Monday, June 29, 2020

Rehab Stage 2
Ok folks blogger hates me and I can not get my pics edited any longer. I don't know why as I have tried both my home MAC and my work PC but I think it is because I’m using the app on my phone to upload the pics. More experimentation to be had. Sorry for the large photos

Still testing positive and still stuck at home. That makes 4 tests and really it is starting to feel like getting my throat swabbed is my new hobby. I go again Tuesday and probably won't hear until Friday. I left work mid day on June 11th and my best case scenario to return is July 7th. I cant even believe I've been out that long. 

Eeyore is still in rehab mode but each week expands what we can do. This past week we could do two 2 minute trot sets with a 5 minute walk break between and a total of 30 minutes ride time. The vet emphasized how important the 5 minutes was saying that if we were focusing on cardio we would shorten it, but in this case we need to allow full blood flow to return to the area before stressing again. Apparently some studies are showing necrosis of  soft tissues in race horses from restricted blood flow with high intensity work and not enough rest. 


Eeyore has continued his dreams of being a plod horse and I've continued to insist that he actually march forward and put some effort into life. I switched him back to his dressage bit (single joint full cheek snaffle) since we aren't jumping any time soon. The first ride back in it was awful. He hung on my hands so much, but I persisted in informing him that he could in fact hold his own damn head up thankyouverymuch. It reminded me of why we switched to the Wonder Bit, but that isn't dressage legal and I need to get him back into his dressage bit more. 

The subsequent rides all improved so he is getting the memo even if he is unhappy about it. I've also reintroduced the 20 m circle at the trot. The first week, with a single 2 minute trot set, there really wasn't enough time to work within the trot, but with two sets I can focus on going one direction the first time and then the other the next. I've been making myself do it all at the sitting trot because why not?
Eating grass while he dries off so I can wrap his leg back up again.

Between all the two point time and now the sitting trot work, I can really feel a big difference in my riding strength which has in turn boosted my confidence tremendously. I even took the second 10 minute walk out of the arena and in the pasture! 

This week we get to do two three minute trot sets so yay for progress. My ultimate plan, if I can ever come up negative in my testing, is to return to dressage lessons with either AB or MD (haven't decided yet - probably try both and see) once cleared for canter work August 1st. We may even hit up some dressage shows this fall because why not? We won't be jumping for a while and lord knows our dressage needs a ton of work. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Rehab Stage 1

So I am still out of work. I had my retest last Tuesday and got the call Thursday that I was still positive. I can go again tomorrow with the hope that I'm finally negative and can then retest Thursday for a return to work date of next Tuesday. That will be 12 actual days out of work (18 total if you count weekends) which is the longest I have ever taken in my life.  It is crazy. Wyatt also got sick with very similar symptoms plus a fever, but we had him tested twice and it was negative both times, so who knows what he had. He is feeling better now. 

Eeyore was given the green light way back on the 8th to start trot sets under saddle...well...a single trot set under saddle for the first week but it still counts. I ended up not riding that entire week as that was the time I was the most ill with COVID. Last week though I felt better enough, and had plenty of time being off work, to hop on.
He has new fancy boots to protect that leg from any additional trauma

I don't think I ever updated on how that vet appointment went - it was fine. He was sound on all surfaces, all the edema was gone, and there was noted scar tissue formation with no visible hole remaining in the annular ligament. About the best we could have hoped for 1 month out.

The rule for week 1 was 30 minutes with a single 2 minute trot set in the middle times 5 rides. Boring stuff, but I was determined not to screw up his rehab so I downloaded an interval timer app, set up my intervals (14 minutes walk, 2 minutes trot, 14 minutes walk) and headed to the arena.

I was a little worried about how Eeyore would behave. He hadn't been under saddle in over 10 weeks, was stalled during the day and out in Fat Camp over night with Gem which is significantly less activity than normal. Would he be a lunatic? Would he fight me to canter the entire time? Would we be safe??

The first ride he complained with a single temper tantrum at the start and another when we did the trot and he wanted to canter, but they were both short lived and he settled quickly. The second ride he muttered under his breath the entire time, but was otherwise foot perfect and by the 4th ride he was over it and became the slowest plod horse ever. I think Wyatt walked faster when he was learning to walk as a one year old.
HIs mood on ride #3 with no fun jumps or cantering 

I kept at it though and got the rides in.  I broke up the ride in thirds. The first third, 14 minutes of walk, I focused on Eeyore getting him in front of my leg and on the bit. I did some work on the 20m circle both directions. By the 3rd ride I set up ground poles randomly around the arena and used them to circle around. I'd pick one and really work on getting him in front of my leg, on the bit and with inside bend, then after we went around that pole, say to the right, I'd keep him collected and move to the next pole and go around it to the left, then the next etc...It broke up the never ending circles and kept it more interesting for both of us than doing endless circles int he same spot.

The middle third was the trot and really 2 minutes isn't long enough for me to do much of anything except go around and change direction. Eeyore takes a bit to get moving nicely in the trot and by the time the bell went off we were just starting to get to  a nice spot.
His idea of rehab rides is to attempt to eat every single green living thing he can possibly reach

The last third I worked on me pushing the limit in two point to build strength and balance. My MD lessons haven't been forgotten even though they are on hold until I get two negative tests. One of the things I noticed was that I rest my hands on Eeyore's neck in the two point which isn't the end of the world but isn't great either. I've been working really hard at doing it one handed, then the other, then without any hands at all. At first, this was really hard for me. I began by getting into the two point then letting go. Once that was good and I stopped pinching with my knees once I had no hands, I then started working on getting into two point without any hands.

I was whooping with glee today when I was able to get up into a nice, stable and balanced two point without any hands at the walk. Once we can trot for longer periods I plan to continue this work at the trot.

The best part about all of this is that a year ago, heck even 6 months ago, there was no way I would have been able to do this work with Eeyore. He was would been a spaz and I would have fallen off. My biggest issue is that once I am in the two point, he uses that the sputter out and barely move so I am constantly having to use leg to keep him moving. This is even worse when I drop the reins as he likes to not only drag his nose on the ground, but then he wanders in random directions. But you know what? I don't care! The mere fact that I can, after 10 weeks of not riding at all, get on him, tie up my reins and let go???

That is huge folks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Random Thoughts From the COVID House

My cell phone is not compatible with leaving comments on Blogger or Wordpress for some reason. I've been reading everyone's comments and blogs, but just now hopped on a real computer to respond. Thanks everyone for the well wishes!! I've been enjoying all your blog posts as well.

Receiving the call that I was COVID positive last Thursday threw my immediate life into turmoil. I had to send both my employees and my immediate household members off to be tested, results still pending, cancel all my patients for the next 10 days and apologize to my surgery patients as well. I stood outside my back office door and spoke to the wonderful women who work with me about an action plan and what all needed to be done. I didn't want to be inside with them any more than I already was. I also went home and quarantined myself to my bedroom.

It was all odd though since I was already feeling better. I had begun to feel not quite right the previous Friday so basically I would have already infected those I was around. Extensive research online was frustrating in the complete lack of data. Was I still contagious 6 days after onset of symptoms and with dwindling symptoms? Who knows. Basically all the information available is centered around a fever. The general consensus is that you are no longer contagious 3 days after the last fever without medication. But I never had a fever. So....???? I went off the assumption that had I had a fever it would have been during those first few days when I felt terrible and would likely have been gone by the time the test results even came in. I still haven't left my house except for this morning when I went to get my hopefully first of two required negative tests to return to patient care. I'm isolating at home with Dusty and Wyatt until then.

Self isolation is really insanely boring. I want to go do things, even though I rarely have enough energy to do what my brain concocts up. For the longest time I was only able to stay awake for about 3 hours at a time. It was a big moment when I stayed awake all of Sunday. I even rode Eeyore Sunday and Monday! I am paying for it today as I barely scraped myself out of bed to get to the testing center for 8 am and then immediately fell back asleep upon returning home at 10. It is now 2 pm and I am debating on taking a nap. That has been my worst symptom, besides losing my sense of smell and taste completely, the constant nagging fatigue. If I did have energy, I still couldn't do anything until I get those two negatives and can rejoin society. Best case scenario is that I can return to normal life next Tuesday.

I have so many questions though and there are so few answers. Can I get reinfected? One study says no, another yes and a third that you can't get reinfected but you can get reactivated by the same infection. Clear as mud, right? I will be getting my blood tested for antibodies and donating plasma if positive. I have a history of lyme's disease, treated and "cured" in the acute phase 6 years ago as a parting gift from WI, which has prevented me from being allowed to donate blood in the past. We will see if they let me now. Having spoken with testing centers and specialists, it appears as though the antibodies only stick around for 2 months which is not very promising for a worthwhile vaccine. Time and more research will tell.

I'd like to say that I am enjoying this forced vacation time, but I am not. For one, I don't feel right. For second, I already closed one week in April and had lost a lot of money in March and April. May was decent. I really needed a booming summer to make up for it and pay my bills. The stress of unknown finances in a time when all government assistance has run dry is difficult. I have maintained full pay for both women through this entire pandemic even when we worked half days or closed completely and I don't plan on reducing any now, but it is getting harder to be able to promise that. It doesn't help that the hubby also had to shut his office down due to his unknown status so right now neither business is bringing in money and both are hemorrhaging it out to employees and bills.

I know we will weather this storm like all the others. We will be fine one way or another, but geesh it would be nice if 2020 would calm the frick down already.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Oh...So That’s Why

Last Friday I started feeling crappy. Nothing I could put my finger on precisely. More a feeling of overall malaise, a little quick to tire, my heart rate rising quicker and remaining elevated longer. 

Saturday I told Dusty “I’m getting sick” and spent the day with the pre sickness feeling. I took extra vitamin C and a long afternoon nap hoping to boost my immune system even a tad.

Sunday it hit. I could barely stay awake. I was nauseous and my head felt full of cotton. I couldnt focus well and lost my appetite. I tend to get sinus infections and while this felt worse than normal, the symptoms all lined up. No big deal. 

Monday it didn’t get better. I made it through my work day but barely. I was exhausted. I was nauseous no matter if it ate or didn’t eat. If I stood up or sat or laid down. It was always there. I fell asleep at 8 pm thankful that the next day was a day off.

Tuesday was supposed to be home visits. Once every three months I travel home to home providing care to those who are house or bed bound. Nobody else in the area does it because it doesn’t pay at all and is basically a net loss but I don’t care. People need help so I give it. Except this month I canceled due to COVID. While I always mask and glove I don’t have enough gowns to change from home to home and I didn’t think it was safe. 

I spent the day sleeping and binge watching the fourth season of 13 Reasons Why. I wondered why on earth I was still so darn tired. The only time I left my house was to get my drive through pre surgery COVID test done that morning. I had to get my second negative before Friday (tomorrow) to perform the two surgeries I had on the schedule. 

Wednesday I had a half day at the wound center. I had my temp checked, normal, and wore my mask as always. I was looking forward to the afternoon off and collapsed in bed as soon as I got home.

This afternoon I was about to start my afternoon list of appointments when my cell phone rang. It was the hospital. My COVID test was positive. No more work. No surgeries. No wonder I have been feeling so crappy. 

My life is currently in turmoil. I had to cancel both surgeries which completely screwed over both people who had set the time aside to recover. I called a colleague who can get them in next week because who knows when I’ll be allowed back in. I also had to cancel the rest of today plus all of next week. Sucks to have survived all of April with no patients and then have June destroyed by this. Nothing else to do though. Maybe I’ll still have a practice come fall. I’m honestly not sure if I will. 

I sent both my employees off to get tested, paid for by me, as well as my son and husband. Thankfully I always wear a mask (little good that it did) and we sterilize every surface between every patient. I also have no life so outside of work and my immediate household, I’ve been in contact with nobody since Friday. Even before that the only person I had to inform was my instructor who I stayed more than 6’ from the entire time. Though I did use her tack. She works for an ambulance company and transports COVID patients all day for work so is already highly exposed but still. 

That’s it. No stores or restaurants or anywhere else. Just home and work so that’s good. 

One good thing to come of this is that I can start to be nicer to myself. I don’t like being sick and I dont like feeling like a wimp. So I’ve been a bit hard on myself for getting so down with a stupid sinus infection. Only it isn’t a stupid sinus infection. It’s COVID and I’m allowed to be down. So I’m in bed right now wearing my mask and keeping the kiddo and hubby away until they get their test results back. 

2020 isn’t going very well for me. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Lesson Night

Friday night has become one of my favorites and not just because it is the end of the work week. Now it is lesson night! Wyatt has started lessons as well and ides the hour before me. He is trying really hard to learn how to post the trot so that he can move on to canter work and "real jumps". He is getting better and better.

As for me, my lesson was ok. I was feeling oddly weak and couldn't hold my two point very well, quickly tiring and running out of breath. When I woke up with a nasty sinus infection on Saturday, I realized why. 

Another beautiful chestnut! This guy is a 35 year old QH and is a perfect saint.

We started the lesson on a mowed path around the outside of the arena. The circuit incorporates a nice hill along one of the long sides. I've mentioned this probably with each lesson write up, but MD is very big into rider fitness. None of her students are allowed to enter a HT until they can canter for 5 minutes straight in a two point and still have the ability to then take the rest of her lesson. She wanted to introduce me to this and sent me off at the trot to get the lay of the land before it was time to canter both going clockwise/up the steeper side and then counterclockwise/down the steeper side. I HATE cantering down hill. It scares me. We discussed the biomehanics of the horse and rider at length before I took a deep breath and did it. It helps that Fenix is the bestest boy and never puts a single hoof out of line. He went around no big deal.

Fenix has taken a pretty strong hold on my heart. 

We then entered the arena and worked on pacing at 350 mpm. In her arena, this amounted to 1.5 times around without cutting the corners. I got to the end at 51 seconds. Ooops. Lesson learned? 350 mpm is not nearly as fast as I thought it was. 

After that it was course work time with a slight variation of the course from the week prior. This time we did diagonal, long side, long side, diagonal but all the jumps and striding remained the same. 

By this point I was pretty exhausted and just not feeling like myself. I expected to be done and instead watched as MD looked for ways to make the course more exciting. She pointed out the three jumps in the arena I had yet to do: a stone wall that looked huge, an even bigger looking roll top and a brown barrel jump. I told her that I was fine not doing those, but no dice. 

While any barrel used to cause panic, I have now done enough of them to be a non issue. At least on Fenix who could care less what he is jumping over. We will see once Eeyore is back at it. 

Now I had to do them. 


And once again Fenix proves that he is amazing. He didn't bat an eye at any of it. He really is a great boy and as MD put it "You aren't jumping anything. Fenix is. And if he doesn't care, then why should you? Your job is no different going over the round top versus a cross rail. Get straight, leg on and get out of his way"

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Living in Interesting Times

How to start sorting the jumble that is my mind?

I don’t live a segregated life. I’m surrounded by people who aren’t like me constantly. And I love it. It wasn’t always this way. There was a single African American in my entire high school class of 750 people. No lie. One out of 750. He was in my friend circle and I always enjoyed his company. That wasn’t the feeling everyone had though. 

Half my patient population is people of color with the majority being senior African Americans who grew up in the Jim Crowe South and they are my absolute favorite people. Over 2/3rds of Wyatt’s class is made up of people of color. It always shocks me when I hear that people don’t interact with those who aren’t like them. 

I know several racist people who wouldn’t even look an African American in the eye and it angers and frustrates me. I always call them out on it and I just plumb don’t understand how that can still be a thing in 2020. But it is. I know it is. I see it. I hear about it. I adore many people who live it. 

For me, one of the best things I’ve ever done and that I think other people who are white and are having an issue understanding what is going on in our country can do, is to listen. Really listen to what those who have other experiences, other perspectives, are saying. Hear them. Respond to them. Ask questions. I’ve asked some pretty stupid questions and got back interesting answers that changed my view point on the world. And yet I still don’t get it because I cant fully get it because I don’t live it. But I can do my best to understand and I can support those around me. 

One thing that grates on me every single time a major societal issue comes up is that people mistake posting on social media, opinion pieces, likes, etc...with actual help. One of the most powerful political cartoons I’ve ever seen, and now of course can’t find, is a black and white drawing of a person drowning surrounded by a dozen folks giving a thumbs up. This post here makes me feel better because I’ve gotten my voice out there but it does absolutely nothing to help the cause. The African American woman who left her appointment and headed straight to DC to join the protests can’t use my “like” in any meaningful way. But she can use the monetary support. The petition signature. The votes. 

So I urge you all to write away but to also go out in the real world and provide assistance where and how you can. Listen to those around you who are angry, sad, hurting. And vote. Not just every 4 years for the president. Vote for your sheriff, your coroner, your city council. Vote for your governor and congressional representatives. Most local elections go uncontested. How stupid is that? Make local changes and be a bigger part of your local community.

And hug your neighbors. Reach out. Make sure they are doing ok. A lot aren’t. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Auditing Cross Country

Trainer AB shot me a text Saturday about a xc school she was doing all day Sunday. She said she didn't have a horse available for me, but could maybe wrangle something up. I wasn't really up for a xc rodeo especially since I haven't been out on course since February. Instead I opted to go and audit from the ground. 

Sunday morning saw me hesitating. What if I wasn't welcome? Would I be in the way? An unwanted distraction? Would I find myself on the fringe feeling alone? Like the last kid picked in gym class. 

No related media, so you get a dumping of my recent pics that have no other home

Perhaps all of that mental angst was unnecessary. Well, lets be honest. All of that was unnecessary but it is the way my brain works. I'm not inherently a social person though I do enjoy the company of others. It just takes me a while to feel brave enough to do it and until then there is a constant nagging worry that maybe I'm not actually wanted. 

The alternative was intense yard work though, so a drive up north to spend a gorgeous morning watching horses go cross country and soaking up some education seemed the better choice.

And you know what? I am so glad I didn't listen to those voices in my head and went.

The house has been secondary to fixing up the barn but last weekend I got a bee up my bum about how nasty it looked. I did some research on various ideas and put the Hubs to work clearing the front out of all that vegetation

I pulled in and looked around, noticing that I actually recognized most of those present. I said some hellos and quickly found AB and her current group by the water complex. I was a little sad that I pulled in later than I intended as she was just about done with the beginner group. I find that I learn most while watching those close to my own level. 

While I love private lessons, it does perpetuate my tendency to get stuck in my own head. Without seeing other people, I can start to believe that I'm the only one who forgets to relax my elbows, or locks up my pelvis, or doesn't look ahead to the next jump soon enough. Getting to watch others make the same mistakes I do helps to ease this.

This group ended a few minutes after I got there, so I walked back to the trailers to await the start of the next one. And I was pleasantly surprised to realize I knew all three ladies having ridden with the one twice (she was there during my last lesson with AB) and the other two at the Jumping Branch Show. It took them all a few seconds to recognize me in my short hair cut, but once they did it was game on. 

By the time I got home Sunday this was my view. Love it already, but there are big plans for this space. Hopefully it doesn't rain so I can finish it next weekend

I felt so welcome! They all asked about Eeyore, my office and life in general. We talked shop as the one lady has a horse who seems to heal one issue just to get another and they were all genuinely happy to see me there. 

All three ladies are kick ass riders and while I didn't learn a lot watching them ride since AB had minimal to correct and say, it was a glorious morning spent out with friends. We laughed between turns, commiserated about horses being idiots, and congratulated each as they tackled the training level jumps for two of them and prelim for the other with ease. 

Eeyore trying to pretend he wasn't about to chew on his stall door. It wasn't very convincing.

I was in charge of video for the day and at one point the prelim rider lost a boot in the middle of the water jump, so I removed my socks and shoes and went after it to much applause by all. 

I learned a few really important lessons. First, I really miss my orange beast. Really, really miss him. Second, other riders at my same level are making the same mistakes so don't take it personally. Third, go do the things, meet the people and don't worry if you are wanted. An invite means you are and get out of your own damn head. I love these ladies and can't wait until I'm riding alongside them again.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Why Is This So Hard?

Tuesday morning I woke up with a throbbing, pounding head. By Friday evening it was still present and I debated canceling my lesson. I didn't though and instead took too many NSAIDs to be healthy, downed a bunch of caffeine and pointed my car to the barn. 

I had made the mistake of mentioning to MD in my first lesson that the canter is my worst gait. I sit too heavily on my butt rendering my legs ineffective. I tend to get discombobulated and this leads to lack of steering which then makes jumping more difficult. MD took this to heart and the focus for my 3rd lesson was to be the canter. 

It was a beautiful evening that was thankfully dry. The rain had started Monday and didn't quit until Friday afternoon. 

After a blissfully brief warm up, we got to the exercise at hand: a basic hunter course. She had set an outside line, diagonal, outside line, diagonal course with the first three lines set to 4 strides and the final diagonal at a tight 3. 

Before I could jump anything I had to canter the entire course, sans jumps, maintaining an even rhythm with a 12' canter stride, and make a simple lead change both directions. It sounded super easy. I may be a wimp and a little wet behind the ears still, but I have done some course work.

Holy crap but this was hard!!! Like, why so hard??!?! 

We have been going on hikes every other weekend. Its a bit tricky with Waggy as she can't tolerate much but loves going out. 

The first time around I had a complete brain fart. I cantered up the first line beside the jumps on the left lead, made the left turn still on the left lead then freaked inside my head that I needed to change leads, trotted and then realized my error and went back to start again. Ooops.

The second time through, Fenix had a lovely canter with a 10' stride. This is apparently his more natural preference and while nice would have made making the strides difficult. I went again. The third time around he did some amazing auto changes and I let him continue along and while MD said that was perfectly fine, she really wanted me to force the simple change so that I get to work on my transitions and doing them much quicker than I do. So we got to go around again. Finally, this time I got the green light to add in the jumps.

If you are wondering why she does this, I did too and so I asked her. In her opinion, it is very important to be able to do this if you want to jump well. Being able to simply canter the entire course without changing pace, losing the line, or missing a lead then allows you to add in the jumps without issue. It makes the jumps secondary to what you are doing out there. Again, that is her opinion and yours may vary.

I took Fluffzilla for his first grooming appointment. I got back a rat. A well groomed rat. I'm still not over it. 

Anyway...we got to jumping. I did the first half of the course the first time and botched the first line because I let Fenix stay in his 10' canter instead of moving his striding up which meant that we got 4.5 strides and a chip in the line. We also broke to trot before the diagonal because I stuffed him around the turn. We came again and the second time went better through the first line but again we broke to trot around the turn. 

Third times the charm and we nailed it. She then had me do the entire course and folks, I nailed it. It felt amazing!!!! I got him moving towards the first fence and finally remembered the feeling I had when I just cantered it without the jumps. Instead of my brain focusing on the jumps and going "lalalalalalala" between fences, it actually kicked into gear and said "nope half halt we are going too fast" and "move him up you'll miss your distance" and "do not stuff  him into that corner, go wider".

It was so so  so so so amazing. We hit every striding and put in a nice little hunter round. My grin was nearly painful it was so big. 

I drove home feeling really good and for whatever reason my headache was finally gone and as of writing this Monday morning, has yet to return. I'm not sure what nerve was pinched or muscle knotted but the ride stretched me out and fixed me. Horses for the win every single time. Also, this week is a big party. Wyatt is going to take a lesson before me and then my friend B is riding with me and bringing wine along with her. Sicne Friday is also Eeyore's first follow up US, I very well may need that wine.