It’s snowing again. I didn’t want more snow. But at least I don’t have to go out tonight. I had to drive in a blizzard last night to go downtown to a rehearsal. The blizzard dropped down on me just as I left the garage. It wasn’t snowing minutes before when I looked out as I got my coat from the closet. Then when I backed out, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t see anything. Well, besides that nasty thing of night blindness I have. It was because everything was suddenly covered in a blanket of white. Now, if I were going to stay home, it would have been pretty. But out on the interstate, racing a schedule to get in my chair before the conductor dropped the baton for the first downbeat, it was not pretty. On the highway, I couldn’t see anything, let alone where my lane was. In the middle lane (I think), I got behind a big truck whose taillights shone through the whiteout and I stayed between those two red dots all the way to my exit. We crept along at 20 mph and tried to keep going forward. Three cars were facing the wrong way, their headlights glaring at us and scolding us about how slippery it was. By the time I arrived at my destination and got parked, my adrenaline was racing and my heart was beating harder. No, it wasn’t a pretty snow.
Of course, snow can be fun. When I was in high school, I went with a bunch of friends on a snow day to a high hill in the neighborhood. We took our inner tubes and went tubing. Everyone had already had a few runs down the very steep hill. Then it was my turn again. That was the moment everyone decided we should move our starting point to the top of the hill instead of the middle. They thought I should be the first to try it out. One friend assured me he would stand at the halfway point where there was a curve in the trail and push me the right direction when I passed him, before I went off the little cliff. I trusted he could and would do that.
But by the time I sailed down the hill to the curve, I had so much speed, nothing could nudge me in the right direction. So I went off the cliff. Flew off the cliff. I crash landed then bounced out of the tube and splatted face down in the snow.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. The wind had been knocked out of me. I’ve since learned that when that happens, the nerves of the diaphragm freeze and there is just no way to get past it. You have to get through it.
My friend who was supposed to push me onto to right path got to me first and flipped me over. Fortunately, I didn’t have a spinal injury. I guess you have to choose: breathe or protect the spine. So he got me off my face at least. I lay gasping and totally freaking out because I’d never had my diaphragm frozen like that. Eventually, it passed and I could breathe again. But my back was never the same. That ended tubing for me that day. Forever. I staggered home and experienced a lot of pain and doctor appointments and physical therapy after that.
And last night, my back froze up again. I sit here, looking out the window, remembering that first time when I lost my back health, feeling the pain of a back that isn’t like it’s supposed to be. I wish on that day so long ago that I’d stayed home, had cocoa, and sat by the fire just watching the snow out the window. Maybe it would have made a difference, maybe it wouldn’t have. But I’m thinking today it couldn’t have hurt just to have skipped the whole tubing thing. Especially the part about going up to the top, blazing a new trail, and depending on another kid to make sure I got down safely. But hindsight is pretty good. It certainly beats being in a whiteout with night blindness, for sure.
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