Brian Hamilton: Ski in, ski out for dummies |

Brian Hamilton: Ski in, ski out for dummies

Dr. Flo doesn't do Facebook. But soon after his wife spied a selfie I'd posted, proudly wearing my new sling, the email had landed.

His bedside manner — all the way from Maryland — was thoughtful and compassionate, when what I really deserved was a kick in the pants.

Spotting his address in my in-box, I'd expected at least some ribbing about my broken wing (like the "Take these broken wings" video a colleague sent me back at the office), but either Flo is getting soft in his old age or he's taking that "do no harm" thing a bit too seriously.

All the same, it's pretty cool to get a second opinion from a best friend who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon.

"Med-check folks said the break is pretty clean, not displaced, and should heal just fine," I reported. "No need to see an orthopod."

"Really? I can't tell you how many times I've had patients tell me that and then wished they'd seen me sooner," he said. "You should definitely see one, just to be safe."

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"I thought I was talking to one."

"Send me the x-rays."


Somehow in the course of 46 years of life, despite ample other injuries, I'd not broken a bone until two weeks ago while on a snowboarding trip.

And, for those who still haven't broken a bone, it hurts — a whole lot.

But the sad thing is I don't have much of a story to share, despite folks encouraging me to embellish on what actually happened. I wasn't throwing some sick tricks in the terrain park, carving up a chute from high above or even speeding down a steep when my "agony of defeat" moment arrived.

No. I was simply cruising down through a residential neighborhood to the morning's first lift, when my board slid sideways on a patch of ice and caught the front edge. We're talking 10 mph, tops. Still, when I tried to break my fall with my left hand, it was pretty clear I'd wounded much more than my pride.

(If this embarrassing tale sounds the least bit familiar to any regular regulars, it should. It was nearly one year ago to the day that I performed a full face plant while riding through the same neighborhood. But that was on the ski-in, rather than the ski-out. So at least we've come full circle. And I've gotten another column out of being a dummy.)

As my daughter caught up with me, I was just thankful it was me taking one for the team, as she was to compete in her season's first gymnastics meet a couple days later (Considering she'd been training for a full year, I'm not sure whom I would have feared more: my wife or her coaches).

My wrist was jacked up good, but my guess was just a sprain. So once we caught the lift, I rubbed some snow on it and tried to shake it off. But even riding the easiest way down, the sharp pains shooting through my wrist and back and to my elbow told me my day was done.

I handed my daughter off to her cousins to continue their day and then headed to the bar, where a shot of tequila seemed to soothe the pain, if not the pride, before I walked over to the Ski Patrol clinic.

"Yep, it's a fracture in the elbow. But the good news is the wrist looks fine."

"Good thing it was your last day of the trip. That would have sucked if it happened on day one."

"You're right-handed, right? Good thing you broke your left one. At least you can still write."

Despite all the well-wishers, I wasn't feeling so good about any of it, sitting there up to my armpit in a splint and knowing how much work awaited my return. With one arm available, and my tendency to mumble making voice-recognition software more of a hassle than it's worth, I worried about weeks of torturous single-finger pecking at the keyboard. (Capital letter? Caps lock on … caps lock off …. sheer torture).

It's an understatement to say I was relieved when the good folks at Yubadocs confirmed the elbow fracture, the wrist sprain and said the soreness in my shoulder was only a muscular issue. By the second day back in the saddle, I was typing with two hands again.

But I was again concerned after my "telemedicine" appointment with Dr. Flo, and couldn't help but think back to some serious concern over his own broken wing while snowboarding some 25 years ago.


He, too, had fallen and broken his hand — one of his two "money-makers" today as a surgeon — and then made sure I was wearing wrist-guards while he was teaching me this new sport. His injury required surgery to set things straight, but it didn't keep him from showing me the slopes in Austria.

And I'm absolutely certain that trip was more painful for the student — particularly my tailbone — than the teacher.

But along with that pain came so much more — access to breathtaking vistas, the thrill of riding down the hill and the pure joy of spending an entire day with family on the mountain.

Ever since we met in high school, when he was on foreign soil as an exchange student from Munich and later when I finally made the trip to his home, we've shared several adventures and experiences.

In fact, I'm not so sure I would have made the move from the Midwest to California, had we not experienced the exploits of our 30-day backpacking trip through a slew of European countries. (Tales for another day, considering I've not yet received any blackmail money from Maryland despite continued threats to publish.)

But we did make that trip. He did help broaden my horizons. I did leave my comfort zone and move here, where we've been blessed to raise our family and enjoy the mountain lifestyle he and his family first showed me.

Still, even with all he's given me through the years, there's one more thing I look forward to receiving. And that's a green light from my good buddy, Dr. Flo, to get back on the board before season's end.

Seriously, just say the word, Doc.

And I promise. No more ski-in, ski-out stupidity.

Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at or 530-477-4249.

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