In a video shared today (28 June), the European champion said she began physiotherapy last week, but explained that it was a slightly rocky start.
“When I came here nearly a month ago I was all guns blazing, ready to crack on. I wanted to get better, but they said I had to rest and recuperate and stay in my bed for a little bit longer, which as you can imagine was a little disappointing,” she said.
“Then I got into the chair, which was really exciting, then on Monday (20 June) I started my physio. I got a timetable on each day of what I was going to be doing and was really excited until I went for my first physio and failed at the first hurdle. I was gutted,” she said, adding that when the team got her out of the chair she suddenly felt very sick.
“That was the end of physio day one and I went down a little bit with my tail between my legs, thinking ‘this is rubbish’,” she said. “I thought I was going to take on the world and smash it. They said I need to manage my pain a little bit better, and I thought I’m not in any pain, but clearly I was when I was trying to do a little bit of the exercises.”
Nicola said that on day two, after taking anti-sickness tablets and pain relief, she “bossed” her second session.
“I was really pleased with how I got on. Although it’s only small bits we’re doing, I was able to sit up and balance my upper body a little bit, obviously with people sitting around me in case I wobbled over,” she said.
“The physios are great, they do small steps at a time – but when I say steps, I don’t mean me walking. I’m a little bit off that yet, but we’re all allowed to dream.”
Nicola has also started occupational therapy, but said she was not prepared for “how hard” the sessions would be.
“With the occupational therapist we have sessions each day where we’re working on everyday things, trying to brush my teeth, dress, or brush my hair – which I can’t reach yet,” she said.
“I am able with assistance to brush my teeth and this left arm is catching up nicely now, putting hand cream on and doing everyday things, which are so difficult. It wasn’t until I started to do those that I realised just how far I have to go. But we’re improving daily and I’m really pleased with how I am getting on, which spurs me on for the next day.”
On one occasion when the occupational therapist briefly left Nicola on her own, she knew her husband Alastair had phoned three times and she was worried it might be an emergency.
“My phone was on the desk and I couldn’t quite reach it with my left hand and I certainly couldn’t move it so I leant forward in my chair – I had a belt on don’t worry – got hold of it and pulled it across. I took a deep breath thinking ‘This is amazing’, then I punched in the code with my finger and rang Alistair, and put it on loud speaker,” she said.
“What a result, I really felt so much more like a human being. Bit by bit things are coming back. I couldn’t be more grateful to the team here, they are doing an amazing job and how they work together is truly fantastic – they’re inspirational and I’m so grateful to be here.”
Updates from Nicola’s yard
Nicola also shared an update on her yard and said it had been an “exciting” week for the team. On 23 June Robyn Gray won the NexGen Young Horse Series five-year-old qualifier with Quintus and was fifth with Beltane’s Prince Chilli.
“Both went really nicely so we have lots to look forward to in September if we can go down to Hickstead to watch them in the final,” said Nicola, adding that Robyn also won the Alnwick Ford BE100 on 24 June with the six-year-old mare Frankfort Pointllexi.
“Clearly I’m not needed! The girls at home Lynn [Swift], Ruth [Asquith], Abbie [Pearson], and Robyn are holding the fort beautifully and doing a wonderful job. I’m really enjoying watching their progress, hearing the excitement of how the horses are going and watching videos.”
Nicola also shared the “sad news” that her groom Abbie is moving on.
“She’s a super girl and has been an asset to our team and we’ve loved working with her. I really would trust her with everything to do with the yard and myself,” said Nicola.
“She worked her way through from an apprentice to grooming at Badminton this year when we took Dublin [JL Dublin] and Arnie [Erano M]. We look forward to supporting her and following her progress in her next step in her career as she goes to travel the world and see what excitement there is out there.”
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.