Life Changing: Broken Femur | CAN
It was just like any regular day at Sunshine Village, perhaps even a bit better. A fresh 8cm of snow had just fallen overnight and I was excited to get out early. Having worked until 2am the night before, I managed to get roughly 6 hours of sleep but enough to keep me feeling good for a few morning laps. The intentions were to follow that up with an afternoon nap and then my eight hour shift as night Security.
Standish to Back Door:
I had made plans with my buddy Zach Ross to meet up at the Standish chairlift for 9am. With the late night both of us had the night before I incidentally slept in till 8:45 and quickly rushed to get all my gear on then go. I didn’t see Zach when I got there and assumed he may have already went for a quick lap so I followed suit. We met up at the bottom of our first runs and took another four laps of the Standish lift together before I decided to go catch a small coffee break with my buddies/coworkers Dan Dolson and Sławek Olesinski in the Security office.
We shared some laughs and talked about how the snow conditions were this morning. Sławek had injured his knee prior and hasn’t been able to get out much and Dan had some work to catch up on so I was debating what chairlift I would head up next...
Within 15 minutes of sipping on my coffee with the boys, my good friend Fraser Robbins had messaged me asking if I’d be willing to hike up to what is known as “Back Door”. I replied with a simple Yes! and we set a time for an 11am meet up at the Wawa chairlift. At this same time, my friend Jelena Avekvist had also messaged me about riding and mentioned we’ll also meet up at Wawa chairlift for 11am.
Jelena brought along two of her fellow Swedish friends and the five of us were off heading towards Back Door. This was my first time getting the opportunity to ride out here and I was more than excited, especially after the recent dump of snow we’ve had over the previous couple days.
The hike took about 10 minutes of boot packing as we made our way towards the drop in point. Once we were all strapped in and ready to go, it was a fun filled powder adventure. Even just halfway down, we were already talking about heading right back up for another run.
Coming into the canyon area was a bit more technical and you needed to choose your path a little better while cruising through the trees. Spaced out enough and with moderate speed it was easy to navigate.
Eventually we came out under the power lines that lead us down to the Wolverine chairlift where we’d catch the lift up and over to the TeePee chairlift.
TeePee to Secret Trees:
Getting off Canada’s first heated bubble chairlift known as TeePee had us all feeling warm and pumped for our first shred down the Divide and Springhill terrain parks that the Sunshine Village park and cat crews did a heck of a job putting together.
*Honestly, big shout out to the dude Benjamin Suurallik for all the work he’s been putting in on terrain parks throughout the Bow Valley. Including not only SSV (Sunshine Village), but also Norquay and Nakiska as well.
This being just my third full season snowboarding, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert park rider by any means but knowing that the move to Australia coming up in May was happening, I was determined to up my game this year.
We came down the divide park and I was feeling comfortable with the medium jumps which were roughly 20 and 30 footers, as well as the ledges so it was time to get some grabs and spins going on the Springhill section. I’ve been stoked on BS 360 lately and the first small jump there was ideal for it. The entire run went smooth and I was hyped that there wasn’t any crashes.
At this point, Fraser and I separated from Jelena and the others while they went to grab some lunch. Fraser knew of a secret run off Wawa that just so happened to be called “Secret Trees”. That became our next choice for the day.
I followed Fraser’s lead as he twist and winded through the trees and eventually came to a quick 5 minute hike that was needed to get to the spot we’d be dropping in at. Fraser had warned me ahead of time that we’d need to drop a bit of a cliff to start things off and I was all for it!
The cliff didn’t seem that big and I was confident in pulling it off. Fraser went off first and I followed once he was in sight at the bottom. Everything went smooth! I dropped the 12 foot cliff, slowed myself down and we continued to ride down the rest of the powder filled run.
Just like on Back Door, we found ourselves taking the Wolverine chairlift back up.
Kids Play to Goats Eye:
The Kids Play terrain park is without a doubt my favourite park on the hill and makes the Wolverine lift arguably my favourite. It’s often times not busy, comfortably in the trees allowing for good conditions even on windy/poor visibility days and with easy to ride features, it was perfect for learning new tricks and progressing.
Fraser and I made a quick lap through the park and I nailed all the tricks I had been working on days previously. I was hyped! We ended up finishing off the run by going down the piste titled “Rollercoaster” that feels just as the name suggests. A windy path through the trees giving you a sensation of surfing before coming out of a pump like track.
The end of this run, you’re given a few choices. You can either head down towards the Wolverine lift, take the gondola back up to the village or head on up the Goat’s Eye chairlift. Goat’s Eye is named after the mountain it ascends which coincidentally has a hole going through it on the north facing side visible from the SSV access road.
We chose to take a break, have a lunchtime coffee and figure out a plan for the rest of the afternoon.
Goat’s Eye has a few exceptional runs called Southside Chutes and Hell’s Kitchen. Both of these areas are considered double black diamond which sees less traffic and more powder runs!
With the Southside Chutes looking brutally mogulled out from the strong winds recently we decided to check out Hell’s Kitchen. Totally worth it we thought as we made our way to the entrance. How was it already past 1pm and there was still fresh tracks to be had all over the place? We’ll take it!
Once we came to the bottom, we just couldn’t resist heading back up and doing it all over again. Next time around I hit my max speed of the day - 81.3km/h. We decided we should do Back Door one more time since it was one of the best runs I had all season but instead of taking the gondola back up to the village we chose to take the Wolverine lift over to Teepee again.
The plan at this point was to head up the Teepee lift in order to take another quick run through the Divide and Springhill terrain parks on the way back over to the Wawa chairlift.
As we were going up the Teepee bubble, Fraser mentioned the idea of taking a quick run down what’s known as “The Shoulder” because it looked pretty good from where we were sitting. I couldn’t say no considering I had never been and I’ve only heard good things about it.
Scooting off the top of the lift and making our way down skiers right traversing over to The Shoulder was interesting to say the least. Plenty of rocks barely scratching the surface had me hopping all over the place with some that were just unavoidable. Even though my board may have got a couple scratches on it, it was 100% worth it once we got to the starting point. The most powder I had seen all day just sitting there, basically glistening in the sunlight at this point just waiting for us to come slashing through. Another epic ride for the day and we were back heading up the Teepee lift!
The Last Tricks of the Day:
Here we were again ready to hit this line for the second time of the day and having already gone through it once, I was ready to start trying some new maneuvers.
Going through the box section, I was happy to stomp everything I tried including my first proper nose press on top of the wedge ledge. Next came the jump section. Feeling comfortable after the first run through knowing how much speed to take into each of them I sent a good ol’ mute grab over the first with a simple Indy over the second to mix it up. The next obstacle was a bit of a bump over a barrel followed by a long mailbox rail that I was able to lock in a BS board perfectly on.
That finished off the Divide Park and it was onto Spring Hill where I was able to clean up the BS 360 over the first jump, and then BS Boardslide to Fakie around the curved ledge at the end. A successful trip from top to bottom left both Fraser and I ecstatic to hit Back Door one last time before lunch.
Back Door Tragedy:
Having the adrenaline pumping after one heck of a day so far, I was pumped to get back in some powder before my afternoon nap prior to work. The hike went the same way as before taking about 10-15 minutes to get up to the drop in location. We strapped in and went at it the same way as before.
The one thing that was different this time around is that we wanted to go off the bigger cliff on the left hand side. Fraser pointed it out and sent it then waited for me at the bottom. I followed and this is where it all went terribly wrong.
Not taking a good look at the landing before sending it off the 10 foot cliff at a speed of roughly 45km\h left me somewhat useless in the air. Upon landing I caught my toe edge and was sent out of control and upon looking over my shoulder I saw the tree and thought to myself in an instance - "This is going to hurt" - Everything was happening so fast and before I knew it - BAM!
Broken & Cold - Part 1:
I hit the trunk of the tree with full impact causing my femur to break and twist around. I let out a painful scream and immediately knew my leg was broken. I began trying to pull myself out of the tree well knowing it wasn’t a safe place to be while spitting out pine needles and snow that had covered my face. With all my strength I couldn’t move my right leg and asked Fraser to get my feet out of my bindings and then call for help. I thought perhaps that I had snapped my back binding off my board with the impact but sure enough when I was able to catch a glimpse I could see that it was still attached and my leg was clearly not straight. Unsure of who to call, we knew either Dan or Sławek would answer the Security phone without hesitation.
Unfortunately the first call rang through to Human Resources' voicemail accidentally, but immediately after Fraser called Sławek's cell phone and explained the situation. Sławek, with Fraser still on the phone radioed dispatch and put through a Code 6 (Ski Patrol needed). Dispatch then called Fraser directly to get more details such as location and information on the injury. While on the phone, I felt around in my pants for blood which could have meant a compound fracture and there was no sign but of course, with an impact strong enough to break a femur, internal bleeding was a concern.
I kept thinking about medical training I had when I was younger and what I’ve been taught to do in similar situations. I made sure to continually take deep breathes, and stay awake. I did my best to make a bit of a chair in the snow against the tree in order to steady myself and Fraser stayed right by my side as we waited for the first responder to arrive.
Since we were technically out of bounds, yet in an area that ski patrol still responds to, the wait time was a bit longer than usual. This was totally expected and the pain continued to come in waves. Each time Fraser and I heard noise, we began to shout to draw attention. Eventually one skier had stopped atop the cliff we just dropped and was super helpful. Fraser explained to him that Ski Patrol was on their way and if he could help show them this direction it would be extremely useful. He agreed without hesitation and again we waited. 20-30 minutes must have gone by before the first responder arrived but I couldn’t have been happier to see him.
*The name of the first responder will not be mentioned in this blog, but my heart and life goes out to him for staying calm and answering my questions. For the future of this writing I will simply state him as “FR”.
The first step was to check my radial pulse which was weak and mixed with the cold conditions, it was not a good sign. Radioing in to dispatch to get a snowmobile with a sled and backrest over immediately and going through the checklist was the first steps and each member worked together to understand what they were dealing with and wether or not a helicopter evacuation would be needed.
I asked FR how long he estimates until the rest of crew gets here and mentioned that I was feeling really cold. At this point I had already been laying in the snow for over 45 minutes. He responded calmly with 10-15 minutes and wrapped his jacket around me to help with some warmth. As time passed, I could feel an almost euphoric sensation come and go but continued pushing to stay awake, constantly trying to focus on my breathing while beginning to get the shakes.
I heard some chatter on the radio and decided to ask what’s going on in order to get my mind rolling onto something else. He mentioned the snowmobile was stuck and that they’ve had to resort to ski’s and a sled. I could make out one of the voices and asked if it was Vincent Goyette and he calmly responded to me, yes. Becoming concerned with my health as more and more time passed by, FR began to check my radial pulse again and it was gone...
My shaking became uncontrollable as the cold became more and more real. The pain was there but my focus was not. I kept trying to make conversation and moving my hands as much as I could as my fingertips became numb to the temperatures. FR reached for a pulse in my neck and radioed in the symptoms I was having now and that I was beginning to lose colour with the possibility of going into shock. My breathing became more rapid but still controllable in deep breaths.
Fraser was perched out in the distance at this point hoping to get a glimpse of the other two ski patrollers coming in. Both him and FR continued to comfort me saying they’re almost here. FR asked if he could tear into my pants wind pocket in order to feel where the break could be and without hesitation I complied. When I did hear the sound of ski’s coming down, I couldn’t have been happier. I knew the toughest part was yet to come but seeing Vince roll up with Matt Bielby behind him, I felt secure.
Broken & Cold - Part 2:
Everyone gathered around and helped one another unload the sled, create an even surface for the backboard, and create a plan to get me down the canyon that lies ahead. The thought of helicopter evacuation was still in play and an ambulance was waiting down at the bottom. Moving me on to the backboard was a team job and with a big deep breath they lifted me over and then onto the sled. It was at this point FR called off the helicopter evacuation and told dispatch we’ll be heading down the canyon by ski’s and meet with a snowmobile to head down the rest of the way.
Having done the run earlier in the day, I knew what I was in for on this run and it wasn’t going to be easy. I looked up at Fraser and asked if he could do one big favour for me before we began to descend - “Can you get a photo for me please?” I asked. A bit of a chuckle and he was on it.
Fraser was to carry a bag, and my snowboard down behind us as Vince lead the way with Matt in tow. I was strapped in at this point with an oxygen tank beside me. I was focused on holding the oxygen mask on my face and taking deep breaths as my glasses fogged up leaving only a blurred vision around the rim to see. This was the beginning to the most painful moments of my life I have ever experienced...
Slight bumps here and there came as we worked our way down to the canyon and my breathing became more rapid. I let out some screams on significant bumps followed by deep breathing all the while hearing the voices of everyone reminding me we’re almost out. I knew we weren’t and I knew we had only just begun but their calmness in this situation was what was needed. Then it hit, the biggest drop of the entire ride down. I screamed like I never could have imagined, the pain was excruciating like I’ve never felt before. Literally feeling the bone just drop against the other inside my leg, I began to cry. I’ve dealt with some serious accidents and crashes throughout my life but nothing can even compare to the pain I had felt at that moment. It was horror but with only a quick pause we had to keep moving, we had to get out of the canyon.
Vince did an absolute amazing job navigating through the trees as I heard him call out certain paths that were perhaps steeper but with more snow creating a smoother surface. Matt acknowledged everything Vince was saying and I was taking it all in. Being warned of potential drops or quick turns, I continued to tense for another major drop. The hardest part was with the oxygen tank pushed up against my left side wedging my arm, I wasn’t able to counter balance and it felt as though the sled was going to tip over at times. Eventually I was able to get it out and felt a bit more secure as I was then able to lean into each direction as if I was on a luge track.
Constantly reminded that we’re almost out, it became more realistic knowing the distance we must have covered by now. A hydro pole flashed by the outside rim of my glasses and I knew where we were! We had made it out of the canyon. What a relief. It wasn’t long after that when we made the switch from ski’s to snowmobile and that’s when I saw Dan, who I was just enjoying a coffee with earlier in the morning ready to get me out.
Broken & Cold - Part 3:
While we made the switch from ski’s to snowmobile I was able to slow my breathing down to more steady deep breaths. Trying to clear my glasses from the fog the best I could but it was useless. Before we began to go Dan came over and told me “I’m going to get you out of here”.
The hydro lines began to pass by and I knew we were getting closer to the Wolverine chairlift but I had no idea if I’d be loaded up into the gondola at this point or taken directly down to the base. I saw the lift go by over top of me and I was able to judge by each passing object where we were. Then we went pass Goat’s Eye station and I knew then that I was going right to the bottom. Every turn, every straight away was engraved into my mind having drove up and down hundreds of times while doing my nightly lock up on Security. As we went down, I was envisioning a guests view through each gondola that passed overhead.
The next landmark I made out was the Curve Station which meant I only had a couple minutes to go. A couple minutes felt like forever as I mumbled and tried for deep breaths but even the small bumps were causing jolts of pain. I began to make out guests through the outside of my glasses and knew I was coming to the end of the ski out. Nothing was easy at this point.
I just stared blankly at Dan just thinking to myself that we made it and he joked saying “You don’t think you’ll make it in for 5pm start tonight do ya?” I couldn’t help but laugh and say it may be difficult, and nicely reminded him that he may also have to find a runner for the relay race coming up on Friday that I was suppose to run 2.2km in.
The ambulance doors were open and the two paramedics on scene loaded me up carefully and asked if anyone would like to hop in. Matt who was by my side the whole way down volunteered and finally after almost two hours and 40 minutes of enduring the cold with a broken leg, I was administered my first taste of painkillers - 5mg of morphine. After that my oxygen tank was replaced with the one in the ambulance.
The morphine was enough to relax me and slowly I began to warm up and my vitals began to return back to normal. The next step was getting my pants off which they simply cut, along with my underwear in order to get a clear view of my leg. You could tell it was broke by the way it leaned but for what it could have been, I was impressed. The next step was getting my snowboard boots off and this was one thing I was worrying about. These boots are a pain in the arse to get off without an injury let alone with a leg that’s not even connected...
The female paramedic offered to give me another 5mg of morphine before she loosened all the straps and began taking off the boot. It came off without a hitch and I looked up at the paramedic in disbelief as to how easy it came off. It was time to get moving to the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, so I thanked Matt for sticking around and we headed off.
Banff Mineral Springs:
We made it into Banff in a hurry while the driver called out the texas gate in the road entering town. Having some painkillers, the bump didn’t even phase me as I continued to chat about what happened with the paramedic in the back.
Once we arrived at the hospital, I was brought into a room where the rest of my clothes were taken off and then dressed in the typical hospital attire. I was informed almost immediately that I would be going to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary once we take x-rays. Before being brought into the x-rays room, I was given a dose of fentanyl to help cope with moving from bed to bed. I can’t recall the exact dose but I honestly didn’t feel much different from it.
While getting the x-rays done, I knew that the examiner couldn’t really tell what the deal was but I asked anyway. Basically stating give it to me straight and she did. Couldn’t thank her enough. I went back into the room I was first brought into and told that it was in fact a mid-shaft fracture of the femur. The nurse in attendance began to check out the rest of my body for any other signs that could have been missed due to the intense pain in my leg. Although there was nothing else, the amount of pine needles and branches that were still getting pulled off me made everyone laugh.
After wiping down as much as we could, I had a bit of blood taken for testing and then the IV inserted into my left arm. The final test was to roll me over and check my spine. Before that however I was asked if I’d want a block put into my nerve on my leg in order to numb it and relive pain for an extended period of time. At first I was hesitant and then a second thought popped in, and I was all for it. I’m not the biggest fan of needles as it is but at this point, I’ll take reduced pain over anything else. Using an ultrasound to locate the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve that laid directly next to the inguinal ligament in the groin, the nurse carefully injected the block and numbed my leg. Feeling ready for the final test, everyone worked together to flip me over in order to take a look at my spine. Everything checked out A-Okay!
A catheter was then needed to be put in since I would not be able to go to the washroom on my own for a couple days. This was the first time I’ve ever had one and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t painful like I was expecting. Although nervous hearing them talk about a 16cm tube about to go in an area nothing should enter, it was just a bit uncomfortable to say the least. The nurses were having a bit of trouble drawing up some urine and this is when I was informed that I may have in fact urinated upon the collision with the tree. It’s pretty crazy that your body can do these things under immense stress, yet you be fully unaware while awake.
I had given Dan a call when we initially showed up at the hospital asking if he’d be willing to bring a phone charger for me so I wouldn’t have complete boredom in the hospital. He happily showed up, wished me best of luck and said he’d come pick me up from the hospital in Calgary when I get out.
The original paramedics that drove me from SSV to Banff wouldn’t be driving me to Calgary but the next two were equally as friendly. After thanking everyone repeatedly for all the help, I was loaded up once again and off to Calgary.
*Luckily at this point I was able to get a sandwich in me since I was on my way to lunch when the accident happened. By now, it had been 16 hours since I ate and I was starving!
Foothills Medical Centre:
The speed limit on the Trans Canada Highway is a max of 120km/h in areas and we were doing over 140km/h at times accompanied with a police escort. It was extraordinary! I felt as though I was in a real life movie!
It took us under an hour to arrive in Calgary, a drive that typically takes closer to one and half. They had a room ready to go when I arrived. Through the hallways, up the elevator and into a room that had “oncology” written on the door... I am no doctor by any means but I was pretty sure oncology and broken femur do not mix. Either way I was lifted from the stretcher onto the hospital bed, but within five minutes everyone found out that it was in fact the wrong room. Again, lifted back onto the stretcher and this time moved to the new McCaig Tower where my surgery would be taking place the next morning.
The room was nice! It was big, and all to myself. Of course, I had a nurse coming in every 30 minutes or so to check my vitals, inject some sort of IV or painkillers but I was finally relaxed.
Then came the traction. They needed to put a boot around my broken leg and then have a weight pull everything back into place. At the moment, my right leg was 6cm shorter due to the bone braking and shuttering up the side. The team of nurses worked together as I felt my leg pop and twist and eventually there was a relief of tension that allowed my leg to rest straight for the first time since the accident.
I watched a bit of tv at this time and did my best to answer any questions family and friends had been asking through social media channels. I couldn’t eat unfortunately due to the upcoming surgery but I was able to set my lips from time to time with some water. My pain medication dosage was two T3’s every four hours and that was enough to do the trick. Even though I’d be woken up multiple times throughout my sleep by small tests, it was nice to know I wasn’t moving anywhere.
Under the Knife:
Around 7:30am, I was woken up and told that I’d be going for surgery first thing this morning. I was barely awake at this time... I had forgotten my glasses on the bedside table or maybe I just couldn’t have been bothered. They wheeled me through the corridors towards the operating room lobby area. This would be the first time I met the surgeon.
She explained that I would have a breathing tube placed down my throat and what would be taking place throughout the procedure, including the consequences that could interfere. It’s not easy having someone tell you in various ways of how you could potentially die, but that’s part of it. Some of the ways the complications that were discussed included:
- General Cardiac -
- Respiratory -
- Neurological Complications -
I signed my final waiver before being asked if I’d like to be awake for the operation or asleep. I felt I had been awake for enough of this whole ordeal that it was time to catch up on some sleep. I signed my right leg on the thigh, along with the doctor to verify which leg is getting surgery on. I was then pushed through the waving doors to the brightly lit room where I was introduced one by one to the team that would be operating on me. The last thing I remember is catching a glimpse of my x-ray on the wall and thinking “I need that photo”.
Description of Procedure:
"The patient was brought into the operating room. Safety checklist was carried out. He received his anesthetic and was then positioned supine on the fracture table. Longitudinal traction was applied to the right leg. The left leg was placed in a stirrup position. Fluoroscopy was brought in. Closed reduction was carried out. The leg was given a trauma scrub and then prepped and draped in the usual fashion."
"A 2-1/2 inch incision was made proximal to the greater trochanter. The starting point was created with a threaded K-wire, followed by the large barrel reamer. The olive-tipped guide rod was inserted down the length of the femur entered at the knee in 2 places. Reaming was from 9 to 12. An 11 x 400 right femoral nail was inserted. The nail was locked proximally with 1 screw that measured 52 and 1 screw distally that measured 52. Images were taken off the fluoroscopy machine in both the AP and lateral proximally at the fracture site and distally. Blood loss for the procedure was about 200ml. The patient was stable throughout the procedure. The wounds were irrigated and closed in layers with staples for skin. He was taken to Recovery in stable condition." - Dr. Linda Antonija Mrkonjic
Relaxation & Recovery - Day 1:
The next few days went by well and the pain was controllable from the beginning. The whole operation took just over an hour and I awoke back in my room with my IV back in place, as well as my oxygen into my nose. As each day went by, new nurses would greet themselves, some friendly and some not so much as with any workplace environment.
Dr. Mrkonjic came in a couple hours after to see how I was doing and acknowledged that everything went great with no problems. She asked me to demonstrate what movement I had at the moment and let me know what my recovery time and plan was looking like. Her positivity was awesome and we made arrangements to return in two weeks time. During those two weeks I am not to bare any weight on the leg. Should be fun...
The rest of my day was pretty relaxing as nurses continued to come in every so often to check my vitals and administer further anti-inflammatory medication through the IV, as well as two Tylenol 3's every 4 hours. Luckily, I had some friends who lived in Calgary so they were grateful to take some time out of their day to come hangout for a bit.
*Special thanks to Richard Gallant and Chelsea Cascadden for coming to visit, you guys rock!
At 8pm (20:00) while watching the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Winnipeg Jets with Chelsea, I asked the nurse if I'd be able to take the oxygen out of my nose now that I seem to be doing fine. He agreed it shouldn't be a problem but to keep it close by just in case anything out of the normal begins to arise. This would be my first step towards FREEDOM!
Relaxation & Recovery - Day 2:
Surprisingly, I slept through the night pretty decent considering I was just under the knife less than 24 hours prior. The only real wake ups I had where when my IV needed to be changed. This day would be a bit different though as I was told physio would begin, and that my catheter would be getting taken out as well.
Not too long after breakfast was brought to me was when I was asked if it'd be alright if a nurse in training would be allowed to take my catheter out as she had never done it before. I agreed and next thing you know I had one nurse in-training after another coming and asking if it'd be alright to watch. I couldn't help but chuckle as I hop'd from the bed over to the chair beside it using the walker. For what would have been a one person job, I now had 4 people watching intently as the catheter was removed. The best way to describe the sensation would be to imagine using a syringe and physically pulling it out. The tension from the air not wanting to escape would be similar but it was quick and painless.
I hop'd back over to my bed for lunch and now I could tell the hospital was really trying to get me to use the toilet on my own as my lunch consisted of cranberry juice, green beans, yogurt, and plenty of water for the whole floor. I had no urgent need for the washroom and was told that if I don't go on my own by 5pm (17:00) they may start to wonder.
Time went by and as I was about to begin my physio on crutches which would see if I'm able to go up and down stairs, I felt it. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at the doctor and said "I have to go pee!" She let out a smile and said get going. For my first urination, I was told to pee into a bottle so they could measure and make sure everything was good.
We carried on with the physio quickly making our way to the stairwell where I was told to go up one flight of stairs and come back down. Physio officially passed!
I was able to relax for the rest of the day in bed while completing some basic exercises to help with movement and told my next big test would come tomorrow when I shower and change the bandages for the first time. The final nurse for the evening came in and said I would no longer be needing my IV in as my vitals have been stable all day and I seemed to be breathing no problem on my own. The oxygen was also removed and for the first time, I was tubeless in the hospital. Just in time for a goodnight's sleep.
Day of Discharge:
I was awaken this morning at 8am with a nurse letting me know I would in fact be getting discharged. The nurse went through the list of prescriptions I’d be getting and how to self inject the blood thinner I’d be taking for the next 40 days.
I’ve gained a bit of mobility over the past couple days and the physio helped I’m sure but my breakfast was left out of arms reach which meant having to pull myself up, slowly move my leg over to the side of the bed and bring things over to me one by one. Doesn’t seem like much but just these simple exercises in order to eat were taking up to 15 minutes.
I was asked when I’d be getting picked up and I told them that Dan would be picking me up when he finishes work at 5:30pm. They decided they couldn’t keep me in that room and offered me a taxi back to Banff... Let me remind the staff that the ONLY thing I have with me is a phone and a $50 bill. No clothes, no underwear, no socks, no shoes, etc. Was I just suppose to walk out of there on a broken femur with no crutches? My final day felt like everyone had just given up on me. I was just another patient in the ward with no feelings and getting kicked to the curb.
Around 10:30am, I was asked to shower for the first time which I had been waiting for. My first shower since the accident and it was going to be pretty interesting. During the shower I even found another pine needle! I made an absolute mess of the floor but managed to keep one area uncovered by water that I would later use after my shower to put the disposable underwear they had given me on. This took me 15 minutes since I can’t bend my right leg enough to bend down, so a constant battle trying to slip them on was happening. I’m stubborn of course and made it work but I couldn’t wait to get back to my bed to lay down.
When I opened the bathroom door, the nurse in training who had taken my catheter out was waiting for me so we could change my bandages for the first time. This would go on for over an hour as I ended up with three incisions, 32 staples, a titanium rod and two screws in my leg.
During this time, Richard decided to stop by with a coffee while he was on a bit of a break from work. Thanks for the double double Rich!
Once everything was all changed, my lunch had come and this time again it was a struggle to get it over to me but I made it happen. After eating I felt as though I needed to make a bowel movement for the first time since the accident (this was good news!) so I got myself out of the bed, onto the walker and over to the bathroom. This also proved to be difficult as the toilet paper was extremely hard to pull down. Having to use my right arm for support on the wall, and my left arm to physically turn the roll 1/4 of a turn at a time, you can imagine how long this took...
I exited again, but this time I wouldn’t be going back to the bed I had been in for the past three days. I was being moved to the OC (over crowded) room which was all the way down the hall. The nurse had already brought my belongings there (my phone, papers and injections) so it was just up to me to walk on over. Before I got there, she told me she’s just gonna grab a pillow and I’d be all set.
Upon making it to the bed, I laid down on the flat bed staring at the ceiling knowing I’d be going home in five hours. 20 minutes went by, 30 minutes, 45 minutes and then finally someone came in asking if I needed anything... I replied that I could really use a pillow still.
The new room saw a roommate come in who appeared to have fractured his foot slipping on ice the day before. He was awaiting surgery but obviously a local, he had a none stop flow of people coming to visit making it impossible to get some sleep. Finally, I got the message from Dan saying he was en route. My time in the hospital was coming to an end!
I learned a lot throughout all this and I hope by sharing this experience in detail it can also help shed some light on the dangers that are always present in the backcountry. I understand how lucky I am to still be here given the circumstances and blessed to at least express my thoughts, feelings and emotions throughout those stressful days. Snowboarding has always been about progression and with that comes injuries. Everyday people get injured in all sorts of ways such as car accidents, falling off ladders and even playing organized sports. Even though this may have changed my riding style a bit, in no way would I want it to change someone else's. All I ask, is that you be aware of your surroundings and take precautions were necessary.
Next time we're out shredding, I'll be right there taking the photo or shooting the video when it comes down to it. Heck, I may just even send it with ya!
What I have expressed throughout this blog is entirely my point of view and what I had experienced. The area I was riding in is considered “Out of Bounds/Backcountry” and therefore not directly covered by Sunshine Village Ski Patrol. I can't thank everyone involved in the recovery enough for all their support. Special thanks to those who I've reached out to in order to fill in some blanks.
You all have been a life saver!