Here is what I remember: It was a dark, gloomy, very windy morning just a few days before my 28th birthday and I took Jimmy for a ride. Jimmy was a very large horse –17 hands high– so I tried to remain mounted as much as possible as it was difficult to get back on. As we rode, we came across a large hole near the gate we had to go through. A tarp was flapping and I thought that Jimmy might be scared. I decided to get off his back. I led him across the road and then tried to find a place to get back onto my monster horse, who had started prancing because of my out-of-the-ordinary actions. I eventually found a road marker at the side of the road in the sand. I pulled Jimmy closer to me, put my right foot on the marker’s top, and slid my left foot into the stirrup.
And that was the last thing I remember from that day. I vaguely remember a flash of trying to find my teeth in the sand and the lady who found me said I wouldn’t leave with her until I did. That’s all I remember.
I was at the hospital for four days. The first three, I do not recall at all. I finally managed to get up and walk to the bathroom on my own and I stood in front of the mirror, in the dark, sobbing. I saw my face, and even just in that half-light from the monitors in the room behind me, I could see that the damage was very bad. I was so angry, but I didn’t know why or how to deal with it.
For days, as my family visited me, I felt like I was surrounded by strangers. The full gamut of neurological tests done by the doctors were a few simple questions, and some tests done on my eyes. They felt I was perfectly fine to go home, even though I could barely remember my own name or speak more than a few words. For the next month my mother came by my apartment every day to help look after me. I can only recall little bits and pieces that have started coming back to me ten years later.
When I went back to work at a high-level IT job that I had been good at, I very quickly discovered I could not handle even the slightest stress. I couldn’t go to meetings because I felt claustrophobic. I would have panic attacks and feel like I was going to pass out, or die. If someone came up to my desk, even just to say hello, I would start shaking, sweating and squirming. If they didn’t leave me within a few moments, I would have to jump up and go “get fresh air” leaving them wondering what they said to upset me. I tried so hard to get back into the rhythms of my work day, but to no avail. I quit my job.
From there, I moved home. I encountered people I had known growing up and would have no idea who they were. A lot of them chose instead to be offended by my curt and seemingly aloof mannerisms, and considered me rude and unfriendly. I knew that I knew them, but I didn’t know them. It was very hard and I would often cry myself into fitful sleep after a day of trying to deal with people.