diagnosis was a mild concussion and I was released from the emergency room after
about 7 hours observation. My
instructions were to rest and not ride for 24 hours but after that I was good to
left to give two lectures 48 hours later and cannot say that I felt 100% but
after all the doctors said I could return to normal activity. It was interesting on the airplane that every time I closed
my eyes I was sure the plane was flying upside down.
I got home and began riding my well-trained horses were just awful.
They had been properly lunged while I was gone and nothing else was
unusual but they rode like somebody elseís horses.
The only possible conclusion was that I was impaired.
As time went on I would take a test ride and the horses got better.
side effect was what seemed to be a hidden impairment of cognitive skills.
Even though to the observer I appeared perfectly normal my usual routine
would seem overwhelming. The
difficulty in completing my normal tasks would make me frantic.
This state of affairs went on for several months without my making the
connection to the cause.
short-term memory effect became comical. On
one trip to Dallas I called my husband, Bob, three times to tell him I had
arrived safely. Short-term memory
was non-existent for quite a while to the point that it was silly.
wasnít until I met someone else who had had a head injury that was telling a
group about theirs that I began recognizing the symptoms.
He had experienced the same things that are so hard to notice at the time
because one feels as if one is fine but simply unable to cope.
Once the cause was identified it was easy to just allow a bit more time
to do things.
also took the films from the hospital to a neurologist who was better able to
explain what I was going to be looking at in the way of complete recovery time.
The Doctor in the emergency room said probably 6 months.
The neurologist said it would be more like a year.
continued to check out my horses there finally came a day when they began to go
like they had before the accident. At
this point I felt that I must have been getting my coordination back.
I had not been riding them regularly; only checking periodically to see
what was working so there is no way to say they had been schooled.
they seemed to be their usual light, responsive selves. At that point I felt that I had the physical part back
together. That happened at about
seven months past the accident.
took at least that long for the cognitive skills to seem normal although there
are still lingering side effects that are increasingly under control.
what is the point? Had my friend
Rusty Lowe of the American Medical Equestrian Association not sent me a document
from a Head Injury Conference in Europe I probably would never have questioned
what was told to me nor have been willing to believe that this bump on the head
was more than a 24-hour inconvenience.
it seems, many physicians who deal frequently with head injuries are saying that
one should not return to whatever sport it is that you do till all of the
symptoms are gone. The difficulty
is identifying the symptoms. In my
case I would not have recognized the symptoms had I not run into someone else
who had had a head injury. As far
as the physical symptoms, had my horses been simple trail horses I am not sure
that I would have recognized the impairment either.
part, of course, is the fact that if the horse is not working correctly, one
looks to the rider. Horses usually
do not fall apart in the space of a few days.
I was completely aware that I could not comprehend what was needed and
was mechanically thinking my way through everything I needed to do with each
horse. One cannot do that fast
enough to do it smoothly. Everything
seemed awkward and unbalanced.
difficult to get someone with a head injury to do what he or she needs to do.
Proving that you are tough seems to be really important.
We Americans never want to be woosies.
Even if the person seems willing to cooperate at first it is still
difficult to convince them of the importance of the long-term affects.
It is foolish to ride with impaired physical skill since one must assume
impaired balance. It is also hard
on the horses. It is foolish to
push the cognitive when the mind and body refuse to comply willingly.
someone, however, can be really, really hard.
From the inside one does not feel the problem. The horses can tell you if you let them.
However, it is so easy to assume that the horse is making a mistake and
correct what may have been a result of the riderís slowed responses.
me this has been an interesting experience but I am not sure that it has left me
with much in the way of advice for others except this one thing:
a head injury, the victim may truly not be aware of the extent of the physical
or cognitive impairment. Yet it is
usually the victim who is making the judgment as to when to return to work or
sport. Now isnít that a scary
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