Friday, August 5, 2011

Hospitals & horsemen

Hmm i have been kicked a few times in my line of work, most of the time it hurts but you carry on. Sometimes you sit on the ground for a while, get a bruise and limp for a few days, but your OK. What doesn't usually happen, is that you end up in hospital from complications 5 days after you have been kicked, but that's what happened to me. Never has one little pony, costing a grand total of $250 dollars, been able to wreak so much havoc.

That kick hurt, allot. I was on crutches for the first two days, and every movement was agony, a x-ray showed the little ratbag, had managed to not only chip a tiny bit of bone in my hip, but also managed to focus the full force of the blow across the femoral artery in my thigh. It basically looked like i was wearing black and blue bikini bottoms, so swollen and bruised was my thigh/pelvis region. The chipped bone i could live with , no real damage done, the femoral artery on the hand while not torn, had been compressed, not only by the kick but by the subsequent haematoma, and this is where all my trouble started.

i thought i was fine, i was beginning to get my mobility back, was hobbling around the farm, and had even ridden the wild stallion, the horse i most trusted to take care of me after injury. I was out of breath all the time, but put this down to limping taking a lot more effort than walking. My family however did not like my gasping for breath, and just when i thought i was ready to be back to full work, they literally dragged me off my horse, i had been sitting on the stallion for about thirty seconds, and took me to the doctors.

This doctors visit, resulted in being sent for more tests, a ultra sound of my artery and vein in my thigh, and a blood test for something called D-dimers. This done i went back to the farm and work to wait results, well in truly thinking my family were being ridiculous.

The blood work didn't come through until the next morning, again i was feeding out horses, oblivious,when this time my father arrived. He ordered me to change as we were going back to the doctors,i rolled my eyes, argued and eventually gave in. thinking id be home in an hour i just threw on some clothes, and left he horses in the stable.

I wasn't back for two days. Doctors visit, resulted in being sent to hospital, apparently my blood work showed i had clots in my blood, suspected in my lungs, that was causing me to be out of breath. I waited in the emergency ward all afternoon, i had CT scans (which hurt, as they put a dye in your blood that feels like white hot fire), a chest x-ray, and was examined by another doctor, who admitted me to hospital for the night. By then i had a sense of disbelief, i couldn't believe there was this much fuss, i felt fine apart from a bruised and stiff hip. I asked to be allowed to home, but that request was firmly denied. Not only that, they said i had to have a series of injections in my stomach, to help break down any clots left in my system. Needles jabbed into you stomach, is not a pleasant experience, i still have a row of bruises to show for it.

To add to the humiliation, they would not let me walk, the put me in a wheel chair, and wheeled me to my ward for the night. This is after id spent the last few days, working on the farm and riding my little brown stallion. i felt like a complete fraud being there, as i had limped in feeling pretty healthy, although what ever was in those injections, sure had me feeling like death for a while after. Everyone else on the beds next to me looked far worse, and actually sick, as well as about 50 years older than me. It all felt so wrong and unreal.

The next 48 hours were misery. Endless hours of boredom, broken up with nurses and doctors, poking and prodding and sending me off for more tests. I was sure after a while, that i had no blood left in my veins to be tested, i felt more bruised from having my already sensitive thigh pushed on with ultra sound equipment, even my heart ended up being scanned, an now we know i have an incredibly healthy heart. Even though i tried to convince them i have a naturally low heart rate, and blood pressure, they didnt listen and woke me up every hour during the night, to take my pulse and bloodpressure, apparntly my heart is, although healthy, about 20beats slowere than normal people. So i was bored, tired, grumpy and feeling worse than ever before. What were they so worried about anyway?

Death. when i finally asked what the alternative to these endless tests and treatment was, the doctor carefully explained that with blood clots, they can either pass harmlessly, or kill you. No in between. Now the catch was they thought, i had already had a clot in my lungs, but it had actually passed harmlessly, while i was still limping around the farm blissfully ignorant, by the time i got to hospital i was already healing, my breathing was better, and they were just seeing the left over signs of what could have killed me, but didn't. They thought, and i gues i do to, it was better to be safe than sorry, when it comes to potentially deadly blood clots in a ptaients lungs.

But by the end of the second day i was going out of my mind, i wanted to go home. I felt sicker for being around all the sick people. I had one final ultrasound at 3.30pm, thankfully it was all clear, i raced back to my ward, having kicked the wheel chair along time ago, i waited to be dismissed. But the doctor was busy and they wouldn't have time to see me 'blah blah blah', i was fine, i felt fine, my tests showed i was fine, i wanted to go home, so i used my most charming voice and begged the nurse to let me go. she wanted to keep me one more night, but i begged some more, convinced her to take my IV needle out of me arm, and was allowed to go home on 'leave' if i promised to come back in the morning.

i never went back. i rang early the next morning, explained to them that i was felling very healthy, and thankfully they agreed to discharge me with out having to go back. five blood tests, four ultrasounds, four injections and four bruises to the stomach, two x-rays, an uncomfortable CT scan, two more days than i ever want to spend in hospital, and my ordeal was over. I survived, i know i should be grateful, and i am, I'm actually extremely appreciative to all the doctors and nurses who took the time to look after me and ensure I'm not six feet under ground. But its a funny feeling to never have felt in danger of my life, but know i survived what could have killed me.

It also really hammered home, the lesson, no matter how good a horseman you are, how experienced, even if you are rushed, teach ground manners, it doesn't matter the size of the horse. I knew better, and by god, i know even better now, how important those ten or so minutes you spend teaching a horse basic respect and manners can be. I never had problems with the wild horses, because i never underestimated them, took the time, and from the instant i was around them i enforced the rules, that they would not run over, swing there bum at me or treat me any differently from the boss mare. i underestimated the little pony and i have been paying the price ever since.

If their is any good to be taken from the whole situation, it is that i was put in a bed next to a old man who had come in with a heart attack. We got to talking, he was old,about 90, left all alone in the world, and wanted to chat. Turns out as a young man he spent years in the Australian outback, with a team of 16 Clydesdale's horses, building damns for livestock on isolated farms. He talked about driving a team of eight at a time breaking earth, pulling logs, and trans forming barren earth into farmland. he would work for months at a time just him and the horses never seeing another human being. Those horses were his family, friends, income and only chance of survival out there. He told me of the respect and responsibility he had for those horses, amazingly 70 years later, he could still remember most of their names. I should have got his autograph, the man was a living legend, a souvenir of times gone by, when horses were n't a luxury but a way of survival.