Sometimes I write a comment in response to someone else’s comment and it has so much content that it really should be a post of its own. This is one such comment with….hmmm….a few modifications.

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Photo complements of The Body Consultants.

I know!

I KNOW!!

But being macho is not just a male trait, I’m female and am just as guilty.

I don’t want to be seen as a ‘WUSS’ or have the label ‘HYPOCHONDRIAC’, but that’s no excuse for dancing all night on a broken foot and boasting about it to the technician putting the cast on at 2:00 am.

The truth is that the nagging messages we get from our bodies are pleas for help.

backache (1)

Thanks to Lotus Love for this image.

Years of masking acid reflux with a bottle of Tums…a lifetime of drinking Coke even when it will melt a nail overnight…a nagging headache that just won’t go away…shortness of breath after climbing the stairs each night…

My body speaks to me constantly, begging for mercy, but I’m so busy I deliberately tune it out. I’ve become entrenched in the habit of ignoring the messages and it’s more comfortable to live in pain than to make an appointment with a doctor.

My suffering has grown to status symbol importance, like MacDonald’s golden arches, and I constantly remind all within hearing that “My Back is KILLING ME!” when, in truth, it is me killing my back.

abdominal pain

Complements of UCMP Helathbeat

And, all the while, my body has been building a backlog of stress from the pain and is reacting by dumping more acid into my stomach, increasing my heart rate, and keeping me awake at night so I can’t heal.

Then…when something breaks and can’t be fixed I proudly say such things as, “I haven’t been to the doctor in 30 years! Never been sick a day in my life! How could this happen to me???” It would be more truthful to say, “Why didn’t I pay attention to the signs and take care of this before it reached epic proportions? I guess I brought this all on myself.”

MamaCatThe funny thing is, although I feel that I can’t afford the time or expense for my own medical issues, I take my pets to the vet if they don’t eat right for a few days, or they mope around like they don’t feel well. But I never consider the owner of the pet. What will happen to them if I can’t get up at feed time or take them out?

I know maintenance is necessary for other things so I take my car to the shop if the engine sounds funny or the brakes don’t work, or the windshield wipers make noise. But what about the driver of the car. How difficult will repairs be when I have a stroke while driving? And what about that family in the  minivan next to me?

 Why do I always feel that I am invincible?

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Photo of I'Candy and Brattzina

Candy and Zena

OK…as anyone who reads this blog knows, I have horses.

For the past several summers I’ve been feeding my horses at the farm where I live, then driving to my trainer/coaches barn for a lesson or to ride/video my horses there.

One Day Last Summer

I fed my horses here, had my usual rush of morning coffee and oatmeal, loaded a horse in the trailer, and made the trip to my trainer’s barn.

For the next several hours (in real time that’s translatable to ‘most of the day’), I rode a horse, videoed a few lessons, cleaned tack, discussed coming show and training schedules, told jokes, had lunch, and generally just socialized around the barn.

WOW! Was it 6:00 already??

The time really sneaks up on you when the days are so long, warm, and filled with activity. Someone mentioned getting home to feed the kids, I glanced at my phone, and realized I was late getting home to give the other horses their supper. Luckily, at some point during the day I decided to leave the horse I brought with me at the training barn and just pull the empty trailer home.

So…off I went, satisfied with my day.

Now, from my trainer’s barn to my barn is pretty much a straight shot (other than some fairly significant curves in the road). I pass a school, cross a major road at a traffic light, pass another school, pause at a 4-way stop, and take the final long leg back to my barn. The whole trip–from the middle of one nowhere to the middle of another–takes about 25 minutes, even pulling a horse trailer, and it’s mostly through rural horse and cattle country.

Well, there I was on the last leg of the trip and I hear a sharp “CRRAACK” that sounded like a close-up shot from a gun.

OH MY GOD!!!
What was that!?!

I glanced in both side mirrors to make sure my tires were OK, even though I wasn’t getting a feel that anything was wrong with the truck or trailer. All were fine so the next thought was:

OH MY GOD!!
Was someone SHOOTING AT ME?

That was when I ducked down almost below the dash and tromped on the gas. In less time than it takes to type it, I was racing along a country road with a horse trailer leaping and bounding over bumps behind me and not another car ahead or as far back as the eye could see (which was actually pretty far).

I WAS ALONE….ON A COUNTRY ROAD….IN THE MIDDLE OF TWO NOWHERES…WITH SOMEONE SHOOTING AT ME!!!

After about a century (real time 90 seconds) of a neck and neck race between my heart and the truck, I felt I was far enough from the danger zone to slow down some, then i had a secondary panic attack when I realized how fast I was going.

The rest of my trip was spent wondering if someone was hunting beside the road and just didn’t realize there was someone on the road next to them; if they DID realize there was someone there and shot as I passed as a practical joke; if there was some fluke atmospheric noise in the area; if I was imagining things and going crazy….

After what seemed an eternity

I arrived back in the safe haven of my own farm area and stopped the truck. I got out and walked all around truck and trailer searching for gunshot holes, rock dents, anything that would solve the mystery of the Big Bang, and found nothing, nada, not a darn thing.

Finally I gave up

I backed the trailer into it’s parking spot and was just about to get out of the truck to unhitch when something caught my eye. Something that just looked… wrong. It looked SO wrong that I couldn’t really place what it was so I got out of the truck and walked around to the passenger side of the trailer.

There, attached to the side of the trailer was my spare tire, and sitting on top of it was what, at first glance, looked like some kind of exotic bird. But as I approached, and my brain took in the reality of what was there, I realized that those things that looked like parts of a bird were actually parts of the tire….my brand new TIRE had EXPLODED…but WHY??

Since that time…

I’ve related this experience to many other people. Most show utter disbelief, but a few have commented that similar things have happened to them. Apparently, if you over fill your tire with air and it gets really hot it will explode. My only explanation is that I had my trailer serviced a few months before the explosion and the service person put too much air in the spare tire while the weather was cool. As the Florida temperatures soared and the sun heated the tire cover,

!!BOOM!!

photo

My suggestion to trailer owners is that you check the tire pressure in your spare tire regularly and perhaps keep it a little under-inflated. Better to have a tire that’s a bit soft than one that has a hole in it big enough to drive through.

In Conclusion:

I would be curious to hear if others have had similar experiences and what conclusion you came to about the cause of the disintegration of your perfectly good tire.

(Although, come to think of it, it probably wasn’t ‘perfectly good’ or it wouldn’t have blown up in the first place.)

My wish for you, my friend, and all others who take the road less traveled (or, in fact, any other road) and decide to pull a trailer:

May Your Trip Be Boring.

OldTrailerYou, Gentle Reader, may not know this, but there was a time when I didn’t own my own horse trailer. Now, that was long ago but I still remember the anxiety of scrambling around with countless other horse owners, trying to find suitable trailering for my horses in the weeks before a show.

So…I decided to buy my own trailer.

Surprisingly, this turned out to be easier said than done. For months I followed every lead in my search for a “good used horse trailer in reasonable condition”. I saw more teensie weensie trailers (obviously built for large dogs) and sagging frames (probably used to transport elephants) than I would have ever believed existed.

Finally…

With the show season breathing down my neck, I decided to buy new. Expecting to find my dream trailer waiting (probably somewhere over the rainbow) I instantly became the terror of the local trailer dealers. Until finally (in desperation I suspect) some poor salesman who had seen me once too often suggested that I custom order a trailer directly from the factory.

One of the big advantages in ordering new is that you can get EXACTLY what you want. Now I entered a whole new dimension of pickiness.

Well, dozens of long distance calls later (this was before free long distance and cell phones) (and YES, I was around before cell phones!) I decided to order from a factory in Barrie, Ontario. They explained that, no matter how much I wanted it, a trailer with a dressing room was too big for my Ranger to pull, but an extra wide two horse trailer was just fine–and they happily matched the color to my truck!

I paid a little more for an extra front door and a step-up rather than a ramp, but it was well worth the cost. Now my horse can’t pirouette off the edge of the ramp and I won’t have to fight a hay bale to get out of her way.

The disadvantages in buying new from the manufacturer are that you don’t get to see it until it’s too late to change your mind, and you have to go to the factory to pick it up.

The night before I picked up the trailer I had nightmares.

First I dreamed that my order was lost and the trailer was never built. Then I dreamed the trailer was built but it was only 18″ wide: “We thought you said Doberman, not Dapple Gray,” was the response from the girl behind the desk when I complained about the size. Needless to say, it was a bad night for me.

Monday morning arrived sunny and bright and I was at the factory at 8:30 AM to hitch up. Of course, my order was there just as I had given it. Unfortunately, they were expecting us to leave Ottawa on Monday morning, not to arrive at their doorstep at practically the crack of dawn.

Well, I almost had a heart attack when i saw my trailer for the first time – no doors, no windows, no vent, no floor–even worse than my worst nightmares! But the company owner sent me off to have breakfast nearby, but extra workers on it, and by the time my truck was wired for the brakes it was ready. Everyone at the factory was just wonderful, and they even used my truck to pull my you-can’t-get-any-newer-than-that trailer out of the factory. The color was a perfect match to my truck and there was even matching detailing on the side! Wow!

Back at the barn…

When I got back to the barn even my hard to please mare loved her new chariot. She loaded and unloaded just fine after I dropped the chest bar so I could wake through instead of ducking under. (She seems to have a phobia about people suddenly ducking right in front of her.)

In Retrospect…

I guess I’ve learned a few things from this experience.

  • first, the phrase ‘in good condition’ does not mean the same thing to a seller as it does to a buyer;
  • second, let the factory know if you plan to arrive at the crack of dawn.

My next adventure

Now the question comes up….should I take my horse in the Just Barely Has Enough Sense To Stay On Her Feet For The Whole Day’ class next week? Or do I book her into the I Don’t Have A Clue What I’m Doing Here But I Sure Can Jump Fast’ class?

What do you think?

Who Am I?

January 5, 2014

IMG_0500Long months have come and gone since the last time I posted on this blog.

I apologize to those who have chosen to follow me, I feel I have let you down. But there are times in everyone’s life when they have to stop, work through internal issues, and decide on a direction. Sometimes the choice is to stay on the same path, and sometimes the choice is to move in a new direction.

My problem was that I lost track of myself. Not an easy thing to do, considering that I’m pretty tightly stuck to me, but Me wasn’t communicating for a while so I was blindly staggering along the path without direction.

When I finally woke from my sleep walking journey it took a while for me to figure out where I was and, more important, how I could get from where I was to where I want to be. I sat on a rock for a long time, musing and watching the time go by.

Then a thought came to me …. how can I choose a new track when I don’t even know who I am? When I fell asleep I was a woman in a daze, but now I find myself awake and wondering what happened to get me from where i was to where I am while I was asleep …. and how do I repair all the damage done by time, weather, and vandals while I was sleeping?

So, I decided to start my journey of the discovery of self by figuring out what I am.

What Am I?

  • Writer: teller of stories, creator of tales, weaver of alternate realities;
  • Videographer: capturer of happenings, recorder of events, chronographer;
  • Photographer: freezer of timely moments, stopper of time, moment saver;
  • Friend: sharer, carer, secret holder;
  • Pet Owner: petter, caretaker, midwife, nurse, vet, petter, walker, claw clipper;
  • Businesswoman: accountant, organizer, record keeper, strategist, worrier;
  • Girlfriend: partner, lover, sharer, bedfellow, stroker, sexy, exciting, bitch;
  • Lover: giver, taker, participator, caresser, stroker, stoker, compliant, demanding;
  • Owner: breeder, feeder, trainer, mommy, disciplinarian, teacher, rewarder;
  • Student: researcher, learner, reader, practicer, test taker, striver, thinker;
  • Woman: moody, exciting, loving, needy, fat, bitchy, short, cute, thin, beautiful, succulent, slim, untouchable, free, nest builder, easy, longing, empty satiated, unhappy, ecstatic, joyful, unhappy, energetic, satisfied, tired, energetic, happy, lazy, disconnected, sensitive, lazy, telepathic, anxious, lonely, content, therapist.

Perhaps there is no answer.

Rally DogShe always looked as if she had just put fresh eyeliner on her golden eyes.A special Rally DogNothing bothered her and she loved wandering around the yard.Vickie's Camera 044She was always a very happy dog with a most beautiful coat.

Vickie's Camera 013In her prime she would stand guard at the top of the stairs.

MamaCatShe was happy to share her rug with a pregnant Little Mama cat.

IMG_0053And equally happy to share her carpet with Pookie, an older lady cat.

photo 100Monkey cat loved her,

photo 102And loved to rub on her

photo 103As they strolled around the farm

photo 104I think he felt he needed to keep an eye on her

photo 105to be sure she didn’t get into a paddock by mistake.

RallySince her coat was so thick and long I had to clip it for the summer.

Vickie's Camera 013 (2)But it came in handy when we lived in Canada.

Time Sneaks Up On Us All

Over the past several weeks (months really) I have watched my beloved friend deteriorate to the point where she tripped over doorsills, could not stand without trembling and shaking, and paced in pain and discomfort through the night. Finally, through my dense brain and the belief that I could ‘fix’ whatever was wrong with her, came the realization that she was not going to get better.

So….how do you say good-bye to a devoted friend that trusts you implicitly, never complains, would follow you to the ends of the earth as long as she was able to stand and breathe? How do you decide to end a life? How do you know when it’s time? Is it better to end the life while dignity remains…before incapacitation reaches a point that is embarrassing for the animal?

I hope I have made the right decision.

I hope my Rally Dog is in a good place, enjoying playtime before agility class, riding in a car with her head out the window, eating her own special cup of vanilla ice cream from a cardboard cup, chasing the end of a lead shank, bounding after a flock of turkeys that have had the dumb luck to infringe on her yard, coursing through the woods and looking forward to cookies at the split in the trail, sleeping curled up with Pookie, eating chicken and bouncing along through the tall grass with her ears flopping, dragging her favorite fuzzy toy around and making it squeak, running across a yard covered in 6″ of fresh snow and dipping her head for a mouthful every few steps just because she can, sitting on the porch fulfilling her duty by keeping an eye on the front yard–protecting us from invading squirrels.

I will always remember these things about her. And I’ll remember how she was always happy and ran around with her tongue hanging out of one side of her mouth. I can close my eyes and picture her bouncing around in excitement when I buckled the treat bag on and she knew we were going to agility class. I can feel her nose poking me right in the back of my knee at the most perfectly unexpected time.

She was the most considerate dog.

She shared her food with kittens and cats, let the older cat move into her warm spot in winter, and never got into the cookie bag even when it sat on the porch beside her food bowl.

In spite of blindness and deafness that encroached upon her senses until she traveled in a dark and silent world, she never once threatened to bite any person who surprised her with a touch either when she was awake or sound asleep, whether they were total strangers or well-known friends.

She was always gentle with children, kittens and puppies, and she often settled more aggressive dogs at agility class.

Those are memories I will hold close in my heart of a soul that was always there for me through the worst devastation of my life and through some of the happiest times of my life. A steady light that kept me going when I wanted to stop, comforted me when I felt more alone than I could handle, and looked after me without judgement or expectation and with eyes filled with trust and faith that I would always do the right thing.

Goodbye Rally Dog.

Woo Hoo again!!

Ok, this is the Real McCoy, the full glass, the Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow…. This was my first REAL doctor’s appointment and I was REALLY going to see the surgeon and he was REALLY going to look and my knee and tell me if everything was OK.

But, before I get into that, there’s a whole five days worth of updating to do….

Mark talking to me

And remember….Smiling makes you feel better!

Poor Mark was stuck with me, complete with my depression and letdown after the last appointment fiasco, but he is nothing if not positive and his upbeat attitude, like a gold nugget on the other side of the balance scale and kept my side from dipping into depression and feeling sorry for myself. I really think this third week would have been a major disaster if not for Mark. On Monday, the day before he was heading back to Canada, Mark finally got a break from nursemaiding me with the arrival of an invitation for an afternoon visit to a friend who lived in a nearby town. So, off he went with my blessings and the sincere hope that he would have a good time.Meanwhile, Doug had arrived back in Florida and was planning a visit that afternoon. The plan was for Doug to arrive in the afternoon and the three of us to have supper together, but I’m sure you have all read the book about plans and mice and men. Seems they never work out as they should.Anyway, Mark’s visit lasted much longer than expected. This turned out to be a fortunate turn of events because it gave Doug and me a chance to catch up on news from Connecticut and the events of the past few weeks here. But the day started to get late and Doug lives two hours to the south so finally he decided to head for home and Mark was still not back.

Photo of me recording introsWe put our heads together

and, since Mark’s plane was leaving late the following day, Doug made plans to return just after noon so we could all have time for a chat and dinner together. Since I was still not cleared for driving, Doug would drive Mark and me to the airport after dinner, then he would stay the night and drive me to my doctor’s appointment the next day.

The next day Doug and I headed off for the REAL doctor’s appointment and once more my nerves were at cracking point.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in an Abbot and Costello movie?

Once more the GPS took us in the totally wrong direction. ARGH!! Can’t someone do something about that?? This time we had two GPS’s and BOTH of them took us to the wrong location…on opposite sides of town!


Oh well, we finally made it to the correct location and I had a new x-ray and saw the REAL doctor. He spent several minutes pulling and twisting my leg, checking flexion, tightness of the joint, and the ability to straighten the leg then, wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, he told me that every thing felt great, wrote me a script for six weeks of physio, and sent me on my way with a new appointment in 6 weeks.

OH! And did I mention that he said I should start using only one crutch and wean myself off them completely within a week? After holding my foot off the ground completely for almost three weeks I could finally start at least THINKING about walking again.

Doug and I stopped on the way home to have breakfast and celebrate my new ambulatory status, and I felt as if a 100 pound weight had been lifted from my mind and chest. Until that moment I had not realized how concerned I was about the possible repercussions of the fall. But suddenly the world was a brighter place and, once more, the future was filled with endless possibilities.

This experience is not over, but already it has been a turning point in my life. If you’ve had a turning point in your life, I hope you will leave me a note about it in the comments section and tell me how it turned out. Thanks for sticking with me through this story, it has meant a lot to me.

Woo Hoo!!

The day of my very first post-op doctor’s appointment arrived and I carefully showered, chose a good walking shoe and hobbled out to the car for the drive to the surgeon’s office. Mark was my chauffeur and away we went in a swirl of dust and flying stones…. OK, so we really drove very sedately out of the driveway to prevent my knee getting banged on anything. After laying in bed for two weeks, it seemed like we were going at a pretty good clip.

We arrived slightly late because my GPS wanted us to go to a different area and I didn’t clue in to that fact until we were well into the wrong area. What is it with GPS equipment anyway?? This mixup in directions seems to happen fairly regularly, and NO I did not put the wrong address into the darn thing!

Me on crutches

Off to see the doctor

So…we sat around for a few minutes waiting for my name to be called and finally it happens: “Mrs. Kayuk, can you follow me please?” After several attempted gitty-ups I finally made it up out of the chair and carefully maneuvered myself down the wide hallway behind her. My anxiety level was off the scale. What if my fall the first night had torn everything loose? What if my kneecap had been fractured? What if I had to have surgery again???

When we arrived in the designated room, she bent over, looked at my knee and said brightly, “So…what seems to be the problem?”

OK, I might not be the brightest light on the planet, but I think that even without the crutches and obvious swelling and incisions on my knee I would be pretty sure that knee had recently had surgery.

Since Mark had already been with me for a few days and I had caught up on some much-needed rest and a few meals I was feeling a wee bit better than a cretin, so I answered her equally perky, “Oh, this is my first exam after the surgery.”

She looked at me like I was from another planet and asked to see my appointment sheet. I handed the sheet to her and she scanned to the current appointment, handed it back to me, and said, “You’re here to have your stitches removed!” Then she bounced out of the room for someone else.

I sat there for a moment with my brain digesting this information and trying to correlate it with the obvious lack of any sign of stitches in my incision. Then I bent down for a closer look at my knee…… Nope, definitely no stitches.

About that time she flounced back into the room with another seeming teenager who had a closer look at my knee, pressed in all the sore spots, and said, “Looks good, you can go now. The doctor will see you on Friday.” And she turned to leave.

“Wait!” I croaked. “That’s it? I had an appointment for removal of stitches that aren’t even there?”

“Yes, that sometimes happens. We book all the appointments at the time of booking the surgery so we know your appointments will be in a timely sequence and you don’t get bumped. We don’t know at the time of booking if the doctor will be able to do plastic surgery or if he will need to use stitches. If you don’t need stitches removed you can call and cancel that appointment. (I’m supposed to know that??)

So… a lunch bag letdown of an appointment and I was chauffeured back home in my air-conditionerless Neon on the hottest day so far this year… I’ve rarely been so disappointed, or so happy to crawl back into bed.

You can find the original episodes at:

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 1)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 2)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 3)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 4)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 5)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 6)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses, Part 7

Before I had knee surgery I had worked my way down to only two horses left for me, personally, to look after, although I still owned seven in total. Two mares were at the farm where I lived (I looked after these), two were in training across town, Olivia was leased for breeding and living in Virginia, Radar was out on trial, and Candy was leased for riding in Ocala.

The day before my surgerygray horse with riderI recieved a message from the breeder that the farm where Olivia was staying had been sold and she had to ship Olivia back ASAP–at least until she could find a new farm. In a panic, I called her, explained my situation, and asked her to please hold on to Olivia for a few weeks until I could walk again. What a nice lady! Even though she had only 30 days to find homes for all her horses, her boarder’s horses, and Olivia, she graciously agreed to keep her as long as she could, and I determined to get back on my feet as soon as possible.

Then I fell after surgery and realized that I might not be able to take over my responsibilities as quickly or as easily as I had originally thought and planned.

So, I pulled the thinking cap out of the closet and started to brainstormWhat action did I have to take in order to permanently cut down on my upcoming and ongoing responsibilities requiring mobility, and how could it be done as fast as possible? The list I came up with was fairly short, and at the top was “find new homes for some of the horses”. To that end I made the following list:

  1. Ask my trainer to search for a buyer for Zena, the very talented but green 14.3 hand jumper he was working with. She is small but jumps like a cricket and loves it. Also, she rides much larger than she is due to her big barrel and matching stride.
  2. Remind him of the 16.3 hand green mare I have here at the farm with the beautiful floating stride and mellow temperament.
  3. Let him know that Olivia, who is now officially not rideable but would be an awesome broodmare, is coming back in a few weeks.

bay horse being ledDuring the course of our conversation I found out that, the mare who was out on trial had been deliberately scaring her young rider and they were sending her back. Can things continue to get any worse???

I continued to brainstorm and decided that the best thing was for Olivia to stay in Virginia. How could I make this happen? I put together a proposal, called the breeder who was leasing Olivia, and made her an offer that she couldn’t refuse. I knew she was infatuated with Olivia and that Olivia loved being on her farm. Two days later I got a response that a check was in the mail. Woo Hoo!! One down, five to go!

computer screenMeantime, Monday finally came and I reached the surgeon’s office. The receptionist took my ‘I fell on my bad knee and finally got back up’ story, commiserated, and told me that she would ask the doctor about it before he started with his next patient, then call me back.

It wasn’t long before the phone rang and I was told that the only way the doctor would be able to tell if things were damaged inside the knee was to wait and do an exam in two weeks when the knee had time to heal a bit. He would also take an x-ray at that time and, if necessary, send me for another MRI.So….I sat propped up in my bed Monday evening and thought about the events of the weekend. In the end I decided that everything had pretty much balanced out:

  • I fell on my injured knee, but the nerve block prevented me from feeling any pain or tensing the muscles and probably causing major damage;
  • I had to wait another two weeks to find out if there was damage to the freshly repaired ACL, but there was almost no pain, which indicated to the doctor that there was little to no damage, and in any case we wouldn’t have known if the surgery was a success until that time;
  • one horse that had been out on trial was being shipped back in disgrace, but another that had been merely leased was now permanently sold.
  • I had surgery on Friday, it was now Monday. The last of the drugs were beginning to wear out of my system. I was not in any real pain.

The only thing that was beginning to be something of a concern was ….. how was I going to get into my raised bath tub for a shower??

To be continued…

You can find the original episodes at:

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 1)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 2)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 3)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 4)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 5)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses, Part 6

My eyes slowly opened and I lay still for a moment wondering why I felt so heavy, then I realized that I had bandages on my knee…oh yes, knee surgery….oh crapp! I fell.

Now fully awake, though a long way from feeling it, I scooted to a sitting position and removed the bubble-wrap ice-pack extension from my knee. Under that was more wrap, and the instructions were to leave that on for 36 hours. Even the wrap felt hot, and I had to go to the bathroom, so I decided to put new ice in the machine on my way back to bed.

I flipped the light switch on, swung my legs over the side of the bed and glared at the crutches, still wary of using them and feeling more than just a little woozy after my traumatic night. I didn’t realize just how ‘woozy’ I was until I tried to stand up and flopped in an uncontrolled ‘whump’ back onto the bed.

OK…now I was frightened in a different way. It was no longer the crutches I feared, it was my own balance. So…I carefully stood again, took up the crutches, and concentrated my way through the apartment to the bathroom. I sat down (do you know how hard it is to sit down when your knee doesn’t bend?) and wondered how to change the ice in the Ice Man.

Gathering my resolve, I crutch-hopped back to the bedroom, stopping at the freezer on the way to pick up the small bag of ice. Once leaning on the side of the bed, I bent over and removed the top from the machine. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but an almost-overflowing reservoir of warm water was not it. Now what? I couldn’t carry it, or drag it over the lip of the door, or pick it up even if I got it there. Back to the kitchen I went for a large, deep plastic or metal bowl and a cup. For the next 10 days the procedure for emptying the Ice Man was to scoop water out of the machine until the bowl was about half full and sit the bowl on the bedside table. I would move to the doorway, pick up the bowl and shift it to table at the end of the sofa, move a few steps into the kitchen area, and move the bowl to the work table, move a few steps and transfer the bowl to the sink, follow the reverse track back to the bedroom, refill the bowl and do the whole thing again.

By the time the third trip was completed, the ice man was back in working order and velcroed to my knee, and I was propped up on pillows in bed I was ready to go back to sleep… and Rally barked at the door. Fortunately, there was a plug between the Ice Man and my knee so I could disconnect it without completely removing it. This was the last time I got up for a bathroom trip without waking her to go out at the same time, and it was the last time I got all the way back to bed without making sure she was back inside first.

Refilling the Ice Man took three round trips the first day, then I remembered the walker Dad had loaned me. It was still sitting at the front door. On my next bathroom trip I made a detour and traded the crutches for the walker. This gave me a lot more stability, and after that first night and the fall I never took another pain pill, but even so I was shaky for another few days as the drugs worked their way out of my system and my muscles grew accustomed to my new mode of mobility. At first it took three trips to get enough water out of the machine, but later I became an expert bowl shifter and I managed to get it done in two trips.

I checked the clock…7:00 am. Is the doctor’s office open that early? No answer. The next time I woke it was 8:30 am so I tried the doctor’s office again. No answer, but this time I listened for the message to end so I could leave a message and discovered that there was an emergency number. Awesome! I left my name, phone number and a brief message about what happened, then went back to sleep.

When I woke later the sun was up and my clock told me it was 9:45 am. Still no message from either the doctor or his emergency number, so I called again. No answer. That’s when I remembered that it was Saturday. Still, someone should be checking the emergency messages. I left another message and spent the rest of the day propped up in bed drifting in and out of sleep and waiting for a return call that never came. I was up and down several times through the day changing water in the Ice Man, pretending to work on my blog, and telling parents, family and boyfriend about my fall, making light of it, and worrying myself sick.

Through this time the Ice Man used more ice than my freezer could produce, so when one of the horse owners I usually chat with knocked on the door to see how I was getting along, I asked if he could bring me some ice later in the day. Fifteen minutes later I had two large bags of ice and he even emptied and refilled the Ice Man for me. Martin continued to check with me each day for the next two weeks to make sure I had ice. I hope he knows how much that meant to me at the time, and how grateful I am to him for his concern.

Another who checked on me several times and brought a bag of bananas, oranges and apples when he heard I was eating cookies for most meals was Cal, the gregarious farm manager. Usually seen in the driver’s seat of truck, tractor or ATV, he always has time to stop in for a chat, normally with a son, nephew or grandson in tow.

Vickie, another boarder and registered TB trainer fed my horses for the first week, after which she followed the racing season to Virginia with her 7 horses. At that time Ernesto, another TB owner, graciously took over the feeding of the horses and, by that time, I was able to take over the feeding of the cats.

Five days after the initial surgery Dad and Carolyn returned with bags of groceries, including a roasted chicken, some microwaveable foods which turned out to be my main source of food for the next week. However, the best gift they brought was a plastic chair that would fit into the bath tub so (with a plastic bag taped around my leg) I could take a shower. What bliss!

Looking back, I don’t think I would have made it without all my friends at the barn.

To Be Continued….

You can find the original episodes at:

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 1)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 2)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 3)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 4)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses, Part 5

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and lay there for a moment in the dark wondering where I was and what woke me up. BARK!! I had fallen asleep well before my normal bedtime, and my dog didn’t get her usual early evening constitutional so she was standing at the door. Every few minutes she would give a short, urgent bark. ARGroan!

I tried to roll out of bed to let her out and almost fell on my head. Something was wrapped around my leg! Then the events of the previous day seeped into the mush that filled my head and I remembered the surgery….and the fall. I reached down and felt around my knee to see how big it was and realized that I couldn’t find it under all the wrappings.

For some reason, as I lay there alone in my apartment with my dog barking at the door, this struck me as funny and I was overcome by hysterical laughter. Then, an intense feeling of sadness and abandonment rolled over me in a wave and before you could say ‘post traumatic stress syndrome’ the tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was sobbing as uncontrollably as I had been laughing a moment before. Fortunately, before I could get entrenched too deeply in this frame of mind, the cycle was interrupted by another bark from the direction of the door and a suddenly urgent bladder.

And the reality of my situation thundered in on me. I was afraid to try to get up. I was afraid to use the crutches. And every living creature in the apartment had to pee. Soon.

legphoto 2I’m not sure if it was the drugs or the nerve block, but I was certain that I had very little time to do SOMETHING or I would have to find someplace else to sleep. So….I sat up, got my crutches lined up, and slid my legs off the bed. OK…so far, so good. Then I very carefully bent over and disconnected myself from the now warm ice pump. I stood up on the crutches and swayed back and forth before staggering like a drunken sailor through the house, throwing open the front door and watching Rally trot out, then I turned, waited for equilization of my internal balance bubble, and hitched-slid, hitched-slid, hitched-slid my way to the bathroom. I forgot to move the crutches out of the way when I tried to sit down and nearly spun myself to the floor again, but managed to catch the edge of the door, disengage the crutches and settle onto the toilet. Aaaahhhh!!

legphoto 14I was there for quite a while. Thinking about the trip back to the bedroom. How I would place each crutch for maximum stability. I could turn the lights out on the way, and tuck myself safely back into bed. The ice water was warm now, and I could feel my leg swelling the longer I was more-or-less upright, but I couldn’t think of a solution to that at the moment, so I decided to leave it for the next time I woke up.

Finally, all my decisions made, I worked my way back to the bedroom, swung my legs back into bed, flipped the covers over myself…..and BARK!! Rally wanted in. Sigh….maybe she’ll change her mind, I thought…. BARK!! No, she wasn’t changing her mind. I sat up, swung my legs back out of bed, braced myself for the pressure under my arms and on the heels of my hands (they already felt bruised after only one trip to the bathroom) and staggered back to the door. Naturally, my blind/deaf dog was standing three feet from the door and I had to reach out and touch her with the crutch before she realized the door was open, while at the same time fending off the barn cats who were attempting to sneak into the house. I would have let one or two in to comfort me, but I didn’t think I could bend over to clean out the litter box.

Eventually Rally ended up inside, the cats remained outside, and I was ready to collapse. How do people who use crutches all the time survive it? I wondered as I sat there gathering strength for the trip back to the bedroom. I would like to say that I surged to my feet, took control of those crutches, and marched in a frog-hopping sort of way straight back to bed, but instead the trip was completed in a 100 year old geriatric shuffle, and probably took several minutes.

By the time I had reached the bed I was freezing—except my knee, which was on fire—and I could barely lift my legs far enough over the edge of the bed to be safe.

Too tired and defeated to even cry, I tucked myself in the best I could, huddled under the covers, and slipped again into a mostly drugged sleep.

To Be Continued….

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