Being injured in a ski resort sucks. Being injured so early in the season after spending 11 months planning our dream family ski season is heart wrenching. My first ski season in 10 years comes crashing down between my smashed, semi-useless knees and I've shed enough tears to fill a wine carafe. Enough! It's important to stay positive when a sports injury takes you out of action.
Try to see the silver lining of being sat on your backside injured - throw yourself into studying a language, start a hobby or do something (non-physical) you've always been meaning to do but never had time.
We're zigzagging up the hairpin bends and over the Col du Montets, the high mountain pass that connects the Chamonix valley to Trient valley in Switzerland. Fat snowflakes that we’ve been waiting so long for whirl and dance in front of the windscreen. The trees are laden with snow on either side, like a perfect picture postcard.
We pull into the small village of Vallorcine, one of the last bastions on the French border before Switzerland. It’s snowing heavily and we know this gondola here is definitely open (as oppose to most of Chamonix which is closed due to the bad weather.) Vallorcine's red home run is perfect for families - beautiful wide piste through a forest of trees. If no other lifts open else opens, the kids will have an epic time riding that run.
We ask a French lady de-camping her ski gear from her car to take a family snap of us. Then they head off, crunching through the snow, skis balanced on their shoulders, towards the gondola. My husband smiles weakly as he waves a final goodbye before they disappear into the white. He’s gutted too. I turn to the tiny restaurant where I’ll wait it out for them to come down. I can see, looking down, a hunched despondent figure blurred by the falling snow. It’s me.
Putting on a brave face for the camera! So gutted to be injured so early into the season.
After 4 weeks of incapacity, I’ve finally got the results of my MRI and they’re not good. A snapped ACL and a hairline fracture in my left tibia. 10 times worse than we feared. For the last 24 hours waves of tears and despair arrive unexpectedly, intermixed with huge bouts of positivity and defiance. I feel like a pregnant lady with raging, unpredictable behaviour. What’s done is done and after the what if’s and why me's have passed, it’s time to get pragmatic and get real.
I’ll batten down in mountain restaurants and sip hot wine or chocolat chaud topped with a mountain of cream, until my girls return, bursting with excitement and chatter. Holed up in the charming L’Arrêt Bougnê restaurant watching the snow fall outside and listening to the gentle chitter chatter of the french language, I watch happy skiers burst through the door shaking off the snow as they arrive for lunch and write this post, how to keep positive during an injury.
L’Arrêt Bougnê café is attached to the Vallorcine train station. It's charmingly French & the perfect place to keep warm whilst waiting for the fast train link to Chamonix
1. Get real. Get it into perspective
I don’t have cancer. No-one is dying. We’re blessed to be here right now experiencing this beautiful winter wonderland. Always remember there’s someone else worse off and it’ll make your situation seem like a relative walk in the park.
2. Get out
For the last 4 weeks I’ve spent a lot of time inside blog writing & researching, in a bid for the torn muscle I thought I had to recover. Now I’ve got the full lowdown on my injury, at least I can start rehabilitation, plan my days accordingly and try to make the most of this time in the best way I can. I can’t stand the thought of spending another 5 weeks inside so I’m in a bid to find the best mountain restaurant, the cosiest cafe on the slopes or the most accessible refuges for families.
A recent find, Le Café Comptoir, at the bottom of the home run in Vallorcine is leading in the cosiest, coolest mountain restaurant stakes. With sheepskin throws, a chocolate box chalet interior and amazeball french fare food, be sure to book ahead to secure a table here for lunch.
3. Turn it around
They say that in a complaints department, a company has a true opportunity to shine and secure a loyal customer for life. I couldn’t agree more. To be able to take a bad situation and turn it around. Genius.
During rehabilitation, throw yourself into something that you love or you need to get done. For me it’s French. I immediately decide to sign up for an intensive French course, build the new website I’ve been procrastinating over and start researching and organising some epic adventures to squeeze into our final 6 weeks when hopefully my leg, in a brace, will hold up. By being busy and super focused on a new project, you’ll stay positive. Compared to morbid moping the time will fly by.
The doc says I can swim. But only front crawl. Which I hate. I hate it because I’m useless at it. 5 weeks of front crawl training will (hopefully) (surely?) make me a more sylph like creature in the water? That's my hope anyhow.
Mediation is another great way to feel focused and positive, so I’m going to be making sure I carve some time out for this. I’ve heard great reports about the Headspace app.
More blog writing in the stylish Le Café Comptoir, Vallorcine
4. Get into a routine
Of course it’s not that easy. You can’t just switch on a positivity switch if you’re feeling low. By getting into a routine, you’ll minimise moments of despair which are likely to strike when you’re not doing anything. Keeping yourself busy with physio, training (I’m allowed to cycle, walk on the flat with poles & swim front crawl, pilates, yoga), mediation and the other projects you’re going to focus on.
For now I'm taking it day by day. I'm sure they'll be down moments in the days ahead but when it comes down to it - I'm still living in a stunningly part of the Alps, one of the most beautiful places in the world and I feel lucky to be alive.
How have you coped with a sports injury? I'd love to hear your tips for staying positive.
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far