Like walking up stairs, walking a few blocks, bending over to pick something up, sitting in chairs, rolling over in bed, getting in a car… all sadly agonizing when any part of your spinal column is injured.
If you’re going to have a spinal injury, I recommend choosing to injur your tailbone. A cracked coccyx seems to be a fairly common occurrence, so you’ll have lots of sympathy from people who cheerfully will inform you: “oh, how horrible; that will take months or years to heal.”
Meanwhile, I feel like an old woman, shuffling along with ache and drug cocktails for company. “Some of us were just made to be old,” someone said the other day. Not me; I don’t like having to worry about constipation and whether or not a place has handicap access.
It all started Saturday morning, at the top of Schweitzer mountain. Strapped to my sister’s slightly-too-large snowboard and boots, I quickly discovered that the quality of the snow was lacking, having melted and frozen for so long. It had been groomed, kicking up chunks of ice, and was otherwise too slick for my comfort. But… there was nothing to do but try to practice my skills and hope for the best. All it took was a few seconds of lost control as I tried to navigate my front edge to my back edge around a narrow curve, and bam, I was down, coccyx first, then head, flipping over to land on my stomach. I was highly frustrated with myself, especially when, having made the small remaining distance to Stella, I got out of my left binding and realized just how much it hurt to drag the board to stand in line. I hoped I could make it up the lift and take the cat track down to the lodge. After disembarking, however, everything started going fuzzy and spotty-black, and the migraine I’d been fighting for the past days reared its ugly head. I lay face-down in the snow to get the ringing out of my ears. Tried standing up again. Nope. Between the tailbone pain and my head, I was pretty sure I’d pass out or start vomiting before I ever got to the lodge. Fortunately, there was a ski patrol about three feet away, watching people get off the lift.
This ski patrol person, after observing my behavior, insisted on calling in a toboggan and backboard. “This is just protocol,” she said, fitting a neck brace around me as I lay covering my face with my hands to block out the sun. Several people (whom I never saw) rolled me onto this backboard, strapped me down with a pillow under my knees, put me in the sled, and covered me with a blue tarp. I couldn’t help wondering: what happens if I run out of oxygen/ the sled crashes? How do I get out?
Neither happened, however, and I jolted down the mountain and was carried into the first aid station, where a doctor pronounced me fit to leave after I assured him that it was just my tailbone that hurt, and the migraine was not a surprising occurrence.
I can still function, albeit at a fractional capacity. Only everyone seems to think this injury is funny.