Recovering from car accident and riding problems. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-30-2012, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Recovering from car accident and riding problems.

Hi all!

So I need advice, so much actually. And this is also a bit of a rant !

So for years I've been healthy, never had ANY issues with my health.
October of 2010 I was in a terrible car accident. I was rounding a corner going about 40mph, there was a semi truck turned over on the next corner and the car in front of me had stopped in the middle of the road right after the corner! I slammed on the brakes and managed to get stopped and slightly tapped her bumper, only enough to pop her trunk open. We were fine, it woke my daughter up so I turned around to console her (she started crying) as soon as I turned and put my right arm on her a FULL SIZED Ford Pickup came around the corner and hit us going over 40 mph without touching the brakes! He hit us so hard that he shoved the front of my small suv into the BACK SEAT of the car in front of me! I was stunned and had so much adrineline running through my body I couldn't feel any pain and was 100% in shock. After trying to console the children, dealing with the police, and other drivers I collapsed. My right foot was turning purple and I couldn't hold my head up or use my right arm. Apparently I was standing on the brake with my right foot, and twisted around so I took all the impact on it. I also have messed up the nerves in my neck causing chronic numbness and pain in my right shoulder, neck, arm, and face. When I was in the ambulance I kept trying to look at the EMT and talk to him (family friend) and I couldn't hold my head up, kept laughing, whats wrong with me!!!! I was pretty messed up.

So on to therapy... I've been to numerous doctors, the best in the area. Only to get "It'll feel better when it quits hurting." and "So sorry, I've seen too many lives ruined by this type of injury, sucks to be you.", and "There is nothing more to do for you, start riding again, quit your job, and have a nice life." I am devastated. To make matters worse I have been having panic attacks due to my numbness, makes me feel like I'm having a stroke. Work is suffering, I can hardly pick up a pencil, I have constant pain, riding is torture, and I've gained 25 lbs. to top it all off. The insurance company, Allstate, is fighting me every step of the way. My insurance is refusing to help me due to the accident and the fact that I'm having to take anxiety meds, they don't cover that even though I'm also getting pain meds and having other work done. The two chiropractors that I've been to (first one then the other) have thrown the towel in now that I've been getting cortisone injections in my neck, and the shots only work for about a month and I can only get them once every three months!!!!!

Riding. I still have pain in my right foot, so the pro is I've really gotten better not allowing too much weight to rest in my ankle/feet. I have to be SUPER careful dismounting, of course it's my right leg!!! I collapsed the other day when I landed too hard on it. My arm is worthless. I struggle tacking my gelding up, he is only 5 and being such a gentleman with me! Even being the young, green boy he is. When I get done from riding I'm silly with pain and end up just laying on the couch afterwards. My rides have been getting further and further apart, it's really starting to get to me. Especially since Rick needs to keep up his training, he's come such a long way! He's on rest now for a couple months, just doing groundwork with him, but even that hurts. How do you cope with pain while riding?

Have any of you gone through this? What have you done to get over nerve damage/whiplash? Ankle problems? Wreck advice, fighting to get the care and compensation? I'm really struggling and my health is going down, my can do attitude has become a leave me the hell alone attitude. Horses have always lifted my spirits, and now I'm having a hard time just getting out there and suffering through the pain...
I'm always telling people to suck it up, get over it, work through it. So I'm trying to do the same! My hub is shocked to see me this way, he's been a doll. But it's getting old. And I'm too young 31, to be feeling this way. My mom hardly talks to me anymore, I don't talk to her about this, but I think I get on her nerves cause I can get a little grouchy when I'm hurting. It sucks.

This isn't a whine thread. I never talk about this with ANYONE. So I wanted to get it out and hear how you have dealt with similar chronic pain and injuries. Thanks so much for even reading!!!

You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-30-2012, 01:08 PM
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Sorry to hear about your injuries and hope you'll heal quickly. Unfortuantely, I don't have any advice :(
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-30-2012, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Gigem! Appreciate it so much!

You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-30-2012, 04:08 PM
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A reply to a plea for some friendly words of encouragement

Fly - I’d give you a hug - but it is too long for my arms to stretch.

You’ve started your recovery in many ways, not least by letting it all hang out on the Forum. The key thing is to work out in your own mind how you are going to heal yourself. It has already been fourteen months which seems a long time but you did take a pounding after all - two car crashes in one by the sound of it. I’ll tell you my story.

A few years ago I suffered from a bad car accident when a Mercedes slammed into the back of my stationary little Suzuki. I was ‘lucky’ enough to take some of the force of the impact on my sacrum. Less than 12 months later my sacrum took another pounding when I was thrown by my horse off my horse. I wound up with a lump over my spine the size of a football. And I had banged my head.

Eventually I got round to looking up in a medical dictionary all my ailments and I tackled each one with an appropriate positive attitude. The physical injuries all healed but I was left with ’tension’ and sharp horses don’t like to sense tension in their rider. As a result I fell off my horse five more times in short order, which after over 30 years of riding, was undignified to say the least.

Then one day I discovered a clinical psychologist, a medical profession whose stock in trade is listening. A clever lady really, she sat and listened for half an hour or more and I talked and then paid her for listening to me talk. All she did for her money was to explain how the human brain works.

Apparently there’s a silent segment of the brain which quietly looks after itself and indirectly the rest of our body including the conscious segment which we wrongly believe to be in full control of both mind and body. This silent segment happens to be the same bit of brain which keeps us up in the saddle. It is the bit which keeps our bodies working and importantly which controls our reflexes. (That brain business would be a good question for you to ask to be explained by the psycho).

At the time I named my state of tension as Post Traumatic Fall Disorder - whereas you might now have what might be called Post Traumatic ‘Accident’ Disorder, after all, you didn’t fall off your horse.

You might need to learn how to relax again in which case you will be told to humm, to sing, to wiggle your toes and to lay on a hard flat floor and go to sleep. But hopefully they will tell you all about Dr Alexander and eventually Pilates - a brand of physical exercises which work on the centre core of muscles - the lower back, the thighs and the stomach.

The physiotherapist maybe the key to some of your pains. She’ll give you the once over and an exercise routine - which you must follow on a daily basis. Poor posture maybe another cause of transferred pain. But who am I to suggest any treatment, I am not a physio.

Then there is:
How do you stand?
How do you sit in a chair?.
Is the mattress on your bed too soft.?
How do you walk?

As for the horse - well he seems to be a patient chap - but when did you last have a professional look at how you sit in the saddle. Take a video of yourself going round and round in circles at walk, trot and canter (if you can). Then ask yourself if you are sitting up straight. Are you sitting level, front and rear, side to side? Do you need to relearn how to sit properly in the saddle?

Pain! Well there is always aspirin or ibuprophen or ???whatever is your preference???? and hot baths, Plus you can swim in cold water or slump in a Jacuzzis - ie big magical tubs of hot water.

Fly. I am no doctor. I repeat, I am no doctor. All I am doing is telling you what I did personally in a bid to cure myself of my own injuries, aches and pains following an accident Much of what I have written about may not apply to you. But I know where you stand. I have been there myself.
I am by no means free of my own ailments but I have an excuse, I am well over twice your age..

Think about it Girl, you owe it to your family, your horse and yourself

B G.

Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 01-30-2012 at 04:13 PM.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-31-2012, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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Barry, thanks so much!
Tough go on wrecks, never thought they could be so bad. Especially when you don't actually break parts. The nerves, spine, etc are the hardest to heal. Thanks again for all the good advice. I haven't been to a psychologist yet, it's now on my to do list. You know how it is, suck it up and go through the day but I do need to let it out.

You are right about habits and exercise. I've been keeping up with PT and doing yoga. I know it helps, especially to keep me limber and centered for riding. Have yet to be bucked off Rick! I can't believe you fell off 6 times! Way to keep it up. I've been riding almost daily for over 23 years and haven't had a fall in 19. Knock on wood. I'm an artist so I know my posture and arm usage doesn't help, probably why the doctors keep telling me to quit. I have bills to pay so it isn't an option. Plus I love it. I have been taking week long breaks between projects and that helps. I also cut back, only work in 5 hour intervals, and lowered my chair so I'm not hunching over doing detail work. Then going out for an hour or two working with the horses, piddling on the farm... It takes effort not to pull all nighters and grab rush projects.

I got Rick last September, I hadn't been riding since the wreck and knew I needed an outlet and exercise. Having to get out there and work with him has kept me going I think. I didn't want a project horse but when I met him I knew it was going to be the best for both of us! He was heading to the sale barn where 99.9% of the horses go to Mexico. When I tried him out he didn't meet a single thing on my list, but I knew after riding him for a couple hours it was a great workout and he had potential. Too much to pass up. I worked with a trainer for a month, dressage/pleasure, and she helped me turn him around. I remember your nice comments when I first posted about him! She went over my seat and didn't state anything was wrong. Here are a couple clips of me riding him. First one is the day I tried him. Total nightmare but he didn't buck!
And this is two months after I had him. He's only 4 going to be 5 this spring. I've only been working on the basics with him, not pushing him hard. He has a lovely trot, too bad I don't have any vids of that. I think my seat is pretty good, no tension. It has been EXCELLENT for me to have to focus on being relaxed for his sake. I know from experience that as soon as one tenses up everything flies out the window! I've worked too hard with him to flush it. We've come a long way after this video was taken, he's calmed down even more, pretty soft and a beast on the trails! If you see a problem call me out on it!

Barry I really appreciate the time and telling me about your experience. You are dead on. Getting it out on here and hearing from people dealing with similar experiences helps. Thanks again!

You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?

Last edited by FlyGap; 01-31-2012 at 12:34 PM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-31-2012, 01:18 PM
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Fly. You and I know that you could be dead or paralysed so you are a lucky girl to have survived. All you now have to get to grips with is some pain - so find a pain killer which doesn’t lead to bad habits.

Look up Pilates - it is similar to Yoga but more specific to the centre core muscles which you need for riding horses..

The horse looks fine - but I see you ride one handed without a riding hat.. I’d prefer to see you riding two handed with the horse on the bit, and importantly wearing a riding hat - especially as you have suffered shock. You don’t want to bang your head again - do you.

Enjoy your horse and keep on being lucky.
Barry G
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-31-2012, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, terribly lucky. Most importantly my daughter was fine, I would rather be 100 times worse off than have her hurt.

Not having the helmet on is stupid. We all ride with them now. Not going to take any additional chances other than the obvious riding one! As for on the bit, I really can't any longer. I have to look at my right hand to keep the reins from slipping. It is a disaster, and throws everything off. I have gone back and forth western/english forever. I'm a country hack for now, hopefully going to train again in the future!

Ditto on the meds, mild anti-inflamitorys and tylenol only. I couldn't handle the stronger ones. Natural herbs also.

6 lives down, three to go! Hope you have a wonderful day!

You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
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post #8 of 14 Old 02-06-2012, 11:26 PM
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I found that toradol (sp?) shots worked for me when I got whiplash, ripped all the muscles in the left side of my neck and face, and broke my neck in a car accident but went through over a year of psychical therapy before it was suggested it works for about 4 months at least it did for me. Learning Bio-feedback also worked for me to manage the pain, but it doesn't work when I'm stressed. It sounds to me like you have pinched nerves in your neck somewhere causing the numbness in your arms. Don't do what I did and overdo when you get feeling better and mess yourself up more. Be careful of pain meds to easy to form a habit even when you need them.
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post #9 of 14 Old 02-06-2012, 11:51 PM
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I have a student who is recovering from an accident that gave her severe head injuries. As a result, she has memory lapses, and equilibrium problems. Before I took her on, she had another instructor. One time, she had balance problems and fell from her horse. She shattered her pelvis requiring a year away from her five horses.

She has recovered, mostly, from her pelvic injury and wanted to take lessons. Several instructors turned her down. One of my students told her about me and she asked my help to get her back on a horse. I understand that she has to "rebuild" the mental pathways that control her balance and abilities to ride. I took her on.

She has to go very slowly and do tons of movement repetitions to rebuild her "pathways". Sometimes the slow progress is frustrating to her, knowing the dressage she was able to do before the accidents. BUT, slow is what it takes.

Well, she is doing SO well. She is relearning the rising trot and her equilibrium is hugely improved. Today she was relearning the use of leg/hand/seat to perform leg yielding. She is eager to get back to canter and I am holding her back for a bit to ingrain her newly relearned abilities.

She has a talented danish/TB that I am falling in love with. He has become the kindest "babysitter" never taking advantage and allowing her to get back nicely.

Anyway, what I am telling you is to not be in a hurry. Accidents have so many unknown variables, it will be easy to miss something and go too fast. Just like training a horse, you must lay a good foundation (or lay a new and improved one). Once you do that, the rest may go a lot easier.
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Last edited by Allison Finch; 02-06-2012 at 11:53 PM.
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post #10 of 14 Old 02-11-2012, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the experiences!
Cmarie, sounds like it was awful. I was told it's better to break something than to have not and getting over nerve damage is the worst. I bet you had both so I don't believe that for a second. I'm not on pain meds. I refuse. Only mobic which is mild. Seen too many people get hooked on that crud and ruin their lives. I try to take it easy but kept damaging them. I helped my hub put up a display tent in 35mph winds one day and about passed out. No more.

Allison you are wonderful for taking her on and getting her back into what she loves. You know there is no better medicine!
I'm taking it slow, only walking most of the time. I did go and get a project instead of a "babysitter". It's really turned out better than it should have. I resorted back into my old habits of looking for potential and helping a horse instead of getting one that was 99.9%. The good thing is I HAD to get out there and work with him. I HAVE to ride him and get him finished out. It's helped me get back in shape, we went for a long trail ride and that horse was "bombproof" for me and never took a wrong step. I slipped down an embankment, had the reins in my left hand, tried to catch myself with my right and crumbled. Poor Rick took it like a man and didn't freak out. He stood solid and waited for me to crawl back up to him. Cool horse. IF there was a problem I'd be the first one to admit he wasn't working out and find him a new home. Thank heavens I was right about him.

I agree taking it slow is the only way to go. Galloping across the fields bareback isn't in the cards for me anytime soon! I'm thankful for a couple rounds of walking in the yard!
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You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
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