If you had asked me about concussion a couple of months ago, I would probably have scratched my head and muttered about headaches. Now I am living with it, but I still find it hard to describe.
What led up to the concussion? I am dependent on the observations of others, because in effect I wasn’t there. I remember riding up a leafy lane leading onto Dartmoor on a lovely late-September day. The next thing I recall is lying on a hospital trolley feeling a hard collar with holes in it around my neck, and being told that I had fallen off the horse and injured my head six hours ago but that I’d had a normal CTS, but was going to be kept in hospital overnight for observation. I recall the regular disturbance to have my BP taken and a light shone in my eyes, the kind efficiency of the A&E staff, the NHS toast and tea next morning.
As we drove home, my husband told me what had happened. Nothing impressive: we had left the lane and were up on the moor, my horse was restive and started to canter, I lost a stirrup and slipped off. Not onto granite, onto a gorse bush. No obvious head injury, and yes, I was wearing a helmet, but there must have been enough of a wallop for me to be unconscious for several minutes and to have no memory of the fall (just as well if I were ever going to get on a horse again). I have no picture of being in the Land Rover, the drive over the moor to the cottage hospital, the ambulance trip to Exeter and the CT scan. During that time I had tried persistently to understand what had happened – asking endlessly where I was and why I was there. For a while I thought John Major was the Prime Minister, but by the time I reached the cottage hospital I am told I was able to recall the names of my current colleagues, though still perseverating with a litany of repetitive questions as I tried to anchor events in time and space.