Thursday, May 15, 2008

And Then There Was One

I spent yesterday at the hospital. No, don't worry. I wasn't injured again. Instead I went for a couple of CT scans of my arm, shoulder and scapula just to see who wins the bet: the orthopedic surgeon, the neurologist or the pain management specialist. None of them agree on why I never regained full use of my right arm after my riding accident and why I continue to have bouts of severe pain, despite the spinal implant. Is it due to residual nerve damage? Is it because my scapula-- which was badly fractured-- now sits at a funny angle and therefore rubs bone against bone each time I try to use my arm?

Regardless of what the CT films show, I seem to be headed toward another surgery in the near future. I'm just not sure which doctor I'll meet in the operating room.

Oh. And you'll love this. So after my CT scans, I get up from the exam table and say to the radiology tech, "Lying on my back like that is the most painful position for me." And he says, "Sorry about that. I know that a fractured scapula can really change your life."

Turns out he had suffered a fractured scapula not long ago. He'd been tossed off his motorcycle. "But I'm not as bad off as you," he said.

Gee, that made me feel better.

I said, "Yeah, well, I still ride horses."

He started laughing. "And I still ride motorcycles."

Almost together we said, "Maybe it's some sort of mental illness."

When you truly love something, you just can't stay away... even if you're partly broken.

I've learned that what causes my physical pain is not necessarily riding, but all the extra chores and work involved. Tacking up is difficult. So is blanketing a horse at night or putting on a fly sheet during the day. Even haltering a horse is hard. Anything that might cause my right arm to accidentally be stretched-- or yanked, as the case may be-- beyond its limits results in about 24 hours of unrelenting pain. And oddly, it's not while I'm doing the activity that makes me hurt. It's later, often hours later, that the pain starts. Sometimes it's so bad that I cry. Then I have to resort to taking pain meds, which knock me for a loop and give me insomnia. It's a vicious cycle that has to come to an end.

While awaiting a surgery that may alleviate some of the pain, I had to make a tough decision. I sold Wyatt.

It wasn't because he was a three-year-old, it was because he was a second horse that doubled the amount of physically taxing activity I had to do each day. Okay, part of it was because he was a three-year-old. That meant he needed longeing (which pulled on my arm) and long rides in a snaffle (which also pulled on my arm). And of course we had some rides that were generally a bit more "involved" than I had anticipated. In other words, to borrow an old saying, my spirit was willing but my flesh was very, very weak.

I'm sure there are lots of people who are reading this saying, "I told her so." Yeah, I guess those people were right. I had no business getting another horse right now, especially not one that was green and still required significant training. But in my defense I suppose I really wasn't ready to accept that I'm not the person I was before my accident. Can you blame me for avoiding that reality?

When I called my sister Jill on the phone, sobbing, telling her that I had decided I needed to sell Wyatt, she said calmly, "I was waiting for this day to come. You've finally realized that you have physical limitations."

Wyatt has gone to a good home. I sold him to a family that has 3 other horses and is well versed in caring for and riding a young horse. To be honest, Wally seems to be quite content that he is back to being King of My Heart. Once again he nickers almost seductively every time I come out the back door of my house. I really think he relishes all the attention. Despite some of his famous idiosyncracies and his funky personality, he is a relatively simple horse for me to care for. Plus, he neck reins beautifully on a loose rein, so when I ride him I can hold the reins in my left hand. Someday he'll have another horse as a barn mate, but first I have to see what lies ahead for me on the trail, medically speaking.
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Nancy said...

Oh Cindy, what a hard, difficult decision you had to make! And agaonizing challenges you are living with everyday. It's so hard realizing that we have physical limitations. I'm dealing with some knee issues, and am not sure if i'll ever be able to do much more than plod along at a walk. Every thing else seems to hurt. So I totally understand! Sending you a huge nuturing hug!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry Cindy! It's too bad you're having to face reality (at least for a little while), and therefore having to sell Wyatt. At least you found him a good home! Hopefully, they'll figure out how to lessen your pain and limits so maybe, someday, you can have another horse like Wyatt. We're all rooting for ya.


Jessica said...

Oh **hug**
I’m so sorry Cindy! I bet that was such a tough decision (although it looks like it was probably the right one for you). I’m glad to hear that Wally is content to have you all to himself again. I’m sure he’ll repay you with many emotionally/physically healing trail rides. I’m glad he’s there to take care of you.

Anonymous said...

I'm terribly sorry sbout you selling Wyatt. I suppose we all need reality checks every now and again, though, it seems that all mine have bounce.

Cindy Hale said...

Thanks for your comments. I'm so anxious to read the radiologist's report that I think I'm going to drive to the hospital and pick up a copy. I can't wait until I see my doctor in two weeks!

Anonymous said...

awwe, thats so sad that you had to sell Wyatt, i know that training horses can be painful...hope you find another horse soon, and hope those tests are good. **comfort**

Anonymous said...

I know how that feels...and I'm really sorry. I fell off my horse because of rider error and broke my humerus completely through. It wasn't pretty, and required surgery. In order to be able to mantain the upkeep of my four horses that I loved dearly, two were sold off to a friend. After recovering and a year of getting my arm to have full motion again, I started riding once more (although I never truely stopped). By some miracle, the person my friend had sold my horses to put them up for sale in the newspaper the very same week I started again to ride. They were cheaper to buy than I had sold them for, so now my babies are all back home. Keep hoping, Cindy, and maybe, if this surgery helps, you'll get Wyatt back.