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A middle-aged cautionary ski tale

Jenna Spangler Holly and Jenna Spangler
BEFORE: We had so much fun! Before the crash.
A family skiing day was super fun! Right up until it landed me in surgery.

It started out innocently enough.

“Hey, we’ve got some time between the holidays. Let’s take the kids skiing! We’ve always said we were gonna do that.”

So, we did! We headed to Dubuque, Iowa, for a day of outdoor, socially distanced, good-old family fun. And it was so fun! Then I was halfway down a ski run when my right ski headed left. I fell. The ski didn’t pop off. My knee popped. I felt it. I may have heard it. It’s hard to say.

Long story short, that pop led to an afternoon in the ski lodge, an MRI, and a torn ACL and fractured upper tibia. And surgery to fix it all.

What even. I can’t even say it happened on some black diamond run on a mountain in Colorado. It was on a hill. In Iowa.

As it turns out, ACL surgery is apparently a big deal. I’ve had to adjust my brain to the idea that this is a months-long recovery with months of physical therapy — not, like, something that’ll be better in a few days. My doctor said I may need a brace at the Farm Progress Show, which is a lot of months from now, and I said he had to be kidding. He was not.

January passed in a blur of opioids, nausea and physical therapy. Pain management is really hard because nobody can tell you what your body actually needs. There’s no formula. You just have to figure it out. Sometimes it makes you real sick. Cold therapy units are absolute genius. My husband calls it the Iceman 5000. And veterinarians can take sutures out like a boss. Ask me how I know that one.

The good news is I finally turned a corner, about five weeks post-ski run. I kicked my opioid habit (kidding — I hated that stuff and how foggy it made me, and I was real glad to get off of it). I’m bending to 129 degrees, which is a big deal, if I do say so myself. And I do. And I’m driving again! I can take my own self to physical therapy now. Basically, the world is my oyster. In a small-town, semirestricted sort of way.

But really. It’s going to be OK. Eventually. That’s the good news. And in the meantime, I’ve settled for being some kind of middle-aged cautionary tale. Have your fun. But not too much fun. And don’t look for me on the ski run!

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