Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Belated Christmas! Also, I think I'm Going To Die (Figuratively)

Spider Claus says, "Are you done with the pictures yet?  Let's get to work."

So, Merry Christmas to all!  I'm a little late on that.

I had my Orthopedist appointment today, to read my MRI and x-rays and decide on a course of action.  The good news: It's not fatal.  The bad news:  They're not sure what's going on and the plan is to throw treatments at me and see what sticks.

And that's what has brought me to the "I think I'm going to die" stage I'm at right now.  I'm not really going to die, that's just how I feel. But, let's back up to the diagnosis....

So, I've got a 20 degree scoliosis curve in my lumbar spine, significant arthritis and some herniated discs.  None of it is so bad as to warrant surgery, which is good.  But, my back still hurts, and that's bad.  So, the Dr. wanted to try a steroid injection.  He thinks that a lot of my pain is actually coming from my left Vastus lateralis muscle.  It is extremely tender upon palpation, and, when challenged to stretch it, it just doesn't do that.  Plus, when asked to shift left (a movement that would require the left Vastus lateralis to engage itself) I just fall over.  So, something isn't right with it, and the doctor feels that might be the problem.

Courtesy of Gray's Anatomy, via Wikipedia.

To test this theory, the Dr. injected my Vastus lateralis with steroids (Depo Medrol).  And I instantly felt better!  It was amazing, I could have danced a jig!  But, here's the thing about getting steroid injections:  They hose down the injection site with lidocaine first.  Lidocaine is a short-acting analgesic that makes getting a giant needle into your hip not hurt.  Once the lidocaine wore off all my original pain came back, plus I had a giant bruise where the doc put the Depo Medrol in.  So, now I've still got sciatica, and my ass is bruised.  Oh joy!

And that's why I think I'm going to die right now.

When I got my injection this morning, I asked the Dr. specifically if I could ride my horse today.  He said I could, that there was no problem with me exercising or going about my normal lifestyle after the injection.  So, I did.  I had a lesson with my trainer, because I'd already scheduled it and he doesn't get down here too often.  By the time he got here the lidocaine had worn off, but my back doesn't hurt so much when I ride.  It's the tacking up, getting on and getting off that does me in.

So, I had my lesson, and my trainer told me that I rode better than he had ever seen me ride.  And he told me that Spider went better than he had ever seen him go.  All the time, I felt like I was going to die of pain (riding with a bruised ass is not fun!).  But the work I've done with Spider is still good, the training I've put on him is sound.  He carried me through that lesson with the training I've given him. That gives me hope.

I'm not giving up.  I've ridden a lot of horses with problems over the years.  I never gave up on them.  And I know Spider isn't going to give up on me.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well, That Was Rather Anticlimactic

So, in my last post I mentioned that my back was bothering me again.  I threw it out while riding a couple weeks ago.

When you ride horses and you tell people you hurt your back, the first question people always ask is "Did you fall off?"

No, no I did not.

Then they say, "Oh. Did he spook?"

No, no he did not.

"Well, then how did you hurt yourself riding?"

I was doing a haunches-in.  Just a regular old haunches in to the left at trot.  Spider tried to fall out a bit, so I gave him a little kick with my left leg and then, "POP"... something gave out in my lower back.

Seven years ago I fractured my L-5 vertebra in a fall from a horse.  I've had some trouble with sciatica ever since.  I also developed a degenerative scoliosis and some herniated discs. But, I'd been feeling a lot better recently.  I honestly can't even remember the last time I had any significant back pain.  So, I was a little surprised when such a simple thing threw my back out of whack.

I went to the Orthopedist today, to see what he had to say about it.  Several x-rays, two doctors and a few hours later, they're still not sure what's going on.  I'll be getting more x-rays (whole spine profiles of the scoliosis) and an MRI, then they'll decide what to do from there.  I'll definitely be fitted with a brace, and then I guess it's just a matter of figuring out if I need physical therapy, injections, surgery or some combination of the three.

As they say... "Nothing worth doing is easy."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


"My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21.  Everything after that is a bonus."

-Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at 21, and told he only had a few years to live.  That was in 1963.  Today, Stephen Hawking is still quite alive and widely regarded as one of the greatest Theoretical Physicists of our time.

Now, I am no Stephen Hawking; but I am not trying to be, either.  I'm just trying to ride one horse up through the levels.  I don't even want to be good at it, I just want to do it because it's something I love to do.

My back is acting up again, and that is making training my horse difficult. And that makes me cranky and mopey.  I wonder if I can really do this.  With all my problems, am I really good enough to train a horse up through the levels?

 After I'm through with my mopey crank-fest, I recite that quote, reset my expectations to zero, and go about enjoying my bonus.


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