It had started out innocently enough.
“Let’s go tubing,” they said, “it’ll be fun,” they said…
That mountain became my nemesis.
That mountain humbled me.
That mountain gave me a reality check.
I went in there with a head full of fun and frolic, and I left with a limp, a whimper, and a cracked tailbone.
The night had begun uneventfully enough, with a fierce quest for adventure and winter time thrills.
I had never once considered the dangers. Especially since I had gone tubing before, and enjoyed it quite a bit.
I had also dipped my toe in many another endeavor without pause. I had skydived, and zip-lined, and navigated the roaring whitewater rapids in a raft…
I had jumped in headfirst into so many an adventure, that a night out tubing at the pass seemed harmless.
We had arrived to find a bit of a snow/rain mix, and everyone was scrambling for the tubes, and rushing to catapult themselves down the icy hill into oblivion. So I grabbed the first one I could get my hands on, and quickly got in line.
The first time down, I definitely felt the rush. It was pretty slick due to the dense snow pack, and the light rain had added an invisible layer of slippery ice. But the tube I had chosen was a bit over inflated, and since I couldn’t nestle securely down into in it, I felt a bit vulnerable. And as I was going down the hill, I felt as though the tiniest bump might bounce me out of my vessel.
I furiously clung to the handles for dear life, and white knuckled it all the way to the bottom. Like a bolt of white lightning, I had rocketed to the base of the run.
And my very first thought after reaching the bottom of the hill, was that I needed to trade in my tube for a better one.
A safer one.
But what I did not know then, was, that decision would drastically change the next ten months of my life…
It was dark, and I was fighting my way against the grain like a salmon swimming upstream. I had spotted an unclaimed tube, and quickly traded it for the one I had already used.
I dragged it through the crowd to an open tubing lane and eagerly awaited my turn.
There was a large group of college aged kids trying to coordinate it so that they could all go down at the same time in different lanes. They had offered for me to go ahead of them so that they could line up with the others in their group, and I moved up to accommodate their request.
But I felt rushed.
And in an effort to get myself out of their way more quickly, I threw my tube down and stepped in front of it at the launch point.
Then, with my back to the tube, I jumped up into the air, and leapt with a forceful backward motion in an attempt to land in the tube and head down the hill in one fell swoop.
But, with this particular tube, the hole in the donut was too big and under inflated. This particular tube, did not cradle me at all. For, I did not bounce into the seat of that tube when I landed as I has expected. Instead, I went all the way through the large opening, and hit the ground…
At an angle.
Straight onto my tailbone.
With the full force of my body weight, and with the added velocity of my backwards leap.
My legs went numb.
I couldn’t move, I had the wind knocked out of me , and I was temporarily paralyzed and in shock.
I sat there for a moment trying to catch my breath.
You know that moment when you stub your toe really hard and it doesn’t hurt at first, but a few seconds later the searing pain hits you?
As the feeling returned to my legs, I could feel the full scope of what I had done. The tears stung my eyes and I started to panic.
I was about to ask for help, when one of the college kids behind me who had grown impatient with my few moments of delay, rushed forward and shouted, “Hey, do you need a push?!”
And before I could voice any objection, the young man in question had emergered from the crowd, leaned in, and given me a long hard shove.
I plummeted down the mountain, feeling every bump and icy ridge along the way. My only self preserving instinct was to push up on the tube with my arms as to lift my rear end off the bare ground as much as possible as to avoid as much further trauma as I could.
And when I reached the bottom, for a moment I didn’t even know if I would be able to walk. I rolled myself out of the tube and tried to stand up.
The pain was unbearable. I wasn’t sure how bad it was, but if felt pretty bad. And the only way back up to the top was to hitch my tube to a pulley system and sit in it while being pulled back up the mountain, or to carry it and walk back up the hill.
I took a momentary timeout, and once I had gathered my wits, I decided to lay sideways on my tube, hook up to the pulley, and go back up to the top.
It was over. No more reindeer games for me.
I choked back the tears as I sat in the car for the ride home, and thought that maybe tomorrow after a hot bath and a good nights sleep I would feel better.
After a few excruciating days suffering at home, I finally went to the doctor and found out that I had indeed fractured my tailbone.
I broke my butt.
Hence the reason why the infamous mountain at Snoqualmie Pass is now to forever be known to me, as Brokebutt Mountain.
I was told that it could take anywhere from 12 weeks to 12 months for it to heal.
And I had to trade in my recreational tubing donut, for a tiny little orthopedic donut that I had to sit on, because my butt was broken.
I had been in quite a rigorous routine up until this point with maintaining my weight loss, and I had kept track of all my calories and my points. I had exercised regularly, and for more than two years, I had managed to hover at, or near my goal weight.
But it was a routine that had not been challenged yet. And it was a routine that had not suffered any significant alterations…until now.
The prognosis brought me to my worst case scenario. The one thing I had dreaded. Being sidelined and unable to keep up with my routine was a frightening consequence for me.
I knew that successful maintenance hinged on watching my diet AND getting regular exercise, but…
No exercise for eight weeks? And limited activity for the foreseeable future until my tailbone could heal?
My heart sank.
No bike riding.
Everything that I enjoyed was off-limits.
I was devastated.
I felt like I was doomed. And, I admit, I spent some time feeling sorry for myself, and wallowing in my misfortune.
And after the initial two months, I was able to start longer periods of walking, but by then, some of the damage had already been done. I could feel the weight coming back on. And as my clothes got tighter, it got easier and easier to slip a little further into the whole ‘whoa is me’ mindset.
For two whole weeks, I stayed in my pajamas and binge watched four seasons of “Orange is the New Black”. And after a couple of months, my clothes didn’t even feel like my own anymore.
I was in a bad place.
The trauma to my tailbone had caused a sciatic nerve issue, and I even started having lower back pain due to everything being out of whack. I couldn’t sleep, the pain was constant and there was no relief in sight. It was like a domino effect, and that one blow to my tailbone had caused an avalanche of problems that had fallen down on top of me all at once.
The only thing that kept me from going crazy was going out on my evening walks every day to get my mind right. To remind myself that injuries happen, and people get sidelined- but it’s how you bounce back that matters.
I had to remind myself that this was only temporary, and soon enough I would be back in fighting shape.
It prompted me to begin thinking about obstacles.
Not just with weight loss, but the obstacles that get thrown into our path every day in all kinds of situations that make us want to throw our hands up in the air and say “I can’t fight anymore. I give up.”
But really, it’s these challenges, and these obstacles that make us stronger, and give us a chance for a comeback, that in the end, can make us stand even taller then we started out standing.
All it is, is a detour.
All it is, is a chance to learn more about ourselves.
It becomes part of your story. A curious yarn to spin, and a part of your legendary saga.
And it becomes yet another fantastical nugget of adversity that lends an interesting plot twist to the unwritten pages of your memoirs.
“Recalculating….your route has now changed.”
This particular injury was the very first really big obstacle in my path.
I had succumbed to my misfortune and wallowed for a bit, but then, I got back up, and decided that if I was going to make it better, I had to get back to work.
And even though I did gain back a little of the weight that I had lost, I did also manage to stop that freight train of self-pity just in time to keep it from derailing me completely.
That mountain taught me, that I can’t ever give up, no matter what challenges come my way. And that sliding down that mountain, and surviving an avalanche, can be just as challenging as trying to climb back up it, after you dig yourself out.
I have to keep fighting.
Its been six months, and I am still on that road to recovery, and I am still fighting to get back to where I was. It will still be several more months until I am fully healed.
Slowly but surely, a rally of spirit, a doctor, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, and some serious patience have gotten me back on track.
But these obstacles are part of the journey, and we all face them at one point or another.
Sometimes you can go around them, but sometimes, you have to go up and over those things in your way.
And sometimes, the only way to the other side, is to close your eyes, and go straight through with full force, and a lit stick of dynamite in your pocket.
So if you get caught between a rock and a hard place, and if you remember to pack your GPS, your jet-pack, your fuses, AND your battering ram-
You WILL eventually arrive at your destination.
Even if it you get delayed, you will still make it there.
Because the presence of obstacles in your path does not change your final destination…
It just changes what you do next.
And it gives you a pretty good whale of a tale to tell, once you finally get there.
Even, if you arrive with a visible limp, a new perspective, and a broken butt.