On December 2nd, 2014, my husband and I set out with our well-behaved horses for a lovely ride in the Cheviots. It is an area we know well, and have ridden on that route many, many times.
It was beautiful day, thank goodness; clear blue skies, cold and crisp. We set off from the Haugh at Ingram and headed up the hill, through a couple of gates, on the bridle path over the hills to Prendwick.
My mare is a bit fussy about where she puts her feet and she stepped sideways over a tractor rut… snapping my femur right in the middle. I looked down and saw my foot dangling, pointing backwards. I yelled, she jumped, and I fell off, breaking 5 ribs and puncturing my lung.
I shouted to my husband that I had broken my leg… he was a long way ahead by then, and not to come near with the horses as I could not move.
So, there we were, me lying in a heap, holding half a thigh and not able to let go, him with two fresh, flighty, scared horses and no mobile phone signal. He walked to the top of the hill, found some signal and called 999.
About an hour later, a very puffed and red faced paramedic arrived with some lovely gas and air. He had parked his first responder car at the bottom of the hill and ran up with all his kit. I have never ever been so glad to see anyone. It was very nice lying in the winter sunshine looking up at the blue sky, but I was beginning to wonder what would happen to me if no one came.
He was joined fairly quickly by another couple of paramedics, who started to cut my clothes off. I had a lot on; a beautiful brand new pair of winter warm fleecy lined leather bottomed breeches. Very expensive. Never seen them again.
Within a very short period of time the Air Ambulance arrived from Penrith, I think. By now I was away with the fairies. It couldn’t find anywhere to land, so I didn’t actually see it, just heard it.
I have to be honest, I was beginning to feel a bit poorly by now, the adrenalin was wearing off and I was wondering why I couldn’t breathe. Then the most amazing female doctor came running towards me in her green overalls, gave me huge dose of morphine, then a huger dose of ketamine (hideous hallucinations, and people take it as recreational drug?!) put a neck brace on me and told me they were going to straighten my leg!!!!! The last thing I can remember is asking her if I could hold her hand. I hope she can still use it. It took 3 men. They pulled hard.
Apparently after that the amazing Wilson family from Ingram farm had spotted that there was a bit of a fracas, and they transported me to the helicopter in the back of their pick-up. A bit of a problem apparently; there were no tracks, and I am tall, so there was a lot of me hanging over the edge.
I can remember the lovely doctor holding my hand in the helicopter, asking if I was alright, then landing on top of the RVI in Newcastle and feeling just so incredibly grateful and thankful and amazed at how kind and professional everyone had been.
My poor husband had just had to watch, holding onto the horses, moving them as far away as he dared when the helicopter came in. Then he had to get them off the hill, into the lorry and home (an hour and a quarter away) and safe in their stables before he could come to the RVI to see what was happening.
The RVI fixed me. I have a titanium rod in my femur, a lot of screws. It was a spiral fracture so took a long time to heal, and my leg is a bit shorter than the other, but I can walk, with a limp, and ride, where it doesn’t really matter! My ribs caused me more pain than my leg to be honest.
I will never let anyone complain about paramedics, the Great North Air Ambulance Service or the NHS. From the moment my husband called 999 we were treated with the most amazing kindness and respect, everything was done as fast as was reasonable, and they saved my life. I didn’t realise at the time, but a broken femur can kill you, from shock and internal bleeding. I am now as fit as a limping middle aged woman can be, and very, very happy to be here.
Jane has kindly donated a week stay in her idyllic Cosy Garden Cottage in Kiln Pit Hill, which will be auctioned at our Air Angels charity ball.
The ball takes place on the 16th June 2018 at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead. Tickets can be purchased from our website, here