If I had dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “Well, you’re not missing much,” or “You couldn’t have picked a better winter,” over the past couple months, I’d be a rich man. I didn’t pick this winter to blow out my knee, it picked me. I realize that my friends are trying to make me feel better, to let me know that this isn’t the worst winter to miss, but I’ve got to say that there is no such thing as a good time to blow one’s knee. Sure it could have been worse, I could have missed last winter’s epic snows like a friend of mine, or maybe it was my destiny, a fortuitous accident that is preventing something worse from happening. No matter how you spin it, blowing out your knee sucks, period.
We all know this winter has been different than the past couple. When we got off to an early start with powder in early October and November I was ready for another epic winter. When summer returned in October, November, and December, I did my best to keep my spirits high and make the most of what Mother Nature had to offer. Winter mountain biking season was going off, and the couple groomed runs we had to ski were keeping me interested, sort of. I took advantage of the terrible early season ski conditions by getting myself back into the park. I hadn’t been hitting jumps for a few years, but there wasn’t much else going on to get me excited, so hit jumps I did. All it took was one awkward backseat landing. After 25 years of virtually injury-free skiing I had no idea that my ACL could go that easily.
I know plenty of people who have blown their knees—we all do. If you ski a lot, chances are that you or someone you know has or will blow a knee eventually. For some reason I never really thought I was going to join the club and get the “Tahoe tattoo,” but alas, it finally happened. Interestingly, it happened doing something sort of mundane, I wasn’t “huckin’ cliffs” or “shredding the gnar”; it was a 360 over a 10-foot table top that put me out for the season.
[photo by Bekathwia/Flickr]
As much as it sucks to blow your knee, it’s not all doom and gloom. Luckily for people in the Tahoe area, we have some of the finest orthopedic surgeons in the country practicing where we live. Our outdoor lifestyle leaves us generally predisposed for bodily injury, a fact that has made our local surgeons some of the best in the business. Practice makes perfect, right? The same goes for our area’s physical therapists. Not only do we athletes tend to get injured, but when we do we want to get better so we can get back out and get our adrenaline fix. It’s comforting to know you’re in good hands when going under the knife or getting put through your paces at the gym. Seeing autographed posters of Shane McConkey and Daron Rahlves in my surgeon and therapist’s office certainly put my mind at ease.
As someone who spends most of my time in the winter out skiing I found the void created by not skiing filled with recovering from my injury. Of course I’d rather be skiing, but returning my knee to its pre-injury condition has become my focus, and physical therapy is my path to that goal. I meet with my therapist twice a week for sessions that last 3 to 4 hours. For the first time in 10 years I bought a gym membership and I find myself spending a couple hours a day, when I don’t have therapy, working out on my own. Recovering from an injury like this requires some significant self-motivation and a lot of hands on time. I have found the body’s ability to recover to be nothing short of amazing. From the first pedal of the bike to getting off crutches and walking again, each week presents its own challenges and rewards. As cliché as it may sound, it’s my goal to come away from this injury stronger than before.
While I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t need my friends to tell me that I’m not missing out on anything. It’s pretty obvious from my couch that this hasn’t been the best winter in recent years. Regardless of our notable lack of snow, I know there is still plenty of fun to be had out there and I hope that people are enjoying what we’ve got. The saying “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” couldn’t be more appropriate than for this season in Tahoe. Hopefully, it isn’t over yet…
Can you relate? Do you have a Tahoe tattoo? A knee injury tale? Tell us about it in the comments.
I’m Tahoe Mountain Sports’ web editor and a 6-year Tahoe resident. Yep, I live the life, with a lake view from my desk, lunch breaks on the beach with my dog, and morning powder runs when the snow’s good. I ski, snowboard, skate ski, and cross-country ski in winter, and hike, mountain bike, backpack, and lay around on Tahoe’s beaches in summer.