Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's Alive!

That "it" would be me, of course. For a few days, I looked a lot more like an it than a she (though I quickly learned to look in the mirror as seldom as possible). Actually, what I most looked like was an actor in a horror movie that won an Oscar for best makeup. I had no idea that one could get eye bags that puff out a half-inch. Live and learn...

For the record, I fell off a horse named Gomez while trotting without stirrups. I'd done such an exercise many times before, though never on Gomez, whom I was riding for only the 2nd time. Guess I should have spoken French (hey, it worked for Morticia); instead I lost my balance and pitched off to the right, smashing my body onto the hard ground and the side of my face against a metal-pipe fencepost. [Edit: He threw me. Hard. I couldn't have gotten such extensive injuries otherwise.] I remember starting to fall and thinking, Oh s**t! I'm going to hit that metal fence! And then the next thing I knew I was hearing loud helicopter sounds (Wow! Just like in "Apocalypse Now"!) but couldn't see anything because my eyes were bloodied shut. (Regional trivia: in Colorado, it's called "Flight for Life," not "Med-Evac"; and rubbernecking drivers by traffic accidents are called "curiosity stoppers.") Fortunately for me, also taking riding lessons at the same time were a physician and an emergency room nurse, so I was expertly attended to from the minute I hit the ground.

I was in the MTU ("multiple trauma unit" but to me it was Empty you!) at Swedish Medical Center for a week--the longest I'd ever been in a hospital. I have quite an impressive set of injuries, if I do say so myself: concussion (and that was with my wearing a strong, well-padded helmet); broken right humerus, 2 floating ribs, nose, right eyebrow, maxillary sinuses, hard palate; loosened top front tooth that will probably need root canal; rearranged bite that may require braces (Sigh...I'd already done braces in my mid-20s!)

My G.P. commented the other day, "Well, you're going to have quite the social life getting all this taken care of!" Indeed, but it's no comparison to the one I'm giving up for the next 2 months: BookExpo in DC next week (SOB!), biz trip to NY and Book Promotion 101 workshop in LA in June.

Still, things could have been So Much Worse. I'm extremely grateful and happy to be alive, relatively well and unlikely to need any major surgery. Plus, my nose, which always tilted to the right (and which I had indeed broken when I fell in March), now lines up more plumb in the center of my face. Call it a benefit of Impromptu Equestrian Rhinoplasty.

Fun multi-culti hospital event:
On May 5, with each meal tray I received a little red card in the shape of a sombrero that read, "Happy Cinco de Mayo from your Swedish volunteers!" Sure made my blenderized eggs and Jell-o go down easier.

Most important of all:
My most heartfelt thanks for all the messages of concern and healing wishes. They mean the world to me.


Christine Fletcher said...

Bella, you are the very definition of trouper. Your writing about this accident with such humor and grace (especially with all else you've had going on this year!) is downright inspirational.

Thanks for letting us know what's up. And, tempting as it is to crack wise about getting right back on the horse (hee hee!), I'll simply send best wishes for a fast recovery.

Janis Jaquith said...

Oh, Bella, I am so sorry. May you make a miraculously fast recovery.

I just got back from Maui, and found a message about your accident in my email. As it happens, I rode a horse for the second time, ever, while on vacation.

As my horse made his way along a steep, rocky path up the side of the mountain, I kept praying he wouldn't stumble and that we both wouldn't end up tumbling down into the Pacific.

A few days later, Harry and I were hiking in the crater of Haleakala and saw a group of horseback riders -- but there was one riderless horse. When we got back to the parking lot, a helicopter landed, having just rescued a woman who had fallen and hit her head when her horse stumbled on a steep path and fell.

Someone said the woman been out in the wilderness for five hours, vomiting, and seemed to have a broken hip, too, as she awaited rescue. She was transferred to an ambulance.

As we began the drive back down the side of the mountain, traffic was stopped so that another helicopter could land in the road and the woman was transferred from the ambulance to this other helicopter.

I'd never witnessed anything like that before, and it is so strange to arrive home and hear that something so similar happened to someone I love.

Whoever is writing this novel we seem to be inhabiting had better come up with some happy chapters -- the deadline has passed and these pages are way overdue.

Mary Sharratt said...

Huggles, Bella. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

Amber, the horse you rode in Lancashire, sends her regards and hopes that this doesn't make you blacklist all horsies in the future. Gomez, however, needs to learn some manners!

Jana DeLeon said...

Oh, Bella, that sounds absolutely horrid! And I'm so sorry you're missing BEA and your other functions. I learned that lesson the hard way too. My dh and I got motorcycles for our anniversary - longstoryshort - I totally mine (not my fault) and ended up doing Bouchercon in a wheelchair.

Moral of the story - do nothing, NOTHING remotely dangerous if you are about to travel for something fun.

Feel better soon.

Crisi said...

Oh wow. I know this is old news, but I just got linked to your blog by Miss Snark. That sound horrible though. Been riding for most of my life and the worse I've manged is cuts and bruises, plus a lot of hurt pride.

Hopefully by now you are feeling better! And eventualy, get back on the horse. ^_^

Bella Stander said...

Thanks, but as I commented over at Miss Snark, it's going to be quite a while. There's nerve damage in my arm & I can't use my right hand.