Not actually a cripple, thank god! But I did fracture my pelvis in two places.. so that’s about as crippled as I’ve ever been (and hopefully ever will be) since I’ve never broken anything before.
It happened last Sunday. Saturday night we had a few people over and a few drinks at my friend (and photographer!) Stephanie’s house. Saturday night was a success, and I was first up on Sunday, feeling like a champion. I cleaned up the wreckage from the night before (the least I could do since it was at my request that we’d she had had a party) and made myself some yummy scrambled eggs. Today, I thought, I shall be productive! But no one else really shared my enthusiasm… Michelle, vomiting up last nights bad decisions, and Stephanie, busy working on her beauty sleep. Finally my boredom got the better of me and I forced Stephanie to start her day (be it a bit late) but I gave her scrambled eggs, because its much harder to be angry with someone for waking you up when they wake you up with breakfast.
The reason for my impatience was a 1200lb Thoroughbred mare named Soda. Stephanie has had Soda for years, she got her as a yearling, and so I have known her almost her entire life. I have ridden Soda many times, and I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for her, even though she’s always been a bit temperamental. I seem to be drawn towards mares with attitude to spare, I like a little sass in a horse or where’s the fun? Sass in general has always been an attribute in my books. Stephanie and I had barely been riding since she’d gotten home for the summer, so I was raring to go and rushed her out the door.
Horses caught and tacked up I was excited, Soda’s ground manner was perfectly sweet, but as soon as I got on I knew I was in for a bit of a fight. No problem, I thought, ever confident having ridden this horse for years. Stephanie already warned me that Soda had been acting particularly ornery in the days of late but I have ridden many grumpy horses in my day, and there’s really nothing else to do but try to get on with it. I was on for maybe half an hour, working our way slowly up the lawn, riding out the occasional buck and trying to convince Soda that forward motion was actually a good thing! She didn’t really want to go anywhere was the problem, and she was taking issue with me forcing her to go.
I knew she was on edge so I was focusing my full attention on her and on myself. If you’re a rider you know the amount of awareness, focus and balance it takes to sit a horse, especially a bucking horse. In the moments before my accident I was physically aware of not only my body and movements, but also of every movement of the horse, as is essential to being a good rider. She had tried to buck me off quite a few times at this point, with no success. I thought that if I could ride it out, she would eventually settle down and we could get a bit of a ride in. I could tell she was getting tired, so I thought I was getting close. She started bucking me again, and I just tried to keep her head down and keep my balance. As she was bucking me I felt her rear up, she held herself up for a bit too long and then lost her balance. I felt immediately when the balance shifted from her rearing in her control, to losing control falling over backwards. There was a moment where I felt the balance shift, and in that moment I knew I was in serious danger. As soon as I felt that shift I knew I had to do everything I could to get myself out from under her. One of my greatest fears in life is being paralyzed, I fear that more than death. I kicked out of my stirrups and with both hands on her withers pushed myself off and away from her as far as I could. I hit the ground just before Soda landed on me.
All I could think of, over and over “please, let my back be okay.” from the moment I felt her tip over it was all I could think of. Lying on the ground trying to keep a hold of myself, the first thing I did was try to move my feet. The pain was radiating through my body, but I could FEEL everything, I could feel my legs, they hurt like a motherfucker, but I could FEEL them! Never have I been so thankful for pain as I was in that moment. I just kept wiggling my feet saying over and over, “I’m okay, I can feel my legs, I’m okay.”
I think I went into shock almost immediately. As soon I hit the ground Stephanie was calling to me asking if I was okay, she got off her horse and ran to me. Once I had established in my mind that I was not paralyzed, the reality of how much pain I was actually in began to hit me. I felt like my legs were falling open and my body was splitting apart and I couldn’t control them. I couldn’t sit up but lying flat was absolute agony, I had my legs bent up but I didn’t have the strength to keep them together. I held them together with my hands trying to stabilize them but the effort was too much. Stephanie was beside me, she told me Steve (her boyfriend) had seen it all and was coming, I had heard the truck start and could hear it coming down the driveway. Steve and Michelle got there and he took control. Steve is a military man and thank god for that, because he knows how to keep his head on in a trauma situation. They told me to lie still not to move and explained about how if something was wrecked I would make it worse by moving. Easy for them to say lie still, but for me it was about the exact opposite of what I wanted. I was writhing around in agony and begging them to just help me up, begging them to help me. They were going by the books, Stephanie was calling everyone she could think of, Steve was trying to get me to be still and calm down, Michelle was explaining to them that I was not going to listen and since I was thrashing around I obviously wasn’t paralyzed and that they had best just do what I said. (Imagine that, my best friend knows me best.) I rolled onto my side into the fetal position, the only position so far that wasn’t complete agony. Steve was not impressed, having given me clear instructions to stay in the position I had fallen in. FUCK THAT!
See I knew I wasn’t paralyzed, and we live on a farm 40 minutes away from the nearest hospital. Stephanie wanted to call an ambulance, she wanted to call the local volunteer fire department and the first responders. These are all the right things to do. But I wanted to get the fuck off the wet grass and get my ass to a hospital STAT. The problem with living in the country is that you are so far away from help that sometimes you need to improvise. I explained that it would be faster and I would get the help I needed sooner if they just drove me to the hospital, rather than wait 40 minutes for the paramedics to get here, and then drive another 40 into town. Having been trained as a lifeguard, I knew that the volunteers out here knew about as much for treating me as I did and that I needed to see a doctor, not a farmer with a big heart and a first aid course. I also knew that they would strap me to a spine board first chance they got and those things are SO uncomfortable!! Lying on my back was about the most agonizing position at that moment, so lying on my back strapped down to a hard wooden board was really not high on my list of things to do. Michelle called her grandpa (who is a volunteer) and he said to take me right away. Stephanie really wanted to call in the pro’s but she had had no luck getting a hold of anyone, and between my begging and Michelle’s grandpa giving the thumbs up they relented and agreed to take me in the truck.
They brought the truck over, and used a blanket to lift me in. I am eternally grateful to Steve, Stephanie and Michelle because they really did an amazing job helping me in what I’m sure was a terrifying situation for all of them. Imagine trying to go by the books only to have an irate cripple screaming at you to disregard the rule books, throw me in the back of the truck and GTFO!! They did a good job getting me in, they didn’t bump me and didn’t cause me any extra pain. Steve talked us through it, keeping all 3 girls calm, quite the task since I think we were all on the precipice of panic. Stephanie called my mom, who sat in the back of the truck and supported my back, while I lie on my side trying to hold myself in the least painful position. Shock and adrenaline are wonderful things because I felt quite calm. I forced myself to stay with it, mostly because I’m a total control freak and its very hard to control a situation if you’re passed out. Also because I knew everyone would be much more afraid if I passed out, and I didn’t want to scare them. I was okay after all! Not paralyzed, and therefore, okay. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew something was wrong- I thought maybe I had internal injuries, but I didn’t think I had broken anything. (The lies we let ourselves believe are the sweetest.) I just knew whatever it was I could manage it. Steve drove (I informed him I would not be opposed to speeding) and my mom held me. Stephanie and Michelle stayed home to look after the horses, and because my mom told them to and she’s not a woman to be ignored.
When they got me to the hospital the EMTs put me on a spine board to get me out of the back of the truck, then it was into the ER for an assessment from the doctor, and after what felt like forever (but was more like an hour after the accident) they gave me morphine. The way people talk about morphine, I have to be honest, I expected more. But it definitely took the edge off and brought my pain to a level that was manageable. They took me for x-rays and that was the hardest. Up until that point I had always had someone right there with me; Steve, Steph, Michelle and my mom, but for x-rays I went alone. My strength has always been for other people first and myself second. When I had my accident I felt like I had to keep it together to not scare Stephanie (who was very upset) then in the car I kept it together for my mom, who I knew was terrified, but once I was alone I felt like I could be afraid and let go because I WAS scared. Even though I knew what ever it was could be fixed, it still hurt like hell and I didn’t know what was wrong. To get the x-rays they had to position me in very uncomfortable ways, the shock and adrenaline were wearing off, and the morphine I felt, was NOT sufficient. I couldn’t let myself fully cry because that hurt like hell too, but I let a few tears out. The longer the x-rays took the more worried I got, when she kept taking pictures at different angles of my pelvis I started to know. The morphine dulled the pain, so while before I had hurt basically everywhere, now I could feel that the right side of my pelvis was where the pain was focused. She finished the x-rays after what felt like an eternity and took my back to the ER, where the doctor informed me that I had 2 fractures in my pelvis. One on the Ilium pubic bone, and the other one the Ischium, both on the right side. Then she gave the order for another shot of morphine and I could have kissed her. There was some debate about whether I might need to be sent to Red Deer (I was in Drumheller) to see a specialist and have surgery but thankfully because there was only one fracture on the main part of the pelvis (Ilium) and the other was on a secondary part (Ischium) it was deemed stable enough to not need surgery.
They admitted me and I was in bed for a day and a half. I got 3 Advil and 2 Percocet every 4 hours, and then a couple extra morphine pills in the night when I woke up with pain. The days in the hospital (and even now) passed in a drug induced haze. I was admitted Sunday night (and I was a little ticked because I had to miss the Mother Mother show) and was released Wednesday morning. I spent most of my time sleeping, and otherwise my friends and family were all very supportive coming to visit and making sure I was well set up with books, magazines, movies and candy.
The first few days were hard, I was bedridden, and then once I was able to start walking with a walker I was nauseous and throwing up whenever I tried to eat anything. There aren’t a lot of comfortable positions when you have 2 fractures in your pelvis, but I was shocked by how mobile I was able to be. My physiotherapist and the doctor explained that I can do “feather weight bearing” and said that basically I was just supposed to move as much as I could within the limitations of my pain. They told me that most of the weight is distributed through the femur and I am actually even able to stand without holding anything.. I just can’t move.
I’m pretty disappointed though, a broken pelvis is really going to put a kink in my summer plans. Rafting and partying and swimming are suddenly off the table. I won’t be able to drive for god only knows how long. My birthday (July 22nd) is exactly a week away from the day I had my accident, so its not going to be much of a champagne birthday after all. Next weekend is the Rockyford Rodeo which is pretty much my favourite time of the year and now I’m quite a bit less able bodied than I had planned to be. My mom is a worrier, and I think she’ll be the biggest obstacle, but I am DETERMINED not to let a little fractured pelvis get in the way of ALL my summer fun. I shall get a wheelchair and I shall go to the rodeo! As for my birthday, it won’t be the pool party I planned, but I think I can convince my mom to let me have people over here to celebrate with me.
While this is going to wreck some of my short term summer plans, I really feel positive about the whole thing. I just feel so thankful that nothing worse came of this, I could be paralyzed, or I could be dead. Bed-rest and crutches, its do-able! I don’t even have to have a cast on! Physio says swimming for therapy is a go which is AMAZING for me because I love swimming and its going to be about the only cardio I’ll be able to do for ages. As soon as I have a bit more energy I’ll be in the pool! And rafting… that’s kind of like bed rest if you use an air mattress, I’ll just need to go with people who can help me in and out!
The most important thing is just to stay positive. Really its only partying that I won’t be able to do, which sucks for show when my birthday is coming up, but in the grand scheme of things its nothing! I’ll find ways around everything else, I’m more mobile than I imagined I would be, I have amazing friends and family who really came through in the clutch for me. I can rest and spend time with my awesome grandparents, with my animals and the second I feel healthy enough, I’ll be back in the saddle.
People have asked me if I`m angry at the horse, but to me that’s ridiculous. She didn’t mean to hurt me, she just wanted me off her. I have always known that following my passion for riding could result in a serious injury. There is risk to everything in life, but if the reward is greater then to me, you must always risk it. Life is not worth living if you live it afraid. I am not afraid, I am not angry, I accept this and I am thankful for all I have, because I know how much I could have lost.
To all my family, to all my friends, thank you for you’re love and support. Remember that life is worth nothing if you risk nothing, because then you never reap the rewards. I won’t feel fully healed until I can be back on my horse galloping across my land with the wind in my hair because for me, there is nothing in life better than the freedom I feel on the back of my horse, and there is nothing in life that will stop me from going after that.
love always, aiyana.