Personal motto carries Sherman through life’s changes, challenges
BY SARA KEDDY
Kings County Register
Ruth Sherman says, all in all, her fall from her horse, breaking her spine in a couple places and suffering other injuries has “not been a bad thing. “It could have been worse – I could have died.”
The 56-year-old Berwick woman doesn’t remember much about her March accident, other than landing on the ground and feeling it start to rain as paramedics and firefighters tackled her stabilization and transport. “All the miracles,” Sherman says, referring to the quick and expert action of the paramedics, who called for a helicopter transport to Halifax hospitals immediately upon realizing the extent of her injuries; the fact the helicopter even got off the ground in what turned to freezing rain; that her doctors and nurses and other hospital staff handled her with care and skill. “I put it down to someone looking out for me,” she says, checking herself from continuing on to describe the energy, atmosphere and healing light she has felt from that moment through to today, home in her own house, walking.
Sherman’s life was good before this accident: she’d been a nurse, then retrained as a massage therapist with skills in several alternative therapies. There’s a crystal on her coffee table, a dream catcher on her wall, a hand print pattern of stones on her front yard. Even after this dramatic setback, her motto – “live, love, laugh” – drives her. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone – or me, but you take what you’re given “My reality was, yes, this has happened, but I’m going to learn everything good I can out of it, find every silver lining. I’m not the same person.”
From the start, Sherman “knew” she’d walk home – but it wasn’t without challenges. She was very sick several times during her early days in hospital, with 13 pins set in her neck, a halo screwed into her skull to hold her steady and, “when I couldn’t breathe, I knew that wasn’t good. “
Still, she refused a cooking lesson in a wheelchair during rehab, was determined to get out of the chair and up with a walker and pushed herself through hours of physiotherapy and exercise. Watching others in the rehab do the same was inspiring. “These people are going to be OK – not that they’re going to be the same as they were, but they’ll be OK because it’s the only way they can be.”
Sherman had a huge force behind her progress, and she’s moved when she acknowledges it. “Everyone’s been wonderful.”
Horse riding friends, healthcare friends – and strangers who heard her story and followed her progress through a widening circle of contacts fed her determination. In rehab, a horse lover she’d never met turned up to offer osteopathy treatments. Here at home, dozens of alternative care practitioners organized a fundraiser showcasing their work. A church youth group did her yard work. Home herself, friends visit to take her for groceries, appointments and outings. Sherman particularly credits her mother, and other family members, for giving her “such love. “I’m like the pebble that’s thrown out there and the ripples have affected a lot of people. It has certainly changed my life, and I’ve learned a lot of things about myself, my friends and this town.”
Sherman came home from hospital and rehab care August 7. She can walk, but is numb from mid-chest down and feels like she’s ”walking on two wooden pegs.” She has physio, exercises at Greenwood and is gaining back her independence “step by step. “I’m doing incredibly well – and a good thing, too! I try not to get frustrated because I have done so well.”
She anticipates returning to her work, but doesn’t have the strength yet for the deep tissue massage she was trained for. She can’t yet walk up town, but she believes she’ll be on her cross country skis this winter.
As for her horse, Fan, that’s where Sherman’s composure cracks. “I still have her – I may not ever ride again, but I can visit her, I can work her on the ground and some other little girl can ride her.”
The accident wasn’t the horse’s fault, Sherman knows, and she thinks the horse feels for her. “I was in the barn the other day, alone with her for the first time and we had our heads together for the longest time and then she just blew out her nose in a big exhale… that makes me just tear up.”
Making tea and doing her housework are big steps from the utter exhaustion of sitting in a chair for just a few hours in the weeks after her accident, but Sherman feels blessed. “Life is different and will be different, but it’s just as good. “You have to choose to get well, and I have.”