Terry Houghton - The Road to Recovery - Part II

Horse Racing Radar
Shawn Drupp
Shawn Drupp is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
You can read PART I of this story here.


"The hours for the ICU were 9am to noon and 4pm to 7pm so everyday we went and sat with him.  We didn't sleep much at all while he was in the hospital. We had to rotate due to Covid rules and restrictions. After his surgery on Wednesday, he was moved to a step-down unit and my sister Alyssa had to go back to Florence for school and work. I would stay at the hospital with him all day since the restrictions for that floor were 7am to 7pm. The whole time our phones never stopped blowing up. He has such a huge community that loves and supports him and that wanted to know how he was. We tried our best to keep everyone updated through Facebook," Ashley wrote.

Terry's thoughts on the surgery were, "The face surgeon told me that I will feel much better after the surgery. He said I wouldn't be in as much pain. He was wrong. I was in more pain. They had to increase the pain medication I was taking. I was taking like 5 different kinds of pain medication. From having so many different kinds, I was able to get something every hour. I had to keep putting an icepack on my head and face."

Terry continued, "To do the surgery they also had to put a trach in my throat so I could breathe while in surgery. They left it in for a few days after the surgery. It was hard to swallow anything. It felt like I kept getting something stuck in my throat. I was so happy when they finally took it out. But after getting it out I started coughing up gobs of blood. The doctor said it was normal because I had broken my nose so bad. It was my sinuses trying to drain the blood out."

"The face surgeon had to put 4 plates in my face. He had to connect my face back to my skull. In my mouth he had to wire braces above my upper teeth. I had 3 more weeks left before he can take that out of my mouth. I can only eat real soft food like soup, yogurt, jello, scrambled eggs and small pieces of fruit," said Terry.

On Wednesday April 21st, 2021, 11 days after the accident, Terry was released from the hospital to do the rest of his recovery from home.  Terry describes what it's been like after getting home, "So far my follow up appointments went well. My knee doctor said that if my knee keeps healing the way that it is I won't need surgery. If I'm still having pain in my knee he will have to clean up around the MCL. It would only be a 2 to 3 week recovery."

Terry said, "The worst thing that has happened is that I thought I could put hot sauce and chopped jalapeƱo peppers in my soup like I used to. Big mistake! I really messed up my stomach. It was probably also from all the pain medication I was taking in the hospital. For 6 days I could barely eat anything without feeling like I was going to throw up and for my stomach to hurt extremely bad. In the six days this is all I had to eat: 2 yogurts and 4 scrambled eggs with nothing on them."

Terry continued, "I kept trying to drink water and Pedialyte so I wouldn't dehydrate. I really needed to eat so I could heal and get stronger. I weighed myself a couple of days ago and I lost 15 pounds since the day of the accident. I weighed 95 pounds. I haven't weighed that since I was in the 9th grade. Thank goodness my stomach finally started feeling better yesterday (5/3/21). I was able to eat more yesterday than I have eaten in the last six days combined. If my stomach didn't start getting better I would have had to go back to the hospital. Hopefully from this day forward I will continue to heal and get better."  

Terry still wonders exactly what happened and how he got the injuries he did. Terry said. "I still haven't been able to watch the race. I would like to see it so I can better understand what happened. The craziest thing is how did my face get so broken up. I was told by one of the people in the ambulance that I was laying on the track next to the horse I was on and the horse I was on broke its back from the way it fell. My horse kept trying to get up and was kicking its legs around. Its legs kept hitting me in the face until the ambulance driver pulled me away from the horse."

I personally remember getting to my car after a night out at the movies with the family and reading a Facebook message from my brother about this incident. I had no idea what I was going to read so I panicked and opened it real fast to make sure everybody was ok.  At that time it didn't' sound too good. I was constantly checking for updates. Terry has been one of the nicest guys I've talked to around the sport. That's saying something because there are plenty of good people around the sport if you get to know them. He's one of those guys that will take the time and respond to everybody.  He was on our podcast, The Player's Edge on 12/17/20, which you can still listen to here.

Thankfully his daughters Ashley and Alyssa did a great job updating everybody through Facebook. The news would start to get better and better as time went on.  Alyssa said "All of the support, messages, and prayers we've received during this time have really showed us how strong the racing community really is. He has such a huge fan base and racing family that during all of this we truly wanted to keep everyone as updated and informed as possible. I've never seen so many people reach out and leave messages for him before. It was really cool to see how many people he has in his corner. I know he has really appreciated it!"

Ashley echoed her sister's thoughts, saying "The whole time our phones never stopped going off. He has such a huge community that loves and supports him and that wanted to know how he was. We tried our best to keep everyone updated through Facebook."

Terry still has some healing to do but just like with every other injury he has had, he will overcome it. Terry did say this was the worst one to date. "This is the most painful accident that I ever had. When I was in the hospital I was having some doubts. I was in so much pain I couldn't see getting any better," Terry wrote.  

Whether we will see Terry ride again or not, that still is up in the air. Terry says "More than likely I will ride again but I will make the final decision after I see how I heal and how I'm feeling then. Right now I'm just trying to concentrate on getting better."

Alyssa's closing thoughts on recovery and her dad riding again are "My sister and I take turns being in Ohio to help care for him during this long road to being fully healed. I can say he's more than ready to be back in the saddle! He's determined to make a full recovery so he can be back to riding races. He still has a long road to being fully recovered but he made his decision to return to racing. This is his life, it's all he knows and he's one hell of jockey. This accident is certainly a setback, but he's not ready to be done yet so we will support him and be there to cheer him on during his first race back! We love him so much and can't wait for him to finally be back to normal!"

Ashley was just as confident that her dad will heal and be riding again soon. Ashley writes, " My sister and I came up with a way to let me work a couple days. She comes on Fridays and Saturdays so I can work two days since the bills don't stop and then I come back on Sundays and I stay throughout the week with him and do anything he needs. I cook, clean, grocery shop, take him to appointments, and so on. He is recovering great and I know he is so determined to get back to riding and if my dad puts his mind to something he accomplishes it. So there's no doubt in my mind that he will be back riding before we know it."

It was special to see all the people that came together to show Terry how many fans are out there and how much he is loved.  It proves how much of a nice and likeable guy Terry is.  Terry is one strong guy and it also showed through in his daughters. They were dealing with everything with their father and being 4 and half hours away yet they kept it together to update everybody as much as they could. I would say there was almost a daily Facebook post on how Terry was doing. Great job Ashley and Alyssa! Also, great job by Carly Hamel who set up the Gofundme page that night and it ended up raising $10,571.00 for Terry and Luan.


*Special Thanks to Terry, his daughters Ashley, and Alyssa for their time and sharing this story with us here at Horse Racing Radar. We wish them well and Luan and his girlfriend Raissa nothing but the best going forward.