Vail Valley Voices: Bad break at great new home |

Vail Valley Voices: Bad break at great new home

Caroline Kiernan
Vail, CO, Colorado

I’ve lived in Vail for just over seven weeks now. I moved into the beautiful First Chair employee housing, was greeted by amazing roommates, fell in love with my job and co-workers, and made friends that I now know will be in my life forever.

Moving out here wasn’t all fun and games, though. I knew I’d have to give up being with my family on major holidays and miss my nephew’s second birthday. But those were compromises I was willing to make for one year.

I knew I needed to get out of the small town in New Jersey I was from and really live life before I’d reluctantly have to give in to the “real world.”

My decision to come out here wasn’t an easy one. I hemmed and hawed, went back and forth, and continued to look at full-time job opportunities at home up until the week before my scheduled flight.

Something inside of me wasn’t 100 percent ready to pick up and move 2,000 miles away from my friends and family and start over as a new kid in a town where I only knew a few people.

I did have an advantage, though. My older sister and her husband moved out here years before, which allowed me to visit, fall in love and familiarize myself with the area. I even made a few friends that I was really excited to be able now see on a daily basis.

When I finally got out here, I instantly knew I had made the right decision. Everything felt right. I was genuinely happy. I worked at a job that I was excited to wake up for in the morning, and I woke up to a view that was the true definition of breath-taking, and the people around me, both friends and strangers, were all nice.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t any nice people in Jersey, and I’m not saying that it’s a miserable place to live, but I am saying that the people here, both the natives and the settlers, are for the most part the most caring, respectful, wonderful people I know.

Now, unfortunately, in the beginning of my seventh week of being a Vail resident, one of my biggest fears came true and my experience took turn for the worse: I was in a snowboarding accident in Game Creek, breaking both of my legs in numerous spots.

I’m a 22-year old girl and I was in very good shape; — athletic, strong, ran and worked out every day, snowboarded every day I was off. Let’s just say I didn’t like to sit around.

I’m just so thankful I was wearing a helmet. Otherwise my outcome have have been worse.

Anyway, from the minute I took that fall I got a view of a different side Vail — a caretaking side.

I was used to trying to live life as a “local” — knowing Clark at Old Forge by is his first name, helping tourists find their way to Golden Peak, purchasing a mug at Garfs for discounted drinks after work.

Now I was playing a different game and no longer did I have that “local” status I found to be so cool. Lying on the ground with my two broken legs with tears streaming down my face, I waited (for a very short time) for ski patrol to come to my rescue.

A woman with ski patrol eventually arrived by my side, instantly grabbing my outstretched hand and stroking my hair, letting me know that I was going to get through this.

I knew my legs were broken. I knew my season, and possibly more, was over. But the words she shared with me were important and still echo in my head 10 days later.

The details from that point to the hospital are somewhat fuzzy, but I can honestly say that my two toboggan rides were unbelievably smooth and comfortable, lasting approximately 20 minutes, and the transition from ground to vehicle to gurney to hospital bed were as painless as possible.

I am a sensitive person who constantly feels that I’m troubling or burdening others (I don’t know why, I explain it as a character flaw), and I know that in a hospital it’s their job to take care and look after others, but I never once have felt uncomfortable. The amount of sympathy and smiles and head pats and winks and any little gesture that one can receive to feel cared for and taken care of has been astonishing. Yes, I am referring primarily to my nurses, but even on other floors, the surgeons, those nurses, receptionists — you name it — are awesome.

So I guess what I’m trying to do here is say thank you.

I want to say thank you to the nurses; the care techs; physical, occupational, respiratory therapists; case managers; meal service employees and assistants. I want to thank the surgeons who operated on me within hours of admitting me into the hospital, and thank you to the surgeons who operated on me just a few hours ago, six days later, on both of my legs for six hours. I want to thank the nurses who dealt with my crying jags, my appetite changes, my weird humor, and the nights that I hit the call button 50 times in one night — that literally happened.

I want to thank whoever it was who let my mom come in at 5:30 a.m. just so she could hold my hand so I wouldn’t be alone, and the nurses who talked to me about their lives outside of work so I could stop thinking about being in pain for a minute.

But I also need to thank everyone from PSS at Vail Resorts who was thinking of me. From my roommates, to my supervisors, to my coworkers — every single person who poked their head through my door, or signed a card, or whatever it was, made me smile. It made me remember why I loved moving out here so much. Most importantly, it made me remember why I would rub it in my friends’ faces back home about having the best job in the world. Because I do.

Even though this week has been hard, I can honestly say, moving out here and taking that job was the best decision I could have made. I needed to meet all of you.

And if I forgot to mention anyone, I promise I didn’t forget you.

I’m not going to get all philosophical and lecture you, but I do want to just mention a few things that I find important to consider doing-avoiding if you don’t already: don’t hold grudges, cherish your friends and family, smile at a stranger, try to wear underwear every day, overuse “I love you,” don’t be afraid to cry, and wear a … helmet!

And on the side, It may seem like I’m forgetting an extremely crucial set of thank yous, but I plan to thank my family in a different way. Don’t worry, I could never forget about them.

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