Well in the years since then I've discovered that you don't need to be anywhere near horses to be at risk. It seems that my number one risk is my home. I've fallen off low walls ( I have to admit that my Consultant would probably have suggested that I always keep a fence between myself and any wall I may be inclined to climb on / over but grass doesn't cut itself and sometimes walls are in the way!) , slipped on gravel, slipped on ice (fractured talus bone and mangled ligaments etc but no worsening of my back pain), Slipped on tarmac and grass, fallen on top of poor Tess when out walking ( apparently I shouldn't risk being pulled by a dog on a lead - risk of serious damage is high), fallen in the bathroom and achieved a fetching black eye from the sink on the way down, and generally fallen about the house and garden. Not that I'm excessively clumsy or drunk all the time although I realise it might look that way. I have some nerve damage in my left leg that can make me a bit unsteady. And thinking about it I may well be a bit clumsy. And I have been known to have a drink but I don't remember actually falling over as a result and I'm fairly sure that's not just my poor memory at work. I think. Anyway my conclusion is that general living carries a 'high risk of serious damage'. After careful monitoring I've also found that often there is no explanation for the exacerbations that I experience.
So all in all I've had numerous occasions that could have had pretty catastrophic results but haven't and the outcome is that I may have become a little less terrified of the 'risk of serious damage'. Certainly not blase but not as 'don't leave the house' terrified as in the early days.
For the past twelve months I've found myself wondering whether I could even sit on a horse these days. Given that on bad days I'm fairly bed bound and on good days the most I do is potter very slowly and rest a lot, any dreams of riding seem like pipe dreams. My friends and family have mixed feelings. Only my Dearly Beloved and my friend P have seen me at my worst in terms of pain and disability.I try to keep a positive and proactive outlook and am successful in the most part. P thinks attempting to ride is a stupid and unnecessary risk. It makes her angry. Understandably. She was with me during most of my Consultant appointments and treatments and has heard all of the warnings etc first hand. My DB has spoken to neurosurgeons with me. He see the risk but cautiously supports my choice. My horsey friends are pro, my non-horsey friends against. Me? I want to try but feel selfish as well. What I do affects my family and friends and those closest to me can't have found certain times during recent years easy to watch. They are the ones who help out when times are bad and celebrate with me and are thankful when times are good. Then I look at people like the paralympic riders and am greatly inspired. Particularly by people like Joanne Pitt who sadly died suddenly this year and I know that unless I've tried I'd never know. And I hate not knowing. So, selfishly perhaps, I tried.
Down at the yard Alison and Bob selected beautiful, big, gentle schoolmaster Stroller. They tacked him up. Provided an enormous mounting block so I had hardly any distance to reach and I got on. After a few minutes when no crippling spasm of my spinal muscles ensued I started to smile and found I couldn't stop.
Then we had a little walk round the yard. Still no ill effects.
And then we had the difficult part - getting off. Hmm that needs some thought / practice and I'd still be there but for the enormous mounting block. Still no severe pain though and we didn't even need the block and tackle that Alison was rudely suggesting!
I often feel debilitating pain a day or two after 'overdoing' things and expected some negative effects this morning but no. When I assess things now that the euphoria of yesterday has calmed down all I can feel is a quiet sense of joy. And I'm so thankful for friends who want to help and friends who want to protect and for big, beautiful, gentle, horses like Stroller. Life is good.