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Leisurely Horseback Ride Becomes Fight for Life

A day out turned deadly when Tabitha fell from her horse and her brain began to swell. Doctors weren’t sure she’d survive without permanent damage, but the following months surprised everyone. Read Transcript


NARRATOR: Tabitha Hale had been training for weeks

to take her first trail ride on horseback.

In March 2016, she had her mother, Kim,

were riding around a local farm when Tabitha's horse bolted.

And I was yelling, hold on, Tabitha, hold on, baby--

just don't panic, and I'm chasing her.

At the road, she goes around this little curve,

and I lost complete sight of her.

NARRATOR: Kim turned the corner to find Tabitha lying face

down on the path, unconscious, and with blood coming out

of her ears.

Kim ran to her daughter and called 911.

I went into, God, help me.

It was a panic.

Get it here.

Show me, show me what you can do in this moment, right now.

NARRATOR: Paramedics took Tabitha to Northeast Georgia

Medical Center.

By then, Kim had called Tabitha's husband, Jacob,

who was at home with their four boys.

At the hospital, the family learned

Tabitha had fractured her skull causing her brain

to swell and bleed.

And especially when you can't talk to her

and she can't talk to you and she's unconscious,

it was a scary moment.

NARRATOR: Neurosurgeon, Dr. Arun Jacobs,

said the swelling was getting worse,

and she needed immediate surgery to remove

part of her skull to relieve the increasing

pressure on her brain.

If it swells a little bit more,

it can just press on the brainstem and the next thing

you know, she can deteriorate really

fast to the point of no return.

Her breathing can stop, her heart can stop,

and essentially, she will be brain-dead

in a matter of an hour, maybe not even that.

NARRATOR: Friends and family gathered at the hospital

and spread the word asking people to pray for a miracle.

I thought, God, you gave her to me.

He had blessed me with the most beautiful, unique child,

and I'm going to have to trust you.

NARRATOR: Tabitha made it through surgery,

but Dr. Jacob warned the family that she could be physically

or mentally impaired.

I guess my biggest fear in the whole thing

was that she just wouldn't recognize me or our boys.

I wasn't worried really about if she was in a wheelchair

or anything like that.

I just wanted her to know who we were.

NARRATOR: With Tabitha in and out of consciousness,

any small sign of progress gave the family hope.

They took this pen and they ran it down her foot,

and her toes wiggled.

And it was crazy that something so simple as seeing her toes

wiggle would just send you almost into a shouting mode.

It's like, oh, thank you, God.

It's almost like seeing your child walk for the first time

again.

I told her that I loved her, and she tried

to tell me she loved me back.

I mean, she's my best friend, the love of my life.

NARRATOR: On day three, Tabitha met Candy Jarvis,

a critical care nurse who started

working with Tabitha to get her off the ventilator as soon

as possible.

I wanted her to be able to speak to her family

and for them to hear her voice that day

so that they would know that she was in there.

NARRATOR: She also believed Tabitha needed more

than medical care.

The power of prayer cannot be minimized in these recovery

processes.

Candy looks at Tabitha and she said, Tabitha, I

need you with God's help to give me the biggest breath you got.

And at that moment, it was like you

could see Tabitha's fight in her reach down,

and she took the deepest breath.

NARRATOR: By noon, Tabitha was breathing on her own

and taken off the ventilator, but that wasn't all.

She looked at her husband, and she said, don't ever

let them do that to me again.

At least I knew I could talk to my wife again,

and my wife was going to talk to me.

I remember when people came in,

my mom or Jacob would ask me, Tabitha, do

you know who this is?

And as like, yes, I know who this is,

and I would say their name.

And then after everyone left, I was

like, if you all ask me one more time who somebody is--

I was like, I think I'm going to come off the bed.

I know who everybody is.

NARRATOR: Within the week, Tabitha

was walking under her own power, climbing steps,

and carrying on conversations.

Nine days after the accident, she was sent home.

Even the physical therapist that was there, he was like,

this doesn't happen.

This does not happen.

That was a big wow for me--

that I knew that, OK, we're on the downhill slide

now, that this is going to be good.

NARRATOR: Dr. Jacob later repaired Tabitha's skull.

Then, just 3 and 1/2 months after the accident,

she returned to work with no restrictions.

Definitely, she has done really well considering

the degree of injury that she had and severity of injury,

and it's very gratifying for people like us

when we see things like that because it's not

happening every day even though we try to do our best.

And in that scenario, in that context,

I think she had a miraculous recovery.

How can you not believe in God?

I've seen him work.

NARRATOR: Tabitha doesn't remember the accident,

but she knows for sure that she was always in God's hands.

It just shows me that even when

we feel inadequate in that, you know,

why are we even here, God?

That he still thinks that we are so amazing

and that he cares that much for us.

NARRATOR: It's with that confidence

that Tabitha decided it was time to get back in the saddle.

TABITHA: No matter what comes up against me,

it's not going to bring me down as long as I know that God has

me by the hand, and he is carrying me through

and nothing else matters.

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