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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I finally got to ride again today, after eight (nine, if you count the week before my surgery) weeks. Eight slow, slow weeks.



It was raining and raw out when I got to the barn, so I didn't think I was going to ride, but it cleared up as the sun was starting to set. My trainer left Toby and I together in the round pen with an "I'll be back in a minute", which is basically code for "I trust you both not to do anything stupid", and we rode for maybe half an hour? Til dark. Just at a walk, just doing some maneuvering, side pass, shoulder in, backing, walking in small circles, walking in big ones. Did some no-reins (I kept a couple thumbs on them), did some no stirrups.



Then I realized I wasn't sure I could dismount in the dark safely, and had to call my trainer (literally, on my cell) to unlatch the gate. It happens.


Most importantly: I wasn't in pain. Not mounting up, not dismounting, and nowhere in between. That's a shock - my brain is still operating in this mode where it expects pain to happen at some point. It measures time on pain: it thinks we can't possibly have been driving [x] time, because it doesn't hurt. My muscles are, you know, two months off riding muscles, intense swimming workouts notwithstanding, but they don't *hurt*. What a sensation, what a change from before.



But it was nice, just nice, to spend time with my buddy, go for a walk, after so long, and on top of that, it doesn't even hurt anymore. Contentment is mine.
 

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Congratulations! :clap: Not just riding again, but an obvious improvement. I too am curious...

But curious; what type of surgery did you have? (if you want to share)
I'm fascinated by surgery as well, @AnitaAnne. Did you know Andy Murray is now playing tour-level tennis with a hip replacement? :shock: ...last time I had surgery, looooong ago, I mentioned to the surgeon that he could make a nice little side-line filming the surgery and then selling it back to his patient. I'd buy it!!! :cool: He laughed and said this would increase his insurance premiums. :rofl: And in case you're wondering what surgery that was, it was the belated fixing, at age 25, of not being able to breathe through my nose more than a tiny little bit (I'd have suffocated if someone had taped my mouth) after breaking my nose badly in a fall of a horse at speed when I was 9. The surgeon had to apparently stretch the tip of my nose up to my eyebrows (after cutting the skin in front of the nasal septum and back into the nose) so he could get at the turbinates and graft cartilage into my air passages. (He didn't film it, but he described it nicely for me.) While he was there, he also straightened out the top of the nose, which had become misshapen in the accident. It felt really good to be able to breathe entirely through my nose again, after 16 long years! :happydance:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had a lumbar microdiscectomy. I had been having severe sciatica (nerve pain in the leg) for close to two years, and worsening, due to a badly herniated disc. The neurosurgeon was so deeply alarmed by my MRI that he pulled an absurd amount of strings to get me in for surgery ASAP. The surgery is basically removal of the herniated tissue to relieve pressure on the nerve root. As you can imagine, a lot of things, including riding, were excruciating, and after riding I would go home and have this entire hour+ routine to a point where I could sleep.

I have felt so, so much better since having surgery, but I was also under express instructions not to ride until 8 weeks. (Now I am allowed to do most things, except my medic job and ice hockey.)
 

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@redbadger, will you be allowed to go back to your medic job eventually?

It sounds like that herniated disc was a nightmare and I am very glad that your pain levels are improved so much. Do you have to do ongoing exercises to strengthen muscles around the spine etc, to keep things good?

Happy riding! :cowboy:

PS: Was just thinking, there's a lot of not great things in the modern world, but one of the really great things is that the medical care and dentistry are such that for a lot of things we don't have to suffer quite like people in earlier centuries did...
 

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@redbadger - Congratulations. It must be a relief to be pain free. Often the brain can get so used to the feeling, that you do not realize how bad it was until it is gone. I hope you get back to your job as well. Will they allow you to ease back in, or do you have to lift from the start? A hazard of the job I imagine!


@SueC - I agree about the difference between modern medical care and the suffering people went through years ago. I am more than happy to have pain relief, drugs, sterile conditions, and safety procedures. I would not have survived past my twenties if i had been born in any other century.

At work we have a surgeon's case from the mid 1800s. It was used in the field and under 'controlled conditions' such as a tent. It is lined with red felt to hide and absorb any mess and dirt and has three layers and trays of instruments. Huge saws, knives that would look at home in a kitchen, pliers, sharp and blunt tools for digging, poking and gouging as well as tourniquets, needles and thread. We have to be very careful when we handle them as they are extremely sharp. Any intervention must have been brutal.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, once my surgeon clears me, which should be in another month. I know work will plead with me about Christmas (my regular shift falls on Christmas eve, but I usually take off for the candlelight church service. I'll finagle something.) The surgeon wants me absolutely as solid and healed as possible before returning to the ambulance, since aside from night feed and hockey is the most physically arduous thing I do.

I am very fortunate to live in an area with some of the best hospitals and most advanced medical care in the world. I was even more fortunate to have a surgeon who called in several favors to get my surgery done as soon as possible (less than a week after we went over my MRI results). I am also incredibly fortunate to have access to that care through health insurance.
 

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Those surgeons are a blessing. Mine pulled out of state strings to get one of the top surgeons to do the surgery and then Katrina got in the way. They worked together and somehow found a surgical center that was willing and would open for the surgery the day after she blew through.



So glad you are on your way to a proper mending and that you are pain free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I met with the surgeon on 9/19 and was scheduled initially for 9/27 at my local general hospital, but that hospital is out of network for me so my insurance said no. That meant I would have to have it at New England Baptist, an orthopedic/neuro specialty hospital in Boston. It's, again, one of the best hospitals in the country, so after conferring with the surgeon's office they cautioned me the surgery would be delayed into October. I figured I could accept a few more weeks of pain. Fast forward to 9/26, when I'm out at the Big E (fair) enjoying livestock, draft horses, and ghastly fair food, when NEBH calls. "Hi, this is prescreening, you have a surgery tomorrow." "I have a what?" called the surgeon's office, in the rain, at the fairgrounds, they confirm: yep, 9/27, at NEBH. So I ended up doing my prescreen call in the arena at the fairgrounds between draft classes, danced around the fair in pain, went home and hardly slept. I know the kind of strings my surgeon pulled, and I will be eternally grateful. He's actually part of a group that performs free and low cost spinal surgery in areas with little to no access to these surgeries otherwise, and said the hospital thinks he's kind of nuts for insisting he doesn't care about the money.

I feel better every day, even while my brain is still wired to anticipate pain, so it's been a peculiar recovery in that way. I'm well enough that I get antsy on the days I don't do things, looking forward to getting back to my professional job in a few weeks and kicking the rust off my riding. I actually hadn't ridden Toby in longer than 9 weeks - closer to 3 months or more, because he was off for his back soreness and I was riding Jasper. So it was really nice to hop on and feel like he and I were pretty much where we'd been before, he only briefly questioned going to the round pen (vs the trail), but he capitulated quick enough, listened to me otherwise, only wanted to stop when it was pretty dark (which is a smart request - "hey, we can't see, let's go in now"). I'm glad my trainer let us work alone - not just the trust in me and him, but it was sort of, you might say a personal experience and something that was better to be just the two of us. If that makes sense.
 

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Hey RedBager

Congrats on bein' Back in the Saddle!
If I might, might I recommend an inflatable safety vest to protect your back.
I have a bad lower back and neck from landing on my head, on my back, getting run over, etc. back when I was invulnerable and raced Motocross. In the decade-plus I have lived in the company of Equines, I have also had a few (er, um) unexpected dismounts. Landing on yer back from 17 hands up _hurts_.
Years ago I determined to acquire a safety vest, and decided on a HitAir "Advantage" inflatable. Google them, and also another makers product Point 2 for some interesting reading.
Anyway, I have since had a couple of opportunities to test the thing, one a pretty good trial on a fast trail ride, and . . . aside from a scuffed elbow, Nothing Hurt; I got up, dusted off and finished the loop.
Just sayin' :)
 

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Yay for being able to ride again!!! :D :D Congratulations! I know that must feel good. I'm glad your surgery went well, & I hope the rest of your recovery is just as smooth sailing. :) Great news!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
He's lovely. (Those legs! He's got big solid feet too). Of the three horses at the barn that can carry me, he's my favorite. Jasper (don't have a good photo of Jas) is second, but he's more of a challenge - a bit too much horse for me for learning. Tobes is steady and patient and largely bombproof and we work well together. I can't wait til next Friday when we go on a trail ride - nothing (to me) quite like a late-afternoon trail ride in the winter.
 

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Great story about the surprise at the fair - I could really picture it. :cool: Very best wishes for your continued recovery - and no more injuries! :blueunicorn:

That's a lovely, solid horse you've got there! :love:
 

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After a break for Thanksgiving, we did a trail ride yesterday, which I had been looking forward to the ENTIRE week, and thensome, particularly after seeing farms and horses from the interstate (my dad and I drove to DC from Boston to see family). Then it started snowing very lightly on Friday afternoon (after the barn's area got a bunch of snow earlier this week), which made it particularly more perfect. There is something particularly serene and special about riding through the woods in snow, though I admit I can be somewhat romantical. It feels like going on a wild journey, and it's good for the soul. Toby and I didn't lead - we probably could've asked, I suppose, but overall it went very well. My "horse muscles" are a little uncertain, but I wasn't in any pain. It would be a good time to go back to yoga or do more dryland core exercises on my off days. (I've been doing a lot of swimming. Like, a *lot* of swimming.) I even helped out with night feed - under the very watchful eye of my trainer, who is making up for all the time when she didn't know how much pain I was in. (I'm not bothered - I think "oh by the way, I have to have surgery to correct the excruciating pain I'm in all day every day" was kind of a shock...)



There's going to be a thaw and rain and a refreeze in the coming week then my trainer is gone for a couple of weeks. I can still go to the barn, and if Tobes' owner is not using him I might even be able to ride him a little bit in the pen or the ring, since as my trainer says, they know I'm not going to do anything stupid. Or, we can go on a regular trail ride.


I am, however, an idiot, who accidentally left my bag of tricks and my helmet in the office at the barn before Thanksgiving and then forgot about it until yesterday. Found the bag, but the helmet is so far nowhere to be found. Trainer thinks one of the pony kids took it by accident, and hopefully that's true, because I can't really afford to replace it until I start at the ambulance again. (And I see my neurosurgeon on the 17th, so hoping for a Christmas eve return! My regular shift is a Tuesday, 24hr, but I can probably sway scheduling into giving me just the first 12hr so I can still go to Christmas Eve services.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
FOUND THE HELMET. Which is great because that would've been an unexpected expense. Anyway, when I got to the barn my instructor had been called away for a plumbing emergency at her place, but when I checked in she said I could take Tobes to the ring or round pen wherever the footing was best. (As she's said, she and most of the regular barn folks know I'm not going to do anything stupid. Frankly I'm not competent enough to try anything particularly wild).

So we had a nice little ride together. Mainly walking, but the footing was alright enough to try a little jog/trot. We could have done more, but I didn't want to push my back too hard. He was a solid gentleman who didn't need to be cued twice, though it's clear I'm clumsy on some things, being out of practice.

Riding in winter has its pleasantness - a big fuzzy horse and imperfect conditions.

My trainer's gone for a couple of weeks as of next week, but somewhere in there I may be able to come out and play a little, I'll ask his owner at the Christmas party on Sunday. If not, I have plenty of swimming to do (nearly at 100 miles for the year).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The ring was greasy (that sort of gross mud where it appears fine but just under the grass it's squishy) and my instructor was still away on Friday, so Toby and I just had a little walk ride. Circles are dull, particularly when you have to shrink them because slimy mud, so we did what you might call horse-yoga, with bending and side-pass and shoulder-in and circles and serpentines. He gave me some lovely shoulder-ins, we would go in a straight line but I'd have him bend his neck say toward my left and swing his butt out just a bit to the right, for a few steps and then switch and he went nicely. I can't say it looked good, but it felt like it might've.


PonyKid says Tobes doesn't like him (and Toby does give him a bit of side-eye, I guess) and bucks on him. Now, Toby has bucked once or twice on me, and that was last year after about 6 weeks of 0 work due to ice. A couple more times he's gotten startled by something and jumps forward, but that's not really a buck. And then sometimes when I lunge him he bucks before settling into a canter.



But I am curious - PonyKid is a more experienced rider (he's 14 and been riding since he was like 6 or 7 I think), is he just asking Tobes to do more complex or energetic things and Toby is grumpy over it or what? Because I don't know how to canter yet, so all I can ask for is walk, jog, trot, and the above-noted horse yoga, and his responses to me have, overall been pretty willing to at least try what I'm asking for. I could imagine Toby simply doesn't like the way PonyKid asks him, and I can picture Toby trying a buck more than, say, Nugget, but ... I dunno. I can't imagine Toby and I just have a solid enough relationship that he knows he better not pull some nonsense with me, because I only ride him but once a week.
 
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