But maybe it’s just back-to-back bad luck? …either way, this past couple of months has been rough. Sorry I haven’t written, this post has been festering in my draft bin for quite some time.
Family health crises (yes, plural); uncomfortable coworker conflict; crippling work stress; my amazing boss moving to a different division; Harley colicking; exhausting international travel; and severe knee injury are just a handful of the delightful things that have transpired over the past few months. I won’t go into detail, it’s just that the full spectrum of issues is really making a mess of my feeble attempt to enjoy horses.
Harley and I survived our first colic episode. It was the first time I’ve ever dealt with a colicky horse first hand. It was horrible! (and it wasn’t even that bad) I don’t know how you owners do it. I was at work when my barn owner texted me to say that the resident dressage trainer had noticed Harley not really interested in grazing out in the pasture- he would put his head down and then not eat anything. When he started rolling we knew there was something not right. I was already stressed getting ready to leave the country for work the next day but I left the office, ran home to change, and headed to the barn. My BO walked him, called the vet, and gave him a dose of banamine waiting for me to arrive.
I got to the barn just in time for the vet to pull in. Harley was obviously uncomfortable. The vet said he could hear some gut sounds on the right but nothing on the left and Harley’s heart rate was elevated but not dangerously. He twitched him, and tubed him. He had me smell the exhalations from the tube- it wasn’t bad, only very slightly sour. The vet oiled him and gave a bit more painkiller and then we put him in his stall to recover. He looked pretty rough- sweating all over, doped up, still uncomfortable. I stayed for the rest of the evening and spent quite a chunk of time just staring at poor Harley being miserable. He finally stopped sweating so profusely so I brushed him and took him for a little walk. The vet recommended someone check on him later that night and right away in the morning. He said we’d know then if he was doing better or if a decision would have to be made about surgery. I was a hot mess and quite green around the gills with worry.
Thank goodness he was feeling much more himself overnight and was back out with his buddies the next morning doing his favorite thing.
So I made it to Peru for my meeting. Even though work has been a huge source of stress lately, I don’t want to whine about it anymore…I’m just exhausted even thinking about it.
In the midst of all these fun things my extended family was dealing with a couple of very serious health scares. There were some moments where the stress and worry were pretty crippling and I didn’t ride a lot even when I was able.
When September rolled around and I found out that I had torn my ACL and meniscus, again (I’ve already torn it and had it surgically replaced three times), it was just about too much. The physical pain was a constant. Walking was difficult. I was mentally preparing for facing another surgery. The orthopedic surgeon explained that it would require two surgeries this time: one to remove the hardware from the previous surgery, harvest and place bone grafts and the second, six months later, to replace the torn ligament. The devastation was not new- it’s an emotion I know well from high school when this same knee malfunction demanded I abandon my favorite hobby and the largest source of my young identity.
It’s a tough storm to weather when it hits you that you might never be able to do something you love ever again.
Maybe that seems like hyperbole, but I was gradually making plans to once again accept my new reality. It wasn’t so much the actual riding that was too difficult, it’s all the other stuff. I walked Louie back to his stall after my last lesson and it had rained so the path was sandy and muddy. My knee felt so unstable with every step and after riding the supporting muscles are fatigued and not responding quick enough. It was painful and dangerous- Louie is the very safest option but even he could have been startled by something and I wouldn’t have been able to get out of the way- I was halfway leaning on him for support. I cancelled my lessons and got extremely emotional over having to tell my trainer that she should give my lesson slot away. I stuck my head in the sand but it didn’t make the thoughts go away and I mentally picked a date after fall shots that I would tell Harley’s owner that I had to end my lease. I was at an emotional low.
I didn’t write for so long because I guess I was hoping to put a happier note on the end of this post. It also seemed like many of you bloggers were going through some things that were just as tough, if not tougher, and I felt bad for feeling sorry for myself. Things have started to come around. I opted to try three months of intense physical therapy to decide if I can live without my ACL all together. If, after three months, I am still not able to function well, then we will proceed with the two surgeries. My surgeon felt comfortable with this plan and we are hopeful it can work for me.
I have slowly been recovering lost strength and muscle response plus my pain has decreased dramatically. I have done some limited riding with the support of my friends who have offered to lunge Harley while I rode and have kept him fit while I traveled with work.
Last week my trainer texted to check in with me and see how my knee was doing. I told her it was still a wreck but that we have a plan and, if she’d have me, I’d like to come for a lesson this week. I wouldn’t say things are back to normal but at least, for now, I am so grateful to have horses back in my life. I had a really great ride on Harley on Sunday and I am looking forward to my lesson tomorrow and a riding biomechanics clinic this weekend! I will have to take it day by day, and I know this may only get me three months down the road until I’m back making some heavy decisions again, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, eh?