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September Trail Ride

It was a beautiful fall morning and I was hitting the trail with a friend. I've always been pretty lax about wearing my helmet, but this friend was wearing hers, so I decided I would, too. I had no idea the impact that decision would have.

About a quarter mile from the barn, while riding the bridle path, our horses spooked and bolted. My Arabian gelding, Fame, threw me right into a light post. A minute afterward I heard my friend screaming in the distance. I found out later that she'd watched as Fame ran directly into a tree, breaking his neck. I could see my wrist was broken but thought that must be the extent of it. There was no pain at all, but it was obvious.

I'd tucked my phone in my pocket before the ride, and pulled it out, calling the barn owner first to tell him we'd had an accident. Then I called my neighbor to tell him I probably had a broken wrist. And then I realized that something was wrong—crunching—inside my chest, and called 911. About 3 weeks later I woke up in the ICU. 9 broken ribs, flail chest, which is when your rib cage separates from the chest wall, 2 cracked vertebrae, both lungs punctured, ruptured spleen, pancreas, liver and my intestine and aorta had both torn. Oh, and that broken wrist. I'd received 26 units of blood in all.

I was finally sent home 6 weeks after the accident...after which came months of recovery time. They say it's a miracle I lived. Who knows. But had I not been wearing my helmet that day, my head/brain would have likely suffered irreparable damage. I certainly wouldn't have had the presence of mind to call 911. Now I never ride without one! I encourage my friends to wear theirs, as well. Helmets these days are fun, and comfortable! Not like the boring ones of old. So there's no excuse NOT to! Because you never know what's going to happen.

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