By Amy Kathleen Miller
Last week, in the first of my weekly Wednesday posts here on John’s blog, I mentioned a concern my parents had about me being around horses when I was a very young child. I want to share now why my parents worried so much about me around horses back then, and it will tell you a lot more about me in the process.
My parents didn’t allow me around the horses until I was more likely in my teens. It could have been that they were over-protective, but it goes far beyond just that. You see, when I was 2 years old something happened to me that changed my life and my parents’ lives forever.
I said before that we lived on a farm, covering around 100 acres of mostly pasture and timber land and that is why it is a child’s place for a dream come true. What would it be like to live close to a mini-forest where we could ride our horses anytime we wanted? Well, except while you are in school.
Dad was trying his luck in horse breeding but he wasn’t very good at it. Simply because he found it hard to sell any of his horses, he became attached to them. So we ended up with a lot of horses that would just live in the timber and come up to the house sometimes.
At the age of 2, I was already fascinated by these big creatures but most 2-year old’s would be. They were big, gentle, and fun to look at and touch. So one day my Mom put a pony tail in my hair and let me go outside, thinking that I would go right to where my brothers were, who were playing in the sandbox. But I didn’t, I wanted to go and see the horses.
Later on, Mom went outside to check on us and noticed that I wasn’t with my brothers, Grant and Paul. She questioned them on if they saw me when I went outside. My brothers shook their heads and said they didn’t see me at all. Panicked, Mom started looking for me around the house. Not seeing me, she went and got my 12-year-old brother, Mike, and asked if he could help her find me. Mike went in a direction more toward the corrals and Mom went down the road. Mike found me lying unconscious under a horse, with blood all over my face and head.
The guess is that I had been playing around a horse’s legs, the horse may have thought I was a fly or something, and ended up kicking me on the upper left forehead around the frontal lobe of the brain.
Mike quickly took me to the house, got Mom, and they took me to the Blackfoot hospital for help. But that hospital didn’t have the equipment to help a toddler in an emergency situation, so the doctor there recommended that they get me in an ambulance and take me to the Idaho Falls hospital, which was 30 minutes away from Blackfoot.
While they loaded me up, the doctors from the Blackfoot hospital thought that I wouldn’t make it to the Idaho Falls hospital because the damage to my head was so bad. The prognosis was extremely grim for my recovery, but they didn’t let my family know that until later.
I did make it to Idaho Falls — alive. In fact, there was healing that was taking place faster than the doctors could predict for me. A doctor told my parents that I was healing faster than they imagined I would, and that it was “not in their hands” but it was a “supernatural” healing going on with me.
After this happened, my grandpa on my Dad’s side was so upset that he wanted to shoot the horse that did it. However, there were three horses in the corral at the time and they were all very nice horses. Dad told him that he could not shoot the horse, they did not know which horse kicked me, but Dad also knew that horses react first then check out the situation to see if it is safe later.
Let me briefly explain that horses are prey animals. It is all about keeping themselves alive and not becoming some predator’s next meal. As trainers, we have to break down that flight mechanism and teach them to trust us. We are their protector. That is exactly what I am teaching my horses right now. If there is something scary on the road, they watch me and see how calm I am and I am their safety. Talk about a great relationship with another living being that is not a human. There is nothing like it.
I did heal better and faster than any doctor could imagine. However, in years later, it did affect my school work. I struggled in school after that. In fact, there were teachers who said that I would not be smart enough to do well in college. I wish people wouldn’t say that to children because it does make it harder for them to accomplish things, because children start to believe what they hear and then stop trying to make it happen when we are convinced that we are stupid, just like a counselor had said about me.
I even had a college professor tell me that as an advisor, having me go through IQ testing to determine whether I could finish out the year in music theory. I passed the first semester but it was whether I could finish the second semester that had all the professors wondering. They were more concerned with what I couldn’t do than what I could do.
My advisor, who happened to be my vocal instructor, told me to maybe take culinary arts, saying that might be more my speed. I bowed my neck and said to her that I want to be a musician, a singer, not a cook. I could cook food at home, I didn’t need to learn how to do it. The thing was at the end of the second semester, I did pass music theory. Everyone was amazed, but I wasn’t.
There are, in my opinion, too many specialists saying to people in my situation that it is impossible for them to live a fully “normal” life. I have heard too many stories of how people were able to beat the odds. But hearing it over and over again — how I shouldn’t be able to — eventually beats a person down.
Sometimes even in a person’s own family, where family members pick on each other because they have always been a bit slow on picking things up, it wears on a person. That happens to me sometimes, and I do get tired of it and it does wear on my self-image as well. It causes a person not to want to be around those people even though it is your own family.
I’ve also had someone who was a friend to me for a while in very recent years turn against me, and after our relationship fell apart — in trying to build herself up in the mind of another friend of mine — that former friend talked about how frustrated she was in getting me to understand something (when I actually understood very well, it was her actually not seeing my point of view that was a big problem) and talked about how I “wasn’t right” in the head. She actually used the damage to my brain against me. That’s part of why she is now a former friend. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
People need to be aware of how another can feel about being put down to build others up. I found that if I build others up to the point that they feel good about themselves, it builds me up. It works, and more people like you or me are better off for treating them that way.
My husband John understands that there are times he can write or talk above my head. But if I were to bring it to his attention, he will patiently explain it in a way I can understand. It takes a lot of patience and understanding to deal with a person who may have a more difficult time comprehending things at times because of a brain injury like I suffered as a child, but there are also times when I can comprehend some things more easily than John and he looks to me to explain what he doesn’t understand.
I guess what I have mostly learned from this accident that happened to me as a child is that I do need to know what I can do and what I am capable of understanding — which I do, and I can do anything through God who strengthens me. I also understand that if I don’t understand, there is no such thing as a stupid question except the one that doesn’t get asked. John says that a lot.
I still continue to put myself down because of my lack of self-esteem, and I am working hard on changing that. Having the right people in my life helps — the ones who will continue to lift me up and help me out when I need it.
I also want people to know that what you do to others matters. Your words can affect someone in more ways than you ever imagine. That could be good or bad. Try to start out building up instead of tearing down. You too will be built up just from that viewpoint.
I look back today on that kick to the head by that horse and see that I probably should have died. All the specialists thought so, but I kept defying the odds. I guess I will continue to do so. Won’t you?
Editor’s Note: “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media
- From “my lovely wife” – the launch of “Amy’s Angle” (viewfrommiddleclass.wordpress.com)
- Getting serious about the phrase “cowboy up” (viewfrommiddleclass.wordpress.com)
- Enjoying a “Breezy” ride (viewfrommiddleclass.wordpress.com)
- Rocky Mountain Way … Tetons style (viewfrommiddleclass.wordpress.com)
- “Just a horse” – unknown author (rickysangeleyes.wordpress.com)