When Mom Broke Her Leg

Reader's Digest US|July - August 2020

When Mom Broke Her Leg
To her great surprise, everyone else stepped up
Allison Winn Scotch

IT WAS THE FIRST run of a family ski weekend in Colorado. It was a perfect spring morning, and the skies were cloudless and blue, the temperature warm. I was tired and considered opting out of the run. But the kids were whining about attending ski school, and I figured I should push through—that if I skipped out, then they’d think that they could too.

We dropped the kids at ski school, then charted our course on the mountain map. A little traverse to a bunny hill to a lift that would take us to the good stuff, where I would chase my brother, his wife, and my husband, Adam, who were already off and running, figuratively.

I pushed off and caught up with my sister-in-law. My legs felt heavy; I debated, again, calling it a day. Then, three minutes into the run, my left ski came off; then my right ski inverted and took my leg with it, twisting it like a Raggedy Ann doll’s. I remember seeing my ski careening toward me at an obscene angle, and then I heard the crack.

I lay splattered on the snow, screaming, my leg distorted at a right angle to my body. My sister-in-law heard my shrieks and doubled back. A kind volunteer EMT stopped and phoned ski patrol. I was strapped onto a toboggan and taken down the mountain to an ambulance.

Shaking on the X-ray table, unable to control my limbs as shock set in, I kept apologizing to the technician. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to hold still. I know I’m making your job harder.” I was embarrassed for needing the help, for inconveniencing these people whose job it was to heal me. A nurse smiled kindly and said, “Oh, sweetie, once you see your X-ray, you’ll understand.”

I woke up after surgery with my leg bandaged beyond recognition, with tubes coming out of various limbs, with my mouth sandpaper dry and my mind flighty and confused.


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July - August 2020