Monday, November 11, 2013

It could have been much worse

As it is, I’ve escaped anything more serious than an evening in the emergency room, a scraped, bruised and painful ankle, and a mildly wrenched knee. But I would not care to have a large, frightened horse stomp my ankle into the ground again.

This evening I arrived at the farm at about sunset, planning to bring Ben into the barn for the night. While he has come down somewhat from his original stark terror at having to pass by the calves, I knew that he would still be apprehensive, especially since his two herdmates/security blankets were staying way out in their field rather than coming along with him.

What I didn’t know till I got there was that the calves hadn’t been brought into their stalls for the night yet, and were boinking around in hungry frustration. Ben’s bad enough at going by them when they’re quiet, let alone when they’re running, bucking and calling. This was not going to be easy. But given the weather forecast and the gathering dark, I had no choice but to do it then and there.

Leaving my cane in the barn, I walked out to the gateway to the far field and called Ben. He came to me, keeping a wary eye on the distant bovine antics. I haltered him and began leading him in fits and starts across the first field, and it was immediately apparent that, despite a dose a few hours before of an equine trank, he was still tense and apprehensive.

Eventually we got through the paddock past the calves and approached the gate, but having them behind him seemed to spook Ben even more; he began slewing in abrupt jerks. I was perhaps two steps from reaching for the gate when Ben lurched forward and plunged into me.

I fell sideways, clutching the lead rope in my left hand, just too far from the fence to catch myself, and landed on my right side. Ben pulled back. I held on. He plunged again.

His forefoot slammed down on my right ankle, grinding it into the hardpacked stonedust.

I screamed.

And held onto the lead rope.

After an eternity, Ben got off my ankle. I sat up enough to find the muck shoe yanked off me in the fall and get it back on; then somehow I got hold of the fence, pulled myself upright, and tried to put weight on that foot; all while still resisting Ben’s efforts to break loose and flee back to the far field.

It held me. It hurt, oh did it hurt, but it held me. So I did what had to be done: I got Ben through the gate, up the driveway, into the barn, and into his stall – already set up, thank heavens, with hay and water enough for the night.

Then I hobbled to where my cane was and with it hobbled to the house, where Maria sat my shocky, shaky self down, wrapped an icepack onto the ankle, left a message for her husband at work, and drove me to the emergency room. (Turns out she’d been in the front of the house, practicing her violin, and hadn’t heard me scream.)

I was lucky: the ER wasn’t busy, and I was x-rayed, seen, treated, and released in under three hours. Lucky that the x-rays showed no break, chip, or separation, perhaps because my ankle was already flat on the ground when Ben crashed down on it, and so did not suffer any bending stresses that could break leg bones and rip ligaments. Lucky that Ben didn’t manage to break away and bolt back into the night with the lead rope flailing at his forelegs. Lucky that, as freaked out as he was, he managed to stay just this side of controllable while I got him to his stall.

So here I sit, an icepack on the ankle, which is Ace-bandage-wrapped and in a small air cast to protect it, with antibiotic aboard to beat off any infection that might try to set into the abrasions left by the stonedust and Ben’s shoe, or perhaps shoe nails; I didn’t happen to note exactly what was digging into me at the time. I’ve taken an oxycodone, which is helping the ankle, the mildly wrenched knee, and the left hip and knee, which began registering their own complaints at such rough treatment once the shock wore off. I’m to keep the ankle elevated as much as possible, stay off it as much as possible, for the next couple of days, and otherwise follow the voluminous instruction sheets I was released with.

It was an awful experience, for sure. But it could have been much worse.

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