“Go skiing” they said. “It’ll be fun” they said.
Today marks my 1-year painniversary of tearing ligaments in my knee.
But I’ll get to that later…
It all started with a group of my friends,very convincing I might add, who booked a personal bus to get to High-One on an Enjoy Korea Ski Trip. I mean, the price was right and I’d never seen large amounts of snow. So I thought “Why the hell not? Go big or go home, right?”. My stupid ass thought it would be a great opportunity to just THROW myself right into it headfirst….Literally.
After finding enough people to fill a bus, we all met at like 4AM to begin our trip to the North Eastern part of Korea. We had to leave early because the city we were going to was on the complete opposite side of our small coastal city. It took us a good 5~6 hours to get there. Thank god for headphones and comfortable seats.
Upon arrival we were all ushered to the main building for the “dorms” where we were to sleep that night. Lucky for me none of my good friends went on this trip and so I was left to be in a dorm with all strangers. You do get the option of signing yourself up into the rooms, however, I was just hoping that by being alone I’d make new friends. Just be aware if you do this, you’ll end up with chicks and dicks in your room. Oh, and and 2 of the 6/7 of you will have to sleep on the floor with 1 person on the couch (luckily that was me)… It’s not comfortable, but the tour is cheap (which is great) and it’s only for one night.
After settling your things you have to decide who gets to keep the dorm key… Good luck because they only give you two! Then you can head to the ski building and get your equipment. At this point I had found some familiar faces and begged my large Canadian friend to teach me a few pointers when we finally got set up.
As I searched for the bunny slope I found myself sliding to the first hill upon exiting the building… It definitely wasn’t a bunny slope…. After falling down 60 times, taking 2 hours to go down ONE GREEN (lvl) HILL, and losing my Black-Diamond-Skiing-large-Canadian friend I finally made it down the hill.
My first impression of skiing was a lot like “Where are the brakes on this thing?” “Why am I sliding so fast?” ” WHY DO THEY CALL THIS A PIZZA? THIS LOOKS NOTHING LIKE A PIZZA!” Among other thoughts of course… The feeling is almost like slipping in the shower repeatedly….A never ending bathtub coated in snow-scented lush body soap… That’s probably as close as I can get it to describing that initial feeling.
The next morning I found a renewed sense of purpose. I was determined to enjoy skiing and fall down only once or twice… I wanted to be a master. I went down the first slope, and I nailed every turn! I came across the last curve, keep in ind I haven’t mastered stopping and I knew I couldn’t land this sharp curve. I was terrified and held my pizza position strong and preparing myself to fall when *POP* and down I went. I just remembering having the worst pain in my knee and looking around me at the damage. My ski sticks were 10 feet away from me along with my skis… I literally had to CRAWL to reach them because no one stopped to help me. I remember praying to any god that the Korean emergency unit would show up, but it never did… So I did my best to kick on those skis again and make my way to the bottom…
My friend was waiting for me at the bottom and was ready for a few more slopes… At this point I’m not sure if it was A: Denial B: Stupidity C: Adrenaline or D: The numbing cold but I decided to keep skiing regardless of the pain… And you know what? I didn’t fall again that day…
I made my way to the small “hospital” after the 4th slope of the day and had a woman wrap my knee and spray some pain spray and that was all she wrote. The pain didn’t start until we were all on the buses… Fucking worst 6 hours of my life. I say 6 because our bus got lost… Perfect.
After arriving back in Mokpo and stumbling to work the next day I decided to check my knee *just in case* the “sprain” was worse than it seemed.
The day after
Partially torn ACL and MCL one week before my small vacation to Sydney for New Years Eve…. You can imagine my heart break after hearing that I won’t be able to walk for months… I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t need surgery, thank god.
7 stages of grief
After the accident I will never forget all the emotions I felt. It was akin the the 7 stages of grief along with an extra stage of helplessness. The feeling of needing people to help me to do daily tasks, that would take me 5 minutes to otherwise do myself, started to wear down on my sanity. I promised to never take my legs for granted again once they were both working again, and most importantly to never ski again.
Not only was I unable to go on my once-in-a-lifetime NYE vacation, but I knew that this would also mean another year in Korea. Unfortunately healthcare back in the USA would cost me thousands for an injury of that caliber. I had no choice but to stay in Korea where I could afford physical therapy, 5$ everyday, and the MRI’s, X-Rays, leg brace, and doctors visits.
While I still can’t run marathons, it’s been 1 year since my injury and I’m 100% back to full capacity. Sometimes my knee will feel pain when it’s raining or snowing, along with the occasional giving out, but overall I’m happy that I’m back! I can’t wait to leave the land of Kimchi and pursue the dreams I left behind last year of going to Australia and Spain!
I’m glad to say that in 2 weeks I’m headed to Australia! Goodbye winter wonderland!