Never ever take your health and riding for granted - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-25-2012, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Never ever take your health and riding for granted

I am going to share my story...not aimed at anyone in particular. But I read threads on here of people rushing back to riding after an injury, not wanting to go to the doctor, etc. Maybe my story will put some of this in perspective.
I am 41 yrs old, just about 42. I am a mother of two teenage sons. I grew up on the back of a horse, never really taken a break from riding except when I was pregnant with my second son and experienced a high risk pregnancy.
As a child I showed Morgans and Welsh Ponies. I worked cattle on the ranch, I was in Pony Club. At 16 I followed my brothers down the rodeo road and continued barrel racing for the next 20 years. For the past couple of years I have been competing very seriously in Team Penning and Ranch Sorting, almost every weekend throughout the year. Nothing slowed me down...until now.
I kept riding through various injuries over the years. Yup I ignored doctors, except the pregnancy thing. Broken problem. Torn out knee..kept going. But about 4 years ago I began to experience wicked muscle spasms in my legs. Take your breath away spasms. I ignored them. I didn't go to the doctor. I was fit, healthy, in shape. I didn't need a doctor, just work through it. Bit of pain never hurt anybody.
A year later it hit my hands. Spasms and cramps. Complete weakness in both hands. I broke down and went to emergency. Diagnosed as a repetitive strain injury. Wear splints. Ok I could do that. Kept riding. Didn't get any better. Didn't go back to a doctor.
Two years ago, tingling, numbness, weakness in both legs, both hands, across my face. Off to emergency. Nope wasn't having a stroke. Panic attacks, anxiety. Massive weight loss. Too weak to stand up or walk. Cost me my career. Kept riding, it was the only thing that kept me sane. Doctor decided it was due to stress, it was all in my head. Drugged me up with anti depressants, anxiety meds, you name it I was on it. Got a bit stronger. Put some weight back on. But still had no feeling at all in my legs and hands when I rode horses. Non stop tingling. Gave up on the docors as they had no answers for me except possible nerve damage from stress.
Last year I began to compete in the penning, despite having no feeling in my legs. I wasn't going to let it stop me. My family were the only people who knew what was going on. I just accepted the issues with my body as "it is what it is". My parents didn't. I have new doctors now, thanks to their fighting for me.
A few months ago I began to lose my balance for no reason, I would stumble and fall. I was losing my stirrups all the time. I couldn't keep my heels down. And the feeling came back to my legs. But it wasn't a good feeling, it was absolutely excrutiating muscle spasms and tremors. I limp some of the time. Other times I shuffle along like I am drunk. Sometimes I slur my words. The fatigue will hit so hard that I can't think or function. Just saddling up a horse to ride can wipe me out. I can't find the strength to get on. Sometimes after I ride, I lay on the ground beside the horse as tremors wrack my body. I have been lifted off my horse at a huge penning, because I couldn't lift my leg over to get off on my own. The pain from the spasms leaves me gasping for my breath, tears pouring down my face.
What is wrong with me? I have an auto immune disease, my body is attacking my own healthy cells. It has been happening for years. Most of the time I chose to ignore the sypmtoms. Because of not having a regular doctor that I went to, the doctors missed what was happening. Further preliminary diagnosis, MS. Waiting on an MRI to confirm.
Only good thing in all of this is that I am being encouraged to ride by the doctors. As therapy. I am continuing to compete for as long as I can. Friends help, one stands on the the sidelines and yells "feet" when I begin to lose my stirrups. My team mates all know and cover for me in a run if my legs fail. I own and ride some amazing horses that also cover for me. But there are days that I can't ride and I have to accept that. There may be a day when I can't compete, I have to accept that also.
Point of this is when your body says I hurt, listen to it. When your doctor says you can't ride, listen. Being able to ride is a gift, sometimes you have to take a break so that you can continue to enjoy that gift for a lifetime. Yes what is happening to me has nothing to do with injury and it is something that I have to live with now for the rest of my life. But I could have known years ago.
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post #2 of 5 Old 07-30-2012, 10:05 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Georgia USA
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Oh wow. That is tough. One good thing, if it is MS, there are a lot of really good treatments. I hope you get better.

I have recently been diagnosed with myesthenia gravis. It has a lot of similar symptoms, but there is no muscle pain or spasms with it. It is also an autoimmune disorder. With treatment, I am doing pretty well. I work and I ride. I do get tired a lot.

Carpe Diem!
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-30-2012, 10:46 PM
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thank you for sharing that. that is a pretty intense story. Funny thing, I was thinking "MS" when you very first started describing the original symptoms. I cannot believe your doctor did not consider that from the beginning.

Reminds me of how Buck Branaman said that he wrecked his back one time, and lost the feeling in his right foot/ lower leg. He said that he now rides in a brace, so that it stays in the correct position, since he cannot feel if he has the stirrup or not. I dont' know if he still does this or not.

I hope that you now will receive the best treatment and will be able to ride, if not in competition, in a way that keeps you connected to horses, and the sanity they provide.
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-31-2012, 11:55 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: AZ
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That is an amazing testimonial to your toughness. Glad you are finally getting some answers. It's amazing what the doctors keep missing. Best wishes for your health coming your way.
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-01-2012, 07:40 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Camp Verde, Az
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Stillstandin, you rock! I'm so glad that you're getting proper treatment now. Take care of yourself so you can keep doing what we do for a long time.
Best wishes.
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