Warren Miller: Warren recovering from ski injury
Vail, CO, Colorado
I sit here in front of my computer with some residual morphine and about ten thousand other drugs that make writing a lot of work for the first time in my life. The broken back offers only some minor pain right now because of who knows what.
I know I will be rambling, but at least I am back at the desk and doing what I like to do the most: share the ups and downs of a life spent lurching from one near disaster to the next. This near disaster was closer than I care it to be.
I was traveling in excess of 3 miles an hour but not yet up to 4 when in the middle of my second turn of the day — a wide snowplow, I might add — when my right ski pre-released.
I stepped out of the ski and my body was suddenly horizontal, my ski was stuck on edge, and I landed on my back on the edge of it.
Making turns on skis this winter ended abruptly for me when the X-ray technician said, “You have a compression of your T-6 vertebrae.” In the scheme of accidents, it is a minor one unless it happens to you.
Fortunately for me, I have thousands of untold stories to recount during my recovery phase. So I promise not to bore you with my minor aches and pains.
For example: As I sit here working on the keyboard, I look at my two hands and they are over 85 years old. I am the only person in the world who owns them. They have been to a lot of places and done a lot of things. Held ski poles for a lot of winters; steered sailboats though high winds and almost dead calms; held hammers and pounded nails as I helped get the cash for the filming of the first six or seven of my feature films. They have changed the settings on my lenses from Alaska to Argentina and from Zermatt to New Zealand and almost every ski resort in between.
This is the first time I’ve ever missed a day of skiing because of a ski injury.
Why, I don’t know, but it is probably because I have always been so cautious on my skis. Does it come from the early years of skiing without safety bindings and no insurance? Perhaps, but it came from somewhere.
The audiences always assumed that I skied where the people in the movie skied. All I really did was some very long traverses interrupted here and there with a kick turn. I can remember some hills being so steep that when I put three traverses together I wound up a hundred feet higher than where I started.
While I move from my long hours in bed to my computer and back to my bed. there is a large crew of repair people returning our flooded and frozen house to its former condition. Each carpenter has a very large hammer in their hand, and the noise is anything but the creation of 850 well chosen words that can make skiing sound enjoyable.
I assure you it was and will be again soon. They say that a positive attitude is the best medicine you can take for a quick recovery. If that is true, I should be back out on the snow in a couple of days. Does it do any good to complain, and if so who do you complain to?
Tomorrow morning they will start sanding the floors they have replaced, the two or three coats of something, varnish, urethane whatever.
When they start sanding, Laurie and I will be moving to our friend Greg LeMond’s house for three days. Greg won the Tour de France three times when his career was interrupted by being shot in the back in a hunting accident. He still has eight or 10 lead shotgun pellets imbedded in his heart, and the doctors can do nothing about them.
After a two-year layoff due to the hunting accident, Greg won his third race by 8 seconds. That was the margin after racing almost 2,000 miles across France. Greg is a superhuman guy who has survived pain and is still almost impossible to beat him down the hill on a pair of skis.
My injury is a very mild one when I talk to some of my other friends who have been bent and broken more times than a rodeo cowboy. I’m sorry for the disjointed ramblings his week as words sneak out of my drug laden brain.
However, Laurie and I are living the rest of the winter here in Montana and are excited to meet new people every day. As I told her the night in the X-ray lab: “Laurie don’t worry. What I have is curable and yes, it will take time. But before we know it, you will once again be waiting for me at the bottom of the chairlift while I lurch between one turn and the next.”
So stay tuned for the next adventure.
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff log onto Warren Miller.net. For information about his foundation, The Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, go to http://www.warrenmiller.org.
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