As Nicola and her horse cantered along near Shorwell, on the Isle of Wight, the pair took an unexpected tumble as they trotted along a bridle path. Due to the remote location, and severity of the incident, the Air Ambulance was called for. Below, Nicola tells her story:
“My horse put his foot down a rabbit hole and fell, bringing me to the ground at the same time. Despite the fact that I was wearing a riding helmet, the impact of the fall shook my brain. An ambulance was called. I had broken my neck. I was out cold.
“A friend of mine, who was a nurse, was with me and stopped anybody from moving me. When the ambulance arrived, it could not get all the way up the track as it was too steep, so the Air Ambulance was called for.
“The Air Ambulance arrived and took me straight to the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Southampton, as they had the specialist knowledge to deal with my case. I was in a coma for, I believe, some six weeks and was transferred back to St Mary’s on the Island. I am told I had hours of neurosurgery and have been left with severe neural pathway damage, which affects my balance.
“Eventually I took myself home, continued to get better and received physiotherapy from a very nice, but tough, physiotherapist in another hospital. When I went back to Southampton to be signed off by the specialist, he said they called me the “miracle patient”, purely because I had survived.
“Although I now walk with a limp, have some dents in my skull and two bolts in my neck, I am fortunate to lead a normal life: I go up to London, tend to the garden, have been riding again and I was back at work until l retired last year. I have moved on, yet I realise how lucky I have been.
“If the Air Ambulance had not rescued me that day, I would not be here today.”