Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Life Continued....

The horse show season is over.  I am sad, but hopeful since a new show season will start very soon.  With the APHA World Show starting in Nov - best of luck to all my APHA friends who are competing - live your dreams, don't hold back and enjoy every moment.

Melo did so well this year as a mere "baby" and pointed out in Green Horse- Western Pleasure and is real close in Junior Horse -Western Pleasure.  It makes me so proud that he did so well with such limited showing.  I can't wait for the future and hope that I can ride....

On another note the Arizona house is almost ready for occupancy with the big "Monsoon" party planned in just a few weeks.  Each decade I have a "holding party" before I transition to the next decade and this year we get to have it in Arizona at our new house.  The weather has been great all year and this week it continues to be over 100 so I am sure that my birthday will be with wonderful 80 plus temps and lots of fun, cocktails, and sun will be had by all.  I can't wait to continue to enjoy the house for years to come. 

It has been a real tough year for our family and  yet as I look back I realize how glad I am that I am one who looks forward.   I have always tired hard to not dwell on the negative, to look forward and be optimistic and to keep faith and have hope.  Without those things you could certainly find yourself sinking into despair if you were to just look at the challenges that many of us are dealt.  That being said each day I try be optimistic, to be real and to look down the road to the many things that I have yet to discover.  Life, it will keep you guessing.......

Monday, September 26, 2011

Horses Continued.....

Well I have gone and done it again.  Yes, I am once again a horse owner.  I think that once it is in your blood you are hooked and to not have done it would not be honoring me.  Although the riding part will still be a question mark I have so enjoyed watching him be shown this year that it is almost, not quite, but almost as good.  He is truly an awesome horse.  Kind, brave, and talented. He is by all accounts my dream horse.  It has been a long journey to find Melo and the irony of it all is that he is from the very barn that I was at when I started looking in earnest several years ago.  Since he was born I was told that he was my horse, and in spite of my best efforts to do something different it has come full circle.  He is out of an amazing stallion, "Hes Lopin Supreme" or better known as Josh who is putting babies on the ground that not only turn heads, but are wickedly talented.  He is 3, and is progressing great under saddle. 

MGM Performance horses have done it right and he was started slow and they are determined to make him the perfect amateur horse for me.  Will I ride competitively again?  I don't know that just yet.  I know my docs would prefer that I not, but they said "if it is a quality of life issue" we get it.  Lets face it I have metal in my back and anything I do other than being wrapped in bubble wrap is an issue.  I want to live my life without regret and in as normal of a manner as I can.  So I will hope, I will try, and I will keep my fingers crossed as I watch Melo become all that I know he will be.  BTW - I let the hubby pick his registered name and it suits him - "Hes The Chip Leader."

Spokane INPHC Show Trail

Melo at Zone - Reserve Junior Western Pleasure

He is Hubby Safe

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Goals Revisted...

I know it has been a while, but life is keeping me busy.  If it is not work, it is life itself.  It makes me happy that I can finally enjoy a few simple pleasures after all I have been through this year.  I have recollection of something that I heard Kenny Rogers say in an interview about life - "You need someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to," or some variation.  It always stuck with me because there is some real truth in that.  When life is absent some key elements we feel less than whole.  That is how I have felt for months since my accident.  Not whole and without a true direction.  Sure I had some of the elements, but you need something to look forward to or at least I know I do.

Well, that has gotten so much better in the last few months.  As you may recall we started looking for a house in May and it took some time, but we finally closed last month on a darling place in Avondale, AZ.  I call it my "Sun on Demand" house.  Boy last week when I got my chance to finally see it in person Arizona was in full summer mode.  It was 108 on most days and hot is just hot, not mincing words here.  You know what, I loved it!  The heat felt like a warm blanket surrounding me and made me feel whole.  I forgot about my back and was able to just be me.  I got to swim, but I still cannot do the crawl, just the breast stroke or dog paddle.  My foot still swelled up, but I don't feel the metal in my back when I have the heat.  It was wonderful. 

I love the house!  Yes, we bought it off the Internet, believe it or not and we did pretty good if I can say so.  It needs some TLC, but nothing that is not doable with a little $$$.  Yup, in one weekend I blew my furniture budget on paint - inside and out and flooring.  Oh well, at least it will look good, not sure what we will sleep on though :).  Gotta get the house ready for our big Monsoon Party to celebrate a few things that are milestones for us this year not to mention me being able to amble about.  Looking forward to many years and memories with friends and family at our little piece of sunshine in Arizona.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What is Hope?

I have always been a hopeful person.  I look forward, I plan and I can't wait for the next thing that I am looking forward to.  So when you have hope you really have everything.  My version of hope has changed now.  I still look forward to finally getting our house in Arizona, to an upcoming trip, to the horse show next week, but I also hope for some different things. 

It has been nearly 6 months since my fall off of the horse and that day I hoped I would walk again, which I am doing.  I don't walk quite the same, but I hope one day to not feel like my right leg is like wood and I hope that my right foot will work the same way it did before.  I hope that one day I will forget the metal in my back and just feel like I did before.  I hope that I can live my life as I had planned.  I hope that I don't need more surgery, that my back remains stable, and that my feet stop tingling.  I still hope to ride as I had planned on my dream horse and to accomplish my riding dreams.  Today I remain hopeful. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Horsey Friends - Great Seeing You!

Wow, last weekend was great.  I decided to give it a try and drove to a paint horse show in Klamath Falls, Oregon for the weekend.  With many stops along the way and time to stretch I made it.  This show was so fun last year I really wanted to make it and enjoy it with my friends.  It was so nice to see so many of those whoI had ridden with last year and hugs go out to "D" and Lulu, both were surprised at my appearance suddenly there in K-Falls. 

I took the new camera and anointed myself the "unofficial" show photographer and many pictures were taken.  I just love this camera and it nearly out smarted me when I had to take video as well as pictures.  Love the fact that some of my horsey friends have changed their face book profile to pictures that I took last weekend.  Thanks L&L for making me feel like this camera will not outsmart me just yet!

The best part of the weekend was watching all my friends do so well with their horses.  Both Lulu and "A" from LPH had great classes and it was wonderful to see the Cali gals with their ponies.  Little "E" nearly brought me to tears showing that fancy boy "Melo" in the 3/4 year old Western Pleasure Triple Crown Futurity.  You go girl -she  placed second across the board against the "big girls," and boy can that little girl ride.

So happy to get to do what I love, if even from the side lines.  You can't take the horse out of the girl.  On to Monroe next weekend which sounds like it is going to be a fantastic show and I can hardly wait.  Giddy Up!

Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Reinvent Your Life?

I have come to the realization that my life has fundamentally changed.  I am not the same person I was just 6 months ago physically and mentally.  Remaining in denial about that has been a bit of a protected place to be, but I need to move out of the space and figure out how I reinvent my life.  We all do it is small ways and some in much larger ways - hey take Madonna, the material girl knows how to transform her life, right ?   So how do you start all over?  I would love thoughts and suggestions as I begin to venture down this path.

I know for starters I need a new hobby - something to do more than I am right now.  I was so accustom to all the physical things I use to do - the boot camp exercise class, pilates, riding none of which I can do now if ever. I kept so busy with my active pursuits that not having them has made life seem so slow in some respects.  I am contemplating exploring photography and am beginning to look at cameras with that in mind.  Maybe I will take a class on photography to help explore that more. 

There are a few things I know I am not going to be doing knitting being one of them:).  I just am not that crafty or artistic to do painting or some pursuit such as that.  It took years for me to find horses and the passion I have for them just grew and grew.  The excitement of spending my time at the barn, riding or getting ready for a show is just too hard to put in to word.  There are few things in life that can really get you jazzed so when you find it you know that you don't want to do anything else but that. 

There is a horse show this weekend in Walla Walla which is one of my favorite places to go to a show.  It is usually warm this time of year and I have always like the arena and grounds as well as the city.  Driving over is long, but taking time for a little wine tasting always breaks up the trip.  A stop off in Prosser one year allowed the hubby and me to find "Johns Port" which to this day is one of the more amazing ports I have ever tasted - Yakima Valley Vineyards.  As I think of Walla Walla and the show this weekend I wish all my fellow paint horse riders  best wishes for a great show and I sit here thinking of you all and wish I were there too.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wow, it has been a while......

Yes, I have been MIA for about a month now.  I guess sometimes you just need to feel it to want to blog on a regular basis and I have not really been feeling it lately.  I am, if nothing, truly honest.  I saw a dear friend this week for dinner and she said, don't stop so here's to Lulu - I am blogging again honey since you are keeping me honest. 

Loved Arizona last month and am still lamenting that our weather here in dear WA just cannot seem to get it's collective act together.  I felt so darn good in Arizona that I truey believed that this accident never happened.  My back incision (yup I will get graphic) healed finally while I was down there.  By body did not hurt, not one part of it, and I got to sit in the sun and swim everyday.  I cannot swim like I did before, but hey doing the breast stroke and just letting the zero gravity feel of the water take effect was wonderful.

We looked at a bunch of houses and we determined quickly which neighborhoods we liked and which one's we did not.  We made one offer, but it turned out we just missed out being first on that one so we are second in line on that short sale.  I am learning tons about the whole Arizona real estate situation.  We made another offer on a short sale last week and our offer was accepted.  Now, don't get excited here because all that means is that we sit and wait for the owner to be approved to short sale their house and as our realtor says that could be weeks or months.  Keep looking she said!  So, do we have a house or "not?"  I would say not, but "maybe" is the true answer.  So we keep looking.  Both are nice houses and would totally work!

It is so odd to not be riding these days.  I got a beautiful plate in the mail from APHA to celebrate finishing 4th in Zone One for my division about two weeks ago.  It was a total surprise and I rearranged the office to make a space for the many winnings from last year.  It makes me happy to think about the year and to remember the fun and excitement that I so enjoyed.  Wish I was still there doing it, work and all.  Boy do I miss it all......

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Now I have More Time

Not doing the horse hobby had afforded me a couple of things - more time and money.  Yes, I notice my check book is much nicer every month and most weekends I have plenty of time to do what ever.  Not sure the hubby appreciates me in his space, but he is being a good sport and I try not to ask for the remote when he is watching his favorite weekend shows.  Sunday morning is especially sacred, not because he is heading to church mind you, but because of the political, wonky shows he loves watching - Meet the Press anyone?

I miss my hobby and yet I have felt so not up to it that I have not even been able to make it to the local shows to watch.  Being off the pain meds you notice ever twinge and the foot swells and hurts every time I walk on it too much.  By the end of the week I need at least one day to recover.  I use to go none stop and now I just feel beat.

Next Sunday we are heading to Arizona to look at houses.  Yup, we are going to buy a retirement home with the prices being so dang great there we just can't pass it up.  With all the rain here I think retirement is going to come sooner verses later.  I love the desert, and its stark., but unique beauty.  I want a yard that is low maintenance and cactus seem so stately and there are so many different kinds.  People ask me, but won't you miss the green of Washington?  No!  I really won't, I will happily trade the over 170 days of rain so far for blue sky's and sun, even if it is 110.  No, problem cause I will go swim in my pool. 

Having this diversion right now is good because as I wait out the recovery process with all of the twists and turns it takes having something else to focus on has kept me sane.  Besides you can ride horses year around in Arizona, right :).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Horses Continued.....

Recently I  have needed to take a break from the horse aspect of my life for a variety of reasons, need I say more.  It has been hard now that my recovery progress has slowed to a halt and I continue to have various issues that I have to work through  I have not wanted to think much about the horse hobby and at times wonder will I ever think of it the same?

Horses are big, animals who at times are not predictable.  Yup, I said it, but that being said there are many who are the antithesis of that very statement.  I have known them and do still know those that are as gentle as puppy dogs and would not hurt a fly.  There are non-horse friends who have said that a horse that hurts someone should be put on a registry some place so that what happened to you does not happen to anyone else.  I have tired to help them understand the very nature of the horse industry is such that it does not support that.  This, they find incredible, and then I step back and have to say maybe they are right. 

In an industry so small why is it that we are not better prepared to take care of each other and not allow bad things to happen to each other?  Why don't we have a way to make sure that others don't get hurt by those horses that are truly dangerous and unpredictable?  Is it because we impart upon these animals characteristics that are more human than animal?  Do we put emotion into owning them that unrealistically supports something that should never be allowed in the first place?  Is it the money?  Yes, this is part of it as there is (was) a great deal of money tied up in the horse industry. Of course who wants to put a horse down or out to pasture when they have allocated years of training and resources to them?  All very valid questions I am sure.

As I live each week day by day I think about who I was and who I will never be again and wonder if with some care and compassion towards mankind I would be in a different place and able to live my life free of pain, active, and as I had been before January 29th, 2011?  I will never know the answer to that, but I can only move forward with my journey and help others with theirs.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Now The Foot.....

You would think no news is good news because it has been a while since the last post, but no I just have not had anything productive to contribute so I have not felt like writing.  Healing is a process and as I have gone along there continues to be one thing nagging and  it is that darn right foot.  Yes, I still feel like I walk like a wheeble wabble, and I can't find shoes that will work, my arches are falling, and I feel way older than anyone should at my age, but that darn foot just won't get better.

It bothered me in the hospital from day one.  It was bruised and swollen and looked like it had been sprained.  They xrayed when I was in Harborview  and nothing, but it has never been quite right.  I think I wrenched it in the fall.  Maybe it got hung up in the stirrup which I cannot really remember because everything happened so fast.  My current rehab doctor thinks I may have torn a ligament and that is why it keeps causing the foot to swell as I use it more. 

Next week I am getting a MRI and have been referred to a Ortho doctor who specializes in sports injuries.  It sounded really cool and then I realized that is what I have.  It was a dramatic sports injury and boy it could have been way worse, but yes I guess I do fit into that category.  So off I will go to yet another doctors appointment in hopes that they will solve the problems or at least give me some hope.

So most days now my foot swells up.  It is very painful and I can't sleep.  So as I lay awake for yet another night I try all the tricks, reading, TV, etc... and then I give in and take a pain pill which knocks me out.  In some cases I can take the pain pill and it does nothing and then I wrap the foot with my "Back on Track" polo wraps and it usually feels great almost immediately.  Their products are wonderful and not just for horses I tell you.  Check out the website for great horsey and human products.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Back to Mercy Grace and Progress

Ok, so now I see doctors and health care professional more than I see my husband.  No, really, between my physical therapist and my Docs at Harborview and the Spine Clinic I seem to have multiple appointments ever month.  Now I know what it is like to have a "chronic" condition. 

I have been back at work for four weeks and the feet are really feeling it.  Those darn concrete floors are causing my right ankle to swell again.  We have had to up the nerve medicine due to increased nerve pain.  I guess I can say that work is really a pain in my foot!  When I work from home it is not so bad and at least then I can avoid more pain meds.  It is a never ending battle.  The feet, well I am afraid this is my injury legacy.

Return visit to the spine clinic and once again we get more xrays to look at the hardware.  My doc is another "McDreamy, " OMG I thought I was dreaming and really on Grey's Anatomy this time.  I am so glad I had a brand new pedicure as he was manipulating my bad right foot this way and that.  Yes, it is very shallow of me, but heck it is my story right! 

The back is improving and the hardware has not moved.  Gotta wear the brace for a little longer when out in public and at work, but everyone was very happy.  The good news is no back pain even when they had me bend over and then arch backwards to take the xrays.  Yup, I felt like a pretzel, but was amazed there was no pain.  It did feel strange and a little stiff, but it was progress.  

Today I took my first shower in 11 weeks without the brace - It was Amazing!  I had this goofy grin on my face the whole time and will never forget what this part of the recovery has been like.  I have endured having to be confined in this brace all waking hours, had to wear it day in and day out .  I had to put my clothes on and off all while rolling around on my bed each day before I put the brace on.  Yes, I did this for 11 weeks. I hated every moment of it, but in a odd sort of way the brace has become like a safety net and it will be strange to be rid of it all together.

Next week I start more intensive core work to ensure that I am ready to be out in public without the brace.  I love my PT "J" who is also a horse person.  She is really great at what she does and has been very careful and mindful of my therapy.  She has taught me how to walk all over again so that I won't put stress on my spine and the hardware.  She is sure I will ride again and that has been so nice to have someone who understands my dreams. 

Don't Give Up Your Spirit

We all let it happen at times. A little at a time it creeps up on us and before we know it we have allowed something or maybe someone to erode how we are.  It may not happen quickly at first, maybe it is slow and subtle, and before you know it you have let a part of you to be impacted.  Maybe you realize that the shine has been worn off or things just don't seem to get you as jazzed up as they use to and before long you feel your spirit being taken away, bit by bit. 

You can keep it from happening, you do control how you act and react, but yes, it can be hard to not let it happen.  Whether it is just with time, due to life or because of something major that happens in your life you can control letting it happen to you.  Giving in to letting things erode our spirit for life is totally within our control.

Change your view or your venue and make those few little changes that can make a difference.  Phone a friend, plan a trip, evaluate your goals and plans or just read a really good book.  What ever it is make those necessary changes and adjustments to keep your spirit alive and moving you forward everyday.

Lesson number 9:  "It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes life worth living." Oliver Wendell Holmes

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Humbling Experience

When you have to ask other people to pick up things you have dropped in a store, when you can't do things that your formally did, when your body does not work like it use to it can be a very humbling experience.  I never thought those things would describe me or my experiences, but they do.  Because they do I have found a very different way of Being. 

In my past life I was very independent and I still have that in my spirit, but now I am truly forced into a very different way of being me.  In recently spending time with a person at work who also had a "Life Altering" accident I have found that what I am feeling is very valid.  Sometimes you wonder.  I have no reference points, my gosh I had never been over night in a hospital before this.

How will this affect me  I wonder?  Will I always feel different or will it slowly go away?  I know now that some things physically will always be there and silly me thought that they would put me back together and I would just get up and walk out of there.  Naive is how I choose to look at it, but those who know me would say naive I am not. Maybe I was just trying to be optimistic or hopeful.

So the new me is slower and more deliberate.  I am definitely more aware and compassionate towards others who may be in the same place that I am.  I guess what that means is my ability to display empathy  has been made more clearly available.  I feel more calm and patient because why sweat it? I have had to wait 12 weeks to no longer be contained in this brace so I can wait for anything, right!  There are other things more important in life than those things I had thought were important before.  My focus has been forever changed.  So what is really important in this life I am living?  Well, I am still working that out, but I can assure you that what was before is not going forward...........

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Universe is Random - or is it?

I have often wondered why this happened to me?  Ok, so who wouldn't have that thought given similar circumstances?  Maybe it will never truly be revealed to me, or maybe things don't happen for a reason?  I have always lived by the thought that nothing is ever really random, but is that true?  If it is why do bad things happen to good people?  I don't have the answer to that, but based on experience I can just speculate.

When I contemplated that question I believe that It can be so that we are able to learn from it?  It can be because that  is how things are destined to be?  It can be because...... It can be for so many reasons that I am wondering why I even decided to do this post.  Or, is it because the universe is really that random?  I would hope not.

 I think that even after all that this accident has put me through I would choose to determine it being random is not true.  The universe cannot be that random can it?  I know there is a lesson for me in all of this. I don't know what that lesson is just yet.   I hope to one day be able to determine with certainly and to definitively say what it is or it is not, but right now I am still very confused. 

What I do know it that today I was a better person.   Today, I found empathy and compassion for my fellow man.  Today, I was all that I could hope for in my job and what I get to do to earn my keep on this universe and for that and that alone I am OK with where I am..............because of my experience today.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sleep, Elusive Sleep...........

OK, how long will the foot pain go on I keep asking myself each night?  I hate to grumble here but as I say to people when they ask, "How are you doing?"  "There are Good Days and Bad Days."  I have been having a string of not so good days and it is really not too much fun.

My right foot is not tolerating "Work."  Yes, you ask how is that?  Well, it is because the floors at the office building I work in are too hard!  Yup, carpet with very little pad over concrete is not working out so well for me and my foot.  I worked from home yesterday and what a difference, but then what do I go and do?  I forget to take the nerve medicine before going to bed, so here I am at 3:00 am going why is my darn foot still hurting me?  Duh! 

I guess I have been able to test if I can wean myself off the nerve medicine and the answer is not yet.  Being less than full functioning along with not feeling great for so long can be wearing.  I feel for anyone with a chronic condition as I have a sense of what my issues may be like longer term.  I feel like the right foot is going to be my continued nemesis.  It has gotten better, but it will not ever be right 100% again.  That makes me sad.  I have to continue to remind myself of my good fortune in this situation or you can tend to  dwell on the little things.  Like that darn right foot.  Wasn't that a movie?  Something like that right?

Friday, March 25, 2011


Everyday is a new journey as I progress in this new life.   I am happy still to be alive and walking, but I want this dog gone brace off in the worst way possible!  I really hate it in a way that I have never, ever hated anything.  I will survive, but boy this has been a challenge.  Last weekend I attended a horse show which traditionally has been the kick off to the show season.  Yes, it would have been my first show on Casey had we been able to ride.  Was it tough?  Well, it was different since we have known for a long time I would not ride this year, but being able to ride again in general has been in question so a show is really inconsequential.

I saw my rehab doctors a little over a week ago and asked to have them consider returning me to work. For those of you who know me my job in Human Resources can be done for the most part via phone and computer as well as conference call.  Just prior to my injury I started a new job which would require more travel throughout the state of WA, and I acquired a new team.  So, of course I had to have an accident to test how they could handle all of this and more.  What I can say is my team passed with flying colors.  What an incredible team of women who pulled together, supported each other and along with my boss who filled in while I was out made it all work.  You all ROCK! 

Yes, despite the intense negotiations with my two rehab Docs and my hubby who all thought I should be off of work longer I went back this week to work full time.  I have taken it easy and am glad for the mental stimulation and human interaction.  I was very tired by today, but I am glad I insisted that this would work out.  My body is willing and physically I am feeling OK.  I will pace myself and make sure that I don't over do it.  Glad for the weekend for a little rest and relaxation.  All is going well and we are on the count down for the brace to come off on tax day.  Mark your calendar!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stormy - "Justa Swangin" - Rest In Peace

When ever a beloved pet passes away I feel like they deserve a memorial service of some kind.  So, this is my tribute to Stormy or "Justa Swangin" which was her registered name with APHA and Pinto.  I was Stormy's owner for a fairly short time, but as with any animal I have had the privilege of sharing part of my life with she has left an imprint on my heart.  I became Stormy's owner during a time when by all rights I should not have been buying a horse.  Yup, I tend to do that, but hey at least I am honest.  

I was in the midst of still trying to determine if Stormy's half brother would be my "All Around Horse" and since Irish was taking a long time to grow up and mature I decided to find a more finished show horse that I could  show.  Why was it a bad time?  Well, lets see, I had started a new job which had me traveling from Pierce to Snohomish county for work each day.  It was over a 100 mile commute round trip  in the worst  traffic Seattle had to offer every day.  We really wanted to move, but this was in early 2007, and the housing bubble was beginning to soften.  We put our house on the market and in the prior 6 months a house like ours would have been snatched up, but we sat and waited and waited and waited for a buyer. 

I kept commuting  for over 6 months and I really needed to have my horse out let.  I will be the first to tell you that horses keep me sane.  They are my diversion, my passion, and the one thing will keep me doing a job that at times people think I am crazy to do.  Yes, I have even told the boss, if I don't do horses then this job can go.  Fairly embolden, but hey I am honest, and since I keep the horse hobby he knows he is good.   We closed on the horse and the house in the same week.  I did the vet check and all seemed good,  and off she went to the trainers.

Our first year of showing was a year of learning for me.  Stormy had more buttons than most sports cars and knew her job.  She was shown extensively by her previous owners and had made her way to WA from CA.  She was a seasoned show horse.  We began to notice that she seemed to have some hoof tenderness during the show season.  Not uncommon for a long time show horse so I was not concerned.   We did pretty well and and I was happy and decided to move her a little closer to home.  My former trainer "M" had kept her feet in good shape so any tenderness was minor and I did not let it bother me. 

The next show season at a new barn proved more challenging and Stormy never seemed to get in the groove.  She was off more than she was on and her feet were clearly bothering her.  The vet x-rayed her and prescribed various prescriptions without much success.  I was able to show her, but it was hit or miss.  Something was clearly wrong.  By the end of the season I took her to be evaluated by a well known farrier who had success with horses with problem feet. 

She stayed at the facility for over 6 months and had ups and downs, but when "M" the Farrier was less than optimistic for her continued improvement I knew a tough decision would need to be made.  I asked his opinion and he candidly told me what the options were.  I was heart sick and it would take me 8 more months of trying and her not getting better to get me to make a decision.

I moved her back to a place she knew as home when her former owner, "S" generously offered to take her in and take care of her for me.  I did not have many alternatives for a horse who was lame and I knew it was a matter of time when keeping her comfortable would no longer be an option.  I had already made my peace with it when the time came.  I made the arrangements with "S's" assistance and asked to not know the exact date.  I would dwell on it and it would be better to not know when it would be. 

"S" said it was Sunny out last Friday and that Stormy got brushed real good which she loved.  Ironically, I went to watch the first horse show of the season  that day and watched my horse friends show their horses at the same fair grounds where I had my first horse show experience as a rider on Stormy in 2008.   I was well distracted that day.  She was a good girl going to the vet and they would have given her a sedative which horses are accustom to so she would not have been scared.  Good bye Stormy, I will see you again one day......

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shoes - A Whole New World Awaits

Since progressing with my rehab I have found that the balance issues need to be addressed through better arch supports and the right shoes.  I discovered, very close to home, a great store that sells shoes for those of us who have "feet issues."  Yes, it is one of those stores that I would have never set foot in before my accident (sorry I couldn't help that), but now I am so happy they exist.  They have a very nice selection of shoes with great arch support and that in some cases (not all) can be stylish in their own way. 

I have discovered that I  love "Danskos!  I have always been a fan of clogs so they were not a stretch for me, but they really have a great support that I now need for my arch, particularly on my right foot, which as I said probably will never be totally right again.  I sure wish the hubby had found this store when he went on his wild adventure trying to find me some shoes while I was starting rehab.  I am sure he would have balked at the price tag, but hey at least my first few venture walking in rehab would have been less painful.  Recall the nice black pair of shoes he thought were going to work for me??

So now I have to look at what I wear on my feet a little differently.  The hubby calls me "Imelda" which for those of you who don't recall was the former first lady of the Philippines who had a stagger number of shoes.  Well, I certainly don't have the number that she has, but I am one of those people who thinks each outfit deserves matching shoes, and I do have a closet full of shoes, well actually two.....  So what do I do now?  Now I have to make sure that my removable arch supports go in the shoes I intend to wear if they are not good shoes with arch supports.  So, some of my shoes will work with my new situation, but many will not.  Sounds like a shoe buying opportunity to a certain degree?? 

The problem with these new "special shoes" is they are not cheap!  They are all over $100 easy and that will certainly make me pause in picking up a couple of  pairs to match  my outfits.  So, I guess I may become someone who has a limited shoe collection.  I know right now I cannot wear heels, but I love variety  in my shoes so I am feeling a little restricted with the thought of limiting my shoe options.  I have not even started to think about my boots, yikes, at least I think they all should be good with the arch inserts.  Oh, did I mention that the removable inserts are $30 for a pair.  Sounds like the price of shoes, or I should say the former price of shoes I would buy.  

Just another one of the adjustments I have finding I have to make in my new world.  May seem trivial, but just think about how important walking is and you will realize that these are the types of things that can be very important for my progress in rehab.  I guess the hubby will get to stop calling me "Imelda."

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Being Less Abled Continued.....

As my recovery continues I have become acutely aware of the challenges that I have in being less abled.  I am beginning to do more each day and with that comes more time ventured out in the "community."  For starters many "able bodied people" are not even aware of those of us who are "less abled" and they breeze right by without thinking about a heavy door slamming in my face or that I may not have enough balance to side step you and your busy little children who are running around.  I am slow, yup, much slower at everything than I was before and that does not seem to fit in our go, go and do more society of people who are wired in and always moving.  I hate that I am slow and not the same as I was before, but I have tons of empathy now with everyone else who may be slow  and less abled for what ever reason. 

Being out in the community presents many challenges.  Because I have a disabled parking permit the parking issue has for the most part not been so bad.  However, I did not know there were so many people who have these parking permits and many times all of the spots are taken.  What issues this presents is I then have to park in a spot that makes it terribly hard to get out of and into may car.  I am not suppose to twist and with the compact parking spots that I may be left to navigate try using good techniques to get into or out of one car.  Virtually impossible.  OK, negative shout out to all public establishments who are not meeting Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) code for parking or access - You are rude and should not be in business if you cannot have the decency to have the legally required number of accessible parking spots, not to mention an accessible restroom. Yup, there is one "Mexican" restaurant in Monroe, WA that is going to get turned in by yours truly on Monday for their lack of access.  Don't mess with a disabled lady who knows as much as most attorneys on this subject.  Not smart.

Being out in the community gives me a chance to drop things in public and not just at home.  I cannot bend over and pick up anything right now so boy do I have to be careful.  I dropped some mail when getting it out of the mail box and I had to get real creative with the cane to get it up and into my car or I was going to have to go back to the house and get my grabber device.  I have dropped items at stores and find that there is usually someone who will help if you explain the situation.  Not great, but it works.  For a very independent person like me none of this feels good, but I am sure I am learning tons from this experience or why would I be living through it right?  I do live in fear of dropping my car keys and being unable to get to them.  I am very, very careful with this as I have that thought running around in my head now that I get to drive again.

The good news is that there are many people like me out in the world, some have had accidents or may have a chronic medical condition, many can recall a different time when life was not so hard.  No, we do not all feel sorry for ourselves, yes we do find the best way to get through each day and yes, sometimes we drop things that we can't pick up.

Lesson Number 8 - At least once each week take the time to help someone without being asked to do so.  You will be paying it forward with your thoughtful and generous spirit.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Horses Continued.....

"No ride is ever the last one. No horse is ever the last one you will have. Somehow there will always be other horses, other places to ride them."

Boy does that say it.  If you have it in your blood you won't little an accident, spinal cord injury, or a foot that does not seem to cooperate get in the way of your dreams.  The prospect of not riding again was never a consideration for me.

The Dream Horse Continued - Wizard was amazing for me.  He developed my confidence and took total care of me.  We trail road all over Piece County, WA and then took off to other great spots.  We camped, we did it all.  To think when I got him I was not sure how to even secure the saddle??  I was a very novice horse person and that is good and bad.  I didn't know what I didn't know and boy did I take some risks.  I was lucky in some ways, but I definitely learned from every experience. 

Along with Wizard came several other horses.  Yes, I had to do the "baby thing" and along came "Enchante," a beautiful, well bred Quarter Horse filly (Appendix) who had enough Thoroughbred in her blood line to trace back to Bold Ruler, yup Secretariat's sire.  I got her as a baby, 4 months old and so began my journey with a young horse.  She was sweet and feisty and I was determined to do all the work with her and I did.

She became a project for me during a very tough time in my life and she was my therapy as I worked with her to get her under saddle.  I did everything from the ground with her and was the first person to get on her back.  I taught her to move off my legs and then got some help from a trainer "T" to get her started. 

When she was 3 years old we took her to a Quarter Horse show to show her at halter, which meant that I just had to go in and set her feet up so she stood correct and then have her judged on conformation.  She was perfect in many ways, not a big horse, but striking and very correct.  She won it all in her halter class - Grand Champion!  I still proudly display the trophy they sent me.  I was thrilled and I had the bug.  Not only did she do well in halter, but she won ribbons in riding classes also.  She was talented.

It was through this experience that I met "K&S" who has a stallion that I bred Enchante to shortly after she started her show career.  So began my journey to find the perfect "Paint Horse."  Yes, they may look like a Quarter Horse with different color patterns, but Paints are their own breed with very specific criteria that allows a horse to be registered as a Paint.  I was totally hooked and so began the beginning of what has brought me to where I am today, but that story deserves it's own post.

One of My First Rides on Enchante

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Goals and Dreams

Having goals and dreams in my opinion are a good thing.  I have always had goals - personal, work, hobby.  It keeps me focused on where I am going.  It suits my need to have something that I am working towards for completion.  I have used various means and methods over the years to track my goals and found just writing them down and keeping a list seems to work best for me.  It is always amazing to look back on it and see how I can just check them off, completed, achieved, done.  It feels so good.

In talking to a friend recently about goals I realized that not everyone is goal oriented.  Some people would just rather let life come at them and bounce with it.  I guess that is OK, but at times those same people may be the ones that wonder why things happen the way the do, instead of having a life guide by which to live and make certain decisions that can be life impacting.  I guess I don't understand this. If you don't want to call them goals then call them dreams - things that you dream of doing one day.  Get some clarity around your dreams,  get specific and commit to them. 

There are great tools available for first timers to goal setting.  "Mind Tools" has a life evaluation guide which can be a great first step in the goal setting process.  Visit their web site for tons of incredible resources.  Additionally, I am a huge fan of creating a "Picture Book or Treasure Map" what ever you want to call it.  Essentially for those visual people you are creating a goal collage of pictures that represent the goals you have set and are working towards.  Cut out pictures from magazines, take pictures, what ever works so that you create that visual picture to focus on.  In using this in the past I found it to be very effective in helping me keep the goals I had set right in front of me and helped me focus and achieve them.

Also, I have found, through trial and error that being very specific about the details of one's goals  can be critical.  You can say "I want to go to Hawaii," but if you don't nail down when, which Islands and then with whom, and outline what you want to do when you get there all you have is a wish.  The specifics of goals can make or break achieving them in a successful manner.  Remember the adage "The Devil is in the Details" well it is true and can make or break the success of your goal setting.  It is the one thing that you did not think was important enough to consider that can cause the most grief.  Be specific.

Today, right now, all my goals have changed.  It is amazing how one life event can have you reevaluate everything.  I am in the process of doing just that.  It is going to take some time since life is very much focused on the goal of rehabilitation as of today.  Sure there are a few other things revolving around, but my everyday is focused on getting stronger, having more balance and healing.  I cannot have another focus since my life going forward depends on my current outcome.  Goals - well I want the big toe and the one next to it on my right foot to bend better and be able to support and balance me so I can walk without the use of a cane.  Will it be perfect?  Maybe not, but both my PT "J" and I believe that it will be better than the doctors say it will.  We are focused, goal oriented women who want more for me than just accepting that "it is what it is and that maybe I won't need to use a cane."  Really Doc?  I guess you don't know me.

Lesson Number 7- Create Goals in your life to help focus, guide, and give you clarity about what is really important.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Horses - Continued.....

It is like a chronic disease or condition.  It is always there and I guess I would call it horseitis.  It has to be in your blood or you wouldn't do it.  You wouldn't spend hours in a cold barn getting ready for a show or practicing for an event where you will likely spend hours waiting for a class or for it to start, only to have to hurry up to get you and your horse ready into the class or event.  You wouldn't be around all the dust, dirt, hay, "poop" and subject your self to all that goes into it if it wasn't in your blood. 

Beyond all of the above there is the fun of it which includes spending time with great people who "get it and get your disease," primping and cleaning both horse and tack until both shine and glimmer.  Spending hours fine tuning you and your horse in preparation for the show or event.   Picking out an amazing outfit that compliments both the horse and rider and then swallowing the knot in your throat, sitting up straight, and tall and riding into an arena that seems way bigger than when you were practing in it to show in your class or participate in your event. 

It gets into your blood when you begin to show your horse or do any type of competition and you can't wait for the next one.  To fine tune, fix the errors, strive for perfection, and do it all over again.  In spite of the extreme exhaustion of being on your feet for days on end, and doing more physical work than anyone would every believe you crave the next show or event and can't wait for it to get here.  Yes, ask any horse person who is into showing or doing anything with their horses and your will see the light in their eyes and the passion of hope for the next planned event.  It has to be a disease because ordinary people wouldn't do it.  Just talk to them a little about it and they don't seem to understand why we would do it either?

So, in dedication to all my "Horsey Friends" have a safe and amazing show season this year!  Enjoy the journey and I will continue to work hard so that I too can be back "hopefully" next season with the light in my eyes and craving the next show just like I know you are.  Giddy Up!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

So Now I Know What is Going On

Going to the doctor is rarely fun, but I was looking forward to the Friday appointment at the Spine Clinic. Yup, this would be my first post operative follow-up with a doctor where I may have more than  breeze "How you doing"  and check my reflexes and strength and off they go.  We left early cause I wanted to make sure when found the place. It turns out when I give Bob the address he say, "that's my parking garage building!"  He knows the building well since this is where he parked every day for nearly two weeks while visiting me.  He and K slept in that garage the night of my surgery.  He proudly shows me which parking spot the car was in when it substituted for their bed while they waited for me to get out of surgery.

We get to the clinic and it is the offices for all the "Ortho, Sports Medicine, Neuro and Spine Docs affiliated with Harborview and UW.  OK, I am feeling pretty good that these are good docs.  I get to have more xrays which I assumed, but hey next time I will dress appropriately.  Note to self, no metal in the clothing and then guess what you don't have to disrobe which is always too much fun with this lovely brace.  Glad the hubby was there to help. 

The doctor comes in soon after the x-rays are taken and I finally get to talk to someone face to face and find out  how things are going.  He is a doc that essentially works for my surgeon Dr. B, a very nice and kind person.  He asks all the right questions and I finally get to ask mine.  He says I am doing "exceptional" which makes me feel like all the work is paying off.  He shows us the x-rays and how everything is still in place.  Yeah, I have not pulled a screw loose cause that would be very bad and yes, they would have to go back in and fix it.  I had to ask.  He begins to pull up all the MRI and other films from the records and explains what happened with my injury.  This is when I feel like I what to throw up.

I essentially pulled most of the ligaments and muscles in my lower back - hence the pain, bruising and residual issues I have been having.  He said that will take 3 months to heal, lovely.  My spine was damaged, yup I knew that, but once it is damaged that is how it is going forward, those damaged nerves don't get better  Wow, OK so what does that mean?  Well, the damage at the level of my spine could have affected my entire right leg, my bladder function, bowel function and all leg strength.  It didn't, but my right foot is the continuing problem and I guess it always will be to some degree.  OK, here is the part that I guess I was somewhat unaware of in relationship to my injury, you mean with rehab and PT and work on my part I won't get healed and back to normal?  So, what can I do?  He says I need to strengthen the leg and foot and work on the foot and it's flexibility, but some of the functionality will not return.  I may never regain my balance to walk without a cane.  What ???!!! This is the part where I cannot think about it anymore. 

I am damaged and part of me will never be the same........... I guess I was hoping and this is where not being a medical professional I just didn't know.  So, my excitement for the doctor appointment has waned and this became one of those "bad" days one has during any recovery process.  I am trying to not focus on it and I know I will walk without a cane.  It may not be fast, it may not be pretty, but I will not be defined by this.  Right now my right foot hurts more than the left every night.  It does not feel like it is really part of my body. It feels a little wooden.  The two toes on my right foot - the big one and the one next to it are doing better, but they are weak and do not grip as they should to provide balance automatically and stabilize that side.  My foot does not flex they way the left one does, it is more stiff and it is weak.  OK, so now I know what I have going on, what do I do with it?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Recovery Process Continued

When you have something happen in your life that requires you to take a pause and evaluate the next steps many time you may not be fully aware of where the path is going to go.  With an accident such as mine or any other the recovery process will have different stages.  Going from living life at full speed to turtle pace for me has been a definite eye opener.  Was I living life in too crazed a manner?  Had I taken time to smell the roses?  All good questions that I have now had time to ponder. 

Rehab has progressed since I got out of the hospital 3 weeks ago.  I have been doing outpatient physical therapy at the Providence Everett's campus and my therapist "J" is top notch.  She makes it fun, interesting, challenging and is a horse person which just adds to the full package.  She understands what happened to me fully and the deep desire I have to ride again.  She has added to my home exercise program and continues to evaluate what we need to do to address my continuing progress. 

Every day at home I ride my recumbent exercise bike and have steadily increased the number of miles I am riding and  am currently I am doing over 5 miles in 40 minutes.  I get stronger every day and am increasing my stamina.  I also do about 30 to 40 minutes of different exercises to build strength, balance and flexibility.  My right leg and foot remain my nemesis and I keep working hard to improve both including my big toe which is still not bending like the left toe.  I am doing exercises where I roll my foot on a tennis ball and attempt to pick up a towel with my toes on the right foot all in an effort to help the foot and toes regain their memory. You don't realize how important having the correct use of your toes are – they grip to help provide balance and stability which happens while we stand, walk and lean forward, backward and side to side.   On a good note I am very strong thanks to boot camp classes and Pilates.  Starting out by being in decent shape has really helped me progress quicker than most according to “J”.  So note to self stay fit and always make time to take care of your body.  You never know when it will pay off.

I have gotten very adept at managing my brace by myself and can take it off and put it on without any assistance.  This has allowed the hubby to return to work and I am able to be self-sufficient at night and during the day.  Getting well has it challenges and for me it is the waiting it out part.  Anyone who thinks that hanging out at home all day on medical leave would be fun has to be crazy.  It is not, it is boring, and for those of us who are used to daily interaction and lead a full active life it is near torturous.  I get to have my first post hospital MD apt this Friday with the Spine doctor and can hardly wait to find out what is next.  I hope that all is healing well and I am on track to progress as planned.  Plus I have tons of questions regarding long term prognosis that I was not fully coherent to ask while in the hospital.  More to come for sure……….

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Being Less Abled....

I have always hated the word "Disabled" so I am not using it.  Yes, I cannot do the things I did before, and yes some of that may be temporary, but I don't feel "Dis" anything.  I am "Less abled " than I was before.  I can still do a ton of things for myself, but this world is not set up for me or other like me who are not fully functioning.

I was shocked at the hospital when I began to discover small things that were making my life more difficult as I tried to get around.  Sometimes it was as simple as the toilet paper dispenser was set so far down on the wall in the restroom that you had to lean way over to even reach it.  OMG, I have a back injury here people?  Yes, the nurses said many times people fall trying to take care of one of life's little needs.  Totally Crazy.  The hospital showers were another story.  Nicely tiled, yes you could get a shower chair or wheel chair in there, but guess what when used the water goes everywhere.  It essentially floods the bathroom.  Why?  Well as I could see it the floors are not adequately slanted so the water would go towards the drain.  Duh?  So every time I showered I had to have a towel barricade and then assistance so I didn't fall.

Yes, all the nice hospital staff were aware, but what could they do?   Hospital many times were built before the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act - Signed into law by Bush Sr in 1990) and then remodeled over and over again.  They worked with what they had, but my thought would be to make sure "Less Abled" people are involved in the design of say the Rehab unit when you decide to make any upgrades.  Seems so simple, yet mostly organizations and businesses just follow the written government standards under the ADA for accessibility.  Has anyone even asked if they got it right?

One of the true good things that I got for being less abled was a special parking permit.  I have never been one of those people who had to park up front in any case.  However, when you are not able to get around as well as you use to it is very necessary to have the ability to park in spot that allows you to have a bigger parking spot to get out a walker, a wheel chair or to just get out of the car.  Being closer to the destination is relative as many of the stores, offices, etc... apparently followed the letter of the ADA law on accessibility verses looking at what  would make most sense for the customers coming to the establishments.  Try looking at it from their perspective folks and maybe you might just rethink what you have going on.

Another observation is that apparently here in Washington it is relatively easy to get one of these parking permits.  All you have to do is have a doctor sign off on one and it seems pretty much everyone has one.  Yup, I know my Dad has one, but he is going to be 77 years old and has a bad back, etc.... Some of the others getting out of their cars do not appear as less abled as I would think??  Just like a prescription for anything these types of necessary accommodations can and do get misused I am thinking.  My permit is only for 6 months as I view my need as totally temporary.  Do others see it that way or as a way to park up close?  By the looks of it at many locations when all of the parking spots are filled I would say pretty much many, many people are less abled?

I have found in my current state that people look at you differently when you are less abled.  It is not overt, nor is it mean.  I believe they are just curious.  Since for the most part I don't look too bad off I think they are trying to assess "hey what is wrong with this lady?"  I know it is just human nature so I don't let it bother me.  When they see the brace then it usually clicks for them why an otherwise, normal looking woman would be using a cane, a walker or parking in special spot.  Because she has to.  The brace it turns out  is a conversation starter as I have had several people quickly say "you broke your back, right?"  Yup, and then the story is told.  Let's face it my story is a little more glamorous than most.  Not everyone rides horses and the usual culprit for these types of injuries is an auto accident I am finding. 

Being "Less Abled"means that everyday when I go into the able bodied world I must chart my course.  I have to plan access to and from locations, how to carry things like a purse, a brief case or purchases, do I have someone to assist?  In rehab they have you spend time going all over the hospital and outside of it to ensure the basics, but let's face it there is way more out there in the scary able bodied world that is just not easily navigable.  I for one realize why people become home bound when they are not as able bodied.  So how can we change that?  I  have a new found interest in exploring just that............

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Visit or Not, That is The Question??

I was so blessed to have an incredible number of people come and visit me during my stay at Harborview in both the hospital and in Rehab as well as now while I am at home continuing my recovery.  I can say without hesitation that this has truly sustained me.  The hubby knew it so he was always encouraging people to stop by and see me "she loves it" he would say!  Bad hair days, no make-up, drugs, and pain, none of that mattered if I had someone to chat with to help distract me and take me to a different place.  Family, friends, co-workers and people I had not seen in years, I was having the social time of my life in an odd sort of way.  So why is it that this is when we rally?  I cannot really tell you, but I know sometimes we feel like not everyone likes all the attention when they are down and out.

I know for many people there are certain values in place when people are not feeling well, we leave them alone.  Of course you don't want to intrude or bother them right?  Well, I would challenge you to re-think that and at least make the overture.  People can always say, "No thanks, I would prefer no visitors," but if you never ask than they may sit all alone, with bad  hospital food, no cable TV and no inclination to want to read.  That would have been me for sure. I was so use to being on the go all of the time to then go to spending two weeks most of the time flat on my back I did not know what to do with myself.  I usually like to read, but only magazines seemed to catch my attention.  TV was of little interest, since I have never been a big TV junkie, so no Soaps for me.  Talking on the phone was great, but during the day most people I know are working and the hubby and my mom had already made their phone calls most days to me when I was trying to fill time.

Without my visitors I really would have been in a way worse place and felt totally disconnected from my world.  Being home most days now for my continuing recuperation is barely tolerable without my people connections.   I am, and always will be, a people person.  I am around people all day when I am working and love it.  I have an amazing team of women who I work with that keep me motivated to be the best leader I can be.  In my job I get to support some incredible supervisors, managers and VP's, so people are what I am all about and to remove that from my world would be intolerable.

So, the next time someone you know is out of commission, in the hospital or just not feeling well reach out, stop by ,and visit or make an oveature so that they know you care.  It may just make the difference in their recovery.  PS, the flowers, cards, e-mails and phone calls were amazing as well and just added to the joy and love I felt each and everyday - I could feel myself improving with just the positive energy that it gave me.   Sometimes is does take a  village......

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tools to Get the Job Done

We use tools everyday and don't even think about what we would do without them.  In the horse world without a good hoof pick, a stall fork and the right saddle, bit and bridle a horse person would be ineffective.  As a less able bodied person without the right tools you cannot even function.  Occupational Therapy helped link this all back together and gave me the tools to ensure that I could function each and every day in my new world.

The main tools I use to help me during the day are - My dressing stick, which I can use to pull up pants, take off socks and to assist me in getting dressed. 

I also use an aid to get my socks on.  Since I am unable to bend at the waist due to my surgery and the brace I have to rely on either the hubby or my sock aid to get my socks on every day.  It is an amazing tool because it looks so odd, yet is so dang effective.  You essentially slide the sock over the device and drop it down and slip your foot in and pull the sock up with the long straps.  Works like a charm!
Last, but not in any way least is my "Reacher" which really does save my bacon daily.  I cannot bend so anything and everything that I drop ,which seems to be many things everyday, I need assistance in retrieving.  Well, the hubby was starting to roll his eyes when I would call him and say "it has fallen and it cannot get up!"  He will retrieve my cane, but I need to pick up the rest of the stuff and the reacher does the trick.  I have two of them, one up stairs and one down stairs and they have been great.

To help me get around I have my cane and a 4 Wheel Walker that I use.  My cane is the mainstay getting me around the house and when I go out in the world I take my walker.  A little shout out to the Hubby who got me a very cool cane that has multi-colored butterflies on it.  It is very colorful, and matches many outfits (that is what he thought when he got it for me).  I have received many compliments on it since it is so happy and colorful and much better than a generic gray one. My Walker is deluxe and it is a little more hip than the one I used in the hospital at first which I an thankful for.  If I had to learn to use a walker 30 years before I expected to at least make it cool and hip.  So, when they ordered me the 4 Wheel variety and it was "Red" I was a happy lady.  You know it is really the small things when a walker makes you happy :).

Lesson Number 6 - Always get the right tools for the job, even if you plan to later give them away or sell them when you no longer have a need for them! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Horses: In riding a horse, we borrow freedom....

Since this started with a horse experience it seems fitting that I had better explain why in the world after all of this I still want to ride and how and where it all started.   I guess it is in your blood or DNA?   Not sure, but it is in mine. 

As a child I dreamed of having a horse one day.  It usually starts small, a pony and then we build.  I was a city girl with little opportunity or access to being able to have a horse of my own.  But, you can always dream and pray and more nights than not I asked God, "Please bring me a Pony."  What in the world would my parents have done if they found a Pony grazing away in our back yard?  I could only hope.

My access to horses was intermittent, but memorable growing up.  My cousin, "P" had first one horse and then two when her Quarter Horse Mare had a foal.  I was so excited to see the baby, he was a bonus as they did not know the mare was pregnant when they got her.  When ever we would go to visit I got to ride.  At first I would ride double behind my cousin and then as I got older she would let me ride on my own.  It seemed like I had to wait forever for the other kids - my siblings, to get their rides done and then it was my turn.

That Mare was what we would call a "Packer" she was patient, kind, and put up with my lack of riding skills.  I would walk and trot her all over their field and some times we would even lope.  She was a little barn sour so I knew I should keep her away from the barn or she would run into her stall and I had better duck or off I would go.   You get to anticipate these things with horses and I never did fall off of her.  Riding that horse set in place my continued desire to have a horse of my own.  I was 9 or 10 years old. 

Fast forward 20 plus years.  I finally find myself in a situation where I can begin to make the horse dream happen.  I save up enough money to buy the horse, tack, and a trailer.  For years I have been attending horse shows, reading and dreaming about this day when I get my first horse.  I am 32 and finally I get to make it happen.  I start looking and know that I want to start with a great trail horse.  I have ridden my neighbors horse on the trail and he is part Appaloosa and I think that makes sense for a first horse.  I try out a few horses and only one stands out, but he is not an Appaloosa, he is an Arab. 

I know enough about horses as this point that I am really not sure I want an Arab, they are typically more "hot" than not and I am such a novice that I don't want to get off to a bad start.  I decide to meet him after talking to his owner.  She assures me that "Wizard" has been there and done that.  She tells me how she rode him across county in an organized trail ride to reenact the wagon train coming west, how he literally jumped a fire line when she was out trail riding and got stuck where she should not have been, and that he is calm and has been around the block.  So, I go give him a try.

My first impression is - OMG, he is White!  I later find out that in the Arab color world his color is really considered "Gray."  What ever his color is called it looks white to me and I know that I never envisioned owning a white horse.  I saw myself on something more brown - a bay (dark brown) or Sorrel (red/brown), but a white horse??   I take him for a test ride in their rock littered arena.  He is a good boy and walks, trots and lopes for me.  His trot is like a jack hammer, and I bounce around in the saddle which is way too big for me.  The owner tells me I should post his trot.  What the heck does that mean?  Boy, I was a green rider. 

I take him out in the neighborhood around their house with her daughter riding with me on her horse.  Cars, kids on electric trucks, sprinklers, none of it bothers him.  He just takes it all in stride....  The daughters horse is much more jumpy and ill at ease.  I head back to their house and know

I have found my "Dream Horse."  And so the journey begins....(To be continued)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rehab - Now the Real Work Starts

I wanted to do in patient rehab from the start becasue I knew it would get me the kick start needed.  I wanted to stay at Harborview to do it as they have one of the best Rehab programs around.  I have never been afraid of doing the hard work to accomplish something that you really want so doing in patient rehab just made total sense.  My Mom is a former Rehab nurse so I knew how it worked from hearing about her job over the years when I was growing up.  People are in rehab for a variety of health issues - stroke, heart attack, head injury, spinal cord injury, etc...

Day 6 following my injury I started my in patient rehab - I had Physical Therapy twice per day, Occupational Therapy twice and then Recreational Therapy once every couple of days - 5 days per week and Sundays were a day off.  Each theraphy has a different focus.

Physical Therapy would work on me - getting me walking, climbing stairs (since my house has quite few), strengthening my muscles, they are just like loose rubber bands after the injury.  They would create an exercise regime to address my issues that I would do in the hospital and later at home.  Occupational Therapy is focused on helping learn how to do day to day things in your life - showering, dressing, cooking (told them I was spoiled cause the hubby does this), they would help me navigate what had been easy with new tools and new ways of getting things done.  Recreational Therapy focuses on helping you navigate in the community - how do you go out and run errands, navigate side walks, streets, etc.. with a walker or cane.

Game on - I got two Physical Therapists day one, an Intern, "R"and a seasoned Therapist "J" who was evaluating "R".  They were both great and took great pains to evaluate me and establish goals for my therapy.  My right foot had been bothering me since the accident.  We were not sure if it was a sprain that I got when I fell or as result of the SCI.  It seemed like a sprain, but since my toes on the foot were not working correctly It was hard to determine and likely part of the overall injury to my spine.  They thought I may need a brace to give the foot some stability and spent time evaluating that need. Ultimately it was determined I would not need one.

We would focus first on walking with a walker and then stairs all while incorporating exercises to build strength, balance and flexibility.  Walking was different now than before.  I had to tell my body what to do where as before it was automatic.  With a SCI the path ways that work from the brain to your body are damaged and to rebuild them you must tell them what to do by focusing on asking for simple things like tighten your quads and glutes, lift your legs to climb stairs, bend your knees, etc...

These videos were taken day two in Rehab and show me walking with the walker and then assisted without the walker.  Just know that was nearly three weeks ago, so I have made great progress since then, but I felt it was important to see where I started.

Note, the special "Black Orthopedic Looking Shoes" I am wearing.  Special thanks to the Hubby for finding those style makers for me.  He spent hours at the mall trying to find them and then ended up at "Payless Shoes" for those special shoes.  Since my feet were very swollen and tender I was afraid my regular tennis shoes would not work.  Not to worry, hubby to the rescue.  Well, needless to say, those darn shoes, with no arch support and brick like insoles, hurt more than going bare foot in socks, which is what I did day one.  Those did not last another day and I left them at the hospital, they would not be part of my "shoe collection."

Lesson Number 5 - Never let the hubby or boyfriend buy you shoes!  Leave that to sisters, mothers or girlfriends and thanks to mine I ended up with some acceptable comfortable options.  Good effort hubby.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rehabilitation - Rewind, Relearn, Redo

It was no time after talking to the Ortho Docs about Rehab that a Rehab Doc was in to evaluate me.  The correct term for a doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine is "Physiatrist ."  Well, of course the one who came to evaluate me looked just like Hillary Swank.  I kid you not, she was her younger version for sure.  Very nice as she took a pin and lightly poked me with it up and down my legs and feet to determine my sensation levels.  Yup, a regular safety pin.  By this time I had been so poked and prodded what did I care?  I just wanted to get on to my next steps in my recovery so if this is what needed to happen go for it.

I was moved to the Rehab floor on day 5 of my stay in Harborview.  When they have a bed for you on another unit these folks are serious about getting you moved.  They breeze in and say, "were moving you to Rehab" and I am saying ,"OK, great, my hubby will be here shortly to help," but they come in with a bed, a cart and they are moving me and all the stuff I have accumulated - flowers, books, general stuff.  I wondered if the hubby would find me in the maze of Harborview?  Off we go to Rehab.

My room on the Rehab floor is "Small "and it is a shared room.  Geez there is barely room for all of my stuff!  The hubby shows up and he does not like it I can tell.  With a bedside table, a walker, a wheel chair and a chair for visitors it is not the best use of space.  I am just happy to be there so I tell him to chill. 

I meet my roommate "V" who had a stroke and has been there for over a month.  She is nice and gives me some tips on what to expect.  I won't officially start rehab until the next day, but I am excited to be there even if I feel like I have gone from staying at a Westin in a suite to a Days Inn.  There are certainly different levels of accommodations as you move through the various levels in health care ICU to Medical to Rehab.

The Rehab Docs show up again and I meet my "Resident" Doctor - Doc "M"and the Head of the Unit- Doc "C"  Both, young and very nice.  The Resident - Doc M is making his rounds through the various units so he is doing his stint in Rehab now.  He gets to do the Pin test again and he pokes me all over from the waist down.  Ugh, do we really have to do this, but I guess so.  The day is filled with tons of people coming in and out of my room explaining the process.  There is a schedule posted on a white board that tells me what I need to be doing and when.  I literally have a team assigned - Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Therapeutic Recreation, Psychiatrist, Social Worker, and Nurses to make sure I get the full meal deal.

I am still having tons of pain mostly in my feet.- it is nerve pain which is incredibly painful and the pain meds barely take the edge off.  I was fitted with a brace while on medical floor that I have to wear it  any time I am out of bed - sitting, standing or walking where I am at 90 degrees.  So, I pretty much have to wear it all the time other than when I am sleeping.  It is called a Jewett Brace and it will keep my spine and torso supported and keep me from flexing forward and twisting - all not good for my healing back.  I cannot bend forward at the waist so I cannot pick anything up, I can't put on my own socks or shoes.  I really feel trapped without the brace. The worse part is at night when they take the brace off and I have to use the rest room.  I am like a turtle stuck on my back and at the mercy of the nursing staff.  The first few nights they didn't put it on to get me up and instead out came the bed pans.  I hated those things and was determined to get cleared so I could get up on my own.  Goals are an incredible thing to motivate you - Lesson Number 4 always have Goals- Write Them Down, Look at Them Often and Commit to making them Happen. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Harborview - Continued

Being in the hospital for an extended period of time is really no fun as you can imagine.  Some of the lighter moments are the only things that really get you through it each day.  The hubby loved to pick out my food from the menu they left us each day.  As soon as breakfast arrived and the menu was there he would grab the little wood pencil they left and start making "my selections" for the next days meals.  Of course, he asked for my input most of the time, but really he picked what "he thought I should have."  So, each and every day seemed like a mystery meal for me.  Fun?? Well, it was interesting.  I had little appetite so I did not really care.

It was when they moved me to the medical floor that they started to get real about next next steps.  They want you up and moving - no lying around.  No catheter cause you get to use a "bed side commode" which is such a fun thing.  When they got me up the first time I realized "girlfriend you are pretty messed up" as I tottled like a little baby , unbalanced, uncoordinated and able to take a  few steps with my new "walker."  OMG, I am going to have to relearn "A lot!"  I may be able to walk, but not like I use to.  Here I was getting to learn to use a walker "30 Years" before I had planned on using one.

For those who know me I am a "Go, Go, Person" I don't sit still much and I was always going and doing something.  This new reality hit me like a ton of bricks.  I could not even walk the same as I use to.  With a SCI (remember my new acronym) my injury was classified as a L2 Asia D which is how they rate and  classify injuries.  I have what is call an Incomplete SCI which means my spinal cord was damaged, but not severed.  What it means in reality to me is that from about my hips down is where I would see the  impact of the injury.  Yup, they were right. 

I have numbness across my lower back,  and the sensation if you touch my legs from my thighs down is off, it is just not as sharp as it use to be.  I had extreme nerve pain in my feet - imagine when your foot goes to sleep with the tingling and pins and needles and then add pain that feels like fire.  My feet were also very swollen so walking on them felt like I was walking on two big fat potatoes on the bottoms of each foot.  It was so disconcerting.  My right ankle was swollen and it made my right foot tip to the left and it just was not working right.  We think not only did I sprain it, but with the SCI I have less movement and range of motion as well as strength in my right leg.

Once the doctors know your diagnosis they are ready to move you forward and have you get better.  Rounds start early so if I was going to ask any questions of the doctors about next steps I better be up and with it.  Hence I wanted to get off the crazy pain meds as soon as possible so I could think and ask question.  On day 3 I was waiting for my ortho docs.  I had seen them briefly at one point when I was in ICU, another "Grey's moment," when three of them came in all decked out in their "North Face" athletic jackets, no scrubs for them, and looking every bit of "doctor McDreamy's" - young, athletic and "Wow!"  Gotta treasure those moments since hospital life was not exactly thrilling.

So when they came in on rounds next time I was ready, not on the drug pump, just taking the pills and I was going to get all my questions out.  Two of them breezed in, different "Ortho Docs," but I am ready.  They want to measure my strength in each leg and they do all these pushing, pulling, and resistance tests on each leg.  They seem happy with my "over all " leg strength.  I tell them about the foot pain and they ask me about rehab.  I tell them I want to do "In Patient" cause I know that it will get me off to the best possible start on my rehabilitation.  They both like that idea and will be sending down the Rehab Docs to evaluate me.  I guess it is not a given.  One of them asks about abut the accident, and it turns out he is a polo player.  He tells me that he expects I will ride again if I want to based on what he is seeing.  Since the hubby is still at "No More Horse Back riding" I figure I won't push it, but hey the Doctor is optimistic.  He leaves by saying "of course you were wearing a helmet/"  I just smile that little smile that says, "Yeah, right."

So here I am day 3 after a SCI and I still want to ride?  It is in your blood when you are a true horse person.  You can't stop the feelings that it gives you and the desire to want to ride is such a strong pull that even an injury so extreme as mine cannot keep me from wanting to be back in the saddle.......... Rehab here I come.