By Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel
A year ago on Sept. 21, I was bucked off my horse on my acreage in Upper Glenrosa, West Kelowna. Before making impact with the ground, however, I suffered extreme blunt force trauma, from repeatedly hitting the saddle horn. With each successive buck I experienced a massive amount of internal damage. The injuries sustained included, a broken pelvis, a badly lacerated bladder, a retroperitoneal hematoma, and ruptured blood vessels.
My helmet saved me from a head injury, and therefore I remained conscious throughout, and dragged myself through the grass, as near to the next door neighbor’s property as I could get, and then cried for help. Even over the sound of a diesel engine running, they were able to hear me and a man and his two sons immediately hopped over the fence and took charge. They called an ambulance and followed the 911 operator’s instructions. The teenage boys’ dad was very comforting, he would touch my arm and tell me it would be alright, as I writhed in pain, cussed and struggled to get up. Unbeknownst to me, each time I moved, the internal bleeding worsened. I was in life-threatening condition, but had no idea.
In the meantime, my neighbor and riding buddy, Val, showed up on horse-back, prepared for our bi-weekly ride in the scenic back=country. She too jumped into action, helping by keeping me calm and praying aloud for me. The ambulance soon arrived and the paramedics had four extra people to help carry my stretcher across a bumpy field and into the ambulance. It took them a long time to stabilize me enough to travel before we were off to the Kelowna General Hospital.
The trauma team was awaiting and I was whisked away, to undergo a CT scan to find out the extent of my injuries. I then had my first surgery to repair the broken blood vessels, and was given two units of blood. During that operation I believe I died and came back. I spent three agonizing days in the Critical Care Unit, with amazing nurses and doctors, followed by three more surgeries later on. One operation was performed by an orthopedic surgeon, who repaired my broken pelvis with a plate and pins, while an urologist repaired my lacerated bladder. Six days later I had to be opened up again to repair another tear in the bladder. I had literally sprung a leak out of one of my sutures. I then developed a bone infection and was on an intravenous antibiotic for six weeks. In total I spent 69 days in hospital, fighting tooth and nail for my life.
During this horrendous ordeal and afterwards, however, I was absolutely blown away by the kindness of my husband, daughters, neighbors, friends, family, and employer, along with my Christian brothers and sisters of various denominations. These churches included the Seventh Day Adventists, and pastors from the SDA, Evangel, Emmanuel and the Ridgewood Evangelical church and their congregations. There were hundreds of people praying for me throughout my ordeal, along with a seven-year-old girl living in Portugal at the time, who insisted that her family pray for me every night.
My SDA church family came in small groups nearly every day while I was in the hospital, bringing food, prayers, and even a guitar to sing and play old hymns. A singing security guard also joined in on one session. The church got together to help my husband get the acreage ready for winter and an 80-something-year-old pastor wielded a chain saw, clearing tree branch debris and was said to out-work his 50-year-old counterparts. While the men worked outside, the women cleaned the house.
When I got home neighbors from McKellar and Preston Road came to help every day, loading the wood stove twice a day to keep me warm, and helped me with personal care, house work, and meals. As did my SDA church family and a friend named Charlene, of 25 years. They all took turns helping, over a period of a couple weeks. I was in a wheel chair for three long months.
As the first year anniversary of my accident quickly approaches, I just want to publicly extend a most heartfelt thanks to my neighbors to the south, who responded to my call for help; you three guys saved my life. To my riding partner Val who prayed for me at the time, and came and visited at the hospital, along with all her extra help. To my church family and neighbors who helped in the same huge capacity. Thank you, to my other neighbors, who cleared the snow from the driveway several times. I did not qualify for home care from Interior Health and could not afford private help, so I don’t know how I would have managed without the kindness of the community, many of whom were strangers. Everyone who pitched in to help, you were outstanding. I cannot thank you enough. Not everyone is that fortunate to have such a good support system, and sadly is on his or her own.
Also I wish to express my utmost gratitude for the skilled trauma surgeons and medical support team, at KGH. I was so blessed to be in such close proximity to a very well-equipped hospital to deal with my extremely grave condition.
Thank you one and all, whom are way too numerous to mention. Without all of you and your prayers, I would have given up hope and would have surely have succumbed to the ongoing suffering.
My injury has been life altering and I will likely never be 100 per cent the way I used to be. However I am so blessed to be able to walk and work again, albeit part time, modified work, as a home care aide.
A most sincere thank you to all who were involved in my healing journey, you are all heroes in my books.