Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Small Opening to Crawl Through

I've been hankering to get out and have my first ride of the fall season after a long hot summer in hibernation, but one thing after another has blocked my efforts.  These issues have been going on for weeks, but just to give a few examples I'll talk about this week's mishaps.

On Saturday I bathed and groomed the geldings, and trimmed Rock's tail to prepare for the riding season.  This was something I'd been trying to do in the previous weeks without success.  It felt good to finally knock that off my To Do List.  I planned to ride in the arena on Sunday while my husband was home in case I had trouble dismounting with my bum leg.  You may recall that I developed pain and inflammation in my right leg at the beginning of summer, got diagnosed with osteoarthritis and put on anti-inflammatory medication.  I tried doing a test ride on Rock in the arena during the summer, but it was so stinkin' hot that both Rock and I were sweating profusely and unable to do much of anything other than to scramble to get into some shade.

However, on Sunday it rained all day long, which is a rarity for Arizona.  We usually get a quick downpour and then the sun comes out and it's sweltering hot again.  This was a cool storm that drizzled and rained steadily throughout the day, so riding was out of the question.  Of course, my husband washed his car the day before.

Even though my husband was at work during the week, I still planned to ride on Monday.  However, I had such extreme HMB and cramps that I was considering going to the ER instead.  I thought I was going to give birth to my internal organs.  Because I'm already on anti-inflammatories for the leg, and because I have stomach problems, I'm not allowed to take any other medications on top of those if I'm in pain, so I had to ride it out.  Eventually, the problems subsided, so I planned to ride on Tuesday.

I put on my riding boots, gathered my equipment together and noticed that my helmet cam battery was dead, so I decided to clean stalls and the arena while waiting for it to charge.  However, by the time I finished cleaning up manure, my leg was in so much pain that I couldn't put any weight on it.  I hopped back to the house and spent the rest of the day sitting and lying down, trying to get control of the inflammation.  My thigh felt like it was on fire.

This pain was worse and different from the arthritis pain I've had in the past, so I did some research and found that it could either be arthritis pain or a DVT blood clot.  Now I was in a pickle.  I could either go to the ER and pay a $10,000 hospital bill only to find out that it is an arthritic flare up, or I could assume it is an arthritic flare up and possibly have a stroke or heart attack.  I did what I always do.  I waited it out, but kept the phone close by in case I had to call 911.

The pain did subside and the burning stopped by late afternoon.  Bombay was acting stir crazy, making loud noises chewing on everything in sight, so I decided to test out my leg by taking him for a quick walk to relieve his boredom.  We didn't get very far because the pain returned.  I was feeling so discouraged, wondering if I will ever be able to ride a horse again.

My husband said that he would stay home from work on Wednesday if my leg was not better in the morning, so that he could do my chores and take me to a doctor if need be.  However, this morning I woke up pain-free and was able to do all my barn chores without any issues arising.  I knew I had to jump on this small window of good health, so I saddled up Rock as soon as he finished his breakfast.

Of course, the trash truck had to show up right when I was getting ready to ride. First it picked up at all the houses behind my arena, and I can tell you that my neighbors must be heavy beer drinkers, because there was a lot of glass breaking.  We bought Rock because a trash truck showed up and dumped the contents of a huge trash bin into its crusher with those mechanical arms just a few feet away from Rock, and he didn't react at all, so I knew he'd be okay with the truck.  However, with this being the first time I've ridden him in many months, I did not want to take a chance on having the truck let off its air brakes and take Rock by surprise right when I was mounting.

I had to wear sneakers, because I was convinced that walking around in heeled riding boots yesterday was what triggered my leg pain.  I normally would not ride in sneakers because they have gummy soles that can stick to the stirrups and prevent me from being able to quickly pull my feet out during a wreck or a dismount.  I prefer the slippery leather soles of boots, but apparently I'm at a point where I need orthopedic shoes with slippery leather soles and no heels to ride in.

The trash truck came around to the houses on my street while I was doing ground work, and right when I was about to mount, the driver parked in front of my house with his engine idling.  I waited for him to leave, but he wouldn't.  I realized that he was watching me and waiting to see me ride, so I led Rock back into the barn out of his line of sight, and he drove off.  Then I led Rock back to the mounting block and mounted successfully.  Considering that I wasn't even sure if I could mount with my wonky leg, the last thing I needed was a truck rumbling just a few yards away from us to add to the tension.

Rock had to test me on pretty much every cue I gave him, so I had to stay focused on keeping the pressure on until he did what I asked.  All he wanted to do was to return to the barn so that he could raid other horse's leftovers.

I rode for as long as it took to get him to be cooperative and responsive, and that gave me a decent amount of time in the saddle to test out my leg.  I was anxious about dismounting between the unpredictable leg and the gummy sneaker soles.  Ironically, I probably had the smoothest dismount I've experienced in years, and I was walking without a limp afterwards.  In fact, I think sitting in the saddle stretched out some muscles that needed stretching, so my leg felt good.

So, I'm happy knowing that my riding days aren't over just yet.


ellie k said...

I really feel for you. I have had so much pain lately. I have a bad back and get injections about every three months and they really help but with the radiation and we thought chemo coming up it has been put off. Today I found out I do not have to have chemo, I will just take a pill for five years and have 6 or 8 weeks or radiation. Two week ago I fell and had to go to the dr, sprained my ankle bad, it is still wrapped, yesterday I reach for something and threw my back out. I could hardly move. The lady next door is French and she gave me some cream from France to rub on my back, what a difference it made. Can't tell you what it is since it is all in french. Pain just robs you of your life and never seems to go away.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Ellie - That's good that you can avoid chemo. I'm sorry that you are having a string of mishaps on top of the surgery. I often think that if I just had one health issue, then at least I could have a better idea of my limitations and my future, but my biggest challenge is just not knowing which in a handful of health problems is going to show up next and when. I can't plan to do anything, because I'll just be disappointed. I have to keep my expectations low. I'm at a point where I turn down every offer to attend social events and am no longer willing to take job assignments that can't be postponed, because I know that the chances are high that I won't be able to function on that particular day at that time. It's hard to get people to understand, because they see me standing in front of them and I seem to be fine. Every once in a while I see something that interests me and I think I'll get involved, and then I have to remind myself that I can't. I have to change my old way of thinking.

In a case like yours, you have one thing happen that limits your mobility, which makes you vulnerable to other injuries and they all pile up. I'm trying to fight my issues now by constantly stretching and exercising despite the pain.

Crystal said...

So glad your riding days arent over and that you have Rock to take out and he will be as calm and reliable as you need on those rare days

Linda said...

You're lucky to have a horse like Rock. Since the weather is changing, maybe you'll be getting lots of opportunities to ride now--health permitting.

Semi Feral Equestrian said...

It's amazing how just a simple ride can give us hope that our riding days aren't done.

I am in a relatively good place now, but suffer from some major back issues and don't envy anyone else with chronic pain. I have no idea how some people get it done!

I do know though, that when I do push through the pain, horses have provided some immense relief. I am not sure if it's just the stretching or the release of endorphins from just being around them doing something I love. I suspect a combination of both.

Ride on.

-Semi Feral