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“Always was a skier, since I was about 8 or so. The fresh air, the snow, the rush of adrenaline… these are a few of my favourite things! Out with my family every weekend, which was no small feat for my parents since we lived in Kingston, Ont. usually it was a weekend event because the drive was more than 2 hours… into PQ, NY,  Maine or Vermont. Boy, we were lucky kids! When I moved away from home, I found out that it was a super expensive sport and I didn’t have the same opportunities for many years… until, I moved out to Vancouver. Mountains everywhere, and you could get to them in 45 minutes or less! I was in my bliss.  I bought myself brand new equipment and went out as often as my poor paying job would allow. About 5 years of that and it became apparent that I had inherited the knees of my great grandmother… but, I wasn’t alone, my mom and her mom had also won the lottery! I wasn’t going to give in that easy and I bought myself a Brodie mountain bike and began commuting to work in an effort to build the muscle around my knees.

Two years, four tires, new gears, one “endo”, one broken nose and  roughly 5000 kms later, and I was finally ready to go skiing again. In October 2002 I told my friend Lana, I was ready to go to Whistler with her this winter! Then, at the end of November, I had a cycling accident on my way home from work, which resulted in completely shattering the top 6″ of my Tibia, severing the patellar tendon and the anterior cruciate ligaments. I lucked out and got this surgeon that was just about to leave Canada to work in the US. He did a bone graft from my left iliac crest bone and apparently he had some kind of an underground source for “skele-grow”, known in the doctoring world as “osteoset beads”. All this, a couple of shapely steal plates, and what looks like all the extra screws that happened to be kicking around at the bottom of his tool box (a couple look like drywall screws). Near the top, he had to put all the screws in at angles to form a triangular spot to stick the patellar tendon back into. The guy was genius…. look at this!

Leslie's Beautiful Left Leg

I spent most of my life being self-conscious about my legs. They kind of resembled  tree trunks. When I asked for advice my grade 10 gym teacher told me I would have to have my legs in two casts if I wanted skinner legs. I had what I had, but I tried to avoid dresses as much as possible.

The day after the operation, the surgeon sat beside my bed and told me that he had done the best he could with what he had to work with and that in every likelihood, he would be performing an amputation on my leg in the next three days. Best case scenario was that I would always walk with a bad limp. What he saw, was my face saying “uh, huh”…. but in my mind I was saying “f-you…not going to happen”! All I did from that point on was focus every bit of my brain into healing myself. I pictured the bone re-growing, and the tendons and ligaments re-attaching and healing. I pictured myself walking. I picture myself walking with no limp. And I pictured myself feeling great.

I was not allowed to flex my quad for 6 weeks, because of the tendon being so tenuously attached, but I had to start flexion of the knee joint within 4 weeks, so the new bone that was growing wouldn’t fuse to the patella. I rigged up a pulley thing and let gravity do the flexion work while I held the leg up with the other end of the rope from my wheelchair.

Three weeks after that I was in physio twice a week, and 3 months later I was at the gym doing 2 hours of cardio, one hour of weight training and topping it off with swimming, 5 days a week, every step focused on symmetry of motion. Seven months after the accident, I got on my bike and rode back to work…no limp what so ever.

The point of my story here, is that, I once saw my legs as ugly….. now I see them as a gift…. one of my biggest assets. Things don’t really change, only the way we choose to see them.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading off to Whistler to try my newer leg on the “Bunnie Slope” first time after 15 years! I can’t wait…

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