Sunday, May 01, 2011
A New May Day
At a Denver riding club on May 1, 2006, Gomez the Thoroughbred threw me into a steel-pipe fence. My first-ever helicopter ride brought me to Swedish Hospital, where I spent a week in the multi-trauma unit. My body and psyche were as shattered as my glasses (see May 1, 2009, post with pic here).
Five years later, I'm finally healed. I think. I hope.
There's a difference between "healed" and "all better." After 3 surgeries on my right arm, I still have to carefully position it when I lie in bed. Three fingers on my dominant right hand remain partly to mostly numb. My right upper lip is numb; so is my right upper eyelid and my right forehead from just above the inner brow to the hairline. That eyebrow also is higher than the left, and doesn't go down when I frown. After rhinoplasty and 3 root canals, my nose and front teeth still hurt.
But the progress outweighs the remaining pain. For the first time in 5 years, the other day I was able to clasp my hands behind my back--and even raise them several inches. Last month my dentist applied a resin veneer to cover the gray on my dead right front tooth. So now I don't have to remind myself to keep my lips closed when I smile.
Even better, I no longer panic when I hear sirens or helicopters, or the news on radio/TV, or squealing tires on ads, or a football scrimmage (I still can't watch, but I never liked football anyway). Nor do I burst into tears when I see photographs of carnage or destruction in the newspaper, though I still have to cover some of them.
My short-term memory has returned. I couldn't remember a string of digits long enough to write down a phone number. I had to listen to a voice mail 3 or 4 times--first for the area code, then the exchange, then the next 2 digits, then the last 2. People thought I was kidding when I pleaded brain damage. I wasn't; 3 years after my accident a CT-scan finding was "traumatic brain injury."
"Time is a great healer," goes the old saying. True, but I wouldn't have gotten this far without the help of my gifted therapist in Denver, Mel Grusing, who practices Somatic Experiencing.
A new therapist just provided the last piece in my healing process. His name is Superstar, and he's a shaggy, battered little rescue horse at Blue Ribbon Farm in Tivoli, NY. After Gomez nearly killed me, I swore I'd never get on another Thoroughbred again. (Funny how my new digs back onto a racing horse farm, pictured at top.) But Superstar, who's the proverbial bombproof horse, made me eat my words. I've ridden him twice and can't wait to get back in the saddle.