Stay positive, says Dubai teen who lost memory in fall

Stay positive, says Dubai teen who lost memory in fall
Gulmehek with a 'get well' card made by her friends

Dubai - Gulmehek Khan suffered a severe concussion when she fell while riding a horse

By Saman Haziq

Published: Sun 6 Aug 2017, 9:49 PM

Last updated: Mon 7 Aug 2017, 9:19 AM

It was an ordinary day in the life for the Khans, Canadian nationals residing in Dubai, and in just a split second, their whole life changed.
Their 13-year-old daughter Gulmehek Khan, who made news last year for being one of the youngest published poets in the world, had a violent fall while riding a horse and suffered a severe concussion that left her with short-term memory loss.
The talented teen failed to recognise her father, although she faintly remembered her mother. What followed was headache, dizziness, imbalance, confusion and a 'heck lot of irritation'. But she fought it all with her optimism. Almost two months after the fall, the teenager has shocked all by topping her school, writing and reciting a poem by heart in French and is all set to get back to horse-riding (without changing her horse). She shared her story of positivity, optimism and hope with Khaleej Times and called her fall 'a unique and learning experience'. She believes that she is now better prepared to face life and says one should live this moment to the fullest, because you never know, God may be planning a test for you.
Recalling the accident, her mother Naureen told Khaleej Times that Gulmehek had been taking horse riding sessions since she was just five and like any other day, she was riding her horse that is usually calm and friendly. Suddenly, something either excited or disturbed the horse and it got unruly, throwing Gulmehek off its back. "It all happened in front of our eyes and in split seconds, we saw her lying on the ground unconscious. The good thing she did was that she held the reins tightly, so the fall was not so strong and did not result in any fracture. But she became unconscious for a few minutes," said Naureen Khan.
It was a severe case of concussion and Gulmehek's immediate memory was completely erased.
"She was told to take complete bed rest and avoid any kind of mental or physical activity that could tire her mind or body. No music, no light, no games, no books, no loud sound, no activity what so ever," Naureen said.
"Immediately after Gulmehek's fall and the followed concussion, both my husband and I were in a state of shock. I guess no parents are ever prepared to see their children in such a condition. Her memory loss, especially her failure to recognise her own father, was extremely difficult to deal with. But a couple of days later, she came up to me, sat on my lap and told me: 'This is not the end of the world, and we will fight it out together. I am too confused to understand anything right now, but trust me, things will be better soon. Let's just try and stay happy'," her mother said.
"Her words gave me back my strength that I had lost in two days."
Talking about the support from Gulmehek's school staff and classmates, Naureen said: "After two-and-a-half weeks, her doctor suggested she should go to school as she needed to start some activity to keep herself busy. I must say that her school staff - Nord Anglia International School - right from the receptionists to her teachers, principal and all her classmates - cooperated, supported and encouraged her amazingly. She was allowed only five-minute brain work and her teacher would give her special attention and care, and followed the procedure of giving her rest after every five-minute activity."
Gulmehek has achieved outstanding results at school, even when she gave her exams - that were held just three weeks after her fall - without even being able to revise or look at her books. She has not only topped in all the subjects but has topped the entire section that comprises 180 students. She even won an award for best recitation of a French poem that she had written just two days prior to the fall.
"Honestly, I had never seen any other child recovering so fast mentally in my life. Her positivity, her acknowledgement and acceptance of the whole situation and her attitude of always listening well to her elders helped us through these difficult times. She listened well to her teachers, her doctor, and her parents and did everything she was supposed to as she just kept saying that she needed to recover fast. This completely prevented her from going into depression which normally happens with concussion patients," Naureen said.

Lessons learnt from the accident

"The whole experience has taught me a big lesson for the rest of my life as a parent," said Gulmehek's mother Naureen. "As parents, we never want anything bad to happen to our children but, many times we tend to get upset with our children when they fail to meet our expectations. But when accidents like these happen to our children, God reminds us that the only thing that matters is their life and their smiles."
Giving her take on her fall, Gulmehek Khan told Khaleej Times: "Falling off my horse and the followed concussion had been a very unique and learning experience for me. Before this incident, I used to be a little bit of careless most of the times, thinking that life offers only good things. My concussion taught me that God has his own ways of teaching us different things in life, so we need to give our best to all we do and at all times."
Since Gulmehek was not allowed any physical or mental activity, every moment became a burden. "But then my mother and I started telling jokes to each other, started making up stories, and very often even sang to each other. This helped lift our spirits a lot.
"From my whole experience, I have learnt a big lesson in life. When an accident happens with you, there are many forces and facts trying to pull you back, throwing you into depression. But if you stay positive, thinking about all the good things that are awaiting you in life; you can defeat these forces easily and emerge a winner. But I would like to stress on one thing, you should always acknowledge all the support and help that people around you give you. Because don't forget, everyone is going out of their way to do it," Gulmehek said.

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