I have kind of stopped talking - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
Posts: 6,637
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I have kind of stopped talking

I check the board most days, but don't even read most of the threads any more, beyond the titles. Partly because there is a lot of repetition, as in any single-focus discussion board. But also my attention has changed.

I have had my horse now almost five years. I started out with a forty-year absence from the horse world and a halter-broke horse; I had such a steep hill to climb. I needed to learn everything. And then I moved 3000 miles to a small farm and an utterly different climate and management set-up, where I had to learn everything again. Followed up by an ill-fated attempt to train my pony to harness and then to saddle, and then a rapid succession of huge veterinary crises. And now?

Well, I have at last resigned myself to the reality that I do have an incurable chronic illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as some call it, which can only be managed. I can ride pretty far and hard on a good day. I accept that I will pay for that good day with a crash that may last a day or a week. My idea of working up to riding Competitive Trail or Endurance, or my dream of horse camping -- those probably can't happen.

It also seems irredeemably true that my horse has behavior flaws that can only be worked around, not cured. Most of them center around her inability to stand still and relax. She paws, and pawing is very very hard to stop. She will never ride easy in a trailer, most likely. It's an unfortunate combination -- trailering is an exercise in intensive fear and stress management -- mine even more than hers -- and stress makes me ill. So, those trail rides with friends in nearby state forests, those local club pleasure rides, those also seem almost out of reach. I have struggled mightily with trailer issues for five straight years and I do not think they are going to go away unless I get a different horse.

I have so much here -- my essentially perfect stable, and my ample pastures, all the trails I can ride to from my own barn, many of which I haven't even explored yet, those friends who will trailer out here to ride with me, and of course my beautiful stalwart mare whom I so dearly love, who came through a terrible accident and is still sound. My menagerie here -- the companion pony and the two wether goats -- are working out just as I'd hoped; the three get along very well and are a comfort to one another; I can leave with Brooke and am reasonably sure they will be happy without her. I am ever-grateful for the beauty and peace of this farm. I even have a riding teacher who will come out and give me lessons here, although I only have a round pen with bad footing to work in.

Every time I ride, I have to push myself to do it. Not because I don't want to, but because I am tired. I'm always some variant of tired. I have long forgotten what it is like to be full of energy, to have a comfortable sense of well-being. I know that most people are struggling with something. Lack of money, or emotional support; chronic pain, fears and inabilities and impairments of all kinds. It doesn't make it much easier, but at least I know what it feels like to have an impediment that is not moveable by persistence, cleverness, planning, diet, medical intervention, force of will, conscientiousness, focus, or anything else. It is just not fixable. All that can be done is to arrange my life around it.

I hate admitting defeat, and will fight on until my sword is broken and the city is in ashes. That's not a helpful trait for coping with chronic fatigue. The exhaustion always wins. What is helpful is peaceful acceptance, appreciation of the beauty of the moment, a calm heart. None of those come naturally to me.

But that's why I don't post much. I am sad and jealous, too much of the time. And as far as news goes, mostly I either ride from my house, almost always alone, or I am too tired to do so, like today. That's about it.

Short horse lover
Avna is online now  
post #2 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 900
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I empathize so much with you, Avna. I have been suffering chronic pain pretty much since right before I moved my horses to a stable that is much closer to me than my previous, and comes with all of the amenities I wanted. I have access to tons of trainers now, and could be showing every weekend if I wanted, and I have the time to ride most days, but I just don't. I spend nearly every day managing the pain I have, and have pretty much accepted that there is not a fix, just a management plan. Even with pain medication, the chances of the pain being eliminated on bad days is a crap shoot.

And the fatigue that comes with it? Just knowing that this is probably the rest of my life? It's crippling. The bad weeks where the pain just doesn't cease, and combined with the stressors of the world, I become exhausted. I cry and beg to fall asleep, so I can feel rested enough to want to do something after working all day. I've been waiting years to have the perfect situation where I can get back to competing and enjoying my horses often, not every once-in-a-while, and I just can't do it. There have been days where I have to beg my SO to do everything in his power to not impede my sleeping, and sometimes I know some of my requests are just ridiculous, but not being able to feel rested is so destructive to a person.

So, I didn't mean to make this about me, but I just want you to know you are not alone. Please do not hesitate to message privately, I'm sure we both are experiencing many of the same feelings. I'm rooting for you to do what you can, despite your difficulties with chronic fatigue, and being able to accept the times that you cannot. -hugs-

He's Ultimately Fine - Toofine - 1998 Half Arabian
Wilhelmina - Minnie - 2013 Morgan
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post #3 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 10:10 AM
Join Date: May 2014
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I am sorry that you are suffering. It really isn't easy when your body is fighting you.

I know it is so irritating when people say this, but - just look at it from the positive side. You have ALL of that to enjoy.

Just to give you a bit of a chuckle, my plan when I got my horse was to trail ride on my own and to learn falconry and buy a hawk and to go hunting with my horse and my hawk. Right... Anxiety put a swift stop to my dreams. Now we do circles in the arena. I love circles. I love circles. I love circles. I really, really do...

I wish you all the best, and, again, I am sorry that you are suffering.
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post #4 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 10:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2019
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@Avna You probably heard all of this before and tried it but have they checked you diet properly? Allergies can contribute alot to fatigue. Also chronic fatigue is curable to an extent if you are quick to react to it. There is cutting edge research done on that!! (They look at markers in your saliva eg). I cannot explain fully in a public forum but I kinda bounced back from a horrible period and I really believe chronic fatigue is a result of a mix of factors... I hope doctors will take it more seriously and do even more research so people can be helped and cured fully.
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post #5 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 10:47 AM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
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I don't know what your GP thinks about your current state of health, I can't say that I've honestly found them to be much use in things like this, but have they run a full blood test?

Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies than cause chronic fatigue and not necessarily related to a poor diet - I have to take a really high dose of B12 every day or have injections to keep the deficiency side effects under control but the deficiency isn't diet related in terms of poor diet.

Thyroid imbalances can cause fatigue.

Untreated Lyme Disease can cause fatigue.

Lastly - depression can cause fatigue. Its so easy to deny depression by telling yourself that you have no reason to feel depressed then you end up feeling guilty about being depressed and that makes you more depressed.

Just winging it is not a plan
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post #6 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 11:05 AM
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Join Date: May 2012
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Hugs to you Avna. I agree with Jaydee. For me it is a genetic mutation that affects another of the Bs. Too much as recommended by my doctor because of the belief you just pee them out meant far reaching side effects from toxic levels that have had a huge impact on my well being and didn't cure the problems I was having because of not having enough so having deficiency issues along with other problems related. Do I need more than the typical person because of the mutation. Yes. But a different form, significant reduction in what is prescribed for the condition and monitoring levels has kept me where I need to be. It has also brought some of the damage under control.

I think looking outside the box can sometimes offer solutions that if not cure at least mediate. I've found that looking to other cultures and nations has provided insight that our medical professionals just don't have. Much of it having to do with other traditional practices that have been around for thousands of years. I have found blending those with western medicine can provide relief for me.
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #7 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 11:14 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Hildreth, FL
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@Avna , my heart is with you. I got CFS in my early 30's and strugglied with it for years. My good friend used to say it is not chronic fatigue syndrome, it stands for "constantly feeling sh%^y." It is a real downer and super hard to deal with. The worst was that people just didn't understand why I was so wimpy. They just got annoyed with me when I couldn't keep up.

I liked thinking about famous productive people who also struggled with it. Some examples are Lauren Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken. Lauren was often so ill, she could not get out of bed, but she researched her subjects from bed. Cher, Michelle Akers, and Ricky Carmichael are some of many. In fact, here is the list of famous people who have struggled with CFS


I figured I would have to deal with it my whole life, but the good news for me was that it finally got less and less until I have only about 2 flare-ups a year. It took a very long time, though, and it is a lousy illness because many folks have no clue about what is going on for you. Lots of people support you and value you. Thanks for being our Avna.
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post #8 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 11:34 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Apr 2015
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@Avna your post made me sad. Not because you asked for sympathy but because through this forum I have always enjoyed your posts and your determination in caring for your animals. I cannot relate nor do I have advice for dealing with CFS. I have horrible Osteoarthritis and am waiting for my second hip replacement. Most likely knees to follow next year. Chronic pain has been my constant companion for more years than I care to count. I can understand the feeling of being defeated before you start - or knowing that you will pay for whatever you do in the end.

Hugs to you my friend. Your post was so well written and resonates with so many.
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post #9 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 11:39 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Southern Indiana
Posts: 9,252
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I'm sorry for your health issues. Most important is for you to take care of yourself and do what you need to do to feel the best you can.
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post #10 of 151 Old 07-07-2020, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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I thank everyone for their well wishes and thoughts. I really do appreciate it particularly because I'm aware it all comes off as whining. At least to me it sure does.

I'll just respond to all the people who think there is something I haven't tried: probably not.

Yes, I've had a full blood work-up, way beyond the regular blood panel, special lab work, everything. Sleep disorder? No, did the sleep test. Will acupuncture, graduated exercise, meditation, naturopathic medicine, homeopathy, special diets, vitamins, chemicals, herbs, toxin cleansing, positive thinking, or invoking native deities with chanting and smoke have any effect at all? No.

I've been so far outside the box I could see the earth rise from behind the moon. Nothing works.

I am not depressed (angry and despairing, yes, but those are quite different), so antidepressants don't help. I do not have low thyroid, and as far as Lyme goes, I do have Lyme antibodies, it was undiagnosed and untreated, it was probably the precipitating factor, but at this point, probably fifteen years later, it is apparently not treatable. In any case, I do not tolerate a lot of medications including many antibiotics (one doctor tried a course of whatever they treat Lyme with, I gave up after one dose). They make me really sick. They didn't before, now they do.

In fact, one of the accompanying symptoms is that I have become generally sensitive to, I kid you not, everything. I was always a kind of sensitive person but now, loud music, a busy store, a grain of sand in my sock, biting down on a piece of gristle, a stranger standing too close to me, the smell of gasoline, being too hot or too cold, you name it, and I feel like I am going to scream or jump out of my skin. I know this is too much information. And I know it's irritating to everyone else, like I'm this precious flower too delicate for this world. I hate being a precious flower.

@knightrider , yes that is one of the really difficult parts, the way no one seems to get it. My family of origin, for example, refuses to even remember it after more than a decade ("what, tired again? How come you're so tired?"), some of them insinuating I am just pretending to be tired to get out of family obligations (why 3000 miles is just about the right distance from them). The only friends who sympathize are those with chronic medical problems of their own. The healthy simply do not recognize it. I fully admit being tired sure sounds a lame excuse for not showing up, joining in or signing up. I cannot guarantee I will be well enough to do anything at all, so I can't make plans or commit to anything. I can't volunteer to help, I can't say gosh, thanks for inviting me I'd love to. I have had to bail so many times and I hate, I cannot say how much I hate, letting people down or breaking a promise.

Really though, if trailering my horse was as simple as throwing my tack into my truck, loading up, sailing down the road, and unloading at my destination with my calm horse, my life with horses would no doubt be different. Of course, to me, planning is stressful, driving is stressful, going to a new destination is stressful, driving even an empty trailer is stressful, so adding a jumpy horse who bangs around destroying things inside my trailer and unloads soaking wet, is just the weight on top of all the other weights that topples the whole edifice to the ground.

What helps is acceptance. Continually reminding myself that what others find challenging I often find impossible, and what they find pleasantly stimulating I find overwhelming, and what they find normal I find challenging, and that is not going to be altered by wanting it to not be true. It is only dispiriting to want things I can't have, to keep trying and failing. Not good at failure. Instead, guiding myself only by what I can do, not what others can, nor what I used to be able to do, nor what I so wish I could it seems my wishes must make it so. My wishes will not cure me.

What else helps: eating well, getting enough sleep, are foundational to any hope of functionality. Never doing two things without a rest in between them. Planning for a day of doing virtually nothing after what normal people call a normal day. Taking time for beauty -- watching the fireflies, the clouds, the birds at the feeder. Avoiding stress as much as it is possible to do. Not attempting what is too hard. When I am forced to abandon projects in the middle and let them die, it just breaks my spirit. Accepting that everything I do goes slowly, that I can get a moderate amount done if I do a little bit at a time. When I get to ride my horse it always makes me happy. Even with all the &*#@ deerflies right now. Still makes me happy.

Short horse lover
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