Patient Notes: Part 2

17 days post crash, day of surgery…

Pain is temporary. 17 days ago my life was sliced open, today my body was. I am beginning to hope that both of those wounds may now begin to heal. When I was first diagnosed with my ACL tear they told me that I could wait, they said ‘you don’t need to make any decisions now.’ They told me I could have surgery at Thanksgiving ‘well maybe not that late,’ they admitted. I had not wanted to wait. We did our due diligence in trying to find the best surgeon and the best procedure but if I could have done that and gotten the surgery done the day after I found out I would have been thrilled. Almost two weeks of waiting, two weeks of pitying myself, two weeks of nerves over my first surgery (yes my first), was almost more than I could bear. But now that is over and I can finally begin to climb the large mountain in front of me. The journey back to the top of the downhill track can begin.

I feel good. Perhaps for the first time in weeks, I can answer with that (my response thus far has been a simple okay). I have some pain but physical pain is nothing new in my life. What I now struggle with is holding myself back in these first few weeks. I have to take it slow, something I have never been good at (f***ing fast is my preferred speed). But my body can’t keep up with my mind. If it could, I probably wouldn’t be in this predicament to begin with. So, I resign myself to doing everything I can, within the parameters of what I can. Quad sets and ankle mobs I see you.

It’s been hard to see people skiing though. It’s hard because I have that split second of ‘I’ll be back there soon in Chile’ and then the crushing realization that I will not be back with them soon. In some ways, the surgery has helped with that too. Not because now I feel like I will be back soon, I certainly do not. But because I have felt fine these past few weeks. These past few weeks I had two working legs beneath me, two so seemingly strong and healthy legs that the children of my orthopedic surgeon could not believe that I was injured. Pain, while difficult, allows me to finally know that something is wrong, something is holding me back. I don’t forget only to feel the blow of what has happened all over again. Now there is simply the dull ache of pain coming from my knee and my heart.

Unfortunately, with that pain comes a twinge of regret that I despise. I occasionally wish it had all gone differently. I wish I could have slept past my alarm on September 3rd. Occasionally—and this aggravates me the most—I wish I had skied that turn differently. I know it is useless, which makes me frustrated that I am holding onto such useless thoughts. It makes me frustrated because I know that the reason I hooked the gate and fell in the first place was that I wanted to improve, I wanted to learn, I wanted to become a winner. For good and bad that takes risk, and no one ever got fast at ski racing by playing it safe. And part of why ski racing, and speed skiing, in particular, are difficult is because they require courage. They require risk.

But luckily pain—both mentally and physically—is not something that will last forever. Pain is better than loss…and a season, in the grand scheme of things, is a small loss. Pain also drives me. I move forward trying to focus myself and pain, both the mental and the physical, is sharpening that focus and spear-heading my goals. They are not goals that I originally anticipated setting, but they are goals nonetheless. And goals, in both times of heartbreak and times of victory are critical in helping us move forward. People tell me that I will come back stronger, and my goals are what will make that happen. So it’s back to the drawing board and now time for some new goal setting for the 2018-2019 season.

I know that this may have been rambling and incongruous piece; give me a break I’m on oxycodone after all. But that’s where I am, piece number two of “Patient Notes” and I already feel restless and distinctly not patient but I’m working on it. Maybe I’ll feel better by volume three. Probably not…but maybe. Let me know if you guys have any questions and I will try to answer them.

Until then I’ll try some deep breaths, and keep working on what I can control.

*Story originally published on usskiandsnowboard.org

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About the Author

Breezy Johnson

Breanna “Breezy” Johnson is an American World Cup alpine ski racer on the U.S. Ski Team. She competes in the speed events of downhill and super-G. Born in Jackson, Wyoming, Johnson grew up in nearby Victor, Idaho, and made her World Cup debut in December 2015.