Rather than try to explain a lot of times, figured I’d try to tell some of the story here… and hopefully keep up with updates.
A bit over two weeks ago, after coming home from a fun conference, I decided to take the afternoon and head up to the barn to ride. Didn’t even bother to drop my luggage at home, went straight from the airport… the weather was too nice to spend driving around.
I’d warmed up and had been riding for maybe 15-20 minutes (and took a little break), and then decided to do some more. There were some little barrels lying on their side, set up as a nice little fence to jump (1 foot, honestly – maybe 18″ at a stretch). Jumping is something we both enjoy, so it seemed like a fun way to get back into gear. My horse was perhaps a bit too excited – he sped up a little bit and maybe jumped a bit too high, and then either bucked or tripped after the fence and pulled me forward over his head. That’s how I fell off – am pretty sure I somersaulted and landed on my upper back. The torque (not the gravity) caused the damage to my spine.
I was wearing a helmet. I always wear a helmet. I have no head injuries, no brain damage. Enough said.
Luckily there were people nearby to call 911, call my family, make sure I didn’t move around, etc. – I went from the barn to a nearby hospital to meet the helicopter to go to the hospital where I ended up. Surgery a couple days later – two titanium rods to stabilize the spine – ICU for a few days, and now in a rehab facility to recover and get back to life “as normal”.
I am overwhelmed by the support from everyone – especially during the first few days (the days waiting for surgery and those right after): the Facebook posts came via the iPod my family brought each visit, along with the cards and well-wishes. The hospital delivered electronic wishes given via their website as they came. We had the cards and wishes posted in the ICU and have run out of room for them here – good reminders for those days that are harder than others. I’m told that my situation has been remembered in prayers in churches, synagogues, Buddhist temples and reiki circles – which I find comforting and even a bit amusing (that my friends are so diverse that I can say this, as if sampling from a religious “buffet”).
I am going to try to preserve those Facebook posts, as time permits, in an easy way to revisit them in the future, as I have saved the cards and letters. Again, I know I will need them.
Many thanks to everyone who has stopped to visit – many days I found it tiring to read even a few pages of a book or a couple of emails… but I could talk with someone for an hour without needing a break. The mental exercise is just as important as the physical!
For the future – this is what I know now: the break in my spine was fairly traumatic and likely severed most of the cord. I have no feeling or movement below my chest at this point, and likely will not regain much more than this. I have 100% use of my arms and upper trunk, however, and should be able to return both to my condo and work (with a few modifications here and there).
I had a lot of time to think, the day this happened, from lying on the ground waiting for the paramedics to a rather long MRI session. My “science brain” (to contrast with a friend who blogs about the irrational reactions of the ‘lizard brain’) kicked in right away, to immediately tell me that this is not the end of the world (screaming irrationally solves nothing) but merely a change – and an opportunity to maybe take my work in a different direction. The science brain has been working hard now and again to keep away the dark thoughts, too.
I fully expect to be angry, to despair, and to have those “I can’t” moments – but I know I’ll have help when I need it. It’s too bad that we don’t always realize how supportive and wonderful our friends and family are until something like this happens… but it’s so important to be reminded when they do occur. I don’t think I ever appreciated the meaning of “thinking of you” so much before.
I am a glass half empty person – always have been – but I don’t see this as the point. It’s not how much you have in the glass that matters, it’s what you have (and if the glass is empty, what you choose to refill it with….)
Hoping to update soon….