The weather is finally starting to feel more like spring than winter. On a “normal” day, before my accident, this kind of weather would have had me itching to get on a horse and ride. Sunshine and warm weather normally would have me outside in the barn, riding, and teaching.
Not A “Normal” March 13
This isn’t a normal March 13 though, this year it marks the one year anniversary of the accident that caused my TBI. For those of you who don’t know, I was trying to bridle a pony who didn’t want to be bridled. She decided she wasn’t going to let me get the bridle over her ears. Then reared up and into me. Hit me right in the forehead with her head, knocking me backward into the metal stall bars.
When it happened I did lose consciousness briefly. Tycen took me to the ER. I felt terrible. My head was pounding as it had never pounded before. I was sick to my stomach and dizzy. I have to say though, that it never crossed my mind that this was going to be anything more than another bump on the head. Initially, it seemed that’s all it was. I had an X-ray and a CT scan, it showed that my skull wasn’t fractured and my brain wasn’t bleeding. When I left the ER that day, I was under the impression that I should be feeling good as new in most likely a week or so.
I got hit in the head on a Tuesday, hand a bad headache on Wednesday and Thursday. Not bad enough to keep me from going out and the barn and teaching though. As far as I could tell, I felt like you would expect to feel a few days after being whacked in the head twice by a horse.
I started feeling worse on Friday. The headache had gotten worse. It was worse than any migraine I have ever experienced. I stated getting dizzy again. I did go back to the doctor since I felt worse instead of better. It was my primary care doctor that I saw that day. She prescribed me some medication to help me with my headache and referred me to a neurologist.
That night we were holding the awards banquet for our show series. Feeling awful, I attempted to go help set up, planning on attending of course. I was feeling so dizzy and nauseous after being there 20 minutes or so that I bailed and went home.
Saturday, I felt somewhat better. Being my stubborn self, I didn’t reschedule my lessons for that day. I went out to the barn and taught two lessons, though I don’t remember much about them at all. By the time I had to walk back in to my house, I could hardly walk. I came close to blacking out a few times before I made it inside.
From that day on it was all downhill from there for about a week. I started falling. My legs would literally drop out from underneath of me. My balance was getting worse. When I tried to walk I would fall before I had time to even try to catch myself.
Double Vision/Loss Of Peripheral Vision
It was Saturday evening when my double vision really got bad. I also lost my peripheral vision (which still hasn’t come back). This caused me to have basically no depth perception. Literally, I walked into the walls of my own house.
My balance, headache, and dizziness was getting worse throughout the afternoon and evening on Saturday. Sunday morning, when I got up I was still feeling awful. I really did not want to go back to the ER. We had a pony party at the farm that day. The weather was nice, I had things to do on the farm. Going to the ER was the last thing I wanted to do. I argued about going, then finally had to admit to myself that I needed to go and at least get checked out.
Off to the ER, I went. They did another X-ray and another CT scan. Everything was still fine. When I finally saw the doctor and they found out I already had a neurology appointment scheduled, they told me to take it easy and sent me on my way. Well, they may not have downplayed it that much, but I felt so awful that I felt like they were just dismissing me and what I was saying about my symptoms.
First Neurologist Appointment
By the time I got in with the neurologist, I had to be pushed in a wheelchair. It was an awful appointment. I didn’t like the doctor at all, he had absolutely zero bedside manner. He checked my vision and tried to get me to stand and walk, which I could not do at that point.
He referred me to a neuro-ophthalmologist for my vision and told me I had Post-Concussion Syndrome. Basically, he said what that meant was that I had symptoms from my concussion that were taking longer than normal to go away. He told me that the time it took for people’s symptoms to go away varied. I left still thinking that I would be back to my old self with a month or two. It wasn’t a good diagnosis, but I could deal with it. The doctor also prescribed physical therapy.
I wasn’t well enough to do my first PT session until the end of April. I was barely able to walk with my walker. Basically, someone had to hold me up by the arm as I walked.
I started going twice a week. The plan was to do one day a week of PT and the second day working on memory exercises and vision.
I continued going to PT twice a week until a week ago (almost a year later!). My tolerance is now good enough that I do both PT and cognitive exercises on the same day. Back then, I was basically wiped out for the whole next day.
To Make A Long Story A Little Shorter
March 13, 2019, a year later. I’m walking with my walker much better. I can walk a good distance without the walker now in PT with my eyes closed and holding onto my therapist’s shoulders as he holds onto me by the waist.
Now I go to the TBI program at Sinai Hospital. The team of doctors there are excellent. We are now working on trying to find a combination of medicines to help with my migraines. I have had some level of headache since the accident ranging from barely there to seeing spots and having to go to bed.
I’m Getting Better!
I’m getting better, slowly but surely. I can get around better with my walker. I can go out of the house in public places without total sensory overload. I’m teaching students that I can teach from a chair twice per week. I walk my little dog Ziva around the front yard. Walking out to the barn and around the farm is part of my daily routine now. Sometimes even twice a day.
Even though I still have a long way to go, I can confidently say how far I have come in the last year. For a long time, I felt so bad all the time that I couldn’t see my own progress. Now I can definitely say how far I have come.
Focus On The Positive
That is what I have to focus on, how far I have come. I focus on that instead of how far I still have to go to get back to “normal”. I have learned a lot in the last year. That every day is different and that my only “normal” now is to not have a “normal” and I’m learning to be okay with that.
I try to focus on how lucky I’m to have the doctors and physical therapist that I have. Also, I’m lucky to have my family, boyfriend, and friends that have taken me to all of my appointments and helped me. I couldn’t ask for a better support system, it seems like they have practically dropped their whole lives to help me this last year.
I Have Said It Before And I Will Say It Again
Things can change in the blink of an eye. That is one thing that you can say you understand, but not really grasp until something bad happens. We should all be grateful every day for our health and the ability to be able to get up and do what we want to do.
It has been a life-changing experience. Obviously, it has been the worst year of my life. I can honestly say though that I know I’m going to be a better person for having this experience. It has made me realize how lucky that I’m, and to be grateful every day. I have learned that I have a lot more perseverance than I ever knew I did!
Wear a D**n Helmet Around Horses
There are a lot of lessons to be taken from this experience. If you don’t take anything else from it remember to always have a healthy respect for the horses. Don’t take any of them for granted or assume they won’t react a certain way. That’s the thing about horses, we just never know exactly what they will do.
Don’t assume that nothing will happen to you! That is what I did and look how wrong I was?!
Horses have made me the person I’m today. My life experiences with them have shaped me and it was a horse that put me in this exact place I’m right now, whether I like it or not. My life is still all about horses even though I can’t ride. Once you are horse-crazy, even walking with a walker won’t stop you from wanting to live the horse life. For goodness sakes though, please, wear a d**n helmet!!