Saturday Snapshots #285

LesGetsLift © J Horak-Druiff 2014


My last ever chair lift  ride – Les Gets, France, February 2014

Apologies for the lack of Saturday snapshots for the past 2 weeks. I have a good excuse though… Two weeks ago I was skiing in the French alpine resort of Les Gets when I had an unspectacular slow-speed fall.  The slow speed meant that my skis stuck in the snow but my bindings did not pop out and so my legs twisted till I shattered my femur.  Shattered. As in multiple pieces. Much drama followed, and much pain. The executive summary was that I was skidooed (is that a word?!) down the mountain in massive pain (no drugs with the piste paramedics) to a medical cabin where a doctor arrived, poked around in both my veins to get an IV in and failed.  All I recall hearing was “Merde!” Merde!”  and even in my state I knew that was not good.  His alternative? An intramuscular shot of ketamine. “You weell feel a leetle strange” he said. No, I beg do differ. You will feel as if everything you know and love is receding from you and you will say to your husband “I love you.  I am dying.” over and over. You will experience visual and auditory hallucinations that seem like a cross between a very full-on rave, The Matrix, and death. You will recall the feeling of your injured leg coming free of its ski boot but not the pain (although you will scream like a damned soul).  You will take your first helicopter ride and remember about 1 second of it – the doctor’s face above your own and a rotating blade somewhere above his face. I’m afraid I cannot recommend ketamine as a recreational drug.

I came to in a A&E in Thonon-les-Bains hospital with not a single familiar face around me. People were speaking a language I could not understand, I threw up from the ketamine, and I had a very clear paranoid fantasy that I had been taken somewhere away from the friends for my organs to be harvested.  Even in my state I tried to swat away the poor nurse who tried to take my temperature with an ear thermometer. I tried to talk to the ancient Chinese man on the gurney next to me, shirtless with white wispy hair and electrodes all over his chest.  Surreal is not the word. Some time later Nick arrived, I was X-rayed and the orthopaedic surgeon told me I had a broken femur and would be operated on that night to have a rod and screws inserted. All this after 44 years of not a single night in hospital and not a single blood test.  I came to in the recovery room just before midnight with metalwork in my bone and 21 staples on my thigh and from there I was taken to the room where I would stay for another week, severely anaemic and fighting with travel insurance over when I could go home.

After much administrative drama, on Monday 17 Feb a nurse was sent from the UK and together with Nick I was taken on a stretcher by ambulance from hospital to Geneva airport.  There we were rolled into a passenger assistance unit –  big metal box on a hydraulic lift that lifts disabled people into aeroplanes. On the plane I sat across 3 seats with my leg elevated and with oxygen cannulas in my nose – and the nurse checking my blood pressure periodically. Drama is not the word. From Heathrow another ambulance collected me and took me on a stretcher to a private hospital in London where I spent three nights receiving the most incredible care I could have hoped for, particularly from the young orthopaedic surgeon that the insurers eventually recommended. After Nick spent 2 days outfitting our spectacularly disabled-unfriendly home with kit for me, I came home on Thursday night to start the long road to recovery – a minimum of 6 weeks on crutches and if there are signs of bone growth then, I might be able to start rehab.

As for skiing, I have loved it more than any other activity that I have ever participated in, but I am done. My accident made me realise that even with the best technique and skiing conservatively, bad freak accidents can happen and it’s not a risk I am willing to take again. For Valentine’s Day in the French hospital I got a pair of snowshoes.  I am still passionate about the mountains and the snow, but it’s time for a new sport.

 I am co-presenting a food photography and styling workshop with Meeta  just outside Venice, Italy in May!  Register now to secure your place – numbers are limited! 

Saturday Snapshots is a series of non-food photographs published every Saturday on CookSister.  Previously featured photographs can be viewed on the Saturday Snapshots archive pages. Many photos featured in Saturday Snapshots are available to buy as high-quality greeting cards or prints in my RedBubble store, or even as high-quality A3-size calendarsIf you want a custom calendar with your own selection of photos, starting with any month (not only January), please e-mail me and we can discuss your requirements.

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    • Jeanne says

      Thanks, lovely Margot. It was pretty much worst case scenario for a broken leg, I have to say… And the worst was lying in a foreign hospital, unable to communicate properly and fighting with insurance companies. Not an experience I plan to repeat!!

  1. says

    Oh hun, I hadn’t realised you had shattered the bone. My heart goes out to you.

    You’ve been extremely generous not detailing the dramas making arrangements in London (or perhaps you’re saving that for a later post?).

    Nick sounds like he’s been doing an incredible job supporting you. He’s a keeper!

    Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Hugs, Rx

    • Jeanne says

      Yeah – you know one of those where every nurse/doctor/paramedic that looks at the X rays goes “ooooh, nasty!”. NOT WHAT I NEED TO HEAR!!. Did not want to bore everyone with the drama I had getting my medical insurance to pay for an admission in London… suffice to say insurance companies SUCK! Nick has been a living saint. I don’t know how he is coping! Love him to bits. xx

  2. says

    When we moved to Andorra we debated between skiing and golf, decided we couldn’t do both well and opted for golf. That said, a friend (former skier) broke his leg on the golf course. Freak accidents can happen anywhere… This is a bad year for skiers we know – another friend, also experienced, shattered his pelvis. His first helicopter ride, too. You’ll be back on two legs before you know it (platitude, I know)

    • Jeanne says

      I know – I keep reminding myself that this could have happened on the stairs to the station in the morning, and I bet the medical response would not have been as impressive! Snowshoeing for me from now on – apparently the fastest growing winter sport in the world at the moment!

    • Jeanne says

      Hello lovely! Yup, it’s 10 days I do not want to re-live again, but it is at least over now and I am feeling a little stronger every day :) xx

  3. says

    Wow! I knew the last couple of weeks was dramatic but hadn’t realized it was this dramatic! Keep getting better, Jeanne. Eat lots of broccoli and yoghurt! (and anything else with plenty of calcium and vitamin D) xoxox

    • Jeanne says

      I know, right? When I do something, I do it properly. When I say “I broke my leg” people picture me limping off the slopes with my arms around 2 friends and visiting a local doctor. This was The Real Deal… On a total calcium, vitamin D, Vitamin K and (who knew) lycopene mission – all promote bone growth. So yoghurt with every meal, tomatoes, sardines, kale, sprouts, turkey… All good stuff! Sadly no alcohol till I am off the anticoagulants but I don’t miss it much… Cats are LOVING having me home though! xx

  4. says

    So sad an end to your skiing career, when you were enjoying it so much. But I can quite see that a less hectic snowsport would be the way to go. Good luck with a quick recovery and keep the ketamine away from you, sounds terrifying!.

    • Jeanne says

      I know – the irony of finding something I love so much and then feeling unable to continue doing it… I am not throwing my ski boots away, but at the moment, I no longer feel it is a risk worth taking. On snowshoes you can explore so much more of the mountain, you burn more calories, and it is easier to take your DSLR along to take pics 😉

  5. says

    Jeanne! You are a woman of spirit. It is heartbreaking to read the details of the injury but I am so glad you have had the best care! :))) That is awesome. So happy, things worked out with medical facilities despite the horrible bumps along the road. Hugs and feel better soon. It’s a lovely excuse to get pampered and eat amazing for the next few weeks 😉

    • Jeanne says

      It’s been a rough road but I know I am in a good place now, mentally, and getting physically stronger by the day. I am a model patient – do my exercises religiously; eating iron and calcium rich foods, and getting plenty of rest. I want my leg back!! xx

  6. says

    Honey, in spite of being drugged, terrorized and in pain you have got to admit you have grit. A strong spirit that keeps you going and I am so glad you are on the other end of this nightmare. Be strong in your recovery and may you heal faster than expected. (I hear snowshoeing is a blast…) Love to you, Robin

    • Jeanne says

      It feels really funny to hear people describing me as having courage/grit/whatever. I am one big ball of fear! :o) But it’s one of those sink or swim situations and i am a swimmer so I just do what I’ve always done – keep on keeping on. I can’t wait to tey showshoeing – burns more calories than skiing too! As long as I can keep on justifying tartiflette and vin chaud… 😉 xx

  7. says

    Oh shame, Jeanne, I had been dreading you would come to that decision… No more skiing trips with you :-((((
    Can’t you still come fore the après ski though? Let nick ski, you go cross-country or snow shoeing and then we meet up later?
    In any case, I wish you a speedy recovery! Jx

    • Jeanne says

      OH nooooo – of course I am still coming on ski trips and I would not dream of stopping Nick! I am just going to snowshoe instead of ski! Still up for the apres ski and all that stuff. I can go walking with your mom :)) And I am very much up for the spa! :)

  8. says

    Horrible break, so sorry for you Jeanne. Hoping it’ll be a swift and smooth recovery. Nick must have been pretty scared for you too. I believe red wine is an excellent tonic that you both might need to imbibe. X

    • Jeanne says

      It was pretty bad – not how I envisaged my ski career ending but there you go. Nick actually admitted to sobbing while waiting for me to come out of surgery which is quite an admission… No red wine till I am off the anticoagulants (still injecting self every day… ugh!)

  9. says

    I can so relate to so much of what you have written here. Also when we say we are the Borg … we need to make sure we do only the goof things together 😉 You know even though there is an ocean between us … I am here always. What I love about you is your sense of humor and irony in the post and your power to make me crack up. A step at a time and each day will be a revelation for you. Love you!

    • Jeanne says

      I know… We really are taking this borg thing too far, sistah!! 😉 I know you are always with me in spirit (and in care packages LOL!) And the good thing about a sense of humour is that it cannot be sprained, torn or fractured. Love you too – always & forever! xx

  10. says

    Ouch! You’re right – drama isn’t the word. I have another friend who had a similar accident skiing recently. Guess I should be glad that I quit skiing while I was ahead.. xx d

    • Jeanne says

      Yeah, when I have an accident I REALLY have an accident! Go huge or go home… 😉 Didn’t know you used to be a skiier – want to join my Ex-skiier Snowshoeing, Spa and Tartiflette club?? :)

    • Jeanne says

      It was pretty horrible… Hope to be at least on one crutch my sometime this summer. Come and visit if you can! Would be lovely to catch up :)

  11. Janet says

    So, so sorry to hear about your terrible accident, Jeanne! You are one very brave lady. Praying for total healing and a perfect recovery. Stay strong.

    • Jeanne says

      Thank you so much – that’s very kind of you. I am staying positive and trying my best to be a model patient to give myself the best shot at a complete recovery!

  12. says

    The feeling of helplessness is surreal Jeanne. Glad to hear you are at home and on the way to recovery. In 2003 I had a spiral fracture on an island on the coast. My daughter was 15 and could not drive. I spent 3 days in the hallway of a small island hospital. At least I was in the same country but far from home. Towanda!!!!!!!! I suggest copious amounts of tequila (when able of course).

    • Jeanne says

      OMG – spiral fracture of the femur? Yikes. Your experience sounds as scary as mine! I think I also underestimated the sheer stress of being hospitalised in a country where you don’t speak the language. Will definitely hit the tequila as soon as I stop the anticoagulant injections!! xx

  13. says

    Sky accidents are terrible. I badly bruised my knee about 10 years ago, couldn’t walk properly for 2 weeks. That put me off skying for life, now it’s only apres-ski for me, but saying all that I can’t image what you’ve been through, the pain! Glad to hear you are on the mend. Lots of love Rosanax

    • Jeanne says

      I hurt my knee ligaments 2 years ago but that was a total picnic compared to this. I still love skiing but not sure I will ever be willing to take the risk again. Definitely still up for the mountains and snow though – Nick has already bought me a pair of snowshoes! And of course the apres-ski 😉

  14. says

    Oh my gosh!! Jeanne, that is HORRIFYING!! I’m so sorry yet so thankful you are alive and with your beloved Nick and HOME. XO Wishing you bone growth and healing and everything you need to get through this. XO

    • Jeanne says

      Thanks, darling Krista :) I am in SUCH a better place compared to the week after the accident – I am home, hobbling around our ground floor on crutches and spending time with our kitties, focusing on healing food, gentle exercises and GETTING BETTER! Thanks for your kind wishes xx

  15. says

    Wow! What a way to break your no-hospital streak!
    I can’t imagine how scary it must have been to have the break and then the drug reaction and then to wake up without any loved ones around. So glad you are on the road to recovery! May it be swift and relatively pain-free!

    On the flip side you could (if you feel so inclined) begin a whole series on ‘how to cook on crutches’!

    • Jeanne says

      I know, right?? Go huge or go home… My brother who is well acquainted with my needle and hospital phobia quipped “just add a dentist and then you have faced ALL your fears at once”. Hah. The event itself was a nightmare, but I am in a much better place now and getting stronger every day. Definitely considering a cooking on crutches feature… 😉

  16. says

    I was wondering if the experience would put you off skiing every again. I cant possibly comprehend the trauma and following events. I wouldn’t have coped especially in a foreign country I can tell you!

    Hope you received my card and get well prezzie…

    • Jeanne says

      Yeah – I decided pretty much on the first day post-surgery to pack it in. Not if there is even 1% chance of another accident like this… And thank you for my card!! Still awaiting pressie :)

  17. Julia says

    Jeanne! OMFG!! What an experience!! Glad to hear you’re on the road to recovery, safe and sound back in London. So sorry to hear you’re giving up your skiing, but I think “understandable” is an understatement. Great job capturing what it’s like to be stoned out of your mind on painkillers though 😉 Take good care and rest up!
    Hugs from Canada

  18. says

    All the unearthed team are sending you our very best wishes and we wish you a speedy and thorough recovery so you can begin your rehab.
    You’re definitely one brave lady – just recounting that awful drug-induced experience must have brought back terrible memories.
    Stay strong and recover quickly

  19. says

    Jeanne, hope your leg is healing well. I was also recovering from a snowboarding accident this time last year but your accident sounds a lot more traumatic. The man in the next bed to me had a pin in his tibia and was told he would be able to ski again in 3 months, but I guess it was a single fracture though his bone was sticking out of his leg when he came in!

    Did I really read that you are giving up skiing? Give it time, you can step back into those bindings, just make sure they are adjusted correctly. Or why not buy some good impact shorts some body armour and try snowboarding?

  20. says

    Hope you are recovering swiftly from that nasty fall ! I am not a sporty or adventurous person and don’t think I will ever be but if anything I know how painful that can be as I have survived a road accident where a bus went over my leg…. it was eons ago though… Hope this all fades quickly and you are fighting fit real soon!xx