It was a typical summer evening for our family, time at the barn working horses and enjoying riding together, Aspen has grown up on horses and done "tune up" training for other people since her mid-teens so it was nothing out of the ordinary for her to be working someone else’s horse. On this particular evening the horse she was working with for a family friend was a large gelding with some draft horse in him and the cinch (part of the saddle that holds it securely on the horse) just didn't fit him so she grabbed anther one from the tack supply, this one though not the type we prefer to use was brand new and fit. Everything had been going great and after doing typical ground work and round pen work she moved to the larger arena.
Just as Aspen mounted the horse spooked and did a crow hop (minor lunge) but when he did he was so strong he broke the cinch and popped Aspen along with her saddle into the air. Aspen hit the ground hard with her saddle still between her legs. I called out to her and she calmly told me she had broken her arm. Her husband Chris was already at her side and moved the saddle and started yelling call 911. He was looking at a very damaged arm with plenty of bone and blood visible. We followed the ambulance to the hospital believing we were just dealing with a typical compound fracture and she would have surgery and be home in a day or two.
Aspen was considered a level 2 trauma at the hospital and was rushed into surgery, were they had to put in 3 plates, 19 screws and 16 pins. The following evening things went from bad to worse as the nerve block wore off and her pain was so extreme she was biting her own hand to keep from screeming, and the nurses couldn’t hide their panic as they were calling all over to get a surgeon back in to look at her. When they did, he took one look at the arm and order her prepped for surgery, she had developed compartment syndrome and he was 50-50 if they could save her arm.
He worked a miracle and did save her arm but Aspen would remain in the hospital for 2 weeks and have a total of 6 operations. The large incision on her inner arm from wrist to elbow remained open for almost a full month with a wound vac attached until they had an infection and other things under control and closed it with a skin graft from her leg. She also had to remain on IV antibiotics through a pic line for 6 weeks and required visits from home nurses.
We are now 6 months later and still having regular doctor visits, looking at more surgery in the coming year and she is in physical therapy. She just spent the past 2 months dealing with an abscess that formed on the injured arm near an incision that required an in office procedure and needs more follow up to care for other complications that came about from the accident and hospital stay such as the right side of her heart being enlarged.
Now the kicker...Aspen and Chris did not have health insurance and their current medical bills are close to $300,000.00. The hospital wanted us to claim the owner of the horse or the owner of the arena was financially responsible, this was not something we were okay with or could allow to happen. Aspen and Chris refused to go along with this and put that kind of thing on a kind and caring gentleman who happend to be enjoying retirement.
Chris had just started a new job and was not eligible at the time of the accident and he lost his job because he could not leave town for work while things were at there worst. They were very lucky to have kind landlords who worked with them on rent but now it has been determined that living in a 100 year old house that is not in the best state of repair is contributing to many of Aspens ongoing problems.
Chris is now working again but has to be out of state and they are on an assistance & payment plan for the medical bills but have to pay cash for every new doctor/office visit. With this going on they have been unable to put aside the money needed for deposits and moving expenses.
Aspen and Chris have to move by the middle of February or commit to another year lease were they are at.
Both Aspen and Chris have kind and generous hearts Aspen has been a peer tutor to special needs children and has volunteered with a therapeutic riding program for years and gives free riding lessons to underprivileged kids. Chris coached softball and is always the first to volunteer to teach others how to bull ride, he is always willing to jump in and help out at the JR Rodeo as a pickup man or bull fighter. He shows up every Saturday morning while in town at Aspens grandmothers’ house to do anything that needs to be done.
As a family we have all contributed and helped out in anyway we can, but with all prescriptions having to be paid in cash and the cost of each new visit and helping to cover living expenses while Chris took a lesser paying job until he got this new one we are all tapped out.
We are very used to being on the giving end not the "in need" end and this is a hard pill to swallow, but if you find it in your heart to contribute, all money will go toward moving expenses and medical visits. If you don't have the means to help please share Aspens story and thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for any well wishes and prayers.
- Mike & Linsey Miller
- Belinda Scott
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