COMMUNITY STORIES | 7.5.2015
My name is Courtney King Dye. I was in the 2008 Olympics for dressage, and in 2010, I suffered a TBI when the horse I was riding tripped and fell, smashing my helmet-less head to the ground. I was in a coma for a month and in the hospital for five more. All four lobes of my brain were injured, but somehow my cognition was completely spared. The right side of my body works at about 20%, the left side at about 85%, and my speaking is comprehensible but not much more.
"Because I was an Olympian, my accident was highly publicized within our small but international community, and because of this, a great deal of good came out of my misfortune."
Because I wasn't wearing a helmet at the time, it sparked attention to safety and was the impetus behind creating the internationally supported riders4helmets campaign. It instigated several head-gear rule changes in many disciplines in many countries. I've gotten, and still get, countless emails from people sharing a story of how a helmet saved their life and saying how they wouldn't have been wearing one if it weren't for my accident. Also, because of my big name, people were very interested in what was happening with me along the way, so I shared--and still share-- all the details on a blog: http://www.ckddressage.com/courtneys-updates.html, which many people have told me helps them through their daily struggles.
As was the case with Kevin, my accident not only took away my career, but the very core of my passion, what had driven me from the day I left the womb. But, like him too, I didn't allow the accident to take away my happiness. Because I'm physically far from able to ride at my previous level, I've simply changed my goals to be compatible with my abilities. I enjoy teaching a great deal, and I've taken someone under my wing I thoroughly believe will make it all the way, and it's my new passion to get her there. I've written an autobiography, Courtney's Quest. I've had a daughter, who is undoubtedly a piece of perfection.
"I certainly have my difficulties, but the overall feeling is that my life is certainly different from what I imagined, but it's no less fulfilling."
The way I've come to know LoveYourBrain is by seeing Kevin speak at Wanderlust, a yoga festival. He was telling about how after his accident, he had to wear glasses to keep from seeing double, and after one yoga class, he was able to put the glasses away. This struck a cord with me. When I'd just gotten out of the hospital, my hippo therapy teacher suggested that I do yoga. I said, "I hate yoga. Before my accident, I tried and they told me to concentrate on my breathing for two minutes. All I could think of is what else I could be doing with those two minutes." But she said she'd come to instruct me, and to my surprise, it helped. My sleeping had always been an issue--I couldn't do it--and yoga brought it from 2-3 hours a night to 4-5. So when I came home, I hired a yoga teacher from our gym to do private sessions. Through no fault of her own, she put me in a position that wrenched my back. She simply wasn't educated in how to handle me. So LoveYourBrain's goal of supplying educated, affordable instructors to people with TBIs already won my full-fledged support, but when I perused the website, it was clear that the whole foundation provides the kind of support I know TBI survivors need, stressing positivity, community and education.