Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Good News From The Doc!

Rather than re-writing an email I sent earlier's what was sent to the SSD and some friends on the patrol.

First, I’d like to thank all of you for writing and calling and thinking of me, I sincerely appreciate your kind thoughts and words.

OK, I’ve got some very good news to report. According to the doctor, my knee is in a lot better shape than he originally thought it might be.

According to the MRI that I got yesterday, there is no ligament damage, or meniscus damage, the X-rays show no structural problems and the doc says that my knee is “tight”…which he said is good. There is some slight cartilage damage but not a tear and there are some “loose materials” in there but nothing that will prevent me from resuming a normal level of activity. He said it was difficult to tell because there’s a good bit of swelling and there is some point tenderness so he couldn’t totally palpate as much as he would like to but all-in-all, he indicated that I dodged a pretty big bullet given the description of the mechanism of injury and the swelling and pain on Sunday night.

So, next steps are to continue to ice, slowly increase activity, work on my range of motion and to stop wearing the compression brace; which is extremely good news! I’ve got an appointment on Friday, March 2 to visit with Dr. xxxx one more time. Based on how things are going, he’ll hopefully fully release me, with the appropriate paperwork. As for now, there’s no skiing but my plan is to get back on the slopes Saturday, March 3 for instructing and patrolling; unless anyone objects, please anticipate that my regular schedule will resume at that time.

As for what really happened, now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, the boarder that hit me was young…10 or 12, maybe 14 at the most. I’m not really sure if he was a student, newbie or someone just out of control. About 30 seconds before I got hit, I was talking with my class about clearing the path up-hill when you are entering a trail; always look for traffic. In doing that, I looked up trail and didn’t see anyone. That’s when I returned my attention to the students and then, I got hit. Rob, the patroller, was almost immediately on the scene and he instructed the boarder not to move. He might have had a better sense of who he was and gotten a better look at him than I did. To be honest, my attention wasn’t on that young man, instead, I was trying to figure out how badly I was hurt DCAP/BTLS/SAMPLE…good training never goes away. Even though Rob told him not to move, once the other patrollers and instructors started to come around, I think the boarder saw it as an opportunity to leave, and did. Since I got hit from behind and from my right, and I was looking to the left to make sure all of the students were acknowledging what I had just told them, it is literally like I got blindsided…I truly never saw him coming. In any case, I don’t think we can really blame the boarder; experienced or not, this was hopefully just an accident.

So, I’ll take the next 10 days to stretch, ice, work on my range of motion, get with whatever doc’s need to see me and get ready to get back on hill for the remainder of this season.

Thanks again to you all . . . your support is truly appreciated.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What A GREAT Weekend...Until...OUCH!

So, Saturday ends with a few runs with Beale and Curtie and a quick conversation with Emilio (Patroller extraordinaire) and a cigar on the way home.

Man, that was some really good skiing and the whole city, it seemed, wanted some of it.

Inside of the lodge, there was hardly an untracked spot and of course, some of the best food in town was being served. It's always cool when you see a client doing well, especially at a place that you patron. So, I'm skiing, patrolling, instructing, hanging out with some really great people and eating some of our client's best stuff.

Is it much better than that?

So, on Sunday, I decided it would be a good idea to do some extra patrolling since it was so darned busy and because of the improving weather, it looked to be even more so.

Met up with one of the newbie's, Randy and we ski'd a bunch of runs together - helping out along the way and checking out his new Nordica Speedmachine 8's. Those things are so sweet and he ski's them particularly well. He's a great guy and I'm going to enjoy patrolling with him for many years to come.

After a few hours of patrolling, a guest came up to us wondering if he had the wrong ski's on. He said that he'd been skiing a few times before and wanted to know if the ski's he had on were somehow different from the one's he had previously rented because the others were "so much easier to turn". We talked about ski length, edge cut and all that but he really wasn't getting it. I told him that there were other ski's to try and that if he wanted to, to just go back to the ski rental shop and ask for a new pair. I recommended a shorter mid-fat and off he went.

Well, as soon as he started to ski away, it became pretty obvious what the problem was. His turning came from the shoulders and it was almost as if he was trying to steer a truck or roll a barrel of beer from side to side. I looked at Randy, he looked at me and then I decided that it would be better to catch up to the guest and ask if I could make a few suggestions on his skiing technique. Which I did and ski'd with him for a bit and gave him some pointers about the "ready" position, balance, quieting his shoulders and turning from the hips, knees and ankles in an effort to make him more comfortable.

Seemed to do the immediate trick and he was thankful for the input. A little later I saw him ski by and he was doing much better. Then, somehow we got in line together and I offered to ski a run with him to give him a more extended "lesson" on some more appropriate technique. It was fun to ski with him, he was a very willing student and it made me feel good to help out someone that wanted to enjoy skiing but was struggling with his technique. Later in the day, he ski'd by again...yelled out my name and said "I GET IT!". Made me feel good.

OK, so, after finishing up patrolling, at about 330p, I took a bit of a break to have lunch out on the veranda (fancy name for cement deck). Absolutely perfect day...sunny, but with enough chill in the air to make the hot sandwich and cool soda go down so well. Met up with Paul (OEC bud) and his very attractive girlfriend and chatted a bit. Paul's a first class guy...I hope we get to ski together more in the future. About 3 weeks ago, he and I handled one of my first actual "backboarding" incidents together. Anyway, after chatting with Paul, I changed coats and became an instructor and headed out for my first class of the day. All adults, 11 in total and it was going to be a blast!

On the way out the door, Tigger and Pooh were hanging out...had to get a shot of them. One really cool thing about HV is the way people really get into having fun. It's not all serious and 'life and death''s really enjoyable to be around and the atmosphere is typically pretty light hearted. If you remember from an original post, my entire goal and motivation this year was to really enjoy a season of skiing. So far, that's been happening, even with the patroller struggles earlier it's been well worth the commitment and time and effort.

So, up the hill we go to the Learner's Area and we get organized and we begin the lesson. As we start, things are going great. Everyone's getting the "arc the turn" concept...they're feeling the balance, they can all walk and slide and stop on one ski and then two and now it's time for the star-turn, which everyone gets pretty well. And, that's when it happened.

Every time I teach a class, one of the biggest things I discuss first is traffic awareness, safety when entering an active trail, making sure the path is clear, etc... And, my last word to them, on that subject is, "And, eventhough it's the up-hill skier's responsibilty to avoid you, if they run into you, you're still the one that gets hurt". And DAMN, if that's not exactly what happened. Literally, as I complete that sentence I start looking up the hill and pointing for any traffic and making sure that the area is clear because the class is about to ski onto the open trail behind me. As I do that, I stop about 25 feet from the edge of the Magic Carpet, look uphill one more time, don't see anybody and then turn my attention back to the class. I guess I must have been looking slightly downhill and talking with one of the students because as soon as I said "ok, ski back to the carpet now"...a snowboarder hit me from behind, on my right, and took both of my legs out from underneath me.

I was planted, just standing there with my poles up and I could feel him rolling into my right knee and then my weight folding over the top of the boarder to the right. I immediately felt my left ski release but for some reason, the right ski hung on to my boot and the boarder rolled over my knee and that's when I felt the burning sensation. I didn't feel or hear a pop, but it sure as heck started to hurt and hurt bad.

Likely, I slid about 10 feet or so from the point of impact and when I tried to put some weight on my right foot to leverage myself up, my knee wasn't going to have any of that. I won't tell you the words I started saying to myself . . . but most of them started with FUCK.

Within seconds, one of my patroller buds Rob was there and he could tell I was in pain. Not recognizing him at first, when he said "can I help you, can I take off your ski's?" I very rudely said, "stay away and get the patrol". To which he responded, "Brian, it's me...I am with the patrol". I was so pissed at being hurt that I didn't even look to see who it was. He asked me what happened and I looked over at the boarder and said "that little shithead just rolled me over". Now, in retrospect, I can't really blame the boarder because he was a student, learning how to board and no doubt being out of control is just part of the deal. I do wish he would have at least said "LOOOOOOK OUT!" before he plowed into me, but that didn't happen and I found myself laying on the snow wondering what the hell just happened to my knee.

Within about 2 minutes, there were many voices around me, instructors, other patrollers, people I didn't recognize. It wasn't fun.

The long and short of it is that one of the other instructors picked up for my class and I got to experience the best care that HV's Patrol can provide. I never thought I'd get to experience that but after having done so, it's likely the best possible scenario for any patroller in training; to have the experience of being 'taken care of' with an injury. In my case, a real one, but for training, it could be 'faked' to experience everything from on-scene arrival through loading into the ambulance to get the full scope of the experience.

So, I get sledded to the Patrol Room and who is there to meet me but Dick, the OEC instructor and all around good dude...really good dude! As he always does, he's kind and careful and examined me and took the notes and did all the things you're supposed to do. Eventually, he along with several others, got my leg splinted and had me ready to be shipped off for the exam at the hospital.

Probably the dummest thing I did was insist that my wife drive me to the ER, rather than take the ambulance ride. I won't repeat that mistake. She was all worked up anyway, after hearing that I was hurt; to make her come out to the hill and get me into the car and then drive me to the ER was not smart, on my part. It added to her fear and anger and just got me all riled up because she wouldn't calm down. Next time, I'll take the bus...or, as one of my clients calls it, the Whaaaaambulance.

The ER wasn't particularly eventful . . . standard exam and Xray stuff, wrist tag, crutches and then meds to reduce the pain.

Here's what I wrote to the ski school director, when I got home:
I’ve been to the ER this evening and have some good news and some unknown news to report:

  • Good News: There’s nothing broken. I went to the ER at Barnes West and had a series of X-Ray’s taken and I’m told that they show no bone breaks or anything significant in the ‘structural’ arena. Additionally, the orthopedic (Dr. Bassman) indicated that there’s no significant instability and upon palpation he didn’t feel anything ‘detached’.

  • Unknown News: Due to the swelling and pain, he wanted to make sure that we get an accurate picture of what’s occurring so I’m currently on pain medication, leg elevated and wrapped in a compression splint. Oh, I’m the dork on crutches! On Monday morning, I’ll be calling to make an MRI appointment and seeing him on Wednesday for a full analysis and next steps. Based on what he finds on Monday/Wednesday, we’ll figure out what to do.

UPDATE: I went to the MRI yesterday afternoon and have an appointment setup for this afternoon with the orthopedic to see what’s going on. The knee is still very stiff, still swollen and painful when I either rotate or angulate but I can put weight on it as long as I’m in the splint and on crutches.

What this means for skiing and instructing is:

  1. I’m out of business until at least Wednesday (no instructing Monday or clinic on Tuesday), and likely after that until the pain subsides and I successfully complete some level of rehab, even if there’s no surgery.
  2. If there is surgery, I’m done for the season and rehab will begin immediately after eithercartilage debreeding (scope) or ligament repair. I’m crossing my fingers for none ofthat.
I've got an appointment with the Doc in a couple of hours...let's hope the MRI shows nothing and I'm back on ski's before this season ends.

More news...later!

Monday, February 19, 2007

What A GREAT Weekend...Until.

This weekend, President's Weekend, was one of those fabulous weekend's that are just so cool to be part of...Until.

It started Saturday morning, arriving at the hill early, I got to be part of the early morning crew, setting up fences, moving poles and "ski school signs", greeting the early-riser guests, it was just fun. There's something really enjoyable about being there "backstage" when the crew is getting the show ready. From all of my days as an airshow guy, there was just something about being there with the planes ready to fly, the pilots getting briefed, vendors rolling out their goods; that bug is still with me.

So, as Saturday dawned, I was ready to go and since there were no students early, I got to run first-tracks with Beale, a heckuva a skier and awesome woman to boot and Scott (yellow vest, on the right), a student at Mizzou and a superb guy. Scott, earlier in the day, rescued me from the edge of the access road heading to the hill. Friday night, St. Louis got 1/2 inch of snow and unfortunately, by the time Saturday morning rolled around, the access road hadn't been plowed or salted. Dumb me decided it was a perfect day to try to get to the hill in my convertible (rather than taking the SUV which was just sitting there begging to be driven). So, as I'm going up and down the access road, climbing to the entry, I get stuck on a just too steep to climb section of the road. Once my forward momentum had stopped, I tried to slowly accelerate in the lowest gear I could get to and the wheels kept spinning . . . and then, I started to slide towards the edge of the road and a big ole tree-filled cliff. Freaked out??? You betcha. So, rather than accept that as my fate, I stopped with the gas and started in with the brake...not so fast dumbass. Now, I start to slide backwards down the hill...still veering towards the edge of the road. As a last ditch, I decide the only thing I can really do is put the car in reverse and drive-backwards, down the hill and try to positively control my direction. Still, no such luck but at least things weren't getting worse. As I started to slow down, my right rear tire fell off the side of the road and I stopped, dead in my tracks.

Now, to say I'm hyperventilating would be an understatement...but, here's where the star-alignment part comes in. Who should be directly behind me but Craig (L2 about to be L3 ski instructor and an amazingly great guy) and Scott (Mizzou student, from above). They were watching the whole thing and as I came to a stop at the side of the road, they met me at my car as I was getting out. To say that I was relieved to see that it was them would be an understatement. After about 30 seconds of discussing it, Scott and Craig decide it's going to be best if they push me back on the road and I drive all the way back down the hill to the church parking lot. And so that's what happened. A little gas, a whole lot of their muscle and voila...safely on the road and backing down I go. I said it to both of them before but once again, THANKS GUYS FOR RESCUING MY BACON!

OK, so, I finally get warmed up, after skiing with Scott and Beale and it's time for the first of the 6 classes I tought on Saturday. One after the other it was just fun, fun, fun! My first class was "shadowed" by one of the senior instructors, Hawkie. Superbly amazingly great guy and as good as an instructor as there is. Well, I was a little bit nervous, kind of like in flight school when the senior instructor watches you conduct a lesson, but I figured I would just do what I'd been doing and get the feedback for improving once all was said and done. Luckily for me, my first class was filled with athletic studs and everything I asked them to do was easily done by them. By the end, 9 of the 10 were sliding, wedging, turning, was cool. One thing I've gotten into a pattern of is at the top of the learner's hill, as we're getting ready for our last run as a class, I stop everyone and give them a recap of what they've learned and ask them "OK, an hour ago when we started the class...I asked each of you if you're a skier. So, an hour ago, how many of you were skier's?" To which none of them raise their hand and I then ask, "OK, it's an hour later, how many of you are skier's now?" To which ALL of them raise their hands. It's a great thing to see them realize how far they've come and for me, it's a thrill to see that in their faces.

So, once that first lesson is done, I ski back to the "Ski School Meeting Area" and wait for Hawkie to join up. He skied up and said, "best primary lesson I've seen a junior instructor deliver in a long time...way to go". Uhhhhh, me? You're talking to me? It was so cool to hear him say that. From where I'd come as an instructor 3 months earlier to Saturday was well, quite a journey and it was cool, cool, cool to have him tell me that I was decent enough to keep instructing. He did say I was a little "verbose" in the beginning...yeah, well, ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I love the sounds of my voice. But that's something I've been working on and am well aware of. So, in all, the feedback was super positive and I spent the rest of Saturday enjoying being a ski instructor.

More about the weekend will be written...likely, it's above this just a bit.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A View From My Office

I'm one of those lucky few that get to work from home...and really enjoy it!

My business partner and I founded a communications technology company last year (Click The Link) and to date, we're doing quite well. One of the best parts though, I do have to admit, is being able to work from home whenever I want to.

So, yesterday, I decided "I want to" and took some time to enjoy home while it was snowing 6 inches in my yard.

First, I decided I wanted to do a hot tub, but then, I got a look at it and decided, that's probably not such a good idea. The stairs at the top of the picture go up to the deck...the small stairs go into what is likely 100 degree bubbly water. But, that's not going to happen any time soon...dab nab it.

So, after not being able to coax myself into the tub, I decided it was likely just better to get to work. Nose to the grindstone and all that for a few hours until I finally rolled back the blinds and took a look outside.

So, as we're buried deep in the woods, it was pretty cool to see the trees dusted with snow, the deck railings piled up and the backyard a total snowdesert.

Best part of all was that the girls schools were cancelled for the day so they got to hang out with me at home. Sheri was quite a party.

Unfortunately, my attention was continuously called away to a software project that was being rolled out so with a tweak here and a nudge there, our developers and project management team were able to get things rolled out successfully.

Felt good to complete a 2 month project on time and within budget. Made for a great day at home.

One last view from my office window!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ski, Ski Instructing

Interesting how different these two worlds are.

I've been ski instructing as well as ski patrolling these past few months and I've come to notice a significant difference between the two groups that make up these two entities of a ski area's operation.

  1. Ski Instructors get that they are part of the revenue equation of the business. Ski Patrollers generally have no clue that they are part of the expense side.

  2. Ski Instructors, generally, are much better skiers than Ski Patrollers. Patrollers can ski well and can handle equipment and situations very well...but I find that Patrollers have a very narrow ski window...a Level 2 or 3 Instructor is a stronger and more capable overall skier.

  3. Ski Patrollers are typically a much tighter group and have a significant amount of comraderie that I don't see in the instructor group. Now, there are many very good friendships amongst instructors, but in general all the Patrollers are 'buds' at some level.

  4. The general public doesn't differentiate between Patrollers...anyone wearing the jacket is one. On the other hand, Instructors are better known by the public because you spend an hour, or more, with them and they remember you when they come back to ski on their own or take another lesson. The relationship between "student" and "patient" is much different.

  5. Instructor's have better accomodations than do least where I ski. The ski school has a little 'locker room' for instructors where we can hang out, hang our gear, talk, commisserate, etc...Patrollers have this little room that's really a place for patients more than anything else and another PQ at the top of the hill...spartan, to say the least.

  6. Instructors talk about instructing. Patrollers talk about skiing.

  7. In general, Patrollers talk about the people they've helped and the situations they've been in with patients. Instructors, on the other hand, typically talk about problems or students that "don't get it".

  8. Patrollers gear is in better shape than an Instructor's...mostly because an Instructor spends most of the day getting ski'd over by students still learning...our boots, ski's and bindings are hacked up pretty badly. Patrollers, on the other hand, ski to a scene, kick out of their bindings and then cross them in the snow. Not much abuse going on there.

  9. I've been called a "traitor" by Patrollers and a "cross dresser" by instructors...when I'm wearing the other groups gear. Funny, it sounds like Patrollers are more upset by me instructing than instructors are upset by me Patrolling.

  10. The one thing that both groups have in common is an unending desire to share their passion for safe skiing with those around them. At least at my hill, money isn't a motivator for either group...neither are the "free ski passes". It's a chance to contribute, share and be with a group that shares your passion. I, for one, am darned glad I'm doing both this winter.

Saturday, February 10, 2007 those with the guts to stick it out!

Today was the on-hill for all my OEC buds and I'm so excited that so many of them passed!

Randy...a 17 year old with one of the greatest dads; Dick, one of our OEC teachers. Randy's so absolutely cool and so mature and just a really talented and super nice guy. He's fully certified as a Basic and was already patrolling today during the "Big Air" competition. This is one awesome guy.

Julie...if you read my first post again, you'll see a picture of Julie from way back in early December. She's a fully certified Patroller...way to go Jules!

Plus a bunch of others made it past the gauntelet today...CONGRATS, it's an honor to be in your hands!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

More Fun...More Skiing...Less Weight

In a variety of private messages, there have been some comments (some rather nasty, I might add) about my weight. Well, tada....I'm down 10 pounds since Jan. 1 and continue on a losing path! There is no secret, it's pretty simple; eat less, exercise more. Duuuh.

The good news is that as I lose more weight, I feel more confident as a skier and that certainly showed yesterday.

Assisted on 3 scenes and in every case, was able to fully and physically assist the lead patroller without feeling confined or bunched up. Now, that's a good feeling that's going to start getting better. I've even been able to enjoy instructing much more because of my ability to move around more easily.

I've been here before, I'm commited to continuing on this path until I reach my goals (sub-200) and we'll see where we go from there.

On the very cool side of things, am being asked to assist other instructors and patrol with other patrollers which is lots of fun. The best part if being of value. My goal is to share my passion for safe skiing and assist people get to a level of confidence that allows them to overcome their fears of either never having ski'd, or being instructed poorly at the start.

Yesterday, that happened with a family of 3; Mom, Dad and 9 year old daughter. Very cool group, you could tell they were really chomping at the bit, but had a very poor experience 4 years ago in Colorado. Yesterday, after an hour they could all safely wedge, safely turn and safely ride up the lift. When I cut them loose, the dad asked me about season passes...VICTORY!