By Pam Sourelis
On June 10, two of my non-horsey friends came to the country to hang out with my horses and me. We had lunch in town, then drove out to the barn, a self-care arrangement I have on 20 acres about 10 minutes from where I live. My friends had been looking forward to this adventure for about a month, as had I. Being able to share the beauty and power of horses with others is one of the reasons I have horses in my life.
I brought my two inside—Fuersti and his sister Tara. I decided we would work with Fuersti because he is so solid and safe and because he enjoys interacting with people, a kind and patient teacher. We began by grooming him, then moved to the arena, where I showed my friends how to lead him and do very basic ground work (having him stop his feet when they stopped theirs, giving his hind quarters, and so on).
Then I asked one of the women if she would like to ride. (The other has knee problems, so I knew she would refuse.) My friend was a bit reluctant—my Fuersti is 16.2 or 3, a big-boned TB/warmblood cross—but I assured her that we’d done this many times, that I would lead her around, that it would be like a pony ride. She smiled and agreed.
I remember tacking Fuersti up—a saddle and a caveson with rope reins attached. But there my memory ends.
From what I was able to gather in the weeks that followed, mostly from the friend who was standing at the edge of the arena, when my other friend began to mount, she grabbed the saddle in such a way that it began to slip. I yelled for her to get off, but apparently she was unable to do so, and so I moved to her side of the horse, stood behind her, and tried to help.
What happened next would change my life. My Fuersti, apparently responding to pain (a friend who was caring for my horses told me days later that the muscles along his spine were very swollen) moved in a violent way that knocked my friend off the mounting block and into the sand, where she suffered skinned elbows and a few bruises.
The force, however, traveled through her and into me, sending me “flying” (in the words of my friends) 15 feet across the arena. My flight was stopped by the wall, which I hit with my back and my head. (I wasn’t wearing a helmet because I wasn’t riding.) I was knocked out cold. They say I came to before the paramedics arrived, but I don’t remember. They say I asked what had happened, asked about my animals. (I learned later that my sweet Fuersti had walked across the arena and put his head in the corner; he stood there for over an hour until a neighbor came home from work, and untacked, fed, and turned him back outside.) I remember coming to briefly as I was being lifted off the ground—I was in a helicopter, headed to a trauma center. But the next thing I clearly remember was waking up in the ICU (I thought it was that night, but it was the next night) with two of my former Reiki students, both accomplished third-level Reiki practitioners, standing over me and channeling Reiki to me. Despite what had happened, serenity enveloped the room.
I learned that I’d had surgery, had my spleen removed. (The surgeon later told me, laughing, that I cursed him out when he told me what he was going to do, but I don’t remember.) I also had five broken ribs, but somehow that information didn’t make its way to me.
I spent a week in the hospital, stayed until my insurance company (not my doctor) decided it was time to go. I’d been lying on my back for a week, my hands on my five-inch incision just about all the time, channeling Reiki, and everyone (except me) was stunned at how quickly my incision had healed. Just days after I got home, I could tell from the dull pain and itching that the muscles they’d cut in the surgery were already beginning to heal as well. Two months, they told me; the recovery would take two months. “Watch me,” I thought.
I came along amazingly well, in large part because of the healing I received from my Reiki dog, Elika. She attached herself to me for several weeks, always in physical contact, leaving my side only to eat or go for a walk (which she often protested having to do).
But after three weeks, my progress stopped and I quickly went downhill, ending up back in the hospital ( a different one), where they discovered the five broken ribs, three of which were now displaced, and a lung full of fluid. Six more days in the hospital.
You may wonder how any of this a blessing.
When I hit the wall, my spleen fractured inside its sack. I learned later that if the sack had ruptured, I could have bled to death in three minutes.
While recovering (a process I’m still engaged in), I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of people, my family and friends, of course, but also complete strangers. I learned of congregations praying for me, of friends of friends lighting candles for me. In the hospital the second time, I was told that my recovery process had been reset back to zero, that I could count on two months of pain from the broken ribs. Reiki, prayer, love—the pain subsided to a dull annoyance after 10 days at home.
I know—I teach—that a positive attitude reaps positive results. But I have never been so physically challenged before. The worse the pain was, the more I said aloud, “Thank you for my healthy, healed body.” I refused to own the pain, opted to own the health. The extent to which I did this was a new experience for me. And it worked. Each day, I leapt further into wellness. When I got scared, and I did, I didn’t muscle through it on my own; I called a friend, asked for and received comfort and assurance. I buried my face in my Elika’s fur. I sent Reiki to my sweet Fuersti, to heal his back, to let him know that all was well.
I received lessons in patience. Over the years, horses have challenged me with this lesson many times, but I was challenged anew. I wanted to work at my computer, but I could only sit for half an hour at a time and my eyes and head hurt because my optic nerves were swollen from the impact of head on wall. So I would work for a short while, then lay in my hospital bed in the living room and look out the patio door at the evergreens in the yard, at the rabbits and squirrels and birds, while I smelled the sweet air, stroked my sweet Elika and gave thanks that I could see at all, could feel, could smell, gave thanks that I was alive.
I received lessons in abundance. A healer and writer, I am self-employed and as the workless weeks went by, I started to fret. But I reminded myself of the Reiki principle, “Just for today I will let go of worry” and instead told the Divine One that I had faith in my full recovery. I gave thanks for the work that I knew was on the way. Ten minutes later, the phone began to ring.
I learned again that healing is all around us—in the voices of friends, in the sweet summer breeze, in the touch of my Elika’s soft fur, of her tongue on my face, in the sweet anticipation of being able to see and care for my beautiful horses again one day soon, of the healing visits from my healing partners, two-legged and four-legged, living and passed over.
I learned how amazingly fragile life is. How everything can change in an instant. We have precious little control. We can only live, float, in the present. I am here. I am surrounded by love and light and healing forces. I am blessed.Reiki Master Teacher Pam Sourelis is a professional Reiki Energy Healer, Animal Communicator, and practitioner of Neuro-Muscular Retraining (movement re-education for animals) based in Woodstock, Illinois.
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