One Way or Another!
In the late part of summer of 2005, l was attending a BBQ at my ex-wife’s stables. She had her horses stabled there with perhaps forty others. It was a Sunday lunch time thing, a get together of likeminded souls combined with a bit of showy horsemanship in the sand arena, nothing too special and nothing too fancy.
For the record, whilst l love horses, l prefer to admire them from the ground which l believe to be safer, having experienced quite a few accidents in the saddle prior to that and indeed after that as well. I could lie and say that l am a skilled horseman, but that would be a downright lie! I can get in the saddle, as to whether l stay in the saddle is something else entirely different, on more than one occasion, l have got onto the back of a horse, only to fall back off again. Horses prefer me to be on the ground as well, l think they see me as a walking klutz, equally as much as l know l am!
However this particular day, my wife who was all for showing off and truth be known whilst she was a better rider than l was, she was only marginally better. But at least she could stay in the saddle … which was more than l could do.
Her own horse that she preferred to ride was a huge beast named Jenko, and he was a gentle soul, but he was still big. I usually rode Tallywag who was built like a solid table, she was almost flat on top and that is how l preferred to ride. However, l had vowed that l would not be doing any riding due to an incident which Tallywag and l had gotten into in the early part of the summer and so l was recovering.
The sand arena had been designed in such a way that there were several jumps at various heights, and then there were a series ‘no jumps’, l am sure there are fancy names for them, and maybe someone will correct me, where upon several cross poles were simply laid upon the sand and the horses instead of jumping were to literally step over them.
By all accounts it was an easy course to someone with the right mind set, however that wasn’t me. I was still carrying fading yellowing bruises with this unplanned bush trail that Tallywag and l had taken only weeks before. But the thing with ‘horsey people’ is that they expect all people to be horsey. I was, but on ground level, but they insisted that l tackled this course in one way or another for a ….. Laugh!
After 30 minutes of constant badgering, l sat up, stood up, and shouted “Fine – but l will take the ‘one way or another option’ and do it my way, because this course is simply way too bloody dangerous!” Everyone just rolled around at that explosive outburst for me, so l was somewhat angry when l walked towards the arena.
Outside the gate there was a BMX Bandit trail bike, and l stooped down and picked it up, and proudly walked into the arena, walking my trustee steed beside me. I’ll show the bastards l thought to myself!
I hopped onto the bike and in a rapid movement of some pretty fancy pedalling took off fast to my right to the first jump which was only a few inches off the ground and in a move that surprised even me, l jumped the bike over it in one movement, took the corner and sped to the second jump which was around 15” high, got off the bike, put it on my shoulder and jumped over the jump. Got back into the saddle and sped to the third jump which was around 3 foot, and got off and cradling the bike, under hopped the bar, straight back on and sped once more to the 4th jump which was around 4 feet high and once again under hopped.
I was buzzing it is safe to say, l was high on adrenaline, back on the bike l sped to the closing sequence which involved these 6 cross poles lying on the ground and l thought no problem, l will slow my speed and just go over them slowly and that’s me done The Mighty Bandit!
Except it didn’t quite go like that, l got across the first three, but the wheel got stuck on the next pole along, and l stopped. Now when you are sitting on one of these bikes, you are literally only l guess maybe 18” off the ground, so not high and not particularly dangerous … you’d think yes?
I and the bike fell to my left side and landed on one of the poles with a loud bang, followed by an immense agonising pain in my ribs. It also winded me pretty badly. In truth lying there fighting for my breath with all the woots, and laughter going on from the audience, l thought maybe l had cracked a rib. I tried getting up, and found l couldn’t move, in fact it was only when the sarcasm quietened off, that someone said they thought l looked like l had hurt myself as l was going blue! About 6 of the stable hands rushed over and helped me to my feet, and when my colour had subsided and l was sitting down again, with a cold drink in my hand did my breath return to me.
But l was in pain, and although l suspected a fractured rib, l couldn’t be 100% positive so declined a trip to the A&E in Peterborough. It was suggested that l had winded myself, and l had to concede to perhaps that was it. So once the pain had stepped down from a scale of 10 to about a 2, l just accepted that l would probably have a large bruise the next day.
After the BBQ was done, the stables were cleaned out and the horses returned there for the night. But during that mucking out period, every time my body moved on the turn, l ached. That night once home my wife berated me non-stop for several hours as to how l had made an absolute fool of her and why couldn’t l just be normal for once? I cared not for her gripes and retired to bed early with rib pain.
The next day, Monday that l woke, l did indeed have a bruise and quite sizable really, it was an unusual colour in consideration to other bruises l had suffered before, there seemed to be more red to the bruising itself. However l thought nothing of it, and went off to work with the animals.
Working with the animals back then, was an extremely physically demanding job concentrating on 100% lifting and turning all day. Stooping down, bending down, walking on all fours at times, and climbing up stuff, hoisting 50Kg bags onto my shoulders and so on. I arrived at work most mornings in the summer around 6am and left anywhere between 10 -12 hours later.
This particular day however, l found l was really sluggish, and in fact called for a lift home early from my Father-in-law, at around 4pm. Which was unusual for me, but l was in some serious discomfort on my left side.
Once home and l had fed the dogs and cats, my usual activity was to make myself a snack and a coffee and slouch it for an hour or so before l was to start work on the administrations for the day. My usual habit whilst watching TV was to place my coffee on the floor to the left of my chair, my sandwich on the plate on the left hand armrest and then sitting with my knees tucked up under me. Which l did.
However, once l sat there, and l reached for my coffee by leaning down to my left side, suddenly there was a crack and quite a loud one and l toppled over onto the most awkward position ever, with my head cracking on the wooden flooring, but my legs still stuck underneath my main body weight! It was like l was paralysed, l could not move, and l was screaming in pain. The dogs and cats did their usual and all came running over to see what the fuss was, and still l couldn’t move. I could feel myself as if l was lying on the pole in the arena from the previous day, l was fighting for my breath.
When l saw the blood on the floor, that had dribbled out of my mouth, l thought shit, maybe l have punctured a lung with a snapped rib or something, not realising then, that with the force my head had crashed on the floor, l had simply bitten my tongue!
I was in a relatively serious predicament, l couldn’t move, l was frozen in two and in a lot of pain! I was losing breath, and l thought l was going to black out, so had to do something. I looked around for my mobile phone and realised it was still in the kitchen. The landline was about a foot above me next to the TV, which would be my only choice – somehow l had to reach that thing and call for an ambulance!
I assure you as much as l wiggled and squirmed as a half man that just moving a lousy foot forwards was an effort, and in the end, the only thing l could do was lunge for the damn thing, which thankfully l was successful with! Once again something toppled on my head causing me bite my tongue again!!
I managed to get through to 999, and then gasped my preference and immediate requirements … an ambulance crew were on their way. Next l called my Father – in – law and gasped the situation to him, and he told me to stop prancing around, and grow up and hung the phone up on me!
However, he obviously took note, and decided to drive the five miles over to where we lived, and he arrived minutes before the ambulance. When he arrived he took one look at me and laughed out loud! This actually was my life, my so called family as in my wife’s side, were always laughing at me, irrelevant to any damage, or blood loss, it was always funny to them! However he realised that ‘half man’ was actually frozen in that position; somehow l had become locked in that dreadful position. I give him credit, he did his best to try and put me into the recovery position, but it wasn’t easy with my legs the way they were!
Thankfully the ambulance arrived a few minutes later and upon seeing me, they also laughed. I was thinking what is it with everyone today, why is this so damn funny? They however plied me with some kind of relaxant and my legs were able to be lowered to their normal position and l was placed onto a stretcher, loaded up and sped away into Peterborough to the A&E.
Upon my arrival, when the crew relayed the story, the doctors and nurses laughed!?
However, upon some immediate tests and scans, the damage was soon revealed that that little fall on the cross pole and cause me to suffer from a mild diaphragmatic hernia, a blunt injury it was called, basically it was bruised and slightly twisted. I spent the night in hospital and was released the next day. My ex-wife came in that night, took one look and walked out in disgust, l didn’t see her until l got home the next day.
I was told to take it easy for 6 – 8 weeks to rest the injury. Sadly however, l couldn’t do that, as no one in the family would help me with the animals. I had to pull in help from a few friends and l borrowed from the wife of one of my friends a maternity girdle and had it done up remarkably tight so l could still lift. I was back at work on Wednesday morning, strapped up like a Mummy … but it did the job.
15 years later and l still have pain, according to the doctor it never healed properly, it just sort of moulded into the position it’s currently in. When in pain, because as l have aged the pain can be intense at times, l look back to that Sunday and ask myself why on earth l thought one way or another wouldn’t be dangerous?