I paused before the jump. I'd done it 20 times before, yet was still a relative novice at flinging myself into the air while strapped to my snowboard. I adjusted my helmet, jumped to my feet, and twisted to point my board down the hill. The floodlights beaming down on my last run of the night, the adrenaline and nerves beginning to coarse through my veins, I set the board flat upon the ice for maximum speed. I hit the base of the jump at pace, the board hurtling upwards with the slope of the jump, before the ground disappeared beneath me, and board and rider were flung into the night air one last time.
The board came back down onto the icy surface at an angle. I compensated, and pressed my heels into the back of the board, my board now perpendicular to the slope, my front facing downhill. I can't be 100% sure about what occurred next. Maybe I hit a lump of ice. Maybe my muscles gave way, and couldn't keep enough pressure on the back of the board. Whatever happened, the result was emphatic. My board flipped from heel-edge to toe-edge, and my body was hurled forward. My speed had not abated from the pace at which I hurled myself off the jump, and there was no time to get my arms out to break my fall. My face and chest bore the entire impact as my body smashed into the ice, the air instantly forced from my lungs as my body rolled, bounced and thudded to a halt.
I screamed, and yet remained completely silent. My lungs were empty, and yet I kept screaming, my face an expression of fundamental agony, but still no sound escaped. After what felt like an age (but was probably mere seconds) my lungs filled with air again, and my screams were audible to anyone within a 5000 mile radius. My face burnt as I looked around for red blood on white snow.
Surprisingly quickly, I stood upright again and boarded carefully to the bottom of the hill. I dismounted the board and took a few minutes to compose myself. I got into the car with surprising ease, and drove home, the pain easing the whole time. I stepped out of the car and there came a sickening crack from within my own chest. This time I had no problems in screaming at the top of my voice, though the scream just seemed to elongate the pain.
Now I am not a man with a high pain threshold. I will readily admit this. Pain is rubbish, and in my opinion best avoided. But seriously, compared to what I went through that night, childbirth is like a nice walk in the park with pretty flowers and a picnic then an ice cream with sprinkles.
Convinced for some reason that the hospital was not open until the following morning, I put my efforts into working up the courage to get into bed. Every step around the apartment was taken gingerly, as seemingly at random intervals my chest would crack, there would be another huge scream, and the pain would take longer to subside each time. I knew the biggest most painful crack would come if I tried to lie down, and using all my courage I whined that "I need f***ing painkillers right f***ing now!" A few phonecalls enquiring after suitable drugs resulted in the discovery that Honjo Hospital did actually have provision for an out of hours service, and as Amelie and Owen arrived I bravely took 20 minutes getting into the passenger seat of Owen's car. A few minutes of slow careful driving later, and the car drew up at Honjo Hospital. And that's when the fun really started!
Tune in next week to find out why you if a pretty nurse guides you behind a curtain and takes your trousers down, the events that follow might not be as fun as mainstream pornography would have you believe...