Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No Frills: Reflections and Lessons

A few days have passed and the events that happened Saturday randomly pop up in my mind. I can't push aside the reality of what a huge bullet we dodged...so lucky nothing else was hurt. Such a freak accident!

A part of me wants to go back and hike that trail to the injury spot and see what caused it. I may rope a friend into doing this with  me - but I don't know when.

Thoughts keep racing through my mind though. I randomly get emotional and want to cry about everything that happened, but then I realize how silly that is because everything is okay. My horse is sound and healthy and healing. Yet I worry something more will happen and she won't heal correctly and all will be lost. But that thought is silly. I need to focus on the positive, on how lucky we are to still have time to ride and compete later in the season; three months is only a small blip in the big picture of things. But I get upset about my plans for the summer and how they're now abolished - whiting out "ride", "train train train", and "Old Dominion" in my day planner Monday morning really sucked. But I have so much time to do other things like climb. But then when people ask if I'm free and I hesitate because I was supposed to be training, but now I'm not going to be.

Doors closing. Doors opening. C'est la vie.

We're gonna make the most of this and things are going to be okay. Right now its all a little raw still. But all the same, there were some important lessons learned about things that worked and didn't work during this ordeal. These are important to note now so I can learn and move forward.

What worked:
  • I was lucky to have my NSP training to lend support during the accident. Looking back now I realize I went into "patroller mode" and for the large part removed myself from the situation and looked at it all objectively on the trail. I knew what had to happen and I made sure it all happened. My emotions invaded more once we were back at ridecamp and at the hospital, but only fleetingly; I had to do what was best for "the patient" and that overrided most of my personal worry and fear. Sunday was hard though, because all of the subdued emotion from Saturday really sank in.
  • Carrying the amount of first aid supplies with me that I do isn't silly. I was SO happy to have what I had in this situation. Without it I would have felt a little lost and probably would have been more scared about the goings-on. 
  • I'm in shape and fit to walk the distance to get her out without riding it all. That I had to walk 4-miles was no big deal to me at all. Slow going, but definitely do-able. In fact, I noted the time and distance I had to go, looked at the clock and realized that even if I had to hike the whole damn thing I could still probably get there by the time limit for pulse down. I'm a hiker on a mission when I need to be - especially when unburdened by a pack.
  • My first aid skills flew into action quickly. I got that wound flushed out within 60 seconds of it happening. I recognized enough of the anatomy of what was going on to know it wasn't life threatening right then. We could walk out without her dying. My first aid management of the situation couldn't have been any better with what I was presented with.
  • Erring on the side of caution and going to Leesburg. Fast action got us there and got this resolved by experts. If I hadn't gone we likely wouldn't have known about the ligament. 
  • My Mountain Khakis Granite Creek shirt shed the blood that spurted on it like nothing. No blood stains on my clothes was a plus. My hands were COVERED.
  • Endomondo. This GPS program for phones is awesome. It told me pretty well where I was and how far I had to go. Coupled with rider's accounts of the trail as they passed me this was so helpful in knowing how far I had to go.
What didn't work:
  • My boots. I've had these lace-up Justins forever. They're falling apart and I definitely need new boots. I definitely need to get some Terrains or something similar. I know some folks ride in running shoes, but when I was navigating the rockiest sections of this trail I had difficulty and was happy for the bit of ankle support provided. Walking down that steep hill I still nearly twisted my ankle a million times. Those Justins though...not as bad as the cowboy boot episode in the Smokies last summer, but it would have been if I'd had to hike further! Must get comfortable hiking/riding boots.  
  • Water. I could have used more. I need to always ride with a small Camelbak in addition to the bottles on my saddle pack....of which one is mysteriously gone. Sigh.
  • Bandages. I couldn't get anything to stay on that area. I need to hypothesize more ideas for bandage stuff to carry that would adhere to such a tricky area. Duct tape? :-\
  • Quick-clot. I MUST start carrying some of that powder that helps stop bleeding. It could seriously be a life-saver in a situation like that if I'm so far out and away from help.
Lots more positives than negatives. I've definitely learned a lot from the situation. The practice of sitting down to type out these lessons has helped to both calm me and help me realize that I couldn't have done a much better job to manage things. I'm proud of how I handled the situation. From a first responder stand-point the timeline is pretty awesome. Got the patient out and advanced to higher care within an hour and a half of it happening. From the first level of higher care I was advanced to the highest care within 5½ hours of the incident. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

Here's to learning, healing, and moving forward.

May 19, 2012; our second ride and second day knowing one another

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