Skiing, bad joints and asthma

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Last week I was away on a ski holiday in Italy. I always find that although travelling is tough on the joints, that the anticipation for actually going away is so great, that I tend not to really care about my joints that much. I always love the sun rise, and I always take the chance to snap a picture of it. I like the colour of the sky!

The journey to my hotel wasn’t actually that bad, we weren’t rushed at the airports, and both flights were short so my joints cooperated, as much as my joints ever cooperate, which was nice for once. The bus journey from the airport to the hotel wasn’t great, mainly because heavy fog meant that we had to drive extra slowly, which meant that I was stuck on a bus with no stops for 4ish hours. That really is tough on the joints, and of course it meant that the first nights sleep wasn’t very restful at all.

The first couple of days when we were skiing were good, except from the terrible weather. There was one point where I just had to stand still and not move because the fog was so heavy I couldn’t tell which way was up, and which was down. It’s amazing how disorientating fog can be, although I think that the fact snow is white didn’t help things. This year was also the first year that I have ever skied in the torrential rain! It was weird! Normally rain really affects the condition on the snow, making it melt and become really heavy, making it harder to ski on, and although the snow was a bit heavy, it wasn’t any worse than it had been the other few days. The only difference was that I was soaking wet.

Normally when it is foggy, and visibility is really poor people slow down and ski/snowboard more carefully so to avoid crashing into other people, especially at peak times (yes, skiing as a rush hour when everyone tries to come down the mountain at the same time) but unfortunately there were some silly people on the slopes this year. One managed to knock down a woman, whose daughter then stopped directly in front of me, without warning, to help her mum up but that meant that the only think I could do was throw myself onto the floor to avoid another collision, and although I didn’t hit the kid full on, we did still kind of bump into each other but luckily he stated standing. I was quite annoyed at this because an idiot on the slopes could have hurt so many people, and although no one was hurt, you see enough people with broken bones to know that snow sports CAN be dangerous.

After the third day of skiing, the fog lifted and we could see the mountains for the first time. I still think that the Dolomites are the best mountain range in Europe, although other people may disagree.

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Apparently the Dolomites got the most snow in Europe this year and it really showed!

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That was another thing you had to be careful of when you came out of buildings, not to get hit on the head by snow falling from the roof.

The snow became better over the week, to the point that we were skiing on powder all day long, which is really lucky. The only problem was when you went down some of the steeper runs, that the powder snow had banked up at the sides of the piste and left massive areas of solid ice, that was pretty difficult to ski on (as anyone who has skied with already know, especially when you can’t get your edges in whatsoever). One such run was the long black all the way down the mountain, which also happened to be my first black of the holiday.

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I had told myself before the holiday that I had to know my limits and black runs were out of the question unless I wanted to make my knees worse. But you don’t get to go skiing everyday so I figured that one black wouldn’t hurt… Wrong! Because the run was solid ice, and because the run was so steep, I couldn’t go as slowly down the run as I had wanted to, not that this would have been a problem if my knees were good. I didn’t fall over, or even come close to it but the extra strain on my knees had really sent them into flare mode. That evening, I had two very sore and swollen knees, and every run after that was torture. This is why I need to understand my limits and not push myself too far, because although skiing is fun, it is really hard work.

I wasn’t ready to let my knees win though, so I avoided black runs for the rest of the week, and was super careful on every run I went down. It was weird because I was really aware of my ligaments on every run… It was almost as if my knees and my brain were having an argument:
Brain – “we are going to turn now”
Knees – “no you aren’t unless you want to snap a ligament”

And that’s what it felt like all week, that if I turned too suddenly, or turned on heavy snow that my ligaments would break… That’s how much strain was on my knees.

Last year when I was skiing, it was my asthma that was causing me issues but I learnt from that and tried to stay on step ahead all the time. I increased my Symbicort before I went to 3 inhalations, and I took ventolin before heading out and at lunch to try and avoid having any attacks or bad symptoms through the day. And although my asthma was better than last year, I was still having real problems in the morning with coughing, a tight chest and shortness of breath… Luckily most of these symptoms resolved with ventolin and as the day went on they did get better but it was really annoying that my asthma was bugging me when the snow was best. I didn’t have much wheezing this holiday which was good, I’ve always found that I cough before I wheeze so I feel quite lucky that my asthma wasn’t causing me a really serious problem until the flight home that was. On the first flight to Schipol airport I was almost at the point of an asthma attack in the decent to landing. I’ve heard about people with asthma having issues on planes because of the pressure change but I think my problems were caused by the air conditioning rather than the actual decent. But while we were in the air I did manage to get some pictures as we went over the Alps!

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The journey home felt longer than the journey to the hotel even though the actual travelling time was shorter. I think that it was probably the fact that the car’s battery was flat when we got back to the airport in the UK so we had to wait for Mr AA man to give us a jump start…. As it turns out, the battery in our car is broken so we have to get it replaced although we aren’t entirely sure when that is going to happen.

So although skiing was a nice holiday, I think I have to admit, that my joints aren’t up to it right now. I was hoping to learn to snowboard next year but I have no idea if I will be able to joint-wise with that either. But one of the benefits of going skiing is that there is an abundance of snow to put on swollen joints!

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