Falling into Now: Memories of Sport, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Education

October 19, 2017|
Falling into Now: Memories of Sport, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Education by Claire Smith
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In this marvelous little book, the historical theme involves the world of equestrian competition at the highest level. The author’s early life was dedicated to horses and competitive events. Through her skill and commitment, she became an internationally recognized rider, and a member of Canada’s National Team. She was selected to compete at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The sophisticated competitor not only loves her horses, who are such a critical element in the sport, but combines equestrian skill with courage in competitive performance.

The author, in outlining the history developed in the book, demonstrates that the sport requires commitment, courage and is dangerous – an enormous and powerful animal guided by a skilled rider. The most challenging and dangerous is the three-day event combining dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

The story has a dedicated, experienced and thoroughly committed athlete confronting her worst fears. In a cross-country event in England in 1997, her horse summersaulted over an early jump, unseating its rider, the author, and resulting in horrendous injury which permanently changed her life.

The book is about her medical trials arising out of a very serious brain injury, compounded later with a physical disability associated with brain damage which was crippling and arose many months after the fall which left her not only with cognitive limitations, but at the same time, disabling physical effects.

The underlying theme in the book concerns a painful recovery phase and is about the emotional turmoil associated with acceptance that she will never ride again. The emotional elements are complicated and depressing, challenging the spiritual and intellectual inventory of talents in this remarkable woman. A point is skillfully made that there could hardly be anything more depressing (and soul destroying) than adjusting to the fact, over months and years, that one will never compete again in the sport in which one had reached the highest levels. The account of this subject by the author would ring true for any skilled athlete who had to permanently abandon their life’s pursuit due to injury.

As the book develops, after many months of medical treatment and therapy, the author begins to accommodate and absorb the reality of the consequences of her critical injury. She is the admirable hero of the story but it is clear from her narrative that the course of her life would have been permanently and negatively affected were it not for the empathetic support provided by her devoted mother and father, who as one might expect, dedicated their lives to overcoming the plight of their beloved daughter. Apart from the reality of life changing injury, this is a truly inspirational account of parental love unrestrained.

To come to grips, as it were, with the rest of her life, the author switches course from her equestrian life to academia. Her subject of study, not surprisingly, is the phenomenon of serious head injury and the psychological and sociological effects on the individual. She earned a Master’s Degree and eventually converts her shattered life experience with the grant of a Ph.D. Not surprisingly, her thesis deals with the psychological and emotional management of this most devastating event in her life.

As she points out, academia alone was not nearly enough to enable her to accommodate her emotional state to her real life situation. What follows is a dedicated effort to rely on her powerful spiritual resources to put her early life behind her and migrate to emotional normalcy.

The cruelty besetting the author is exacerbated by the on-set of Dystonia, an affliction attributed to neurological sequelae from her head injury. She must now cope not only with her psychological burden, and, if that were not enough, a physically disabling condition which confines her in many of her activities to a wheelchair.

Extraordinarily, her life is re-ordered and she is able to put her demons behind her. Now a charming, intelligent and accepting young woman with a coterie of good friends and admirers in her life.

Writing this extraordinary account of her travails has undoubtedly added to her inventory of initiatives which have stabilized her life. It is an inspiring read.

Title:Falling into Now: Memories of Sport, Traumatic Brain Injury, and EducationFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:260 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.55 inShipping dimensions:260 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.55 inPublished:October 19, 2017Publisher:IuniverseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1532026404

ISBN - 13:9781532026409

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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