On a bitterly cold winter morning five years ago, two days after Christmas I was excited to try out my new presents; a beautiful leather bridle for my horse, Esther. Justin and I headed down to the field where our horses were kept.
I tacked up Esther and fussed over her as I put on her lovely new bridle and led her down to the bottom of the field for some schooling. I was eager to show Justin how I’d managed to perfect her dressage routine during the week. Keen to compete her that year and so while everyone was still eating mince pies I was more focussed at the task in hand.
She felt a bit frisky, we had a large field so I decided to canter her around for a bit. Just as we rounded the corner something at the very top end of the field caught her eye, she put her head down and bolted, bucking as she went.
I knew I had two choices-bail or ride it out. I attempted what is called an emergency stop in horse terms but with a bucking, rearing horse this didn’t quite go to plan, and I ended up crashing to the floor.
I landed on the frozen ground at which point I felt and heard an audible crack.
Thinking it was my back or pelvis, I knew I shouldn’t move and lay on the freezing floor praying it wasn’t as bad as it felt. Justin called an ambulance and I ended up being air lifted in a helicopter to the nearest hospital.
Completely high on morphine what happened next went by in a bit of a blur and is still fuzzy and surreal in my memory. I was surrounded by so many people who kept telling me everything would be fine, but in my head I knew I was really hurt.
I do remember feeling such embarrassment as I went though the MRI scanner as they had cut all my clothes off to get a closer look at me and I was covered in just a flimsy gown with no knickers on. I’ve probably never felt so frightened and vulnerable as I did in that moment. I asked the radiographer what he could see on the radiograph and was met with only a look of sympathy as he told me it would be best to wait and speak to the doctor.
Back in A&E and with Justin holding my hand the doctor came to tell us what I already knew.
‘your back is broken, and at the moment we can’t be sure of the outcome’
My husband is a strong man, a man who doesn’t get overcome by emotion easily but at that point I watched him go visibly pale and his face crumble. Looking at him then, I have never felt so sad. It turns out my bottom two vertebrae were completely smashed to smithereens.
I kept wiggling my feet and touching my legs to check if I could feel them, for two days they were completely numb but gradually the sensation came creeping back in and after 6 days I was able to raise my knees up from the bed.
I lay in that hospital bed flat on my back for 12 days in total-only moving an inch or two when the nurses would come and give me a wash and move me about a bit to prevent bed sores.
12 days is a really long time to be lying in one spot and I did a lot of thinking and soul searching. I was mainly positive but at times I felt morose and couldn’t stop thinking ‘what if?’. Mostly I felt so loved and supported by my beautiful family and it made me realise how fragile, short and precious life really is.
Everyone kept saying how lucky I had been and Justin said when he called friends to tell them what had happened he would say 'she’s been really lucky, it could have been a lot worse' and so it stuck. He calls me ‘lucky’ on a daily basis now and even has lucky tattooed on his arm!
After I came out of hospital I was fitted with a full brace that covered my chest and back, after intense physiotherapy for 8 weeks I was back on my feet and walking again.
These days I do suffer from quite a bit of pain in my lower back and I know it will never heal entirely. I live life as normal even exercising frequently-in fact it helps to prevent me from getting stiff which is a great motivator and looking at me you would never guess what happened.
I’ve titled this post ‘seizing the day’ because this wasn’t intended to be a tale of woe. My intention is to uplift you and remind you to live in the moment because you never know what is around the corner.
Having my accident made me want to do something important with my life, something special. In the weeks and months that followed I began writing and making scrap books. I collected all my thoughts and ideas and carefully documented the children’s lives so that should anything ever happen to me they would know how much I loved them. A couple of years after my fall I became pregnant and subsequently, this blog was born as well as a new baby.
A place for me to write, to document our lives. To be our memory-keeper and story teller.
So before you go about your daily business today ask yourself this;
have you told everyone you care about that you love them lately?
Have you thrown caution to the wind and chased your dreams?
Have you seized the day?
Don’t forget how lucky you are too.
Original image from:Gravel hill