I had a ski accident about 5 years ago which left both my knees a bit tangled and out of sorts. My then husband and I were beginning our adventure on Mont Fort, a monster peak at the Verbier Ski Resort. It was our first day out and shortly after starting the descent of one of her highest peaks, I began a turn prematurely, my knee twisted and the skis did not release. I tumbled a good distance before digging into the unforgiving terrain and stopping myself from plummeting any further. I was stunned and positive I had done some significant damage. After several minutes of deep breathing and regrouping, I realized, injury or not, I had to make my way down the rest of the run to the nearest lodge, and so I did, heart beating and mind engaged in pleading prayer.
After a good while inside, my body settled and although my knee felt assaulted, there was no pain and it appeared the injury wasn’t as bad as I had feared. I was able to make it down the rest of the mountain, continue skiing, and even finish the two week trip with a reserved approach and determined spirit. When I got home and finally made it to an MRI, they found only a bone bruise, but I knew deep down there was more to it.
I mostly recovered by the summer and was able to resume my normal activities. I thought I was out of the woods until a few years later when everything got worse. My knee began to hurt and swell after my daily runs, and so I did what I always had in the past, I tried to push through it.
I have been active all my life and even in rare times of injury, I would recover within a reasonable amount of time without too much intervention. This time was different. At some point, I realized trying to whip it into shape wasn’t effective and so, I started to nurture it. I went to the doctor and began physical therapy. I stopped running. I iced. I rested, and still, it wasn’t getting any better. After several more months, I decided to see a surgeon, but the news there wasn’t promising either. I was told that I had natural wear and tear and would need to live with it. Surgery most likely wouldn’t help.
As I reflected on the reality of my situation, I began to realize that my knee may never again operate at full capacity. It may require continuous care. I may be limited and forced to make more calculated choices about which activities I chose to pursue. The process of maintenance and recovery could be slow and I would need more persistence and patience in all of it. I may need to accept the injury as a loss and treat it as such. I might be left with a permanent scar that I would be forced to carry forward.
I understand that life is not always easy and we can sometimes get hurt, and that even though the wounds can be healed, they never fully disappear. Instead, they become part of who we are and color the fabric of our character and our lives. I began to consider that instead of trying to overcome or deny the injuries, we can own them with confidence. We can move forward with pride for what has been endured. We can honor the lessons learned and be grateful for the significant ways they have allowed us to grow.
I went skiing this week for the first time in a while and had a wonderful time. I had to change many of my normal behaviors like racing down the hill and constantly challenging myself on difficult terrain, but I realized that there were other new blessings coming forth. I was more focused on taking my time and skiing on slopes that were more comfortable and fun. I was relaxed and felt more tuned into my body and what it needed. I didn’t have a need to compete but instead was more social, interactive and appreciative.
As we all begin to emerge from the Covid pandemic, we will no doubt have some scars and parts of our life will be injured in certain ways. Instead of looking at these hardships as blemishes, perhaps we can reflect on how they have changed us, how much we have grown and evolved, how much has been added to our character, wisdom and perspective. Perhaps we can begin to see ourselves in a new light, as we emerge from the wreckage much stronger and more beautiful.