My daughter, Jordyn Nethken 13 years old at the time of her accident, was ranked number two in the state of La. in her association of LHSRA Wrangler division and had her sights on becoming La state champion. My daughter has been riding horses since she was 8 years of age and like most parents, I knew of the dangers associated with riding horses but always told myself "Its never going to happen to my daughter".
May 05, 2006 is a date that is burned in my memory. We were in Texas preparing for a large barrel race at a local arena, we had arrived a day early so we could settle in and the girls wanted to ride their horses before dinner. Jordyn's horse was particularly hard to handle and I had called her to the gate of the practice arena to talk to her and to try to calm both the horse and Jordyn down. When I witnessed that the draw gag had broke free of one side of the horse's mouth and was slipping off the horse's head. Jordyn saw that the gag had broken at about the same time I did and she knew that she all of a sudden had no control. I slowly walked over to the horse and reached for the bit, as I did, the horse sensing Jordyn becoming more and more fearful dropped its head and the entire rig fell into my hands, Jordyn of course having been taught not to panic panicked and the horse ran over the top of me and the chase was on.
Jordyn holding onto the saddle horn screaming at the top of her lungs and the fastest horse I have ever owned running for everything she had. The two of them were heading for a set of barns between the practice arena and the main arena and, I ran around the backside of these buildings to cut them off. As I got to where I knew they were going to come out I saw the horse run by rider less. I then noticed that a black top road ran behind these barns and as I turned the corner of the barn I saw my daughter laying unconscious face down on the black top road.
Having being involved in Law Enforcement for 13 years now, I knew not move my daughter and knew a good friend of mine, who was standing behind me, had already dialed 911. Jordyn awoke and I could see blood on the right side of skull in the hairline. I then began asking her what day is this, what was her name, all the things I had been trained to do to recognize a head injury, and Jordyn then became combative with me which was outside of her nature. I knew something was seriously wrong but kept it to myself hoping for the best. An ambulance ride that took us to a local hospital confirmed my fears after the CAT scan showed that she had received a lateral fracture to the right side of her skull and had an internal cranium bleed. The small hospital was not equipped to handle such a trauma case and forwarded Jordyn and us to Shreveport LSUMC.
About a 40 mi trip by ambulance they wanted to use a helicopter but the weather was too bad to get one in the air. Jordyn was taken immediately to the Emergency Room and we were told sometime later that she had been stabilized but her condition was critical and that they were transporting her to Pediatric ICU (not a place I ever want to go again). Once she had been transferred to P.I.C.U. a team of Neuro Surgeons kept constant vigil over her with at least one monitoring her at all times. I recall counting her IV bags for some reason while praying everything would be ok and remember counting 25 bags, all draining into my daughter at one time in every location that they could find a vein.
Her surgeon whom I still feel today was sent to this child by god himself found that her I.C.P.s had risen to high, because her brain was still swelling, and decided that she would need immediate surgery. She was whisked out of the room by the team of Neuro surgeons and after what seemed like an eternity, The surgeon came and spoke with me and my wife and told us that the next 24 hours she would be in Gods hands, The surgeons had removed a large portion of her right skull bone to allow her brain to swell without being under the high pressures caused by being enclosed within her skull cavity. Jordyn was brought back from surgery and wheeled past her mother and I whom were standing in the hallway outside of PICU. I had been strong up until I had to see my daughter wheeled past me with half of her shoulder length hair missing and what appeared to be a 27 inch zipper (I counted 63 staples) in her head.
24 hours passed and the surgeon gave use our first good news, he was "cautiously optimistic" not words that one generally associates with hope, but at this time in our lives I would take anything I could get. Jordyn awoke three days later in ICU and would slip in and out of consciousness for the next 13 hours, each time she awoke I had to explain to her again what had happened and where she was. And each time the first question she would ask was could she ride tomorrow, thinking she was still in Texas preparing for the next days barrel race. It was amazing watching her recover, at first she could not get a spoon to her mouth then an hour later she was writing her name. Jordyn had always been a straight A student and for some reason I kept testing her deductive reasoning skills, Algebra, Reading, etc. and like she was before Jordyn was sharp as a tack. The nurses in the ICU were astonished with the speed of her recovery along with her surgeon. On the seventh day in PICU Jordyn was up and walking down the hallways in the ICU. On the eighth day in ICU the surgeon released her to go home after she was fitted with a custom made (hockey) helmet which she had to wear at all times until the replacement of her skull bone could be conducted.
Jordyn unable to compete in LHSRA Wrangler finals wanted to sit in the stands and cheer her friends on as she watched her standing slip away; she still finished third for the year and received her first buckle ever.
June 19, 2006 we went back to LSUMC Shreveport, La. to have her bone replaced back into its proper place. Jordyn was so happy her birthday being June 18, 2006 she said all she wanted for her birthday was her bone back.
Jordyn has recovered almost completely, enduring three major surgeries from complications with her bone graphing and is now a carbon composite girl with her bone having finally being replaced with carbon composite piece to replace the bone.
I am writing this story for two reasons, #1. there is not a day that passes that I don't question my decisions I made on May 05, 2006 and now knowing that if I would have required my daughter to wear her Troxel helmet, which she already owned for riding events in 4 H, she would not have had to suffer as much as she did. It was by God's grace that I did not lose Jordyn, on that day in May, but I can assure you that she, her little sister and all of her close friends that she was associated with during her recovery wear a Troxel helmet. #2, if I can change the mind of one parent after reading what I had endured with my daughter about the usage of a helmet while riding, maybe I can stop another child from having to suffer as my daughter did.