A letter from Meg Wade
Meg Wade and China Doll
Champion Endurance rider Meg Wade suffered a brain injury from a riding accident in April 2009. Meg has written this letter to update us on her progress.
It is hard to believe that another year has passed. I was released from Epworth Hospital on the 5th of February 2010. ABC (Landline team) came to film me packing up and going home.
My farewell party on Wednesday 3rd Feb was great. Professor Olver spoke and I felt good enough to respond. There was a mix of hospital staff, patients, riding friends, helicopter friends and of course, family. My whole family was there – Mumsie, Sue, Gill and of course Chris.
Chris had teased me saying he wouldn’t be able to make it as he had to be back on the Friday to take me home. I believed him as I knew how busy he was and how far it was. He surprised me by turning up with Kristie Taprell and Von Mitchell!
A few happy tears: this is one thing that I still find frustrating. I am much more emotionally demonstrative about things now. Even if I sometimes appear upset, I am not really; it is just that I have become emotional about everything.
The Landline crew came to film me packing up my room and leaving Epworth. As always, they were great. They do their job in a very unobtrusive way. They also came up to film at the Quilty in June at Manilla, NSW as a follow up. One of the highlights of the Quilty for me was a flight with ABC helicopter pilot Gary Tricehurst in his ‘Squirrel’, organised by Pip Courtney who is the main Landline lady we have been involved with for years. It was just amazing!!
The story went to air as a 27 minute segment of the Landline program on 1st August. I have had a huge response from this. It is just a start to giving hope to people with ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) to their families and friends; never give up and be positive.
Earlier in the year on 19th April 2010, I fare welled ZGW (my helicopter) from Albury Airport. I had organized the sale to Rob Vigors who lives in Mildura. He had a friend, Grant Arnott, ferry it across for him. It was a very emotional time for me, but necessary because flying is at the end of a long list of other important goals.
Getting back to Dingley Maze was like starting Part 2 of a book.
Epworth Hospital referred me on to SWBIRS (South West Brain Injury and Rehabilitation Service) in Albury. I had my first day there on the 17th February 2010. I go there every week for Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday – staying Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I have to say I enjoy it more all the time. It is a great facility and we are very lucky to have it.
A few weeks ago I met Cheryl Koenig, her husband Robert and their son Jonathon. She has written a wonderful book PAPER CRANES. Jonathon suffered an ABI about 8 years ago. It is about the journey they have all been on, a truly inspiring book that I highly recommend.
I have read a few books since my accident and now my third nerve palsy (which for me was in my right eye and caused double vision) has gone, I am feeling more inclined to read more. So far I have only read books like PAPER CRANES that are relevant to my journey. The other very good one that I have read was written by Richard Hammond of ‘Top Gear’ fame ON THE EDGE : MY STORY, he had an ABI following a horrific high speed car crash - a very different story to Jonathan’s, but very compelling.
One thing that has become more apparent to me is that every Brain Injury and Recovery is different.
I just finished reading MY STROKE OF INSIGHT by Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain surgeon who suffered a massive stroke and saw it through scientific eyes. It is an amazing book, which gives me great hope.
One huge milestone for me has been riding! I rode for the first time since my accident on the 9th November at the RDA in Melbourne at Bundoora Park. This was Hippo Therapy; Hippo is Latin for horse so therapy on horseback. The lady behind this who I had spoken to was Susie Craddock. They are great. I have now been back 6 times and every time it gets better. The horse they have me riding is Chippie, an Appaloosa gelding with the most amazing disposition.
They basically have me riding bareback, with just a thin pad to protect my legs. The team there say they can see some definite straightening of my trunk after a while on Chippie. The whole team at the RDA is fantastic; they are a very dedicated group of volunteers.
I have also been riding a few times at home to start with in the Arena. My first rides were on a mare named Leigh Creek who belongs to Sandy and Bill Harbison. She is a Clydie cross mare by a Brumby stallion – bred at Leigh Creek in South Australia hence her name – she has been great. Bill has used her a number of times on the Cattle Drive, she has often been ridden by poor riders so she was an obvious choice for me.
I have now ridden a horse at home called Litchfield Actress. She is a mare of ours, bred by Lyn and Gordon Litchfield of Wilpoorina Station near Marree, by our Arab stallion KPK Blue out of a Thoroughbred mare of the Litchfields. She has been great!
I have now ridden to my neighbours the Mitchells and back home – 4km. This has been with Kristie on Castlebar Topaz to keep me company and to make sure everything is OK. It is going well, my left leg doesn’t do much; at least it is sitting OK most of the time.
Epworth Hospital also organized for me to go skiing one weekend. As those of you who know me will be aware, I used to ski. Since I took up endurance riding this has not been very frequent. In fact the last few times I had been skiing was at the indoor ski slope in Dubai.
The Epworth skiing weekend was held at Falls Creek, Chris drove me to the nearby Howmans Gap, where we stayed. I actually found skiing easier than walking. The DWS (Disabled Winter Sports) team was amazing. All its members are volunteers. I have put my name on the list for this coming winter, so I hope to go up a few times this year.
Only a couple of weeks ago I had a personal best (to date), walking 70m independently. I am still very slow, with definite hesitation of putting weight / balance on the left leg but there is improvement. All the time at home I independently walk in the house. My therapists are letting me do more all the time at ‘Tarkarri’, the SWBIRS residence where I stay.
Epworth also have me seeing a Bobath physiotherapist – Kim Jennings. She is great ! I am not exactly sure how she does it but Chris says by the end of my session with her I am straight.
I definitely have good days and not so good days with my balance. The main thing is that overall my walking / balance is improving.
We had Christmas at Mansfield at the Belle house. Sue and Ed were in Melbourne, Sam and Jesse in Sydney and Pierre in Switzerland, the rest of us in Mansfield.
As usual the presents were a highlight, followed by the most excellent food.
One of my presents arrived on the trailer from home. Chris had told me it was things for Gills garden from Bearnice. I had no reason not to believe him but it was a trike for me! Later on Christmas day we went down to the bike trail from Mansfield visitors centre and I tried it for the first time. Great fun!! I have now ridden it at home from Mitchells to the Murray Valley Highway – 3km.
The Belle family gave me a wire horse sculpture, I love it ! Gill did say that if I didn’t like it she’d keep it - no such luck. It was made by a school colleague of Indi’s amazing talent for one so young.
We then had a wonderful Christmas lunch which included Gravalax, sliced fillet of beef and lots of other dishes. As you would expect only the best put on for us by Gill. She usually organizes the Produce Store in Mansfield with Dean, so we were well looked after.
New Years Eve saw us back in Mansfield again. Sue and Ed were also there on their way back to Sydney. Gill and Dean had a small group of friends gathered for the night.
A family Wade tradition at midnight is Snap Dragons – flaming muscatels which are in a baking tray soaked in Brandy and then lit. You have to pick them up and put them in your mouth while they’re still flaming ! Sounds crazy but it’s great fun.
Another year has passed and another just begun.
I am very glad I am still here and able to do my letter. What I do realise more and more is that this ABI will be with me forever. I try to focus on the positive things and there are definitely lots of those. It will end up opening avenues I never dreamt of. You just have to deal with the cards you’ve been dealt with in life.
“How many open their eyes but never dare to see? How many see but never dare to strive?”
HANDS ACROSS THE SEAS