Sometimes you dress for the occasion, sometimes the occasion dresses you… and sometimes you start the day wearing a Superman t-shirt, and end it wearing an external frame drilled into your leg.
I think we can all agree that life is a series of choices. From yes please, more parmesan, to no thanks, Trump belongs to the kind of dystopian future only Jennifer Lawrence could bring down – the consequences of these choices can be huge, obvious course alterations, but mostly the results are barely perceptible.
But there’s a third group – the things that pay off in truly unexpected ways.
When I was 6, I swapped writing hands to I could sit with my best friend. When I was 19, I locked my keys in the car for the third time in a week. When I was 30, I started buying superhero t-shirts because they made me feel oddly empowered. And two days ago I opted to push through some slushy snow with a bit more speed, rather than slowing down.
Picture it now: I’m flying down the slopes of Thredbo, wind in my hair, trees whizzing by, vaguely visible grass patches cheering me on. It’s as if the last 6 months of diligently working out have all led to this moment – fitness and confidence combining to take me down the mountain at a cracking pace.
Then slush. Then a hard inside edge. Then a lot of forward momentum dragging me away from a foot locked firmly into a boot that a ski refuses to release.
Then me lying face first in a twisted heap on a bank of muddy snow. Season with screaming to taste.
|OMG, how embarrassment, did you guys not get the memo that I was wearing red?|
One pro to severely injuring yourself while skiing – you don’t have to immediately see how awful it is. Your wounds are secure, helpfully hidden – all loose bone and jutting joints are pleasantly ensconced in a water proofed material package, topped with special footwear.
A big con – all that neat clothing and highly rigid footwear has to come the fuck off. I can swear about that, because I’ve had a ski boot removed while sporting a spiral fracture to the tibia – I can swear about that fucker for days.
A fesh pro to the clothing removal process came when three unexpectedly strapping young men were charged with taking off my pants at the medical clinic. An unexpected con arrived with the belated realisation that I was wearing Superman (well, technically, Supergirl) underwear, which matched my Superman t-shirt. In case it’s not obvious, I’ll explain – I was feeling hella empowered that day, and I simply dressed to match.
The irony of the Superman logo was not lost on a single soul in any ambulance, x-ray booth, operating theatre or hospital ward that followed. Combined with the last name Paine, I was a walking punchline. I should’ve found it unbelievably irritating, but instead it felt like the perfect ice breaker.
|Like dentists & other super heroes, I feel strapping medical staff need their identities protected|
Despite the aftermath being a blur of snow sleds and kindly middle aged nurses urging me not to look at my elbow, I have a clear picture of how the whole thing went down. Several clear pictures, actually. Two friends were on the spot to help soothe me, taking charge of everything non-medical. But they also understood that what a girl wants, nay, what a girl needs… is a sensitively taken photographic essay of her dramatic day on the snow fields. Complete with an emergency selfie.
Only true friends can take on such tasks – the type that are found through random life events, like a bad habit of locking your keys inside your car.
On Sunday I was feeling kind of excellent about life. Thoroughly at ease for the first time in about three months – high job satisfaction, fabulous friends, good food, and total freedom on the slopes. Everything was coming up Painefull. And then… everything came up painful.
|No stunt doubles were used in the making of this leg photo|
I could blame my ski bindings, or my age, or climate change (the last one is most tempting, because… it’s irrefutable science and all), but the choices I made were the dominant factors. I didn’t run into anyone or anything – most of that bad boy is on me.
|There's a Game of Thrones joke in here somewhere, about me facing off against The Mountain... still working on it...|
But so was the decision to become left-handed so I could sit next to Kevin Durrington. As I consider my right arm in all its battered, bionic woman brace glory, I remind myself that while the next few months may be hard, at least I will always be able to sign my name. I have 6 year old me to thank for that.
Some choices really do pay off in the most unexpected of ways.
P.S. In the space of a minute, while seated by my hospital bed, Mother Painefull suggested I eat another Tim Tam, and declared she would buy me a fresh superman t-shirt, so I just thought you all deserved a warning – the apocalypse is nigh.