Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Good as new, well almost

Home from the hospital now! And already missing the way the nurses instantaneously responded to my every need. I'm going to have to see if I can install one of those buttons by my chair here at home to buzz Jeff whenever I need anything... (!)

I also kind of miss my hospital roommate, a nice Swiss woman named Esther. She didn't speak any English, and neither did the nurses, so needless to say I got a crash-course of (Swiss) German practice over the weekend! Esther lived nearby with her family and their 22 cows... Whenever her family came in to visit her, there was a definite dairy smell that filled the room -- I'm not kidding! and it would linger for hours. When they were there they would play Swiss music on the radio, which I didn't mind since it went well with the scenery outside the window :)

Last night when Jeff showed up to take me home, I walked out a little with the crutches, and then "miraculously" threw them down and started walking on my own... Ta-da!!

It feels like a miracle - Only 3 days after surgery and I can walk (almost) normal, without any crutches or anything. Yahoooooo!!

One key ingredient is my fancy-dancy Swiss shoes... called Künzli Schuhe. They have orthopedic supports built-in. And see, aren't they sexy...

I had expected to have a big ol' boot or cast, so to have normal-looking shoes, and ones that help me walk, was a very happy surprise.

So now that I can get around, I have no excuse not to get back to my regular "Hausfrau" duties (darn!). I don't have any pain (although maybe that's due to all the pain meds I take 4 times a day...keep 'em comin!). I also have to give myself an injection in the leg, every day for 6 weeks, to prevent thrombosis. Ugh!

The good news is that the doc said I can bike again in two weeks. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Hey, since I can bike but can't ski anymore this season, maybe I can finally try out one of those Swiss SnowBikes...
I'll let you know how that one goes... (good thing I have the insurance now!)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

The ski tour with an unusual ending

Today's ski tour started as most all of them do... Skiing up, up, up toward the big blue sky...

Definitely a nice way to spend a Friday! photo by Howard Brundrett

Such a beautiful place, and no one else around...

Our friend Kate puts new meaning in the term "add-on"... Halfway up our journey to the top of Mont Rosswies, our main destination, she challenged us to a scramble up to the top of another nearby mountain (Margelchopf). And boy what a scramble it was... steep with some loose rocks and ice patches... Hang on!

We made it to the top and were rewarded with a view including parts of Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Austria...

photo by Howard Brundrett

Then it was time for the downward scramble, which is always more scary to me. Just have to go one foot- or hand-hold at a time... And whatever you do, don't look down!

photo by Howard Brundrett

Whew, we survived that - Now on to the next mountain...

Climb, climb, climb... Ski-touring actually feels a lot like climbing a long pass on a bike - You just find your rhythm and then keep it going... I like to pretend I put myself in my "easiest gear" and then I'm just spinning to the top... Pedal, pedal, pedal... Ski, ski, ski...

And it worked - We made it to the top of the second peak - Yeah!

photo by Howard Brundrett

Incredible views... All was good - And we were further rewarded by some great powder heading down. The powder was actually the best I have ever had the pleasure to ski in! Felt like floating instead of skiing. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh....

A little further down though, things changed a little - the snow became a little more variable. Actually I think some kind of "snow-monster" must have jumped up and grabbed my ski - I don't know how else to explain it! Something caused me to go down, and right when it did I heard (and felt) a loud POP! Uh oh, that can't be good... I'm thinking as I'm lying face down in the snow with my skis crossed in front of me!

I finally was able to push myself upright, but when I tried to continue skiing down I realized I couldn't put any pressure on my left leg without loads of pain shooting thru it. So, with my friend Howard's help, I proceeded to push myself backwards until I could traverse and ski down on my one good leg to meet up with Kate at the bottom of the gully.

Once I made it to her I knew there was no way I could ski all the way down to the car. There's no ski patrol or other help around since we weren't at any ski resort, but luckily there is a helicopter rescue service called Rega, that is ready for situations just like this. I just never thought I'd actually need to use it - But it looked like this time I would! The really amazing thing is that I had just joined Rega the previous day, which includes insurance to cover the expenses for rescues like this. Is that lucky timing or what!

We didn't have any cell phone coverage in the gully we were in though, so we couldn't call the helicopter from there. Kate decided to ski ahead and down to the village so that she could call from there. Meanwhile I needed to put my skins on and ski to the top of the pass in order to meet the helicopter there. It was a climb that seemed to last a lifetime! Since it was icy in places I needed to use my ski-crampons, which I had never used before. The pain shot thru my left leg so bad, I felt like I was going to pass out at times, but I knew I had to make it to the top to get out of here, so had to keep pushing on....

Needless to say I was very happy to get to the top and sit down!

photo by Howard Brundrett

I had just enough time to put on some warm clothes and take off my skins when the helicopter showed up -- What a wonderful sight to see!

this is Howard Brundrett, who helped get me to the helicopter!

I was so relieved to not have to ski (or hop) all the way down the mountain --This was a much easier way to travel...

photo by Howard Brundrett

I was at the nearby hospital within minutes, where they quickly determined I had broken my left ankle, and I would need an operation to insert a metal plate. They said it was best to do the procedure right away, but first I proceeded to display my one-legged hopping skills around the hospital halls... must be a symptom of being in ski clothes way too long...
photo by Howard Brundrett

Well the operation went very smoothly - I was awake during the whole thing, just trying not to think about them screwing a plate into my body (ew!). That first night afterward was a long one - lots of "Schmerzen"(pain) and not much "Schlafen"(sleep), but in the morning I was surprised by a really nice Swiss scene outside my window...

The mountain on the left is actually the first one we climbed on Friday!

So now I am just pretending that this is my "spa weekend", full-service with sponge baths and good meals...

I am thankful this "adventure" happened in Switzerland - One of the best places in the world (if not THE best) for backcountry rescue as well as medical services. And as it's been said, "Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker" (What doesn't kill me makes me stronger)!

For more pictures click here. Special thanks to Howard who took many of the photos I have included, and of course for helping me get up the mountain to be picked up by the helicopter. What an "Abenteuer" (adventure).

Thanks for all your well-wishes!!