It Would Have Been Much Worse Without My One K Helmet
My brain surgeon adores my One K Helmet. How’s that for an endorsement? Not many riders can probably say that, but it’s true!
A little backstory: In 2012, I flew to Argentina for work. When I landed back stateside, I had vertigo that I could not shake. After the usual horsewoman’s process of ignoring, chanting, home remedies and tincture of time (6 weeks to be exact) didn’t work, I figured I should really go to the doctor. I left there with a script for a contrast MRI, and a few days later was told that I have Chiari Malformation, which basically means that your brain stem is trying to relocate to your spine, instead of being in your skull (not really, but kind of!).
Shopping for a neurosurgeon the year you turn 30 in hopes to correct a potentially life-long genetic defect that affects your balance is not my idea of fun.
In February 2013, I went under the knife. I’ll spare you the details, but essentially they created more room for my cerebellum by altering my brain, skull and spine. I also had my lower spine fused a few months later, due to a lingering damage from a car accident (it couldn’t be from all the crazy horses I rode in my youth!).
Fast forward to 2015, I started horse showing again, in the adult equitation. About mid-season, I started getting the feeling that my mare just wasn’t right – but nobody, including my trainer and local vet, could see it … until we were at a horse show on Labor Day weekend.
The first jump was on the quarter line, which was set at a slight diagonal. We cantered in, but the footing in the ring was a touch deep, which that horse does not prefer. We probably weren’t carrying enough pace, with the footing bogging us down a bit, and got to a slightly long spot. Instead of her usual smooth jump, she popped up and over and upon landing, came completely uncorked.
In that moment, I knew precisely what the bronc riders feel like.
As I sailed through the air, with what I’d like to imagine was the greatest of ease, I managed to land with two points of contact: The first was right over my lumbar fusion. I then flew backward and smashed my brain surgery site on the ground.
As I laid there flat out, my first thought was not one that I could put in writing here. I knew I had to determine whether I would be walking out under my own power, or … not. I started by wiggling my fingers and toes and was pleased to find they still obeyed my command. I bent my knees (yay!), then sat up. By this time, the farm owner (a good friend of mine) and my husband were running over, both with not-well-concealed looks of concern/terror on their faces.
I hopped up and said, “I’M FINE! All the surgically repaired parts held. It’s a good day!” Nobody really found my humor funny, but hey, that’s how I roll.
I scheduled a checkup with my neurosurgeon because it seemed like the adult thing to do, also because I was being threatened to do so by family and friends. Additionally, the thought of smashing my head on the ground at a fairly high velocity and landing directly on a spot that I had a large portion of my brain-protecting skull removed, kind of freaked me out a bit.
I walked into the office, and the surgeon asked if I was having issues/why I was there. His daughter rode as a child, so he was very well acquainted with the mild insanity of horsewomen. After a thorough check up, he happily announced it didn’t seem any damage was done.
I, nerdily, brought my One K helmet to the appointment and showed him the point of impact. He was really impressed with the helmet’s ability to dissipate the shock, especially considering I am missing bone there and have a patch in my brain lining. He said he would use my story not only to insist that all his patients wear helmets, whether on horses, bikes or skis, but could wholeheartedly recommend the One K brand to any equestrians he encountered in the future.
It would have been much worse if I didn’t have a helmet on, of course. And while I can’t speculate as to whether another brand of helmet would have produced the same life-saving results, I can say definitively that One K has kept me walking, talking and functioning at my previously dysfunctional level!
For those that are wondering, my mare was diagnosed with Lyme after that incident. We treated her for 60 days, and switched to dressage for the rehab factor. I also got to purchase a sweet new One K Bling (black/black, because coming from the hunters, I’m just dipping my toes into the sparkle factor) for the dressage ring in addition to the accident replacement (traditional black matte) one I got for the hunters!