Saturday, February 20, 2010

Skiing at Deer Valley

Two weeks ago my brothers and I went skiing for a couple of days at Deer Valley here in Park City Utah. We had a great time until the last run last at about 3:15 Saturday afternoon.

My brothers skied down the hill ahead of me and since I was feeling tired from 2 days of hard skiing, I took my time and tried to make it down in one piece.

I almost made it...I was working my way through some small moguls when I caught an edge that threw me off balance. I shot off the next mogul and landed on my head and neck.
As I skidded to a stop, I was thinking I hope no one saw that...then I went to wipe some snow from my face and realized I couldn't move. I was completely paralyzed from my shoulders down.

I hope none of you ever have to have that feeling...not being able to move is very freaky. I thought I must have broken my neck, and I was suddenly very aware of what a scary situation I was in. About that time some other skiers stopped to ask if I was ok...I told them no and that I thought I was in pretty bad trouble/shape and that I needed the ski patrol. I was pretty close to the bottom of the hill, so it didn't take long for help to arrive. I can't tell you all the thoughts that we running through my head as the ski patrol started to ask me wife...stuck with a quad for the rest of my life...not being able to use my hands to work or do artwork ever again...

I'm sure you all can imagine that being pretty hard. Well, about a few minutes after the ski patrol guy got there, he asked me to move my foot...I couldn't..then he asked me to wiggle my toe....nothing. He started pressing on my leg working up toward my pelvis...then i twitched my toe. I told him I think I just moved my toe!! He said, that's great, try again...move it up this time. I did it...I was able to lift my toe inside my boot. Within a minute, I was able to move my leg at the knee. Then I started on my my right hand, first just trying to move my fingers...then after they started responding, I was able to move my hand,then arm. The ski patrol was busy loading me up on the backboard and strapping me brothers finally found my about this time...maybe 15 minutes after I fell. With tear filled eyes I was happy to show them I could move my legs and arms. I still wasn't sure the extent of my injuries but I was sure happy I could move again.

From Deer Valley I was rushed by ambulance to Park City Emergency room...there I was poked and examined in almost every way imaginable. I was given a very long MRI where they were able to see that I had not broken my neck, but rather just bruised my spinal cord at C4. (think Christopher Reeves) All the doctors repeatedly told me how lucky I am to be able to move...the odds were better than I could have been a quad or dead. I had two ambulance rides, 2 ER visits a day and a half at the U of U hospital in the ICU and then another day just in a hospital room.

There needed to be a lot of care to make sure the swelling on my spinal cord was watched very carefully....if it would have continued, I might not have been able to breath...and of course that is very important if you want to stay alive.
I feel very blessed. I'm not sure why I'm still to move and other than some major nerve pain in my arms and hands (that has been subsiding quite a bit over the last two weeks)
not have any lasting effects of the crash.

Here is the lesson I'm trying to take away from all this. It might sound a little simple, but it is just to enjoy the here and now. Realize that (I) and you are lucky to have what we have. The job, the life, the wife, the kids, ect. Yes, all those things can add issues that can trouble and complicate your life, BUT, my life is good and I am thankful to still be here and especially since I can still move and work like normal. I am going to try my best to ignore the stupid little things that tended to get to me and upset my life. If I can remember and succeed at this one little thing, my life and the life of those around me will be better for my little accident.

here is a little card that deer valley sent the other complimentary lift tickets...that's ok, just happy to be alive! See it's working!


Jaime said...

Wow. I am so thankful you are alright. Take care, and thanks for the life lesson reminder.

Jason Newkirk said...

wow Lael what a story. Im so happy to hear that everything worked out for the better. God bless!

GhettoFab said...

so very happy that your doin well.

Will said...

LAEL!!! Don't get paralized - I don't think you would like to live that way man - I see you as much more vibrant and needing the use of your limbs. :)

I know what the last run of the day is like man. I've had the rubber leg thing - thinking, "I wish I had gone to the car on that last run - why oh why did I let (fill in the blank)________ talk me into just one more run?

Glad your ok man - I don't like reading things like this about my friends.


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Fawn said...

Why does it ALWAYS happen on the "last run of the day!?" Whenever Carey takes the kids skiing I tell them to make sure and quit before they are too tired and get hurt. I know they don't listen, but maybe one day they'll make the right choice. Glad to here you are making progress. So scary, and pretty life changing I think.!

Greg said...

Hi Lael, (We are Meg's dad and mom)
We're so glad you are OK !!!!!

Joe said...

Really glad you are ok. Had no idea.