With a busy weekend, I did not get a chance to write this post. I have been thinking about it since Friday. I really want to share with you a small thing that I did Friday. To me, it was a milestone in my rehabilitation process.
No School on Friday
When school is off, at our farm we take advantage of this and often schedule day camps for our students. Just a one day version of summer camp basically. Running from 8-4, including, riding lessons, crafts, unmounted horsemanship lessons, and games.
Last summer, I was in such bad shape I hardly made it out of the house besides doctors appointments. I did a lot of summer camp planning but did not go outside and participate at all.
The Role I Used To Play At Camps
Until my accident, the role that I played at summer camps was riding instructor. I handled all the riding lessons while the kids rotated in groups, from riding to crafts to unmounted lessons.
It was a hard job, it was almost always super hot and the kids were almost always total beginners. Total beginners that were so excited that they had a hard time following instructions!
It was a hot, dusty, thankless job at times. I would always be jealous of my mother or whoever else was working the other stations because they were sitting in the shade. All the while I was in the middle of a hot dusty riding ring with the sun beating down on me. It felt like being on the beach in the middle of summer. Just not in a bathing suit, and no wind or water to cool you off with!
My New Role
Last year, since there was not much physical that I could do, I wrote a lot of the camp schedule and lesson plans. It was fun thinking up new ways to teach basic horse knowledge to our camp participants.
Last year it was all writing lesson plans and sending them outside to my mom and the other camp volunteers. I never actually helped outside at camp last summer.
This school break camp was the first opportunity I had where I was well enough to not only plan it but go outside and participate. Last Friday was the first time I participated in camps since my accident on March 13, 2018.
Planning the camp came easily to me this time. Since it was Easter weekend, I planned an Easter-themed day with the horses.
I will admit that I was super nervous about having to go outside with my walker. Signing kids in and meeting new people would be nerve-wracking. What if I got confused and forget something important. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the kids! Who would be available to help me? The thought of answering awkward questions about my condition from kids and parents was scary.
I had not been that nervous since my first day back out at the ring teaching lessons.
How I Handled It- I Planned
I’m very OCD. I obsessed all week planning. Trying to think about ways to make the day run better or smoother. .Even planned where I would sit when I needed to rest. Also what I would say if I was asked questions. I ran scenarios over in my mind again and again.
By the time Friday rolled around and it was time to go sign in the campers I felt relaxed. Almost excited to be involved again.
The activity I was leading was a jelly bean taste test experiment with the horses. As well as making horse treats. The kids listened well and had fun with both parts of the activity. I got my exercise in because I followed the kids to the field to help them do the jelly bean experiment. Which was a pretty far walk. By the time the last group arrived at the picnic tables I was too tired to walk back to the field again. Lucky for me, I had a great volunteer helper who went with them.
I knew it would be a big group of kids. There was a possibility I would have trouble with the noise. My earplugs helped me be able to focus without all the background voices confusing me.
My PT lesson the day before had been hard. I went to bed early so I would be rested for Friday. Friday was the first time that I have spent a whole entire day outside “working”. Even though I was sitting most of the time. It is exhausting for me to stay focused. Finding the right words once I pass the point that I should have pushed myself is also hard. I knew I would be pushing it on Friday.
I was prepared for my headache to get worse than the normal baseline headache I have. At lunchtime, I took my headache pill which kept my annoying headache from becoming a migraine. Keeping my headache at bay also makes a big difference in my ability to focus. Also to be able to find the correct words to say what I want to get across.
Kids And Questions?
None of the adults said anything to me about my walker or my injury. The kids asked a lot of questions. What happened? What horse was it? Can you walk without that thing?
Answering questions about my injury and condition to the kids were way easier than I expected. I decided it was like this because kids don’t ask questions with ulterior motives. They just are curious and want to know!
Answering the questions to the kids was easy! Unlike answering them to adults, I didn’t feel like I was being judged. It was like they got the answers they needed and then it was over with. It wasn’t like it became “a thing.”. As it seems to with a lot of the adults that I have to talk to about it.
The first time I taught a lesson after I got hurt was an affirmation. I proved to myself that I still had all the knowledge necessary. It is harder now than it used to be, but I can still do it and I’m good at it.
I was in a totally different role than the one I was used to playing. It was an affirmation for me. I was able to manage all of my symptoms. Be pleasant and polite. Be a good leader and be creative when necessary to make things work. That is a lot for a bruised brain to do! I wasn’t sure that I could physically do it. Could my fragile emotions handle it?
I did both! It was surprisingly good I felt about how things went. I really felt like I did my very best, and that was enough. My fear was that since my best now isn’t what it used to be it wouldn’t be enough. I wouldn’t be able to contribute as much help as was needed. I’m glad that I was wrong on both accounts!
A Small Step Is A Huge One For Me And My Bruised Brain!
Planning activities and then being able to go out and follow through with those plans. Being a leader is so far one of the best feelings that I have had since my accident. It felt good to have the affirmation that I can still do it. I did well with my new role. Even though it will take some getting used to.
Even though I wasn’t hands-on with the horses. Or teaching all the lessons like I normally do. It still made me feel just a little closer to the person I was before my accident. Though I know that I will never be completely the same. I’m beginning to realize that my new version of doing my best is not a disappointment to anyone at all.
I have new normals every day. It is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows for sure. I’m learning to accept it. I can still feel good about what I’m doing, even if it’s different than it used to be!