Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Snow Business

ACL is one of those initialisms which is referred to in uneasy tones by snowboarders, as if the existence of the thought of it will have an influence over the course of events on the mountain.  The snap I heard from my knee as my board wedged in a thick pile of snow and my body gave into inertia was conclusive enough for me.  Grands Montets at Argentiere (near Chamonix) had been blessed with the best snowfall of at least a month and riding through it had been beautiful until that noise.  The only silver lining was the experience of being rescued.  Able pisteurs strapped me into a sledge and took me down to a point on the mountain where I was hooked onto the back of a skiddoo.  Then it was onto the cablecar for the final leg down to ground level.  As they saw me waiting to get loaded in, boarders and skiers alike looked at me with my leg in a splint before grimacing and turning away, not wanting to let the black worm of the thought that it might happen to them eat away at their brains.

Two weeks and two days later, an MRI scan has confirmed it: my anterior cruciate ligament is ruptured.  It's not until something happens to one of them that you realise how much you use your legs.  For a fortnight now there's been no more cycling into the city, no more running for a bus and nothing so easy as just nipping to the local for a swift pint.  Pints I can still do but 'nipping' is definitely out.  Exiting the front door of the building (once I've reached it) brings Groundhog Day.  Along with my first intake of the best air of the day, there is inevitably a smug looking cyclist with the sun on his or her face, enjoying the peaceful streets of Notting Hill as salt is  slowly rubbed into my wound.  The GP thinks it will mean surgery but is sending me off to the knee doc just to make sure.  Meantime I'm trying not to think about what is ahead of me.  Some say six months before I'm back to how I was but one friend wrote to say that he's just at the point of being signed off by the doctor 11 months later.  In the meantime there is no choice: the patient must learn patience.

As a footnote to this, I'm glad I booked insurance.  In Euros, the rescue cost 360, the doc 150, the leg brace and drugs 90.  The insurance company also booked out three seats for me on the plane to put my leg up on and a car the other end that delivered me to my door.  I've previously had a rant about insurance companies not being fit for purpose so respect where its due: thank you Flexicover.

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