrolmen's as we headed into the DSES office. There were hugs, smiles and congrats all around after I let everyone know I skied it! I was so overwhelmed - in a good way. I'd actually met my lofty goal for the two-year re-birthday!! Two years ago, I was suppose to ski my first black diamond. On the two-year mark, I finally got to ski my first black diamond!! The rest of the day just felt amazing as I spent the afternoon skiing with Carlynn and Moosie. I was a bit tired after the awesome morning, but I was on Cloud Nine!!! 

Victory dance on Round 2 of Patrolmen's.
PC: Maggie P.
All smiles after lots of hugs. PC: Moosie

There are so many people I need to thank for all of their support through all of this - not only in meeting my skiing goal, but also since day one of the bionic life. So many friends and family members - too many people to name, but you all know who you are. Major thanks go out to Dave, Moosie and Natcho for being amazingly supportive through everything - especially when it came to skiing again! Major thanks also goes out to everyone at DSES - they have just been absolutely amazing since Day One. All of my instructors this past weekend made it extra special - Jaclyn, Aaron, Carlynn, Carolyn, Neal, Kelly, and Maggie. Extra thanks to Maggie for really taking the time to work with me and plan this goal - and not letting me give up on it!  

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today. :: Dale Carnegie

All smiles on the two-year ouchiversary. It appears Moosie and Maggie
didn't get the memo about it being a good day to wear blue. PC: Andy G.

Side Note: Dave fractured his fibula in two places - just above the ankle (which apparently happened the previous weekend) and just below the knee. He's in a cast for a few weeks, but otherwise okay. He was bummed to miss skiing Patrolmen's with me, but I'm just happy he's doing okay. He also let me know that if I missed skiing Patrolmen's just to check on him, he'd have a few words for me!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Skiing Toward A Lofty Goal

It's a well known fact, I set lofty goals. I mean, who else sets a goal to hike to Lamarck Col only a few months after breaking her back and learning to walk again?! This girl. Did I meet that goal? Nope, but I sure made a hell of a lot more progress than anyone ever thought I would. The next summer, I set some backpacking goals, even before I successfully went backpacking again. Did I meet those goals? Nope, but I backpacked more than I ever did in a season before breaking my back! That right there is saying something. Was I disappointed about not meeting my lofty goals? Of course! I also realized that sometimes you have to be flexible and go with the flow. There was a lot that derailed some of our backpacking plans this past summer, weather played a major factor the summer before... stuff happens. Sometimes it's just about the journey life takes you on.


I think my last post sums up what it means to me to be skiing again. I honestly can't say enough awesome things about my experience working with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra over the past several weekends. Everyone who I've worked with has been so encouraging, supportive and patient. Mark, Maggie, Carolyn, Carlynn, Jaclyn, Andy, Tom, so many others... all amazing. Most importantly, they've made skiing fun again for me - even when I have looks of panic on my face or am super frustrated with myself (I think Carlynn and Jaclyn know all about this). I might still have issues with wanting to backseat it, but I can see and feel all the progress every week. Honestly, I think in many ways I'm skiing better than I did before I broke my back. I can say for sure that I'm having way more fun and enjoying every second of it. Between working with DSES, the support of so many friends, and not giving up on getting my life back, I can't even find the words to express how grateful I am.

Carlynn, Woolly, Jaclyn and I on a bluebird at Mammoth!

Skiing Toward A Goal

I've been debating for a few weeks if I wanted to do a blog post on my goal, or if I just wanted to keep it to myself. This one is a little more personal than all my other recovery goals because it's related to the day my life changed in a split second. That day, I was going to ski my first black diamond runs. Dave and I felt it was time to give them a try, given how quickly I had progressed in a short amount of time. Well, I never got the chance to ski a black diamond run that day. My life changed before I even finished warming up. 

After two successful weekends of skiing with DSES, I started to think more and more about skiing a black diamond again. I was nowhere near being able to actually do it, but I really was starting to think that maybe it could happen this season. Well, what better day for which to aim than the day that I was going to ski one for the first time?! I like to set lofty goals, so why not? Dave, Moosie and Natcho thought it was a good goal. I brought it up in an email convo with Maggie, to give her a little background and see what her thoughts were on it. She said she had a run in mind, but it depends on a) how my skiing progresses, and b) if we get more snow. I was thrilled to get a supportive response to such a crazy goal and to hear that we should keep working toward it.

Through a series of events (i.e., talking with Carlynn and Jaclyn about my black diamond goal during lessons), I figured out the run Maggie had in mind was Patrolman's. That being said, my goal is to ski Patrolman's on my two year 're-birthday'. February 23rd is full of bad memories for me, so I plan on spending the day making awesome memories on skis - whether it means I ski Patrolman's or not! 

Standing at the top of Patrolman's on the way down St. Moritz. 

Now, what if I don't meet this goal? I'll admit, I'll probably be disappointed and it'll probably hurt a little more than not meeting the hiking goals. At the same time, this is a lofty goal, and I know it. I "set" this goal a little over a month before the two year mark, before I was even close to moving off Chair 11 at Mammoth. Plus, there are two huge variables in play that I have absolutely NO control over - the conditions of Patrolman's, and if Maggie thinks I'm ready for it. I have a feeling the latter will be the more challenging of the two - twisting her arm and bribing her with extra dark chocolate won't work. Trust me, I've tried the dark chocolate thing. If things don't fall into place on the two year mark, I'll just adapt and make it my skiing goal for the season. Goals are all about adapting to what's thrown your way. If I don't ski a black diamond on the two year mark, it doesn't mean that I failed at my goal, it just means it wasn't meant to happen that day. Why the hell not keep pushing for the goal though?! GAME ON! 

Celebrating the fresh snow at Mammoth with Maggie.
The conditions for Patrolman's should be improving with incoming
 storms, now I need to keep progressing so she knows I'm ready...