Thursday, June 18, 2009

In Which Something Happened.

I'm sorry, did I say it has been boring around here lately and nothing had happened? My mistake. MY MISTAKE. Don't say stuff like that because if you do things will start happening and by things I don't mean that a Hermes truck will accidentally dump a load of handbags outside your house and not notice. (God, that would be fantastic, though, right?) I mean that things will happen. Events will force you to be an adult and make decisions all by yourself that you hope are the right decisions.

So, here's what happened. Last Wednesday evening Nina and I went out to the country for our riding lesson. Everything was perfect - the weather was hot but overcast and we were eager to ride since our lesson the week before had been rained out. We saddled up and rode out to the field and started with some walk an trot practice to get warmed up. We then did a sitting trot with and without stirrups (ow) and then took turns cantering (whee!) After that we each practiced a dressage test, which is a very specific formation of moves that you would do as part of a three-day competition.

Dressage is really hard, because the idea is to make it look effortless, as if you and the horse are reading each other's minds. Ha. Really, the hardest part in riding again for me was the realization that two brains were at work instead of just one. The horses we ride are well schooled but they also know that we're amateurs and they'll definitely take advantage of the situation if they get tired of our bullshit.

After the dressage practice we took turns jumping over the little cross rails, trotting and cantering towards the jump and trying to line up perfectly so the horse would be straight on and jump through the middle. All rounds successful. Then our instructor, Kathy, raised one of the bars so it was straight across. Now, technically it wasn't really any higher - just even with where the bars had been at the end, but it looked high. It looked scary high. It was probably all of 2 feet off the ground, but the horses like to jump higher than that.

Nina begged me to go first and I did. Ticket loves to jump, so he cantered, he leapt, he didn't want to stop. Whee. Nina jumped and Hersey seemed to be in good form, cantering where he'd normally trot. I jumped again and then it was Nina's turn. She looped Hersey around and headed towards the jump, not quite straight, but there was still time to get straight before he jumped. That's when things went wrong.

At the last minute Hersey swerved out to the right of the jump and unseated Nina, then he stopped cold and she fell right off his right shoulder and hit the ground hard. She sat up briefly, said that her head hurt, and then lay back down on the ground, right between Hersey's legs. CRAP. I trotted over as quickly as I could without disturbing Hersey and dismounted. Kathy rushed over and we tried to quietly move him before he stepped on her. Nina sat up again and looked disoriented, but unhurt.

She finally stood up and walked to the edge of the field, seeming fine but definitely shaken up. She'd had a horse-riding-related concussion in high school and I knew she dreaded it happening again. Kathy took her back to the barn and I followed with the horses, concerned but not too worried at that point. It was scary to watch, but she wasn't bleeding and hadn't lost consciousness.

While I was in the barn dealing with the horses Kathy took Nina to a shady seat under the tree and got her a bottle of water. I walked over to check on her and she looked completely freaked out and confused.

"Can you tell me what happened? I don't even remember how I got here."

Oh shit. She started to cry and Kathy and I calmed her down. I got her husband Scott's phone number from her and walked away to call him, trying trying trying to stay calm. He agreed to meet me at her car (parked near work) and I managed to get Nina calm and get her in my car. By then I knew she had a concussion because she started asking me the same questions over and over again (a symptom called Perseverating, I found out later), like she was on a 3-minute memory loop. It would start with a few moments of silence and then,

"I'm afraid to say anything for fear that I'm repeating myself."

"It's okay, Nina."

"Can you tell me what happened?

"You had a fall off Hersey while jumping, but you're okay."

"And we're going to the hospital?"

"I'm taking you to Scott, he'll take you to the hospital."

Over and over and over again. occasionally she'd ask me what time it was or how long ago it had happened. She was pretty calm and seemed to feel okay, other than a headache and slight nausea. Still, I started to worry that I'd made the wrong decision. An ambulance probably would've taken too long to get out to the farm but maybe I should just take her straight to the hospital? In the end, that's what I did. I remembered where the nearest hospital was and took her to the emergency room, then called Scott to have him meet us there.

Sitting in the waiting room ramped things up considerably.

"I'm afraid to say anything for fear that I'm repeating myself."

"It's okay, Nina."

"Can you tell me what happened?

"You had a fall off Hersey while jumping, but you're okay."

"Have I been repeating myself?"

"A little bit, but that's totally normal."

"What time is it? When did this happen?"

"It's 7:30. It happened about 45 minutes ago."

"OH MY GOD. I don't remember anything!"

Then she'd lose it and cry because to her, this was freshly traumatic and new information. I'd try and calm her down and then a minute later the whole thing would happen again. Scott showed up and we tag-teamed her, jointly calming and answering, calming and answering. Scott started asking her about events that had happened earlier in the day or week and Nina had no memory of any of it, which upset her A LOT as you can imagine. we stopped doing that.

The doctor talked to her and she was taken for a CAT Scan and X-ray. She doesn't remember any of it, but I do. She was a complete trooper, because can you imagine finding yourself in a hospital and having no memory of what happened or how you got there? Now imagine that happening every three minutes. Terrifying.

I was fine, totally zen-like calm through the whole thing in the way you are when someone else is going through something traumatic. You just have to be. But once I got home I fell apart. I was so worried, so stressed, so freaked out and I hadn't been able to acknowledge any of those feelings until she was safe and in good hands. I didn't sleep very well that night, but the next day I went to the hospital and she looked so much better.

The CAT scan had come back clear which was a relief, but they kept her in the hospital for two more days, just to keep an eye on her. Apparently head injuries are cumulative, and because she'd had a bad concussion in high school, this one was worse. Unfortunately one more would be unthinkable, so she's not really allowed to ride anymore. It's heartbreaking, but not as heartbreaking as brain damage. Still, totally sucks.

Nina later said that it must have been way scarier for me and Scott, but honestly, she was really scared, she just doesn't remember it! She also doesn't remember promising to give me her Chanel bag, but I'm working on that one. Har.


  1. Oh dear. Happy to hear it seems to have worked out okay. Except you're down a riding partner and that's too bad.

  2. OMG so scary! Glad she's ok but it must be terrible for her not to ever be able to ride again.

    I'm just going to accept the fact that I do not "get" horses, though they are gorgeous animals. I hope our friendship can survive this.

  3. Wow--that sounds really scary. I hope she feels better.

  4. Now she keeps repeating that she wants to go shopping.

  5. Yikes, poor NIna! That's frightening and really awful that she's not allowed to ride anymore. But, I'm glad it wasn't any more serious.

  6. Eek! That was scary. Glad she's okay.