Suzanna Hext’s road to recovery: operation number 8 and my amazing physio

Suzanna was competing at 2-star level eventing before an accident while riding a young horse at home in 2012 changed her life.

It’s got to be said that my typing is tediously slow this week. One-handed typing is an art perfected on the whole, by the older generation (my parents). It must be so annoying to take such a long time to type out a single sentence!

Operation number 8…

As you can imagine, I am already pretty fed up and low with being back in a wheelchair— now only having 1 arm and 1 leg working. I was getting pretty dam good at mastering everything on 1 leg.

The operation on my shoulder was a success and was definitely a job that needed to be done. The surgeon had a good tidy up of some “narly” (as he put it!) edges and clear out. I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed that this is the last operation for a while and this is the last part of my body to be patched up after my accident in July 2012.

Filming with BBC Spotlight (see below). Milly looking at the camera!

Filming with BBC Spotlight (see below). Milly looking at the camera!

Onwards and upwards from now on, the 3 main focuses are getting back on a horses, back to work and learning to walk again. I have come across some frustrating, however quite entertaining obstacles whilst minus an arm and a leg… such as tying my hair up (Mum’s hair tying skills are debatable), eating steak — I couldn’t cut it up and by the time my brother kindly offered to, I was missing half of it!

Also, getting into the shower is now more interesting than normal, and requires my Mum or one of the amazing carers from “Stay at Home” (owned by Babs Rounsevell) pushing/ helping me onto my chair and helping me to keep the water from going on my stitches — all very dignified.

On the weekend leading up to my operation I got my full dose of horses and I also made sure I got outside as much as possible. I felt quite chuffed with myself as I managed to pull Woody’s mane, he was a total star and just stood there as I balanced on one leg. I was pleased that after almost 2yrs I hadn’t lost my knack. I think it’s instinctively drilled in you, if they would all stand like that then they would all have their manes pulled.

Physiotherapy

This week I am going to introduce you to my neurological physio, Gemma (employed by Peninsula Community Health). Gemma is one of the most important members of the team and plays an instrumental and integral role in aiding me with my rehabilitation.

Physio: balancing and catching the ball in my saddle. Shifting my weight as I catch the ball from different directions

Physio: balancing and catching the ball in my saddle. Shifting my weight as I catch the ball from different directions

Gemma doesn’t think I am completely mad, as she is a horse enthusiast as well, which is an added bonus as she comes up with clever ideas, such as doing some of my exercises in my saddle. The other physios and patients in the room think we are bonkers, but it works. When I sit in the saddle I just smile from ear to ear.

Gemma is also very keen for me to achieve my aim of competing at para dressage and with her knowledge of horses she will be able to help advise the centre at which I first ride, and which horse is the most suitable. I have landed on my feet — I have an ambitious, fun, horsey physio who thinks outside the box. Plus she puts up with me! — ideal combination!

Physio: Working with Gemma and looking at my weight distribution on the foot plates, shown on the screen ahead of me

Physio: Working with Gemma and looking at my weight distribution on the foot plates, shown on the screen ahead of me

The ultimate aim when I have recovered from this surgery is to try and get some funding together in order to go to Oaksey House, Lambourn (rehabilitation centre for jockeys ) for a few weeks of intensive rehab. Their wide range of facilities would be of huge help to me, especially the horse simulator (in preparation!) and the FES (Walkaid) Machine, which will be the only way of getting my paralysed left foot and ankle ultimately walking in some sort of fashion again.

BBC Spotlight South West News

I had a great afternoon the other day being filmed by Janine Jansen for BBC Spotlight. We had quite a laugh as Milly (1 of my horses) took a particular liking to the filming equipment. I was quite worried about being filmed going up the steps on my crutches, as I had only just mastered them. You can watch the feature on the news here.

To Follow…

Next time I will be further forward with my recovery and hopefully typing more quickly. I’m going to use the time I have got now wisely and make some decisions on the some of the horses as well as planning some fundraising ideas for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance. I will also explain a bit more about the bionic battery pack that I have inside me, called a Spinal Cord Stimulator…

Massive good luck wishes to everyone competing at Badminton, especially H&H first time blogger and ex Wiegersma graduate Sophie Jenman and Geronimo… I am gutted I can’t go and watch this year, but 1 arm and 1 leg isn’t particularly helpful.

Suzanna

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