Powder and Pain

I break my wrist snowboarding

I should never have left the Palace.

Tim had been stitched up with a couple of Groupon tickets- ‘all inclusive’ skiing holidays in the French Alps to use any time in the season. All they included however was a bed and food. What they didn’t include was transport (£225), transfers (£50), lift pass (£160) and gear (£225 to collect and update).

After much to and fro it turned out not even Tim could get one used and couldn’t sell either so kindly let me use one for free, and I have serious problems saying no- especially to one of my favourite activities.

Looking at it now this is a tale of good things going bad:

Free holiday- good. Expensive extras- bad.

Awesome Easter bender before leaving- good. Mood subsequently- bad.

Upgrade from hostelesque hotel to nice villa- good. Instead of sharing with a fun bunch of like-minded I’m in with a Police Inspector, husband & 7yr old daughter- bad.

Hot tub with amazing view- good. Not working most of the time- bad.

Sun for 2 days- good. Snow/ice- bad.

Solo night out to resort- good. Not getting any numbers for people to board with later- bad.

1 ltr wine for € 18 in club- good. Hangover- bad/terminal.

Fun dance til 4am- good. Wading in through snow at 5am- bad.

Perfect snow powder day- good. Visibility and hangover- terrible.

Finally a no-hangover, fine visibility powder day- good. The rest of this tale- bad…


I’m on top of the world, belting through that weightless powder dreams are made of, the Stones loud in my ears, my only thoughts of the future revolving around more of the same.

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill’

Poor Mr Jimmy, but never mind- it’s a great driving beat and soaring melody for this high-speed cut across the piste.

We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sang my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”

Cutting off piste fast on the other side now, in the flat light the air-coloured ground drops away and my board hits something I never see hard, the only thing that stops the rest of me is my wrist on something that flexes like concrete.

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want

Sometimes with injuries there’s doubt and hope but I knew I was fucked- I had felt it smash. The pain was intense, no show of bravery, just eyes wide and shut, sucking on air and gritting my teeth, waiting for the first waves to pass and whatever it is that kicks in from your body that allows you to operate.

I knew I had a sweet spot of time when I could use the adrenaline and the rest to get out of there. As soon as my head cleared I was on my feet, side-slipping and gently carving to base- pissed off that my future now consisted of pain and disability rather than powder and fun. A couple of dizzy spells later I was finally down and almost enjoying the high of the shock, pretty confident the worst of the pain was behind me.

I was wrong. The resort doctor’s waiting room was crowded and shambolic, no reception to check in at- just take a seat with the rest like a polite Englishman. This is where the pain really started- in my experience if you leave injuries alone they leave you alone, but this bastard settled into an increasingly agonising ache. I could tell I wasn’t looking too good from the concerned looks on the other patients’ faces and this stood me in good stead when the doctor poked his head in.

The hero hurried me straight through, sat me down, gently removed my glove and revealed my wrist- complete with nobbles where no nobbles should be. His instant assessment was a bad compound fracture, the forearm bone compressed to splintering, needing at least setting and maybe surgery- shit. His sympathetic manner made me feel a bit less soft and he quickly dished out a couple of small red morphine pills- now we’re talking! Surely I’m moments away from a pain-free happy place? Not quite.

I was left alone with the pain while he attended someone else- it was quite an education. Between waves when I could only roll my eyes and rub my face thoughts went to war, hunted animals, child birth, motorbikes, torture, failed political philosophies, hell. All deal in this currency. A stretched goggle strap in the corner shone the branding ‘SINNER’- surely not? And medical science- where the hell would I be without it?

Finally the morphine seemed to work a bit, the pain was there but the agony had dulled by the time the tender doctor re-appeared. In a jiffy he had me x-rayed once, shot up with some valium (far more effective) and showed me where the forearm bone had splintered. Given more time I’d be down in town for surgery but he’d have a go himself and see how it went. With the valium working the gentle pull and set didn’t hurt nearly as much as I feared and they had the wrist plastered and re-x’d before I knew what had happened. As soon as it was pulled out and supported the pain sub-sided and on the new xray you could barely see a break- things were finally on the up.


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