So I think it’s pretty much general knowledge that a great deal of things have gone wrong here at the farm in the past few weeks.
As previously mentioned I had a riding accident back before Thanksgiving… I did NOT fall off, but managed to knock my spine out of alignment. Multiple visits to the chiropractor ensued and everything was fine until about 2 months ago when I was innocently shaving my legs and suddenly did “something” to my back again. I thought it was simply a rotated sacrum as that had been a problem before. After a weekend of excruciating pain (thigh, knee, calf and arch of foot cramping constantly) I revisited the chiropractor fulling believing that he would again solve my back problem.
I was wrong.
The pain level never abated so I finally sought treatment from our family doctor… only he wasn’t in that day and I saw one of his partners. That doc decided to “prediagnose” me before ever seeing me and after calling me “fatty on a horse” while reading my chart (outside the room… I guess she thought I couldn’t hear her? IDK… I thought it was rude) she swept into the room and said I had sciatica… and when I didn’t present pain in the place she said I should she stated that I was in so much pain I couldn’t feel it.
‘Cause yeah that makes sense.
So I left angry and frustrated with prescriptions for Prednisone and Lortab. For the record… neither of them helped with the pain level.
So still in excruciating pain I tried to maintain some normalcy to my life. Lauren, bless her, has helped me work with all the TBs and their ongoing skin funk issues. She has done the work, while I held the rope… nothing like feeling completely useless right?
Wednesday (5-23) afternoon Lauren was helping with the horses and on letting the TBs and Baxter out of their feeding pens, she saw Bax go down in an apparent colic. She sent for me immediately and I rushed out with halter in hand and we began our standard colic procedures. Thank goodness for Lauren as she walked and walked my sweet boy round and round the driveway because me and my bum-leg couldn’t walk 10 feet before failing. We gave him banamine and Lauren continued walking him until he pooped and passed gas and just to be safe we took his temperature which was normal. And for a little while I sat with his big giant head in my lap while I sat on the mounting block (the giant tall one that Jim made special for me to mount my tall boy). I told Lauren the story about how I got Baxter and then I burst into tears saying how I didn’t know if I could handle it if anything happened to him. And my sweet sweet boy sat there with his head on my knee, dopey from the meds, letting me love all over his face. Then he decided that he needed to go graze and I got a big hug around his neck, and a cuddle in his big shoulder and we turned him out in the yard. And so he grazed and acted normal… blinding us with his shiny healthy coat and frustrating us with his tenacity to try to eat the scrappy hay around the hay wagon… to the point that we had to turn him into the pasture. He drank, he pooped, he passed gas. Everything looked normal.
We checked on him again multiple times and every time he looked fine. He was his normal, lively self. I last saw him at 3am and he was fine. And I remember heaving a sigh of relief that my boy was ok.
During that night the pain in my leg hit an all new level and I was left writhing in agony. I had called Jim upset and frustrated that I had not been able to even walk Baxter during his colic. I rehashed the horrible doctor’s appointment and how I felt frustrated that nobody really cared. Jim promised to ask one of the docs at work to see what they thought and I hung up the phone feeling like maybe some headway would be made.
I woke up the next morning when Jim came in and he told me how he had spoken to one of the orthopedic docs and he wanted me to schedule an appointment with him. And I was pleased because I thought at long last some progress would be made to alleviate the pain so that I could start riding again.
Later in the morning Lauren called to check on Baxter and although I had not seen him that morning I was certain that he was fine as he had given every indication that he was over his colic. I hung up feeling pretty good about everything and was game to try the new stretches that M had read about to try to alleviate some of the ongoing pain in my leg.
I was laying on the floor with M trying to massage the knots out of my thigh when Jim came in. He sat down and held my hands and I thought it was because he thought I was in pain (which I was… but M had made me laugh so it wasn’t so bad at that moment). And then I looked up at his face and he had “that face” on… the one that’s foreshadowing impending doom… and I said “what’s with that face?” still laughing from M’s ongoing attempt to massage out the knots in my leg.
And then he said “Baxter’s dead” and my world imploded.
I remember screaming and pushing Jim away. I remember blindly searching through the house for my shoes because regardless of any pain in my leg the pain in my heart was greater and I had to see my sweet sweet boy because I just knew that Jim was wrong. It couldn’t be Baxter, not MY boy… let it be any other horse but not my boy. And there in the garden, separated from all the other horses I found him and reality hit.
My Baxter was dead.
Baxter… ohhh my sweet boy. I still have not come to terms with his death… I have had many many horses in my life but none like Baxter. Wherever I went he kept an eye on me. He listened to me and although he wasn’t really a lovey horse… he was always aware of me. Lauren rode him once for me and the entire time he kept one ear turned on me as if to ask “is this ok Mom?” I had a long long time with Aimee, 17 years I think and my world was rocked when she died. I only had a short time with Baxter and the hole he’s left in my heart is gaping and sore. My reaction to people who don’t understand the connection that many of us have with our horses has been scathing. I posted this on FB in response to being told that he was just a horse:
He was more than a horse… he was my sanity, he was my air, he was my diamond ring and warm fuzzy shoulder, he was my rock. On his back I conquered dragons, between his ears I saw heaven, he was never, ever “just a horse”
I remember returning to the house in a fog. I remember sitting on the couch with M and Jim holding me up as I sobbed and then I saw Lauren come in the door. Poor Lauren. 30 seconds after I had hung up with her that morning, Jim had called her to tell her that Bax was dead and to ask her to come to the house because he and M had to go to bed (they had worked the night before) and I was going to need somebody to lean on.
We explored every thing that could’ve gone wrong, called numerous vets and even tried to arrange a necropsy. We ended up not doing the necropsy because we didn’t have a way to get Baxter to the vet that could do them. I spent the day in agony. Lauren and I cleaned brushes which only brought on a new wave of sorrow as I realized I wouldn’t need that cool Haas brush anymore because Baxter was dead. We spent time working on Paris’ back (her skin funk is the worst) and every time I glanced up into the pasture I would see Lucy and my brain would say it was Baxter and I new wave of misery would crash over me.
It was a long hard day followed by a long, painful night.
Somewhere in the misery of losing Baxter I forgot about making the appointment with the orthopedic doctor. Once again the pain in my leg kicked it up another notch and after screaming at Jim he scheduled the appointment and which was last Friday.
This time instead of snarky, catty we were met with sympathetic and curious. I was actually examined and he found that I was very weak on my right side and lacked any reflex in my right ankle and also had lack of feeling all along my right calf and foot. His initial guess at diagnosis was that I had a ruptured disk which would indicate a need for surgery.
Did I ever mention how terrified of surgery I am? No? Well I am.
Immediately I thought he was going to tell me that my riding “career” was over… that riding was no longer going to be possible and I was like a landed fish gasping for air because riding is what keeps me sane and grounded… what do I do if I can’t ride? These two months without riding have driven me nearly to the edge of reason and it’s only because Lauren has been coming to help treat the tbs that has kept me feeling like I even had a toe in the horse world.
So he spent a good while reassuring me that after a some time off to heal I would indeed be able to ride and that the surgery would only side-line me from my regular activities for a couple months or so. Funny how glibly he said that “just a couple months” but that’s better than forever right?
So he scheduled an MRI and gave me new meds (that still don’t work but I’m building up the dose and once it’s a full strength the hope is that it’ll work at least somewhat) and off we went.
The MRI was one of the most horrific experiences of my life. Not because of the closed in space but because I was unable to move to relieve the pain in my leg for something like 30 minutes. I tried so very hard not to move only to have the little scratchy speaker snark out “you really need to be still!” I tried to explain to them that my leg was spasming and moving on its own but they weren’t buying that (tho it was true) and so I was repeatedly “encouraged” to remain still because I was “having this procedure done for a reason…” which I thought was rude. I glared at them meanly before I left. It made me feel slightly better, although I doubt they noticed.
So this morning as I woke up as Jim came up the stairs (he worked last night). He came to the edge of the bed and had that look on his face again. My immediate response was “who’s dead?” He assured me that everybody (and horse) was still living. Then said that he had talked to my orthopedic doc last night and had seen my MRI.
Yeah that face foreshadowing doom….
Turns out I have a seriously bad ruptured disk AND a bulging one as well. So it looks like surgery is on the books and I have no idea how he’s planning on treating the bulging disk as I don’t see him until Friday to find out what’s going on. I have no idea how this affects returning to normal for me but right now I’m trying to come to terms with the idea that I won’t be riding for a long time if ever.
Pardon me while I go wallow in self-pity for a while as I think I’ve pretty much used up all my coping skills and yet every time I turn around more stuff is being thrown at me. At what point do I just throw up my hands and say “you win!” to whoever is lining up all these wonderful things for me to deal with. Give me pain like nothing I’ve ever experienced, take away my usefulness, take away my friggin’ horse (who was INNOCENT) and now take away riding too… I realize I’m nothing in the scheme of the world but I’ve ever tried to be helpful and I try to do the right thing… to see things from other people’s perspectives and act accordingly. I’m not judgemental or catty… I give with a loving heart… I do right when I see the need. I help when other’s scoff… I believe in the goodness of others at all times and yet… and yet… I repeatedly find myself on the bottom of the heap… the nobody that everybody including family and friends can walk on regularly.
And I’d like to sit here and say “I’ve had it, I’m done” but I can’t. When the neighbor’s down the road call and need help with their horses, I’ll hobble out there as best I can to help. When family need help so that they can go “do their thing” I’ll be right there to help yet again… without even being asked…
And yet here I sit… in agony… my horse dead, my heart near broken… in physical pain.. and yet it continues to pile on. More and more and more…. at what point do I break?