Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Guilt free

When I left the barn yesterday, I felt tired. Tired and a little bit lost in hopelessness.

Kaswyn did not feel good when I rode him. He had moments where he was balanced and even, but for the most part he felt unbalanced and no amount of adjusting, softening, or half-halts could fix it. He is getting his feet trimmed and shoes reset on Thursday, and I'm hoping that will solve some of the problem. Unfortunately Kaswyn's front feet are very different. His right foot grows up and spreads out a little, while the left foot grows straight up in the air. When he's just had his shoes reset his feet look more similar, even if the right one is a bit wider than the left. But looking at his feet yesterday they looked like they belonged to two different horses. The left one is much longer than the right, which could explain the unevenness. I guess I'll find out on Friday.

I left the barn much later than usual because my trainer and I were talking about Kaswyn and his issues. Amazingly, I wasn't guilty about spending some extra time at the barn. I've had an epiphany of sorts about the whole guilt/horse thing.

Right now, my job is very stressful. Not the kind of stress that most people think of - deadlines, high pressure meetings, impossible projects, difficult co-workers, etc. Being an embryologist in an InVitro Fertilization lab, my job involves the stress of handling embryos every day. Human embryos. Potential people. There are many different opinions about when life starts - is it the moment the sperm enters the egg? Is it a heartbeat? Or is it at birth? We have to assume that our patients feel that every embryo is a potential life, if not a living being already. So it's very important not to make any mistakes.

We work on a microscopic level, because the embryos are very very tiny, so most of the day I'm looking through a microscope just to see what I'm doing. Because we move the embryos from one dish to another several times before they are transferred back to the patient's uterus, it's possible to make mistakes. Embryos can be lost in bubbles, or flicked out of pipets if the hand is bumped. They can die if handled roughly, exposed to changes in temperature or pH. This is in addition to all of the paperwork and verification processes we go through with every patient to ensure that the correct sperm and egg go together, and that the correct embryos get back into the correct woman. So there is lots of stress involved, to say the least. Stress and the pressure to not make any mistakes, because mistakes could cost lives (depending on how you look at it).

Not only that, but we also get bad news. Patients who are coming to us who have cancer and want to preserve their fertility by freezing eggs before they go through surgery and chemo. Patients who are desperate to conceive who make terrible looking embryos and cycle after cycle have no success. Patients whose eggs just don't fertilize. Patients who have no sperm. Patients who carry a genetic disease or are searching for an embryo with certain genetic markers who can't seem to make a normal embryo.

Sometimes it really gets to me. Like last week. I came home and was in tears after work. I just felt like I couldn't deal with the pressure, the bad news, all of it. I was in a funk and just wanted to get away. So I went to the barn.

Then I realized that time with my horse is my little mental escape from all the work stress. Granted, my horse is giving me stress lately too, but it's different. I will love my horse no matter what happens, and just walking into the barn and hearing him whinny at me when he sees me coming will always warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.

So I'm done feeling guilty about having my horse. Yes, it's a lot of time. Yes, it's even more money. But it's time for me, and it's my passion. It's going to keep me sane and help me cope with the stresses of my job. It makes me feel good inside in ways that nothing else can. Sure, I love my kids and my husband, but this is a little special part of me that nobody can share. Nobody but my horse.


janice said...

Good for you! As a "recovering Catholic" I know how that guilt can get to you. Keep up the good work, and enjoy your time at the barn, I'm sure that it makes you a better wife and mom when you switch over to those roles as well.

Dame_Margarete said...

Your work is incredibly stressful and on behalf of all of the patients who have never had an opportunity to thank you, please know that your efforts and care are appreciated. Focus on the wins, not the loses.

I really hope that a visit from the farrier resolves some of the movement issues!

Rising Rainbow said...

Yupe, that's what my horse, whoops horses, do for me too!

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