And pre-Christmas blues

Actually, I had pre-Christmas blues instead of post-Christmas and WOW they were horrible. I wrote a cheery blog post two days before I had time off, I had talked with a counselor and I was feeling pretty darn great!

And then my last day of work, basically everything exploded and it was horrible.

I learned that two of our staff members were leaving, to add to the two who had already left in Dec. I went to the gym for lunch, and came back to work and was called in to my friend and former manager’s office urgently.

I was curious, wondering why she needed to see me so urgently?

Our friend and my former colleague had died that week. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I was completely shocked, stunned and heartbroken. She is so young, only in her early thirties. I knew she had been sick, but I had no idea how bad her illness had been, and how long she had been in the hospital for. It was heartbreaking.

I numbly went back to my desk and felt terrible.

I stumbled through work that day, talking with our mutual friends and colleagues. I felt like I was sleepwalking, that this wasn’t happening to her. When I came home, I cried.

I also learned that Oats was lame again, literally three days before I was also supposed to be flying to visit family in Kelowna. WTF.

I collapsed, basically. I didn’t know what to do and it felt like my entire being, not just my brain, was collapsing inward on itself like a dying star.

My dear friend who is a total sweetheart came by and gave me some of her delicious toffee-bark and chocolates (she is the best!!) and she could tell that I was having a terrible time of it. I was.

So there I was, a few days before Christmas and my world imploded.

Lessons on lessons on lessons!

Wow, so where to begin? I have been SO fortunate to have many lessons to enjoy and learn from with old Oaty.

Yeeeahhh want this feeling again!!

Last Thursday, we had our third dressage lesson. It actually begin in a kind of disappointing way- he was resistant and a bit high headed and stiff through his neck. I was annoyed by his resistance, but realized that we are really only a few weeks back into it, and he does soften up generally. And it did take work, but he came through it and by the canter, he had the best canter he’s had- like, period?! Amazing!!!

Except…It didn’t really stick, and my next ‘harder’ ride on Sunday (he got Friday off, and had a very light ride Saturday), I wanted to duplicate the canter and my dressage trainer’s words to me on Thursday were echoing in my head- why do you two point in canter? You sit very nicely, so sit! And I couldn’t really remember why I was sitting?

Well, I remembered very clearly on Sunday, hah. I was stifling him! He was seahorse cantering around, VERY shittily. It just sucked, straight up. He was stuck going backwards, his hind end dropped out, he was trot cantering, and his head was sky high resisting.

Sooooo back to the drawing board with a nice, soft two point canter.

What gives?

My best guess is…I don’t have the correct warm up in place when I try to go from trot to THAT canter. So, it sucks basically.

Monday was off- yes, Easter Monday! And I went in determined to correct my mistakes. (That is what the older me would say). Actually what I did was wipe the slate clean a bit, go for a nice lateral walk warm-up, trot nicely in the contact, and call it quits with a longer walk outdoors. And it did go very well ๐Ÿ™‚ I had to let it go.

From last summer- will I get there again?

Tuesday was my jump lesson! I was feeling anxious (see last week, when he was fired up, hahah and it scared me because I was not used to it) but also very grateful, since we CAN LESSON AGAIN!!! Thank the heavens!!

We had a line set up, with 4 strides. I immediately felt weird about it- lines? Related distances?! Can I do this again?

Newsflash- yes you can, even though my brain melted out of my ears and I bunged it up hahah. We warmed up nicely over some small fences before tackling the line of poles and he went well, but I still felt worried about the speed. We then set up the line with teeny tiny speedbumps and we immediately went wayyyyy too fast into it and ka-blammed though! Yikes! No thanks!!

I am not ready for this eager Oats! And as my trainer reminds me, no way should I be trying to hold or manage him too strongly down the line- or else I risk asking for the shitty little half distances too close to the fence. Boldness is great!

So, we did what we had to do, so I could learn quietly without reaching my personal ‘red zone’….Back to poles. Humbling? Oh, very. Important to do? Again, yes!

So we went back to poles and I let my brain reform back into my head and things felt better. We did it a few times (with a wicked right drift, haha) and it was totally fine. Phew!

So things to work on for sure, and it is eye opening to me these days. 7 months off?? And it is NOT the same.

And jump lesson #2 is in the books!

And it was pretty funny, actually. I confessed to my trainer that I had INSANE anxiety for my first lesson- something about being super freaked out and worried about Oats re-injuring himself, the face that I had to learn how to jump again, and just..wow. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, my hands were trembling a few HOURS after my lesson, and I had a massive post-adrenaline crash later on the couch. It was nuts!

So we did this round and it was so quiet it was a snooze-fest!

But the best antidote to that anxiety is time, and to do it again. I felt calmer on my Tuesday lesson- I had done it once already, nothing bad happened, Oats is doing fine, and so am I. I know the anxiety is still there, but each lesson we do, and each week we pass, helps it be less of a threat/spectre.

So what did I wig out about this time? Oh, only that my very.slow.pony. was GALLOPING wildly out of control at the tiny speedbump-jumps?!

And this is our blooper round, where I got scared of pace?? He is such a good boy.

Except, he was actually carrying pace and not like, slugging along as is his wont, and boy, I am not used to speed? Impulsion? Energy? It freaked me right out! I pulled back and had to circle, hahah. My trainer, bless her, actually videotaped to show me exactly ‘how’ fast and scary my wild steed was going….At a reasonable, nice canter. Not a wild stallion gallop.

Ha. I couldn’t believe how my perception has changed after going only walking and trotting for so many months!!! It was nuts!

So, now I need to not be so precious and be ok with carrying pace to our ‘jumps’…how funny!

Keeping your eyes up: First jump lesson back with Oats!

I was supposed to have my first lesson back on Tuesday but we rescheduled to Saturday. After a lovely dressage lesson on Thursday, I was on cloud 9!!! When Saturday rolled around though, I was a ball of anxiety. What-ifs went racing around my head, I felt sweaty and out of it, and just so anxious! For some reason all of my fears of his re-injury went around and around and it was so weird. We walked and trotted around, he’s gotten very silly about the doors and corners of the arena so I was glad to have a good 10 minute walk to get the sillies out and make him a solid and reliable citizen again, and he settled down.

We’re getting there- slowly but surely!

We limited the canter– again because we want to make sure to be VERY careful about how his post-rehab recovery goes. And when we went to right lead, we just started hopping over teeny-tiny fences! YAY! I was practically hyperventilating, and trust me when I say my breathing was kind of all over the place the whole afternoon after, because of a big post-adrenaline dump. Ha it was nuts!!

Oats was a total star! He was very chill, very ‘yes ma’am I got this’ about everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

And we just, did it! I was stiff, very awkward. I got left behind twice which feels unheard of for me?! Just because I couldn’t relax enough to really go with the movement at this stage. I also forgot where I was riding – in a course of four fences!! hahahhaahah man, I am rusty.

So glad we had this lesson on Saturday. It shut down a lot of fears in my head.

Weirdly we had a miserable ride yesterday for some reason (Oats was literally trembling with fear in the arena??? There were no bears or cougars, to my knowledge???) and was racing around like a deranged llama for most of the ride, sooooooooo yeah. It was great to have a very low-key and successful jump lesson.

As for yesterday who knows what his deal was? We had a very long, very quiet and very slow ride. I kept him in the walk until he stopped trembling and trying to exit stage left. We only trotted and then went back to walking, some lateral work that he was pretty good at, and called it quits when he was fine trotting quietly and not losing it. Horses!! My husband says they’re basically a confusing relationship hot and cold, good and bad?? Maybe!

It’s not a secret unless it hurts you to keep it

Oats is lame, and this time it’s not a ‘oh just a big abscess’ sigh of relief. He is REALLY lame, and it looks serious, and it felt serious. And I also feel like I caused it.

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From this, last weekend…

He went kind of off on Thursday. I got to the barn early to set up some jumps in the field (love jumping in the field!!) and prepare for my Thursday lesson, which is my dressage lesson but to keep Oats fresh and interested, we do some jumps here and there too, mixed in.

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To this, this weekend. FML.ย 

When I got Oats into the cross-ties, my heart sank, a bit. I saw his right hind ankle/pastern was very slightly swollen. I knew that this meant he was very likely lame, and I was right, unfortunately. I took him down to the field, hopped on, walked around to warm up and trotted…BAM. Head-bobbing lame on the right. Pretty good on the left though.

We both saw it, I definitely felt it, and I hopped off to cold hose & wrap his leg. It wasn’t that bad, the swelling and everything, so on Friday I decided to saddle him up and ride him, see if a day off made a difference (he was not turned out at all). He was ok, about 80% there so I could sense ‘some’ change but nothing that bad. We did light w/t/c and slowed to a walk, I was going to hop off and everything changed in 1 instant. He stumbled, HARD, and almost went down.

He was instantly, seriously, lame.

Game over for us. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

With my friend facing a recent, terrible lameness episode (that will take up to 2 years of rest/rehab) to resolve, it’s fair to say I am on an absolute hair trigger. Oats has a vet appointment on Thursday and every single day I play a miserable waiting game. This summer has been just terrible.

Mr. Oats abscess journey

So as I mentioned, I was in a real tizzy…A panic spiral the past month or so. It just felt like EVERY SINGLE WEEK there was some new drama with my horse. You name it, I had it. And I felt like I was on a hair-trigger, since my good friend’s horse has had some terrible health issues recently (two colic episodes, and he came up dead lame a day after Oats did, but it was more serious than Oats and continues to be…) ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Just awful.

So, in light of my friends miserable horse journey, every single week I get a panic text or call or message from the barn, I rush out and find some new disaster. Fortunately they were not serious but still. I am on a real hair trigger…And Oats came up dead lame on Canada Day, so we had to rush back from our little ‘stay-cation’ out of town but first our car died, so we had to get a jump, to get a new battery, THEN to the barn. Jesus.

So Oaty went lame, dragging a leg, very lame. No heat, no swelling. I called my vet and he suggested we check for an abscess, since it came up so suddenly with no obvious trauma or swelling. I got the farrier out that day and BINGO! She dug in and was like yep, big abscess.

So this is his foot journey for the week he was lame (THANK GOD!!!) it was only that long. Thanking my lucky stars!

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Saturday- some progress, you can see puncture spots and 1 bruise-like area I circled that was the big one!

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And this was on Sunday- I poked at the bruise spot and it was bleeding/puss a bit.

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Wed/Thur- All healed! I was able to check him on Wednesday and it healed over, and then ride on Thursday and lesson on Saturday and then BEACH on Monday! ๐Ÿ™‚

You, Forever

So I alluded briefly to this, butย damn the weekend really went sideways. I was working/on call Saturday, so I had Monday off as my weekend. Sounds good, right?

WRONG.

I had a poor ride on Sunday- it felt crummy, and 100% my fault- so I was looking forward to meeting with my equine counselor to review my issues on Monday and I had the luxury of time! What a good opportunity, right?

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Oats decides to eat his hay (we don’t keep halters on in their homes, I just wanted to see if he would eat after I hand-grazed him).

HAaaaaa.

I woke up to about 10 text messages from the morning feeder, who said Oats didn’t eat any of his night time hay, wasn’t eating his morning hay, was sulking at the back of his paddock and refused to get turned out.

Instantly alarm bells were ringing in my brain. Colic? What is going on? Oats’ friend Donato had a big bout of colic on Tuesday last week (and then I learned ANOTHER round of it on Sunday which is quite rare and frightening). Shit shit shit shit shit!!

So I called the vet, they said to go out and take his temp, see how it is and let them know.

I rushed out, tossed on jeans and a tshirt and raced out to the barn. Oats looked fine, his temperature was normal-to-low, and yep all of his hay was still there. The vet asked me to hand graze, and he was very eager to eat grass. So the next step was to shake out the hay bags and see if it was the hay, or if it looked different, would he eat it? Yep! He started eating it.

So WTF? They just said check on him, see how he is throughout the day. So I left, ran some errands (and yeah just went nuts at Greenhawk and bought a bunch of stuff…a new helmet, gloves, a replacement fly mask and SWAT for his poor swollen sheath).

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My stress buying stuff. June has been just so crappy. To be fair, I did need a new helmet for safety.

I went back to the barn to apply the SWAT and Oats was back to eating his hay like nothing had happened. Weird. I left a note on the board saying to not turn Oats out in the paddock he was freaking out about, and flagged it online to the stable community…And then I got the message about why, exactly, he was acting so weird.

He had gotten left out till about 8pm in the paddock. His stomach was likely sensitive to due to being out on grass for that long, and he was in a big snit about being ‘abandoned’ in the pasture the next morning too.

Soooooooo that was why. SIGH! I had to text my counselor to cancel. Just too many things going on (see below also…).

No harm no foul, but sheesh I almost had heart failure after my friend’s TWO colic episodes last week…On a hair trigger.

OH and the best part? My hot water heater also died this weekend, so we enjoyed some cold showers and then it got replaced yesterday, a cool 4 hours of that happening and we got to kiss about $2k goodbyeeeeeeeee…FML.

And when I took my dog to the beach, there was a naked guy swimming. UGH.

I hate weekends sometimes. Jesus GOD.

 

My own personal pain journal

So, things are going but also going sideways, haywire, etc. My work is nuts (I am directly involved in public information), and also we are seeing a lot of things shake down, as part of the pandemic.

It’s so stressful- for all. I am not a frontline worker, but I see the effects of this day by day. I am writing a list of fun things I want to do when this blows over/winds down (go travel, go out for a team breakfast! Run! Do a race!), but in the meantime, I vacillate between extreme self-pity,ย  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

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Welcome darkness, my old friend… I REALLY don’t want to do this again. But I might. I guess when you’re going through hell, keep going.ย 

I also have a recurring stress fracture, so I can’t even run right now. Man, when it rains, it freaking pours eh? I guess the timing is (good? I disbelieve that word even as I write it) now that I can’t race anyways.

Just…Fuck me.

I did have a nice weekend though, believe it or not! I had a riding lesson on Saturday and Oats was great! He was my little superstar~ I rode on Sunday and let too much angst out, and I know I shouldn’t have. I am easily triggered right now, and I want to make it up to Oaty! He is being the best boy he knows how.

It was also like, gale-force windy this weekend, ALLLLLLL weekend. It finally lessened up on Sunday, so I rode and then my husband and I hiked up Mt. Finlayson. There I learned I am a huge chicken, and I was afraid of the steep, rocky bluff ascent. Yikes!

I refused to go back down that way (jesus, no.) in part because I was afraid of it, and also it was smoking busy! I didn’t feel comfortable hiking with so many people swarming around.

We went the long way down, got a bit turned around (thanks to the signs closing the one pathway that actually links back to the parking lot…sheesh), and then we made it home. And we shared a hotdog! Yum! ๐Ÿ™‚

I then drank wine, sat in the sun with a blanket – yes it was still chilly- but the sun had some strength that day.

So where does that leave us? Uncertain. Out of my control- even my body is out of my control. My mind? Yeah, that’s gone too. I don’t know anymore. But I can ride, so I will do that now and just …Keep on.

To quote Charles Dickens:

โ€œIt was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.โ€

Buy you some time

Well it’s officially ‘Snowpocalypse’ over here on the Island! White winter for sure. We have about a foot of snow in our neighbourhood by the water. I put my big treads on – the Saucony Peregrine shoes- and jogged to work today. It kind of sucked, it’s tiring to run in snow and while I made an effort to run in the street, it’s still a tough slog. Oh well, a good cardio workout ๐Ÿ™‚

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Happier this year!ย 

I’m not sure if I will be able to make it out to the stables though- two days off and I start getting VERY itchy to go and see my dear pony! I know he is being taken care of and is safe though.

The critters are enjoying the snow- Tucker was playing in it yesterday! A marked difference from last year, when he sat angrily in the snow and it piled up on top of him, hahah.

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And I had one frightening incident (side note- why the DRAMA lately? jesus christ I am so OVER it). I was leading Oats up the hill to the stables, when the fellow rider in front of me who was leading her horse- the horse paused slightly and LASHED OUT her hind hoof in a huge kick. She kicked my coffee mug straight out of my hands and it went flying! The horse wears steel hind shoes too, so jesussss I got incredibly lucky. SO lucky that it wasn’t my hand that got broken, or my freaking face.

We both never saw it coming. That was the most chilling part. Usually you can read something happening by body language- they get spooked, antsy, angry or pissy. The horse looked chill, didn’t even raise her head and BOOM!! Kicked. I have been around horses for over 20 years and I have NEVER been kicked in my life. Until now, I guess? It scared the bejeezus out of both of us. The owner was really sorry- and it’s 100% not her fault, at all. It was just a really scary incident.

It was also a wake up call to me, to be very aware and careful with handling horses. When you are around them this much, you get complacent. Until something really serious happens, like Monday.

First the dog attack, and then getting kicked by a horse. World, please stop.

But did you die?

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Not promising.

Oh lord, I am going to stop tempting fate. I have seen a few dear colleagues, friends and family get pretty seriously injured recently doing benign things (walking to the bus, stubbing a toe on a cabinet, tripping over a tree root while out on a run…) and I thought I could escape it, until it was MY TURN! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I was kind of in a deep well of self-pity last week. Work was absolute nuts, we have been going through a pretty big upheaval (and I do not handle change well), my birthday while fun, also kind of sucked because Oats was lame…Just, everything, you know?

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Getting cleaned up.

I should have known better.

I got too freaking cocky about my running, literally bragging to my friend about how I ‘never take rest days’…yeah, newsflash, bad idea…and I ended up with shin splints last week that really hurt, still do actually, but wait, there’s more!

I got my shin splints treated on Thursday, ok and then was running home along Dallas Rd, where there has been ongoing construction since I moved there (and I hate it. ugh) and I was keeping my eyes open for the construction, they had closed one road down and had a water truck parked on the side street, where I was running. And then…BOOM!

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This one is one of the slower to heal.ย 

I wentย FLYING. Like a cartoon character. While I saw the construction and the water truck, I didn’t see the hose coming from the water truck (small, grey) going directly across the road, from where I was coming off the sidewalk to cross the side-street. I saw an elderly man trip, and for a split second I wondered what he had tripped on…And then I was a goner.

I hit the ground hard, hands outstretched. I think that’s what saved my teeth, nose and chin. I slid on a patch of gravel for about a foot, and then landed with my face on curb. I was just stunned….Shocked, I leapt up. A construction worker ran over to me and was asking if I was ok, and I angrily yelled that I was. I wasn’t though. I was shocked, and stunned and hurt.

I was in shock and I staggered up, and started walking home. I briefly stopped to consider the free book library that I wound up next to, but realized that my hands were bleeding onto the ground, and I was hurt. I fished my phone out of my bag and left a crying voicemail for Ian to pick me up (I SO didn’t want to creep home, looking insane, covered in dirt and blood…) and a kind lady was walking ahead of me heard me, turned around, saw me and took pity on me.

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This one bled the most, and looked the worst. My shoulder is still not very good on this side.ย 

She escorted me to the seniors residence she was going to nearby, and I got washed up and called Ian again to pick me up. He got it this time and I luckily didn’t have to wait for too long.

I had a lot of scrapes, cuts and bruises, but it was kind of a miracle that nothing was broken, my nose, teeth and chin were all ok, fingers and wrists too. My shoulder still hurts quite a bit, and I don’t have great range of motion in it either. All my other cuts and bruises are healing. I had to take Friday off work because I was frankly in too much pain to be at work- I made it like 2 hours, and basically I got a tetanus shot, came home and cried for the rest of the afternoon. I had a lot of trouble with my hands- the open cuts made it very hard to grasp things. It was not a good day for me. I was in a very dark place.

But, things turn around. Saturday, I felt like 1 big headache. Everything hurt, ached terribly, BUT my scrapes were knitting together. It was just a big painkiller day for me, and I was walking gingerly. I really didn’t want anything to jostle my bad shoulder, and I needed Ian to help dry me off from the shower because the towel was sticking to my hand sores.

But by evening on Saturday, my sores already looked better. My friends were surprised I was healing so fast! So I am healing, and feeling better bit by bit, and I am back at work today. I still can’t use the gym (sore shoulder, and open sores still) as well as the ever-present shin splints, but I am hopeful that things should settle and improve even by tomorrow.