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Hello Friends

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Yes, I'm still alive (though at times I wondered why bother in the past few years ). The loss of being able to ski left a seriously large hole in my life since my accident. Now after 4 surgeries and physical therapy I'm back. I was at Vail yesterday and after 783 days since I was carried off the mountain in Winterpark I can ski again - not great, but I think I can crawl my way back from this point . I estimate that I lost well over 100 days on snow due to the accident. I now have two different legs, different right/left leg alignment, and host of other challenges to overcome.

First off I want to apologize to everyone at Epic who had befriended me. Please understand that in the pit of my depression I had to completely remove myself from all things skiing just to maintain some level of sanity. So I'm sorry that I was not able to return any communications in the state I was in. I truly missed everyone I had met from Epic and that honestly made dealing with my accident even worse.

I have had four surgeries and there's probably still a 5th somewhere in the near future. My right shin area is a full inch larger in circumference than my left and I have two major bone "spurs" on the front of my shin and above the medial side of my ankle. It makes a close fitting boot painful, but I think I finally struck upon a combination of boot shell, liner, and footbed that will allow me to ski without too much pain. I had attempted to get my foot into a boot back on labor day (it was becoming my yearly ritual every labor day to see if I could ski again), but was unable to get it done so I had once again dismissed any thought of skiing and was once again going to miss another season.

But then a funny thing happened - my sister-in-law needed to borrow some ski gear. That forced me to actually start digging through my stuff to help her out. I hadn't touched my ski gear since the day of my accident. It sat in various parts of our house gathering dust. I just couldn't even bring myself to deal with it. My backpack was like a time capsule from the day of my accident - it was still packed exactly as it was from the day I crashed. Since I was finally digging through the gear my wife finally felt free to tell me to either sell it all or put it in storage in the basement. I spent hours gathering everything up - 14 pairs of skis, 10 pairs of boots, 6 sets of unmounted bindings - it was ridiculous. I looked at this pile of my "excess" and sat there feeling really sorry for myself. I had invested so much time, energy, and money into a sport I loved and it was gone.

As I looked at the pile of boot shells and liners it kind of dawned on me that my previous attempts to get my foot back into a boot were somewhat half-hearted. I have been just so ticked at the docs who couldn't put me back together the way I used to be. So I started analyzing my liners, shells, and footbeds separately - thinking about how they might be recombined into a new setup that might let me get my leg into a boot. By removing all the shims and other fitting tweaks on the bootboard, heating a Flexon shell to 225 (to make it pretty soft), and heating up a ZipFit liner and reforming it to my injured leg I could finally get a boot on. Surprisingly I could stand the pain of actually having a boot on for about an hour. The sensation was really odd and I could immediately feel that that the top of the boot was right at the main fracture point - classic boot top fracture with a broken ankle and other complications.

This all happened this past Thursday and with unbelievable timing my sister-in-law called that night and told my wife that one of the couples had dropped out of the ski weekend in Vail and asked if we wanted to go in their place. I had to think long and hard about it - should I go to Vail and just sit there "exposed" to all these skiers having a great time or could I possibly really attempt to ski again? Well I took a shot and I'm so happy I did. I feel re-born after being back on a mountain. I was really worried about the mental side of things and I have to say that the thought of re-injuring myself was constantly on my mind, but once I found that I could still ski I kind of let go a bit. I even did a few blacks and ran a small mogul run. Sitting back and thinking about everything I've been through over the past few years really makes me appreciate the sport even more. However, there's still that apprehension - especially from my wife. We've just been through so much, but at the same time she's dealt with the pit of my depression and I think at this point she'd rather have me happy again.

My injury...

Segmented fractures suck - there's no getting around that. The method used to repair my leg allowed the bones to heal in a jumbled mess. My biggest regret is that the original surgeon did not provide all of the options for repair along with their respective pros and cons. An IM rod ("nail" as the docs like to call it) is fine if you have a fairly clean break, but when your leg looks like a puzzle they really need to get in there and make an attempt to realign the pieces - put the puzzle back together. If you take anything away from my experiece please insist that the doctor explain every possible way to approach the repair and really give you an option to choose. My original doctor gave me a very biased viewpoint and was only worried about getting me walking again as quickly as possible. It was a Saturday night and he peformed the operation using the quickest methods available (rod, screws, and staples).

I ended up needing a second operation to fix a mal-rotation (basically he didn't put my leg back together aligned properly). This required re-breaking the healing of my leg (at about 8 weeks) and re-setting everything. This actually caused additional damage to the bones and everything else in that area resulting in a non-union. They had to go back in again to do bone grafts for a third surgery. Then we discovered that I needed to have a tendon reattached that when down across my ankle. Luckily they did that operation along with removing some of the screws at that point or I would have already had 5 operations at this point. I consulted with 2 new doctors at the beginning of 2008 to have the IM rod removed, but both refused. They said that the rod was bent to match the curvature of my tibia and was positioned too far down into the bone. To get it out would risk major complications and a ton of additional therapy on my knee. So I still have the rod and one screw in my leg. They did say though that I can have the remaining screw removed and I think I may have them do that when I have my left bicep repaired (that's another story).

The pain medication in the beginning caused me to drop 30 pounds by April of 2007 (I had no appetite). By September of 2007 I had gained around 70 pounds back in the midst of my depression. All the extra weight exacerbated my problems. I couldn't take a single step without pain for almost 2 years. Finally in May 2008 I made a concerted effort to lose weight and really work on the therapy. In a few months I had lost 35 pounds and was walking without pain.

For me now I guess it's just about getting over everything that's happened - trying to look at it as water under the bridge and get on with my life by trying to enjoy things as best as I can. Luckily that now includes skiing again and EpicSki.
post #2 of 43
Good to 'see' you again dude!
post #3 of 43
Welcome Back!
post #4 of 43
Wow. Noodler, I have heard your name mentioned here and the concern in the posts for you and I am so happy to hear of your adventure back to Vail. Your post is full of so much emotion, both good and bad and your ability to analyze what you've been through and then take away the lessons is incredible. I hope to get to know you better here and maybe one day we can ski together! Welcome back!
post #5 of 43
Holy Smokes you've been missed!!!!

This says it best!
could I possibly really attempt to ski again? Well I took a shot and I'm so happy I did. I feel re-born after being back on a mountain. I was really worried about the mental side of things and I have to say that the thought of re-injuring myself was constantly on my mind, but once I found that I could still ski I kind of let go a bit. I even did a few blacks and ran a small mogul run. Sitting back and thinking about everything I've been through over the past few years really makes me appreciate the sport even more. However, there's still that apprehension - especially from my wife. We've just been through so much, but at the same time she's dealt with the pit of my depression and I think at this point she'd rather have me happy again
Glad you've healed and that you're finding your ski vibe.
Let the Barking Bear Bark!
post #6 of 43
Maybe you can have the last word in THIS thread.

Good to see you back again. We have wondered many times where you have been and how your rehabilitation progressed. Thanks for catching up the last two years. A number of skiers and members have had setbacks. Bonni and Dawgcatching come immediately to mind, and I have felt my skiing is not going in the direction I want either, and have no excuse other than my lack of summer conditioning. I wish you the best in returning to skiing, and have a great deal of empathy for the challenge you face physically and emotionally. Its okay. You'll get nothing but support from the people here.
post #7 of 43
Great to hear from ya, Noodler!

As TC says "you have been missed!" Wonderful to know you are back sliding

If you make an excursion to Summit County (or thereabouts) drop me a note, it would be great to make some turns with you again!


post #8 of 43
Noodler -
I've never met you, in fact I don't think I've even "met" you on-line.

But for some reason your experience struck a chord with me, and whenver a "whatever happened to ..." topic came up, I thought of you. I'm so glad that things are finally starting to look better for you.
post #9 of 43
My dear friend, it is so wonderful to hear from you and to know that you are alive and kicking. It's especially delightful to hear that you have ventured back from the abyss and found yourself back on snow.

Way to go!

I do hope that we have the opportunity to connect again, whether on-snow or for a bite to eat. You have been through trauma, but I believe that you have emerged victorious.

I missed you greatly as did many others here on EpicSki. Thank you for coming back!
post #10 of 43
So happy to see you're back, Noodler!
post #11 of 43
While my injury was not nearly as bad as yours, I can sympathize with the view that the accident is always in the back of your mind. I used to ski relatively aggressively but now with the accident in mind, I am a bit of a wuss, but at least I'm back on the mountain and enjoying every minute...glad to hear you doing so as well!
post #12 of 43
Wow, Uncle Louie and I were just talkin' about you (again) last night! Thanks for filling in the gaps we've all wondered and worried about. Good to see you among the barking again!
post #13 of 43
Thanks for one of the bravest posts ever here. I'm sure many of us are feeling, "there but for the grace of God go I."

I was relatively new here when your injury occurred, but I read about the seriousness of it and thought of you whenever your picture would pop-up on the home page. Best wishes for your continued recovery and a return to good times on the mountain.
post #14 of 43
Welcome back!
post #15 of 43
Welcome back Noodler. Your post moved me to tears...and yes, nobody should underestimate the benefits of a supportive spouse. I truly understand the need to avoid conversations about all things skiing. I'm going through that myself, but for different reasons.

It's kind of like Rick in Rick's Cafe in Casablanca telling Sam not to play As Time Goes By. Too many memories. Glad to see that you were able to enjoy a day at the slopes.
post #16 of 43
Welcome Home

post #17 of 43
My whole lifestyle (like others) is based on being able to ski. I couldn't imagine the depression level if it was taken away, among the other numerous issues you have overcome. Glad to hear you are 'back in the saddle' and sobering account.
post #18 of 43
Woo hoo! Noodler's skiing!!!

I can sooooo sympathize with you. The depression, weight gain, hopelessness, anger, frustration both with doctors and yourself, the sinking feeling that you'll never ski again, then deciding to bite the bullet and ski again only to have some fear creep in (did ya puke the first time? I did), then the realization that yes, you can ski and that you might ski differently for a while, but it will come back, the pain on your shin that will fade in time.........

And you'll fall.

That first fall is a nightmare even while you're going down. I double ejected a couple weeks ago and nearly crapped my pants, but once you fall and realize that you can get up and walk away, it just gets better each time you go.

I skied today for 5 hours, with 45 minutes for lunch. I felt good for a change and skied very well. I'm not at my pre-crash ability yet, but it's coming along.

I admire your willingness to give it another go. You're courageous and I wish you hero snow and bluebird days.

I have a question, though. You said they wouldn't take the rod out......because it's bent and too far down?

They're all bent. I have a picture of mine in the Backsliding in Recovery thread. (I made a windchime out of it). And if it's too far down, then there wouldn't be any need to involve the knee.

As long as your leg is healed, I don't see why it would be a problem. My orthopedist said it wouldn't be easy to take out, but it wasn't impossible......he does it all the time. It just doesn't sound right to me. Can you get a third opinion?
post #19 of 43
Way to hang in there Noodler.
post #20 of 43
Good on you for not giving up. My last 3 years have been tough with injuries and I can see where you go depressed. It takes so long to heal and come back. Take care.
post #21 of 43
Thread Starter 
Bonni - after reading your back sliding thread I believe that I haven't nearly put forth the effort that I should have in my recovery. I will go get a third opinion, but this time I'm hoping that someone in the Denver area will provide some doctors that they have had success with. In fact, I think I'll PM VSP (Ric) right now and find out who his doctor was.
post #22 of 43
Great to see you back.
post #23 of 43
Thread Starter 
To everyone that has replied - a big thank you for your well wishes and I hope you accept my apology for turning my back on the one place that probably would have been most helpful through it all. The Internet can really be an amazing place when it fosters a community of people like on Epic. I'm really looking forward to being a part of this again.
post #24 of 43
At a loss for words and can only echo the sentiments of others in this thread.

Welcome Back!
post #25 of 43
Noodler, great to hear from you again. Having not heard from you since that lunch, I had feared the worst, but am overjoyed to hear that you're back on the snow. I had great times skiing with you, and maybe we can gimp it up together again (since I'm about 24 months post-ACL). Maybe this coming weekend?
post #26 of 43
Great to have you back Noodler. I think of you every time I do a binding mount and fuss over the position relative to my BOF. Glad you emerged from the pit after going through one hell of a wringer. I hope you really soak up and revel in the experience as you return to skiing -- you will have much more appreciation for it than most of us will ever understand ourselves. Best of luck to you.
post #27 of 43
Noodler, your insight and spirt have been missed. It's great to have you back.
post #28 of 43
Wow, Noodler--that first post may be the best post I've ever read at EpicSki. Welcome back!

If you're up this way, please drop me a line. It would be an honor and a pleasure to ski with you!

Best regards,
post #29 of 43
I was about to add POTD but Bob B put it much, much better.
post #30 of 43
good to see you back noodler i admire the perseverance and determination that has brought you back.
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