Tamara Tögel’s great passion is horses. But on one of her rides, her Tinker mare Marilyn shies and she falls – the heavy horse falls on her. She lies in the cold January forest for about two hours until she is finally found and taken to hospital. At the end of the day it is clear: the young single mother has suffered a traumatic brain injury with brain haemorrhage, a myriad of broken bones as well as numerous other injuries – and her survival hangs in the balance.
“Before this accident, I had never fallen while riding. But there was suddenly a deer in the undergrowth and Marilyn shied. We stumbled on the icy ground and she fell on me with her 800 kilos. When she later turned up saddled in the stable, the people there were of course worried and started looking for me. I don’t remember any pain or any thoughts. I just lay there. Apparently I made a sound – that’s how they found me. The ambulance took me to the hospital in Reutlingen, then on to Tübingen. Shoulder blades, ribs, pelvis, spine – everything was broken. I also had brain haemorrhages – despite my riding helmet. I was put into an artificial coma and the doctors didn’t give my family any hope. ‘She probably won’t make it,’ they said. But I am a fighter.
When I opened my eyes again after three weeks, everyone was quite surprised. I couldn’t speak and didn’t feel anything from the waist down. My back, which has been full of screws and metal plates ever since, hurt like hell. But something in me knew: I can do it. Even when I was told later that I would remain severely disabled forever and would no longer be able to speak properly, I didn’t really believe it. I have a five-year-old daughter – she is my everything and I want to be there for her again as soon as possible. This goal gives me an incredible amount of strength.
When I came from Tübingen to Kliniken Schmieder in phase B at the end of March, I was still completely helpless at first. But step by step I regained my independence. I learned to speak again pretty quickly, but the biggest problems were and are walking and cognitive skills such as my memory. This is all very strongly supported here: Whether it’s computer-supported neuropsychology, medical training therapy, memory group, treadmill, Vector walking training, rollator – I get something out of all the therapies. I especially enjoy the occupational therapy.
In the meantime, I am in phase D and when other patients see me in the corridor, they congratulate me on my great progress. I always believed I could do it, but I’m surprised at how fast it’s gone. The therapists and doctors were also amazed. A few months ago in Tübingen, they said I wouldn’t survive, and now I walk the corridors with a rollator.
Every Sunday, my daughter visits me together with my parents. When she saw my first attempts at walking, she was totally happy with me. Mummy, great! And then immediately: ‘Let’s play hide and seek! I really miss her – that’s the hardest thing for me in this situation. But until she can be with me again, she is in good hands with my parents. The accident really showed me how valuable our family bond and my friendships are. I am so grateful to them all. Once the people from the farm even came to visit me here at the clinic with Marilyn. That was a wonderful surprise and gave a lot of encouragement. All the people here at Schmieder have also been incredibly supportive. This motivating kindness has made all the difference for me.
My next goals are to be able to walk and climb stairs on my own again. And at some point, to ride again. I would definitely like to return to my job as a retail saleswoman. But what is most important to me is to be with my daughter again.
What advice do I give to other patients? Think positively! Even if there is no progress for a while. For some people it’s quicker, for others it might take longer – just keep going and never give up!”