Silver Linings in the Operating Room

Not everyday will be an easy one. Whether you post on Instagram that you’re doing physical therapy in the gym and a smile on your face or not, that doesn’t prove to yourself that you’re making growth in recovery.

Words by content team member Elle Truax

The snow stake reads 17” at 5am and I bust out of bed and straight into ski clothes. “Nora come!” I yell to my dog racing to get her outside and fed. I juggle which layers to bring for the ski day, try to remember to cook up some pocket bacon for the lift rides and don’t dare forget to brew some coffee. Oh, and ski boots, can’t forget those and thankfully I didn’t leave them in the truck in -20 degrees the night before. With a solid 75% chance that I remembered everything, I head for the ski resort. The beauty of living in Crested Butte is it’s just a hop and a skip away from the resort, giving me extra time to forget a few things and drive back and forth and still be in the lift line for the first chair… 

I link up with a few people in line because I always enjoy friends on a powder day. Snagging the first chair, we decide to head straight to a relatively technical zone knowing that it always provides an instant adrenaline rush with hoots and hollers, especially after a big snowfall like this. I take an excited deep breath and take my eyes to an untouched pocket along a cliff band and think to myself, “wow this really doesn’t get any better”- POP goes my knee and down I go in a lot of pain.

“Always being mindful of the shark fin rocks that Crested Butte is known for, I was naive in this moment and not cautious enough early season.”

My downhill ski was caught between a few covered rocks and immediately twisted my body back. So yeah, on December 31st 2022, the rest of my winter was toasted. Cheers to 2023, eh? I always thought to myself, “How have I never torn a ligament after 24 years of skiing?” Without daring to say it out loud. Well well… the time has come. 

Laying in the snow as my friends and patrol made it over to me- initially the only thoughts running through my head were all of the trips, projects, dreams and goals I had for the winter season and the bit of heartbreak that came with not getting to do any of it. Tears running down my cheeks, “Well maybe the knee is just sprained and I will be back in action in a few days!” Is what my friend Ailee kept saying. Thankful for her positivity and friendship, I decided to go with it and think positive thoughts as best I could! Not being able to stand or ski down wasn’t necessarily a sign that my knee would be alright in a few days, but I still had a slight hope. After we got to the Mountain Clinic, the doctor did one test on my knee and was 100% certain it was a blown ACL, swiftly crippling my forced high spirits into tears.

This was day 2 of what ended up being a 2 week long storm cycle to hit the West Elk Mountains and numerous surrounding areas. It was safe to say, Colorado’s winter was off to a dreamy start and only going to get better. That was hard for me to grasp; however, I decided to go into it with the most positive mindset possible. The injury happened and there’s no going back, so there’s only up from here. Having dealt with a few different injuries, I’ve never had one putting me out for this long and with such a mountain of rehab to get through, so it was a challenge to think happy thoughts out of the start gate. I quickly started to make a “silver lining” checklist which I have found to help greatly throughout my initial recovery so far. 

I am currently two weeks out of surgery while writing this, so know that everything you are reading is raw and I am mentally and physically going through it as you read along. Although I am not sharing my exact “silver linings” publicly; the majority of it has to do with health goals, career/business dreams and relationships with the people in my life. I now get to pour so much of my time into my 2 year old company that is starting to take off, spend time with friends I normally wouldn’t see as much, spend hours and hours in the gym, raise my puppy, continue down the path of trying so hard to not suck at guitar, the list goes on!

“Everybody will have setbacks in life both big and small- but good character and wisdom come from tough times and will always make the high points that much sweeter.”

I recently wrote a paragraph in my ACL Diary that says, “One day you think back and you’re like wow, okay I am doing the dang thing and life’s happening and that’s pretty incredible. The places you go, the activities you take part in, the challenges you face, the things you learn, they’re what make up life’s pattern. There’s extremely low lows and incredibly high highs and everything in between throughout life. What I’ve been trying to figure out is how to take injuries and challenges and turn them into fuel for the next adventure. Bring the anger and sadness to the gym with you, bring it outside with you to reset in nature, breathe in the fresh air and remember that life keeps rolling right along whether we are ready for it or not.” -My ACL Diary Feb 10, 2023.

I got a quad tendon graft on my ACL, it seems like everybody has their opinions on different grafts and ultimately my surgeon and I decided that would be best for my case and the sports I take part in. Pro tip: When it’s time and upon permission, help take your own stitches out- it’s so satisfying! Pre-surgery, I did everything in my

power to strengthen my leg and entire body so I was strong for surgery and able to bounce back as smoothly as possible. I spent a lot of time on a spin bike and doing quad strengthening exercises. This also gave me a confidence boost going into surgery knowing that I had done everything in my control to be ready for surgery. Post-op… well I am currently very fresh into post-op so will keep you posted on how this one goes!

Not everyday will be an easy one.

“Whether you post on Instagram that you’re doing physical therapy in the gym and a smile on your face or not, that doesn’t prove to yourself that you’re making growth in recovery.”

It’s deep down in your heart and mind that you find the drive and passion to push through the challenge. Tell yourself you will come sprinting out the other side, bursting at the seams because you’re so excited to get back out there- I’ve got this and so do you. See you back outside and on the bike trails come June 2023! 

– Elle 

Ski Shots Photo Credit: Taylor Ahern

About Elle

After growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Elle moved out to Crested Butte, Colorado to chase her passion in freeride skiing and open up a custom western hat shop. During the warmer months, Elle travels back to the Oregon Coast and her hometown of Hood River, OR to pursue kite surfing and surfing. 

Follow Elle on Instagram

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