Last spring, a Langley nurse was in a life changing horseback riding accident, but today she’s back in the saddle.
Keya Milaire spent seven weeks at Vancouver General Hospital after the horse she was exercising at Campbell Valley Park became spooked, reared up and landed on top of her on May 24.
Since then, Milaire has been recovering from cracked ribs, a broken back, and a fractured pelvis.
Today she walks unassisted, works shortened shifts with Fraser Health, does hot yoga, and even rides her own horse again.
“It was difficult and humbling at the same time. I learned a lot about myself, what’s important and what’s not important,” Milaire said of the accident.
But despite reaching milestones throughout the year, the recovery has been notably tough on Milaire, who previously lived a very active lifestyle, and started her career in nursing three years ago.
“When it comes down to it I think it changed my life for the better in a lot of ways. But the recovery has been very hard on me. It’s something that I’m not just going to get better from immediately because I fractured so many areas of my spine,” she explained.
Milaire added that time spent on her feet is shortened as after work, she’s often too tired to even cook dinner.
According to Milaire, her gait has changed drastically because of the way the injury has healed, resulting in a flattened spine in areas where it should be curved.
To improve the injury, Milaire spends anywhere from one to five days in physiotherapy, massage therapy, and at the chiropractor.
“Part of me thinks I’m ahead of schedule, and another part of me is like ‘wow this is going to affect me for years and I don’t think I’ll ever be normal again,’” she added.
A few of Milaire’s post-injury milestones have included backpacking through Thailand, meeting her boyfriend, and getting back on her horse.
The first time Milaire rode again, she said it “felt so good I was crying I was so happy.”
As for her boyfriend, the couple met after Milaire’s story spread across social media.
Milaire had posted that when she was airlifted to the hospital, it was the first time she had rode in a helicopter, and her now-boyfriend – who’s a helicopter pilot – reached out and offered her a second ride.
Two weeks after Milaire arrived home from the hospital, the pair connected, and Milaire has been on two more helicopter rides since the first.
“It’s pretty crazy. He’s been a big help as well and he’s new to my life because of the accident,” she said.
Milaire also credits her mom and close friends for ongoing support and companionship.
“My mom came out to see me every day in the hospital. She worked all day and then came out and would stay with me until midnight to make sure I wasn’t alone. All of my friends have been so supportive, they’d take me out with my walking poles and a pillow to sit on,” she elaborated.
And for now, Milaire continues to focus on recovering, and paying off debts that piled up as a result of being off work.
The biggest lesson she’s learned from the incident is “don’t sweat the little stuff.”
“Life is so much worse when you’re broken so don’t worry if you spilled your coffee, or if there’s traffic. You can still get frustrated but it’s not life or death because there’s so many more important things to be happy for,” Milaire added.