Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Still healing

Well, it's been a week since my surgery. I'm still healing, even though I thought I'd be out of bed and back to work by now. This sucks. I was able to see Dr. Colon this morning about what I thought was a re-emergence of blueberry butt. She said that she could see the skin tag I was talking about, but that it didn't look filled with blood or hard. I said that a few days ago it was. She seemed skeptical. She said the skin tag she could see was considerably larger now than when she did the surgery, so that is why she didn't remove it at the time of the surgery. She also said that removing two skin tags at once would have increased my pain a lot, and since it was so small she left it alone. I asked if she removed the hemorrhoid above the skin tag, and she said that there was no vascular tissue or hemorrhoid associated with the skin tag. It had probably filled with blood and was inflamed just from the trauma of the surgery. She said come back in five weeks and she will examine me again, but she does not expect the skin tag to ever cause me problems again. God I hope she's right, because I DO NOT want to go through all of this again.

I miss my horse. It warmed up here a few days ago, and when the ponies went outside Kaswyn decided to roll in the mud. I guess it was more than a roll - more like a rut and wallow. He got mud up under his sheet, caked in his mane, and slathered on his face. I don't even want to know what the sheet looks like. Marge said that she would have put it in her washing machine, but was afraid that it would break her machine. I think they are going to just take the hose to it and get most of the mud off before it can be properly laundered. Filthy pony.

Susan has been cleaning Kaswyn up bit by bit. Somehow Albert, who is usually the dirtier of the two by far, didn't get nearly as muddy. She's been lunging Albert and says she will ride him tomorrow. I can't wait to hear how that goes. That little horse knows how to push her buttons and I'm afraid that it will be a frustrating experience for both of them.

Of course getting daily barn updates has me itching to go out to the barn. However, spending an hour or so out of bed puts too much pressure on my butt and gives me pain, so seeing Kaswyn right now is out of the question. I'm hoping next week to get out there.

Apparently the chiropractor will be out sometime after New Year's, but I've got to find a way to get Kaswyn to my trainer's barn since the chiro is not going to come to Marge's for just one horse. My trainer doesn't have any free stalls, but she has some sheltered stalls in an open shed row outside that Kaswyn could go in, so I'm hoping that the weather doesn't suck on the day the chiropractor comes out. I'm also hoping that they will be able to put another horse outside next to him, because I know that if he's outside all alone that he'll just run in circles and scream. He's such a spaz.

Craig has been wonderful through this whole thing. He's been fighting off bronchitis and a low grade fever, but that hasn't stopped him from completely taking care of the girls as well as getting me anything I need so I don't have to get out of bed. I don't know how I would have done this without him. He's an absolute sweetheart and worth his weight in gold. Or more.

So, my butt still hurts, I miss my horse, and my poor husband is being run ragged by taking care of the girls and his ailing wife. 2008 can be done with now, please. Bring on 2009!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Actual Surgery and Aftermath

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

The night before the surgery I took two klonopin so I'd have a good night's sleep. The next morning we were up early and I took more klonopin (which was suggested by my anesthesiologist). I also took two enemas (which were required by Dr. Colon).

If you ever have to give yourself an enema (or two), might I suggest heating it in a sink of warm water first. The first enema I took straight out of the box and when that cool water hit my bowels I had some big time cramping. It was not very comfortable. The second one was much more comfortable since I got smart and warmed it first, and it didn't seem to be any less effective. Just an FYI.

We got to the surgery center and I had to poop one more time before they called me back. This was the time when I would normally start to get really nervous, since I knew it involved getting the IV and all the other surgery prep. I don't know if it was the klonopin (probably) or the therapy (a little of that too), but I wasn't a complete freak about any of it. To be honest I don't remember much of it. Craig was there, and he says that on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being completely calm and 10 being crapping out my bowels in terror, that I was a 3. Not bad at all, I say!

Shortly after that both docs came in to talk to me, which I remember very little of also because as soon as the IV was in the anesthesiologist gave me some Versed. Wheee! They also gave me some Zofran because I was a little nauseous from being nervous. Then the nurse came to get me and Craig headed off to the waiting room while I was wheeled into the operating room. Usually I think the patients walk, but with the Versed already in me they didn't want me walking anywhere.

The nurse opened up my gown in the back, asked me to sit down on the bed, and then they put a sticky monitoring pad on my back. I saw the anesthesiologist push a drug into my IV and I asked "Oh, what was that?" and the said "Fentanyl." And that, folks, is the last thing I remember.

I woke up in the recovery room and I was in some pain. They gave me something, but I was in such a haze that I don't remember what. I was also nauseated so they gave me more Zofran. I sort of drifted in and out of sleep for awhile, and they kept trying to get me to eat and drink. I just didn't feel like doing either. Craig wasn't there initially, but they got him soon after I woke up, and he just sat there with me. I went through my IV bag and they hung another IV bag with glucose, saying that I would feel better after I got those fluids in me.

When that bag had run into me I decided I needed to get up and go home. I didn't really feel like it, but I kind of felt like the nurse thought I should be up and out by then. I was ready to get out of there anyhow. I was still a little foggy and in a good amount of pain, but I was able to dress myself with a little help from Craig. They sent him to get the car and wheeled me out.

Craig drove straight to Speedway to get me a Coke Slurpee, and then dropped me off at home. His mom was there and she looked after me while he went to fill my prescriptions. They gave me Vicodin for pain and ibuprofen for swelling. I asked for an anti nausea drug, knowing that the Vicodin would make me feel sick, so they gave me Reglan.

Later that day I woke up enough to get some more details about the surgery. Dr. OB went first. He did a D & C to remove any endometrial lining that had built up. Then he attempted to find the entrances to the fallopian tubes, but he could not find them. So he did the ablation, and then went into my abdomen with the laproscope to tie my tubes the old fashioned way.

However, when he got into my abdomen and had a look around he discovered two things. First, I had a little scar tissue on my uterus that he removed, probably from the C-section. This was no big deal. The second thing he found was a grapefruit sized, blood filled cyst on my left ovary. How this never hurt me or bothered me I have no idea. But he drained it, said it was benign, and it should not come back again. So it was a good thing that he had to go into my belly or he never would have found that cyst. I imagine that if it had burst I would have been in a whole lot of pain.

I now have two incisions in my abdomen - one in my belly button and one in the center of my C-section scar. They are small but quite bruised. My entire lower abdomen caused me considerable pain for the first two days in spite of the Vicodin. Today, three days later, I'm finally no longer sore there.

I didn't get any sort of report on the butt surgery. I'm assuming that everything went as planned. However, I let Craig take a look down there the next day and his reaction was "Oh my God! It looks like someone punched you square in the butthole." I finally got the courage to take out a mirror and look for myself, and he's right. I'm bruised in a place that I never considered would bruise like that. And it's a really dark bruise too, all the way around. Super weird. I also have at least one line of stitches. There might be two but I don't want to go exploring down there right now to find out for sure.

In spite of the bruising my butthole did not hurt for the first two days. This is probably due to two things. One, Dr. Colon said that she would pump me full of local anesthetic down there to help with the pain. And two, I hadn't pooped yet.

I hadn't eaten much since the surgery, mostly because I just had zero appetite. I knew I had to eat something, so my diet for three days consisted of small portions of chicken noodle soup, grapes, and dry cereal. Since I wasn't eating a lot, and I had cleaned out the pipes before the surgery, there was no poop to poop out.

Until today.

It wasn't a lot of poop, but it hurt and made me bleed. It's enough to make me swear off food for two weeks while I heal. However, not eating has made me feel really crappy. I'm losing weight and I feel weak and dizzy. So I've decided that I need to stop taking the Vicodin (since I'm not in that much pain anymore, except my actual butthole) because it slows down the bowels, and I'm getting back on my regular regimen of vitamin supplements. Today I feel like I'm getting back to my old self.

I have one little possible problem. It looks, and feels, to me like I have a blueberry on my butthole again. This I can't understand, since I just went through surgery to have it fixed. I will call Dr. Colon's office and find out if this is normal or not. Perhaps it's one last blueberry that will disappear and never return? If it does come back, I'm going to be very upset. I really do NOT want to recover from this surgery twice, and the whole point to getting surgery was to fix it for good.

So, there you have it. Right now I'm spending my time lying in bed trying to keep pressure off of my hiney. And hoping this is the last blueberry butt I ever have.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fast update

I'm home from surgery. I'm in a lot of pain but the drugs will kick in soon. I made it.

The full story later.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fat Albert

I guess I never gave the low down on Albert, my friend Susan's horse. Susan is the niece of Marge, the barn owner, and when Susan bought Albert Marge asked if I would have some time to help Susan out with him.

Albert is a purebred Arabian gelding. I think he's 15 years old. Susan bought him as a five year old, and he was very broke. He had been used as a kids lesson horse but had never been shown. His registered name is Tariq el Kaiyoum, but he was so fat that they called him Fat Albert. When Susan bought him it got changed to just Albert, because he got put on a diet and went to work.

At first I didn't help her much because he was basically broke and she could cruise around on him without any problems. After a few months I asked her what her plans were for him,and she just kinda shrugged and said "Hadn't really thought about it." I had been doing dressage for a little over a year, and told her I could help her with some dressage basics. She said sure.

We started working on your basic training level stuff, and I was giving her lessons as well as riding Albert. He has really super gaits and has a lot of gas in his motor. He's not very big - maybe 15 hands - but he can feel a lot bigger when he gets on his muscle.

We got Susan to some schooling shows, and she had me take him into some classes as well. He did really well, and qualified for Regionals at USDF shows one year. The plan was that I would show him for Susan, but then I had this little accident at a show, and I didn't think that I'd recover in enough time to show both Kaswyn and Albert at Regionals. So I asked my trainer to show him. She did a fantastic job, and he went Regional Champion! So awesome.

After my trainer won that class for her, Susan started having my trainer work with Albert. Over the years she went on to win a Reserve National Championship and a National Top Ten with Albert. And then in 2005, Albert went out of dressage training.

Susan kept Albert busy by getting him certified as a police horse, and he is part of a volunteer posse that patrols the local parks. But he wasn't in any kind of dressage training. So when I came back to Marge's barn, Albert was fat, hairy, and totally out of shape.

I've been working with him four days a week for months now and he is finally in decent shape. He has a ton of hair right now, and if I'm going to show him I'm going to have to clip him. It's been hard riding two horses after work every night, and getting done in time to pick up my kids from school. However, I do it for two reasons. One, Albert is so talented that it would be such a waste not to do something with him. Two, he gives me such a different ride than Kaswyn that riding him makes me a better rider. And I'm all about progress and improvement, even if it means that I leave the barn dirty and exhausted, but with worked horses and clean tack. The other day Marge called me "the hyperactive one in the barn." I prefer to think of myself as motivated and driven.

Over the past few years Susan has developed severe back pain while riding, so she won't be riding him much while I recover from surgery. For some reason this horse hates to be lunged, but I'm going to beg Susan to either get on him or lunge him four days a week. I really don't want him to lose the muscle and stamina I have tried so hard to develop. Susan, in contrast to me, is not very motivated, and although she would love it if I would show her horse, she would be okay if I didn't. However I really want to get both he and Kaswyn back in the show ring this year.

My trainer made an interesting comment after the lessons with Kaswyn and Albert. She said that watching me ride both horses back to back she could see that I ride them differently. With Kaswyn I was more strict and didn't let him slide on much, but with Albert I was willing to take a little less than perfection. I thought about that, and then said that it's because with Kaswyn I am always searching for that feeling that I know my horse can give me. With Albert, it's more of a learning curve, so I take what he gives me a build on that.

I hope to get some video of Albert up here soon. Unfortunately the area lights are sort of dim and my camera makes the video too dark to see anything. He's really really cute and I get a real charge out of riding him. He's got a little attitude, which I love, because it's not a "f**k you" attitude, more of a "Hey lady, stop telling me to do that casue I don't want to!". But in the end we always come to an understanding, which ends up with him doing what I ask. Eventually.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yes, I still have a horse

Lately I've been concentrating a lot on my surgery and my mental issues. But I do still have Kaswyn and have been trying to ride both him and Albert. However I've run into some problems there.

A few weeks ago that damn left lead canter on Kaswyn didn't feel right. I finally scheduled a lesson night and my trainer came out to help. The first thing she noticed was the he was stabbing behind, especially with the left hind. That should not have been happening since he just got his hocks injected and had been getting Legend once a month. We worked until the canter for better, but it shouldn't have taken so much to get him there.

Since my trainer had time I was able to do a short lesson on Albert. After a few minutes of warmup she says to me "You have GOT to find a way to show this horse." I knew he felt good, be apparently he looked really good as well. I know that Susan would let me show him, but money would be an issue. We're going to have to see what we can work out, because the horse really is talented and I get along with him really well. It's not the warm and fuzzy relationship that Kaswyn and I have - it's more like a mutual respect and genuine affection. We can get decent progress going, and I dig on that.

Anyhow, I gave Kaswyn a day off with bute after the lesson and then put him on the lunge line. His back end just did not look right. I pulled him back into his stall and started palpating his back. He was definitely sore on the right side, and I could also feel about halfway down his back where it appeared that a bone was shifted out of place to the side. One side of the bone was sticking out to the right, and the other side had a little cavity.

It was time to see the equine chiropractor. The problem is that this guy is good but he is not close so when he comes to our area he likes to see lots of horses in as few barns as possible. I made some calls and it turns out that he was out at most of his major barns this fall, so there are not many horses to be seen right now. But my trainer has 5 or 6 and another farm has 1 or 2, so maybe we can get him out.

The major issue is that Kaswyn is the only one at Marge's who will be seen. I don't know if he'll come there for just one horse, even though it's only 10 minutes from my trainer's barn. So I'm going to have to coordinate getting Kaswyn to my trainer's for the chiropractor. Don't forget my surgery is coming up and I'll be in bed for a week and can't do jack squat to help get my horse anywhere.

Yeah, you can say that this is adding to my stress just a tad. But I'm not getting on Kaswyn's back until the chiropractor adjusts him.

I just keep trying to convince myself that this will all work out - my surgery, the chiropractor, everything. At least Albert feels great. Now I just have to convince Susan to keep him going while I recover so I don't have to backtrack too much.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Surgery - Part 10. Dr. Shrink

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9


Now, It's not like I hadn't seen a pshycologist or a counselor before. But this time it was going to be different. This I felt was less about an emotional issue and more about fear and anxiety. Which I guess is emotional too, but it just had a different feel to me. I knew that finding the right person to help me was key, so I started to do some research into some psychologists in the area.

I was lucky to find a doc in my hospital system that had experience in anxiety, panic disorder, and pseudoseizures. Fantastic! So I emailed the man and asked if he thought he could help me with my medical fears and fear of vomiting. He said he had experience with medical anxiety but not vomit phobia, but he would ask his collegues and if he thought anyone else might be better suited to help me he could refer me to them. It turned out that all of his collegues had seen at least one case of vomit phobia, and recommended approaching it with me the same way this guy had thought he would in the first place.

I liked that this guy had taken the time to email with me a few times to see if he was the best person to help me, and also had already thought of a possible treatment plan. I asked if I could see him, and noted that my surgery was soming up soon so that we might need to hurry this up a bit. He emailed his secretary, and cc'ed me, telling her to call me and squeeze me in somewhere. She called the next day and two days later I was in his office.

I was his last patient of the day, and he started by taking my history and any important info pertaining to my anxiety. I figured that he would cut me off at the hour mark, but before I knew it I had been there for two and a half hours! It was crazy! I had my phone turned off and Craig had been frantically trying to call me, since I should have been home over an hour ago. We wrapped up the session and I made appointments to see him twice more before the surgery.

Craig was really upset when I finally called him, and rightly so. I felt really bad since I never meant to scare him so badly. I would have been just as upset if the situation was reversed. I promised that next time I would make sure I kept an eye on the time and would call or text if I was running late. But I seriously never expected this guy to take almost three hours on our first session.

Our next session we worked on what I feared most about the surgery. It all boiled down to me getting there and getting the IV. After that I knew they would give me happy drugs to relax me (yay for Versed!) so I just needed to get through the IV and then I think I'll be okay. Dr. Shrink wanted to use a therapy called EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Basically what he asked me to do was think about the upsetting situation - getting the IV - and I would have to follow his hand with my eyes as he slowly moved them back and forth in front of me. His hand was about 14 inches from my face and I was to keep my head still.

So we started this therapy and just thinking about getting the IV made me very nervous. He stopped after about 30 seconds or so, and asked me what I was feeling. I was still anxious, so he started again. We continued this stopping and starting, with me giving my physical and emotional feelings between sessions, until at the end I could not make myself get upset about getting the IV.

It was so weird! I asked him why it worked, and he explained that they don't know why for sure, but it's suspected that the brain has it's own mechanisms to heal itself. Anxiety and avoidance that heighten fear are not good things for the brain to feel, so by following his finger with my eyes I was stimulating both sides of my brain. Also my having me think about the traumatic thought I was bascially flooding my brain with anxiety in a safe environment. Eventually my brain realized that the fear was irrational, and stopped reacting to it. Dr Shrink also said that EMDR therapy is excellent for people who have had traumas such as rape or abuse, and usually they take several sessions to make progress. Since mine was a relatively simple issue without many layers to get through, one office session was all it took. Simply amazing.

I don't know if this new found bravery about the IV will hold when it comes right downt to it. But I sure hope so.

The surgery is next Tuesday. I have caught a cold and am fighting off bronchitis at the moment. However I am on antibiotics so that I can get well enough to get this thing over with. Which is what I want. I am tired of stressing about it and although I know the aftermath will be painful, at least it will be over and I can heal up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Surgery. Part 9 - Dr. Neuro

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Since the doctor was standing right in front of me, I reached out and grabbed his hands so that I wouldn't fall face first onto the floor. He asked "Are you alright?" and I shook my head and started to cry. Fortunately there were four nurses right there, and he said to them"She's not okay. We need to get her to a bed."

I can't remember if I walked or they carried me, but they got me into a bed and took my pulse and blood pressure. My pulse was around 125 and my blood pressure was really high also. I was freaking out that I'd have another seizure and was scared to bits. They had another embryologist do my procedures and called Craig. He had the day off and was in the garage doing some work, so he didn't hear his phone. I finally calmed down and didn't have a seizure. They were able to finally contact Craig and he came to pick me up. It was a huge scene and was very embarrassing.

While Craig was there I called the neurologists office (who is in the same building) and told them what had just happened. They alerted Dr. Neuro, who agreed to stay late and see me that evening. I gave him my whole history, he did a complete neurological workup, and ordered a CT scan and an EEG.

The CT scan was no big deal. The EEG really freaked me out because I knew that they would flash strobe lights at me and I was scared that would bring on a seizure. However, I did not have a seizure so I did all that worrying for nothing. A few days after all the tests were completed I went to see Dr. Neuro again, who told me my tests were normal and concluded that my seizures were psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. Which means that in times of great stress my body just shuts down to protect my mental status and I have a seizure.

Great. So it all really is in my head, and I'm just a big stress case. And I need to fix it, because I can't just have a seizure every time I get stressed out. Like if one of the kids barf. Or if I have to have surgery. Oh yeah, I AM having surgery, and soon too. Crap.

Time to see a psychologist.

Part 10 - Dr. Shrink

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Surgery. Part 8 - Complications

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Just when I thought that I had everything ready to go, Dr. OB says I can't have the surgery on the day I want to. You see, in order for him to properly do the tubal inserts the surgery must be during the first two weeks of my cycle, and on the surgery date I'd be three weeks into my cycle. The endometrial lining must be thin enough for him to see the entrance to the tubes, and that is easiest during the first two weeks before the lining really has a chance to build. If he can't see the tubal entrances then he can't place the inserts, which means he would have to do a laparoscopic procedure and tie my tubes. Not really want I wanted to do.

Then he says "You're not on the pill or anything, right?"

"No."

"And where are you in your cycle?"

"My period just ended two days ago."

"Well then, lets do this. I'll put you on a low dose pill, and have you skip the placebo pills. That way you won't have a period before the surgery and your lining will stay thin."

Ugh. I hate going on the pill, but it would only be for three months. I guess I could handle it for that long. So I went on the pill and the surgery was set up and confirmed with both doctor's offices. What could go wrong?

Oh yeah. I COULD HAVE A SEIZURE. That's what went wrong. You can read about that here.

Anyhow, I didn't even call a doctor after the seizure. I had them as a kid and so I didn't think anything of it. But Craig was super concerned and insisted that I speak to a doc. Still I resisted, saying that I had a total neurological workup in 2003 and there was nothing wrong. I blew him off.

Then I was discussing the situation with Marge, who just happened to mention that it could have been a clot. Nah, I said, doesn't sound like a clot. But it sure got me thinking. See, for infertility we give hormones to women to stimulate their ovaries to mature more than one egg in a month. The majors risks, even though they are small risks, are blood clots and strokes. I had just been on the pill for six weeks. The pills contain hormones. Hmmm.

I went the next morning to go see Dr. OB, but he was on his way to a conference. One of our nurses is his sister-in-law, and I told her I really needed to contact him, so she called him on his cell phone. He called me back immediately, even though he was minutes from boarding his plane. I told him about the seizure.

He said "Okay, you are not to take any more pills. You need to be seen by a neurologist immediately."

I said "But I had these seizures as a kid, so..."

He interrupted "That doesn't matter. You must be seen as soon as possible. And DO NOT take any more of those pills. I will find you as soon as I'm back in town and we can discuss everything."

Wow. Okay.

Then I called my family doc, who saw me that same day. He referred me to a neurologist, and said if I couldn't get an appointment soon to let him know and he'd contact the neurologist himself to try and get me in. When I called Dr. Neuro's office, their first appointment was the end of January. Gee, that's helpful. I called my family doc's office and left him a message that he needed to help me get in earlier. Then I waited.

My body had other ideas of how to get me in to see the neurologist sooner. One day I was at the nurse's station waiting for the doc to arrive because we had some embryo transfers to perform. I had begun to feel as if I was getting a migraine or something, because my head just felt weird. I was sitting at the desk with my eyes closed, head in my hands, and I head the doctor's voice as he came around the corner.

When he was in front of me, I looked up to tell him about the cases we had that day. And when I looked up at him I got that feeling. The feeling that I've suddenly been pushed backwards five feet, and everything slowed down and got gray.

Holy shit. I'm at work, and I'm going to have another seizure.

Part 9 - Dr. Neuro

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Surgery. Part 7 - Dr. Colon

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I was nervous about going to see Dr. Colon for my hemorrhoids. I saw my general doc during my first outbreak, and he didn't even touch my butt. He just looked at the issue and confirmed that I had hemorrhoids. Still, this was a surgeon and I was scared that she was going to stick her finger in there and root around. Craig said not to worry, that she'd probably just take a peek like my general doc and then set up the surgery.

On the day of my appointment I signed in at the desk, and was eventually called into the back. A male nurse brought me into an exam room and had me sit next to the computer desk in a chair. He took my medical history and asked a bunch of questions. I looked around the room and saw an exam table and racks of instruments. I also saw a gigantic sink and what looked like a scope in there. I was wondering when they were going to have me change into a gown or something, but he never even mentioned it. Maybe she wasn't even going to look at my butt?

Then the nurse said "Okay, I'm going to check with Dr. Colon to see if you need an enema."

Dear lord, WHAT? "Excuse me, did you say I need an enema?"

"Well, I'm not sure if you'll need one, but if you do I can give it to you. Or if you'd prefer one of the female nurses can help you with it. I'll go find out - be right back"

Well that's just peachy. If I had known that this might happen, I would have preferred to give myself an enema at home without this guy watching. I guess that's what the big sink in the room is for??! Ack! I started to panic a little bit. Like I said, I'm not good with medical procedures and if he was talking enema then without a doubt, Dr. Colon had plans to get all up in my business.

Mr. Nurse came back in and said I didn't need an enema. He said that Dr. Colon would be right in, and he left again. I was still dressed in my clothes, and no mention of a gown yet. This was all very weird, and my anxiety went up another notch.

Dr. Colon came in and we discussed my problems. Then she said she was going to examine me. Mr. Nurse moved the table so that the bottom half of it was pointing towards the ground. It made a little padded shelf and they had me kneel on that. Then they had me bend over so that I was lying on my stomach on the table while kneeling. Then Mr. Nurse held a sheet behind me and said "Okay, now pull your pants and underwear down."

This was so weird.

So I did as I was told, and he draped the sheet over my bare behind. Then they rotated the table so that my head was down and my bottom was up. Let me tell you, this was the most vulnerable and humiliating experience I've yet to have in front of a doctor. Not one that I ever want to repeat, either.

Like I suspected, Dr. Colon raised the sheet and used her finger to do an exam. It was pretty uncomfortable, but bearable. When she was done I thought "Whew, glad that's over." but she was far from finished. She then got some sort of cone-shaped instrument with a light on it, and looked inside my butt.

I would rather have another blueberry butt outbreak than have another rectal exam. It hurt, hurt hurt. She was twisting this big long piece of metal in there, in an area that wasn't meant to have big long pieces of metal! Then she starts showing Mr. Nurse things, saying "See that there, uh huh, that's one, and there too...mumble mumble...yes, do you see that?"

Are you kidding me? Stop using my rectum as a blackboard and finish up already!

The pain was starting to get to me, and even with my head down I got dizzy and broke out into a sweat. I said "Are you almost done? This is pretty painful and I don't know how much more I can stand."

"Almost done...hang in there." she replied. "Take some deep breaths. That should help." Mr Nurse offered.

Hey, you know what would help? Removing that thing from my butt!!

I was really in pain, and things were rapidly going downhill. I was going to pass out if they didn't stop, so I started to squirm and stammer "Um, ow... I ...Uh..please..."

She must have sensed that I had enough, because she removed the instrument and gave my butt a courtesy wipe. Then Mr. Nurse said cheerily "Okay! All done! You can pull up your pants now."

I needed to lie down on my back as soon as possible so I didn't faint. I yanked my pants up, and as he was rotating the table back to a flat position I threw myself onto it in a panic, almost falling on the floor. Mr. Nurse said "Oh, hey, easy there. You okay?" I said "I will be, please just let me lie here for a few moments." "Okay, no problem, this happens sometimes, don't worry about it." Yeah, I'm sure it does.

When I had recovered sufficiently I got up and sat back in the chair. Dr. Colon made her diagnosis of external thrombosed hemorrhoids and said that she could do surgery to remove the internal hemorrhoids and the skin tags, which would prevent me from having another episode. I told her about the ablation and tube insert surgery, and she said she could work with Dr. OB and do it at the same time. She said that I would have to be in bed for a week afterwards to prevent pressure on my butt, and that it would hurt to poop for two weeks. She said that I will be in considerable pain after the surgery, and I asked if it would hurt worse than one of my episodes. She said "Probably not." Good to know.

Since I have to bed in bed for a week, I wanted to schedule the surgery for the week of Christmas because Craig will be off of work, and the lab will be shut down. I know that will make for a crappy holiday, but I won't be missing work and Craig will be able to take care of me, so it should all work out. Time to finally schedule this thing!

However, when I told Dr. OB when I wanted to do the surgery, he said "Oh, that's not going to work."

Part 8 - Complications


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Awarded

MiKael at Rising Rainbow was kind enough to give me this blog award. Thanks MiKael!



I feel I must pass it along to these people -

Stacey at Behind the Bit
Wiola at Freelance Instructor's Diary
Haffie girl at Pony Under my Bed
Half Pass Girl
Kate at Lil Kate
And lastly
Craig at Scripturient because I know he loves a good butterfly. And thinks blog awards are dumb.

So thanks to you guys for having blogs for me to read. I'm behind on some of your stories but I'll catch up eventually.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Surgery. Part 6 - But wait, there's more...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

The decision was made to have surgery. Even though the thought of one surgery scares the crap out of me, the thought of having to have two surgeries would be worse. So I asked Dr. OB if he could combine his surgery with another surgery that I really needed to get done so I could just get both of them over with at one time. The second surgery would be a hemorrhoidectomy.

Yes, people, I have hemorrhoids. I never had any kind of butt issues until after I had kids, specifically Macey. Lily was a C-section because she was breech, so there was no pushing involved in her birth, and my hieney came through unscathed. However Macey was a regular vaginal birth and I pushed that 8 plus pound baby out. All that pushing put too much strain on my butthole, and when Dr. OB was sewing me up after the birth he said "Oh, dear, you've got some really bad hemorrhoids here. You might have to have something done with those."

I didn't think anything of it, and didn't have a problem until last year. But then oh boy, did I have a problem. Everyone knows about hemorrhoids, and has seen the Preparation H commercials, but until you get them you don't know how painful they can be. Holy mother of god did mine hurt.

Allow me to get technical here. Everyone has hemorrhoids, which are blood vessels inside the colon just beyond the anus. These veins can get inflamed, and even burst open and cause people to have rectal bleeding. These are internal hemorrhoids, and sometimes they can get so inflamed that they droop, like a little sack, out of the butthole. Applying Preparation H will cause these to shrink back up where they belong. Problem solved.

I didn't have this kind. What happened to me was, when I had Macey my internal hemorrhoids got put under so much pressure that blood was pushed outside of my butthole into a little tissue cavity. It made a blueberry looking thing outside of my butt that was swollen and full of blood. This is called an externally thrombosed hemorrhoid, and when that blood clots it has nowhere to go. And that hurts a whole lot. When Macey was born I was on a constant stream of anti-inflammatories which kept the pain at bay. Eventually the blood clots were reabsorbed, leaving behind two empty flaps of skin called skin tags. These skin tags just hang out (no pun intended) and will fill up with blood again if there is another big pressure on the internal hemorrhoids.

Since Macey's birth, starting about a year ago, I have had four episodes of blueberry butt. The pain was enormous, and there was no way I was going to be sitting in a saddle, so riding was right out. No amount of Preparation H would relieve the pain. The only thing that I found to work was a vaginal anti-itch cream that had 10% benzocaine in it. Every episode took about a week to ten days to resolve completely and make sitting, standing, and pooping bearable again. The only thing I can attribute these eipsodes to is too much standing. Unfortunately my job sometimes requires that I stand for long periods of time, and I don't know when that's going to happen. I knew that I had to get my butthole fixed, because I couldn't deal with an outbreak every time I had to stand a lot.

I asked Dr. OB to recommend someone to do the surgery, and he gave me the name of a colorectal surgeon. It was time for a rectal exam. Oh goodie.

Part 7 - Dr. Colon

Saturday, November 29, 2008

YeeHa Pony!

I hadn't been able to ride Kaswyn since last Sunday because of a couple of things. First, I was going to ride on Tuesday but I was in a rental car that wasn't a four wheel drive like my truck, and since it was snowing and the roads were bad out by the barn I decided not to get stuck in the teeny car they gave me. I had a rental because of my accident (which you can read about here) while my car was getting fixed. Then Wednesday was tests at the hospital day (which I will catch you all up on, really I will), and Thursday was Thanksgiving. I had to work Thanksgiving, plus Friday and all weekend, and then Monday through next Friday. Yeah, that will be fun!

Anyway, I got to ride K man on Friday, and boy howdy did he feel good. I guess it took a bit longer to heal from the hock injections, or it was good for him to just be turned out for a few days and heal that way, because I felt like I had my old pony boy back. He was full of energy and a little sassy, with that "I know what I'm doing, cause I'm AWESOME!" attitude. So fantastic.

I'm looking forward to lessons and shows! Yay for hock injections and Legend! I hope my shadbelly still fits...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The dreams that haunt me

Last night I had a dream about Blair. They don't happen often anymore, but when they do they have a deep and lasting effect on me.

The whole story about Blair starts here.

In the dream I was riding in a car with my brother and his wife. Somehow I had gotten informed that Blair was back and that she'd be having breakfast at this little diner located in the small downtown where I used to live. I didn't really believe that she'd be there, but as we drove by looking for a parking spot I saw her through the large windows of the diner.

She was sitting alone in a booth with her hair in a french braid and her back was towards the door. She had a cup of coffee in one hand, and her head was turned so I could see the side of her face. It looked like she was talking to the cook who was leaning over the order counter, and she was laughing. She didn't look a day older than the last time I saw her 18 years ago.

I gasped and said "Oh my god! She's in there!" I immediately started to cry and freak out. My brother said "Are you sure that was her?" "Yes! Yes! She's there! I can't believe it!"

Then, for some inexplicable reason, we took forever to find a parking spot (instead of just stopping the car and letting me jump out, which would have happened had this been real), and then we went into the pharmacy to pick up a few things. Finally I ran into the diner.

All that was left in the booth was a coffee cup, a folded newspaper, and a tip. I had no way of getting a hold of her. She was gone.

Again, I burst into tears. I sat in the booth and the seat was still warm. I wanted to talk to the cook, but for some reason he wouldn't look at me or even acknowledge that I was there. I walked out.

As is common in my dreams, when I stepped out of the diner I was no longer in the quaint downtown area, but at some dock in a warehouse district. I needed to get a race car for some reason, but all I could find is a scooter. And it was out of gas, so I ended up pushing it down the road. I can't remember much after that but Blair was not involved.

Today I feel so sad. It's not as bad as when she disappeared the first time, but I'm still bothered by it. I'll never see her again. Or will I? The uncertainty sucks. At least I don't "see" her anymore at horse shows. That used to drive me crazy. Although every time I see a beige and brown Ford F250 from the mid 80's my stomach drops to my knees.

I'm also pissed at her. I know that more than one person told her not to go to her ex's house that night, but to meet him in a public place. He had been acting irrational, not just with her but with other people. He had said "If I can't have her nobody will." and "She'll take our daughter over her dead body." Also, a month or so before she disappeared, Blair even said "If she brakes go out on my truck you'll know that my ex did it." and "If something happens to me this person gets this saddle and this person gets that, etc." She saw it coming. Why was she not careful?

Oh well. It's over now. And while I usually try not to think about Blair because it's too painful, I know she will be on my mind a lot for awhile.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

This is what expensive looks like

This is one multi dose vial of Legend. It has 20 ml of fluid, and at 4 ml per does it contains 5 doses. And costs $350.



"Liquid Gold"

Kaswyn is due for another shot of Legend on Thanksgiving. I'll certainly keep up with the shots, especially since I'm seriously making plans to show next year.

In related news, I rode Kaswyn today for the first time since his hock injections. He felt a little stiff all over, but I'm not surprised considering he has been confined to his stall since Tuesday except for hand walking. Today was just walk and a little trot, and tomorrow we'll canter. Here's hoping for a sound pony.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Surgery. Part 5 - The Ablation

Part 1
Part 2

Part 3
Part 4

Dr. OB and I talked about my options. Any birth control method with hormones – an IUD, cervical ring, inplant, etc – would make me feel crappy and I didn’t want to live that way. He said if I was sure that I was done having kids that he could do a uterine ablation. It’s a procedure where they cycle very hot water through your uterus for about 11 minutes and that destroys the lining (the endometrium) of your uterus. Most patients never have a period again, and most of the rest have very light periods. In a very small percentage of patients the ablation does not work at all. He said there was no way to predict if it would work for me or not, but chances were good that it would. But I had to be SURE that I didn’t want kids, because it’s permanent and if it’s completely successful then there is no endometrium for the baby to grow on.

At the same time he would place inserts into my fallopian tubes that would develop scar tissue over the next six months and block my tubes. This would be a precautionary measure because you can still get pregnant after a uterine ablation, but it's a really bad idea. So between the ablation and tubal inserts I'd be done having children.

This was a really hard decision for me. I would really like one more child, but I'm old and we can't really afford it. I guess it's not so much a decision but a coming to terms that I won't be having another baby. I loved being pregnant, having the babies, and taking care of them afterwards. Sure, the breastfeeding was a hassle, and I really like being able to sleep through the night now (well, mostly - sometimes the kids still get up!), but I will really miss those times.

Finally I decided that I needed to let the baby thing go and get this surgery. It would be done under heavy sedation, which means they'd just let me sleep and wouldn't have to intubate me or put me on a breathing machine. It would be outpatient so I could go home that day. All that was left to do was schedule the surgery. Or was that all?

Part 6 - But wait, there's more...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A little poke here, and little jab there

Dr. B came out yesterday to check Kaswyn's hocks. Well, he really just came out to do a lameness exam, but I told him that I thought it was his hocks. When Dr. B does one of these exams he examines the horse while his assistant writes down any comments that Dr. B has. He started the exam by feeling Kaswyn's left front leg up and down, and found a little calcified area on the inside middle of his left front cannon bone. He commented on it, and as the assistant was writing it down I said "So what's that mean?" and he said "It means he probably hit himself while he was outside but it's all healed over. It's non reactive." He checked the neuroectomy site on the left front and found that to be non reactive also. Then he picked up the leg and brought the heel up so that it was touching Kaswyn's elbow, and said that was normal.

He repeated his exam on the right leg and found nothing. The he palpated the muscles down his back and found him very slightly sore but nothing to worry about. Then he checked Kaswyn's stifles by pushing on one hip sideways while pulling his tail in the other direction, kind of rocking back and forth. Then he said "Stifle laxity, zero." which means that Kaswyn's stifles are nice and tight as they should be. Dr. B then began just above the hock and felt all the way down Kaswyn's right hind, and when he got to the hoof he came back up and put pressure on a ligament just lower than the hock and to the inside of the leg. Kaswyn picked up his leg and brought it out away from his body. Dr. B said "Churchill positive."

I knew from watching him examine Kaswyn and other horses that a positive Churchill meant hock pain. The test involves pressing on a ligament that will put pressure on the two lower joints of the hock. So I said "Hocks, right?" and he said "Oh yeah, but I want to flex him too." He repeated the leg palpation on the left hind, with the same result.

Then he asked me to lunge Kaswyn, and when he started trotting he said "Yeah, he's stabbing behind." Then I said "Yes, but I'll bet this is the most sound you've ever seen this horse move up front." and he said ""No doubt about that, but now we gotta come over here and do this.." and he went over to the wall and knocked wood. Indeed, let's knock wood on that one!

Then he did a flex test, and pointed out that when Kaswyn trotted away from us after the hind legs were flexed that he could see a hip hike upwards in his stride. He asked which way he felt better, and I said "Well, he usually feels better on the right, but lately he's been feeling better on the left." and he said "Uh huh." To which I said "So the left is worse than the right?" and he said "You got it."

We discussed x-rays, but he said regardless of what he saw on the x-rays his diagnosis and treatment would not change, but if I wanted pictures he would take them. I said no, not if he didn't think it was necessary, and he said "If it were me I'd just save my money and not get x-rays." Sounded good to me, so we just went with his diagnosis, which was that Kaswyn's hocks were sore.

This is not surprising to me, and I figured he would want to inject them. I said that he had injected Kaswyn's hocks a year ago, and Dr. B said that was a long amount of time for injections to last, so it was good. I decided to go ahead and inject both hocks.

I told him that I had given him a Legend shot a few weeks ago, and he asked why Legend and not Adequan. I said because Dr. G told me to use Legend. Dr. B told me that he'd have picked Adequan between the two, but recently he's had quite a bit of success with polyglycan, which he says is Legend and Adequan both in one shot. The Legend increases synovial joint fluid viscosity and decreases inflammation, while Adequan gives support to the cartilage and decreases inflammation. However there has been quite a lot of discussion on some boards about Legend and Adequan versus ployglycan. Some people, including Dr. B, have had great success with it but it's not meant as an IV injectable for joint treatment. It's intended FDA approved use is for wound and joint flushing during surgeries. It's cheaper than Legend or Adequan, but independent studies (ie one does by the company that produces Adequan) show that while plyglycan had some benefits it's not as powerful or effective as Adequan. The same probably holds true for Legend but I've not seen results there.

Anyway, I have a five dose vial of Legend coming my way, so I will use that for the next five months and see how things go. Dr. B thinks that Legend is fine to use and that it will probably help increase the amount of time between hock injections.

Dr. B thinks hock injections get a bad rap, but that they really cut down on the damage done to the joint in training. Sure, you can cut down on that damage by not riding and training, but then you have a horse that doesn't have a job. Dr. B says that complications are rare, and for the most part it's a very effective and useful treatment. Since I trust my vet, I trust that he knows what is best for my horse considering his showing and training career. I also trust Dr. B to do the procedure with a high amount of skill, since he has done so many successfully. I asked if he thought Kaswyn had extensive damage in the joint, and he said "No, not at all. He just looks like many other dressage horses that I've seen. I wouldn't even call him lame. I'd say he has a 'gait deficit', but not a lameness."

So Dr. B deftly injected the lower two joints of Kaswyn's hocks, and told me to give him two grams of bute per day for three days, and hand walking only for three days. Then he wants me to ride him lightly at the walk and trot on Saturday, and walk trot and canter on Sunday. Monday he'll get off, and then it's back to business as usual on Tuesday.

While this all sounds great, I have two negative things on my mind. First, I just paid off my vet bill before this last visit. Ugh. And I forgot to have him pull a Coggins test while he was there, do I'll have to call him out again at some point. Secondly, I got in a car accident on Monday. Some guy slid on the ice and rear ended me. He wasn't going that fast, but it caved in my bumper and bent his up too. I thought I was okay, but tonight I'm starting to get pain in my neck and up into my head. Less than two weeks ago I had sent in the last payment for my car. Groovy, huh?

That's right. Pay off my vet bill, then call the vet out for an expensive procedure. Then pay off my car, and get in an accident. What I think I can learn from this is that whether it's got four legs or four wheels, it's going to cost ya.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fighting winter horse scurf

Every winter once Kaswyn has been blanketed and not bathed for a few weeks he develops what I call "Winter Horse Scurf". It's this grey powdery dandruffy stuff that clings to his coat and rubs off on my bridle, saddle, and boots. It's a little oily so it makes kind of a thick grey glue patch on my tack that has to be aggressively scrubbed off. It also gets all over the inside of his blankets. Even daily thorough currying and brushing can't completely rid his body of this persistent powder. It's really gross!

When we were boarding at another barn there was a vacuum system that I used to suck the scurf off of Kaswyn's coat. It didn't get him clean like a bath would, but it made it less gross when I'd brush him off. Last year, however, I discovered that Miracle Groom would take away most of the scurf and would leave him smooth and clean smelling.

So this year I'm determined not to let the scurf take over! I'm going to be using Miracle Groom at least once a week to keep Kaswyn's coat clean. So far, so good. I'll let you know if it really works for the long term

Albert is another project to try and keep clean. I wouldn't mind him rolling in the mud if I didn't plan on riding him, but when I pull him out of the pasture and he's breaded himself with the stinkiest pasture mud that he can find I get a little annoyed. I'm cutting it close with my schedule just to be able to ride him, so taking 20 minutes to get him clean makes it almost impossible to have enough time to ride.

Last week Albert was filthy. I had bathed him the week before when it was warm, and I asked Susan to find him waterproof sheet to put on him so that he could stay clean for as long as possible. She waited too long and the rolled in the mud like a little piggy. Since it was now too cold for a bath, I decided last Thursday that I would "hot towel" him. I had heard about it from my friend Linda, who used to work on the track. It involved getting a bucket of hot water and some clean towels, then soaking the towels in the hot water. Then I took the towels and scrubbed Albert from head to tail, switching out the towels as they became dirty. I started at his neck and worked my way towards his tail, covering up the damp parts with a cooler. I expected it to take a long time, but it only took me about 20 minutes or so. Granted, Albert is not a big animal, but still it all went rather smoothly. In the end he was damp and covered with a cooler, and much cleaner than he had been before we started.

I made Susan find a sheet to put on him once he was dry, and told her that if I was going to ride him that he would have to keep a blanket on. I can handle brushing his neck and legs off, but to knock mud off of his entire body every time I wanted to ride was not going to work. Sp far so good with that. I'll use Miracle Groom on him too if needed. I love clean horses!

Dr B comes to check Kaswyn's hocks tomorrow. When I lunged Kaswyn tonight I thought I saw some definite off strides on his left hind leg. We'll see what the doc has to say.

One more thing - does anyone else think that a barn smells different in the winter time? Today it had snowed, and when I went into Kaswyn's stall it smelled like Christmas time to me. Am I crazy?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When Legend falls short

When I rode Kaswyn on Tuesday he didn't feel quite right. He felt fine at the trot but didn't want to bring his hocks under himself at the canter. This makes me suspicious that he has pain in his hocks. I had the hocks injected last December, but then didn't follow up with monthly Legend because it's so damn expensive. Now I'm regretting that decision. The Legend injection a few weeks ago seemed to help a little bit but now I'm feeling that the canter needs help.

So on Tuesday Dr. B will come out and check out Kaswyn's hocks. We didn't x-ray the hocks last December, but I know they have been x-rayed in the past, probably within the last 3 years. I'm guessing Dr. B will x-ray his hocks again on Tuesday, but he didn't say for sure. When I called him and told him what I thought was going on I told him that we had injected the hocks last December. Then I asked if he thought it was too soon to inject them again and he laughed, saying "I usually inject hocks every three months!" Ack, who can afford that??! I know some dressage people have a lot of money, but most dressage riders I know have one horse and do all sorts of creative money management in order to afford them.

I don't know how I really feel about the injections. I'm not excited about going into those joints, but if it's going to make Kaswyn more comfortable then I'm all for it. I guess I'll just see what Dr. B and the x-rays say. But I'm guessing there will be injections. And a big fat vet bill that I just paid off two weeks ago. Figures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Surgery. Part 4 - The Pill

Part 1
Part 2

Part 3

Like I have said before I had been on and off of various pills over the years. I don’t like the way I feel when I’m on the pill. Here is why.

I’m constantly hungry, so I put on weight.
If I’m not hungry, I’m nauseous.
I’m irritable.
My PMS is actually ten times worse on the pill.
I have no energy.
My libido goes way down (which doesn't only affect me).

The only good thing about the pill is that my skin gets clearer. That’s not enough of a plus to get me to take it.

I asked why I could be bleeding this much, and basically it comes down to progesterone. About halfway through a menstrual cycle your body should start producing progesterone - right around ovulation. It tells your body to keep the uterine lining that has built up, and to maintain it in case an egg gets fertilized. If progesterone is not produced in high enough concentrations then the uterine lining will continue to build. Normally progesterone levels will drop two weeks after ovulation, and then the bleeding will start. During the period the residual levels of progesterone will tell the blood vessels to close off and keep the bleeding minimal when the lining sheds. The concern was that I wasn't producing progesterone, which would lead to a thick lining and less control of blood loss, so I had a blood test. The test came back showing I was producing progesterone, but Dr. OB said I could take a progesterone only pill anyway and that could solve my problem.

Besides the fact that the pill makes me feel crappy, progesterone only pills, specifically progestin, have been associated in some studies with an increased risk of breast cancer. These studies are very controversial, and studies have been published showing the opposite results. However, based on my boob issues I was wary of taking progestin. The fact is I don't like to take any kind of medication if I can avoid it. I certainly don't want to take something that's going to increase my risk of breast cancer.

So instead of taking the pill, I went to my chiropractor, who is also kind of a holistic medicine guy. He set me up with all kinds of supplements, including one supplement that was basically natural, plant derived progesterone. Supposedly this is a much safer form of the hormone, so I thought I'd give it a try. Over the next two months I had much lighter bleeding. I though I had found the answer!

Unfortunately I started to feel like I did when I was on the pill, so I stopped taking the supplements. And the next month, I had the blood flood again. I had to do something, so I went to talk to Dr. OB again.

Part 5 - Ablation

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Surgery. Part 3 – The Flood

Part 1
Part 2

I got my period for the first time at twelve years old. I’ve always been very regular, having 28 or 30 day cycles. I never had bad cramps, or lots of bleeding, so my period was never a big deal for me. However, earlier this year it became a very big deal.

I started noticing that my bleeding was getting heavier. I just chalked it up to the fact that I had just spent almost four years not having a period due to two pregnancies and two years of breastfeeding and I had forgotten how much I bled. Then I had my first really bad period, complete with lots of blood, painful cramps, and lots of huge clots. I was a little worried about the clots, so I consulted my OB/GYN and he said that the clots only meant that the flow is so fast that the blood clotted before it could make it's way out. Great.

I didn’t do anything different that month, and the next month I was bleeding heavily again. One day I was at work in the lab, and when I stood up I gushed blood. I bled through a super tampon and a big pad in like three seconds, soaking my pants and underwear. Luckily I wear scrubs in the lab, so I ran to the scrub room and grabbed a new pair of scrub pants. I went into the bathroom to clean up but it was like some kind of horror scene.

With my panties stuffed full of paper towels, I approached my boss to tell her that I had to leave to go home and clean up, as I had just bled all over myself. She kind of didn’t know what to say, except “Um, okay.” It sucked.

The next month I had another bleeding issue, and I felt and looked terrible. I was at work (again) and the doctor who was covering procedures asked me "Are you okay?"
I said "Yeah, I'm okay, I'm just bleeding a lot."
"Oh. I'm assuming you mean vaginal bleeding?" she asked.
I laughed and said "Yes, vaginal bleeding. I don't have a gunshot wound or anything..."

I was rapidly becoming sick of this routine, so I made an appointment with Dr. OB, who checked me out and found everything to be fine. He said that I should get a saline ultrasound to rule out uterine polyps, fibroids, or something else. The procedure is they fill your uterus with saline and check for abnormalities. The saline ultrasound was done by the ultrasound tech and doc that I work with all the time, and they were great about it. I managed not to freak out, and while it was a little uncomfortable it was not big deal. They didn’t find anything abnormal, just that my endometrial lining was thicker than it should be.

I had another discussion with Dr. OB and he said that I could go on the pill and that would make it so that I didn’t build up such a thick uterine lining. I didn’t really want to do that, because the pill and I just don’t get along.

Part 4 - The Pill

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Surgery. Part 2 - How it All Started

Part 1

It all started with me having my babies. I had been on the pill on and off for years, but went off the pill early in my relationship with Craig (for reasons I will discuss later). Once we got married I wanted to have children as soon as possible because I knew I was getting older. I was 35 when I had Lily and 36 when I had Macey, which is much older than I wanted to be. Since I’m such a freak about needles and stuff I didn’t have an amniocentesis with either child, but thank god they turned out perfectly healthy. After I had Lily I breastfed her for a year, then I immediately got pregnant with Macey. I breastfed her for a year too, and then stopped.

After Macey was born we had debated about a third child so I didn’t have my tubes tied. I also didn’t go on the pill or practice any sort of contraception besides the wonderful condom. With no hormonal intervention from contraception or breastfeeding, my body finally returned back to normal and I had about a year and a half of regular periods and cycles. But then my body started to change. I was only 39, so I didn’t think I could be having pre-menopausal issues. However, that’s certainly what looked like was going on.

And it wasn’t pretty.

Part 3 - The Flood

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Surgery. Part 1 – An Introduction

Welcome to the first post in my new series. I’ll warn you now – this is going to be a long one. And it’s going to get really personal, and very detailed. I debated if I was going to talk about all of this, but it’s been taking up such a huge part of my thoughts lately, and will greatly affect my riding, so I thought I’d just get it out there. I’m know I’m not the first person to have to deal with all of this, so maybe someone will read my story and get some comfort or something out of it.

As you can guess by the title, I’m going to be having surgery in December. I’m an extremely nervous person when it comes to anything medical, so this is going to be a huge deal for me. I was concerned that childbirth would be scary for me since it’s all medical and hospitally and stuff, but surprisingly that was no big deal. Sure, I was freaked out when I had to have a C-Section with Lily, but I was already in the hospital, in labor, and didn’t have much of a choice. Little booger had to go and be breech and make her mama get cut open.

Not counting having babies, medical procedures make me faint. It’s just been recently that I can actually stay sitting up for a blood draw. In the past I’ve had to lie down or I would pass out. Even now if they have to draw more than two tubes I need to lie down. And to get an IV I need to be totally on my back, with a wet washcloth already in hand, and they have to put it in the right place. Most nurses want to put it in my left arm radial vein, or the back of my hand, but I tell them that those places are not good and they need to hit the right arm radial vein. Most of the time they don’t listen to me and try the other places first, but once they collapse those veins (and they always do) they go for the one I said in the first place, and it’s a champ.

But the actual sticking of me with needles isn’t the bad part. It’s just the anxiety of waiting for the procedure. I’m a total nerve bag. It’s going to be bad. Plus the seizure two days ago has complicated things to the point that I have to start posting about this to be able to keep up with the events which are currently unfolding.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself here. There is plenty to talk about.

Part 2 – How it All Started

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bad night

Both Macey and I have the stomach flu. Or, rather, both of us puked this morning (her last night too). Those of you who know me know that I'm not good with puke AT ALL. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it here.

Craig has been a champ. He took care of Macey last night, and then both of us this morning at 5 am. He gets extra points because, well, I kinda had a seizure and passed out. Then I puked. When we first started dating I told him about the whole seizure thing and in the eight years since I've been with him this is the first time that he's ever seen it. And he is not keen to ever see it again.

I had my first seizure at 12 and when I saw a neurologist out it he said that sometimes kids get seizures that they outgrow. I haven't had a seizure since I was 21 and I thought I had grown out of them. Apparently not.

Anyhow, I'm recovering, and so in Macey, although she's gone from puking to having aggressive diarrhea. It's an improvement over the puking though, and since I'm about 12 hours behind her with the onset of this I have that to look forward to. I've only had a Slurpee to eat today, because my philosophy is "If nothing goes in then nothing can come out.", if you know what I mean.

I'm just hoping that Craig and Lily can avoid this bug. Because I can clean up any kind of poop, but if you're puking, I'm running.

Good lord I'm a bad mom.

Monday, November 03, 2008

If it aint broke.. wait, it IS broke!

Today I'm going out to the barn after work. Not to ride.. no, no no. Today I will be filling in holes in the arena that have been created by groundhogs. Somehow one or more of these damn things has decided that they need to run around in the space between the arena wall and the kickboards. And then, for no apparent reason, they need to dig their way out. Never mind that there is a space by each gate at the end of the arena that they could easily crawl through. They must dig, and in more than one place. I think right now there are six holes on one side of the arena. Nobody else will fix then, so I will do it. I will also dump used cat litter behind the kickboards in an attempt to keep the groundhogs out of the area. It's supposed to work because the groundhogs will stay away from cat smell, but so far I don't think it's helping.

I also need to pull all the footing away from the kickboards, and then drag the arena. The ATV still is not fixed, and we don't have that new drag that I was told about, so again I'll be using my car and the sucky drag with four teeth. And as long as I'm bitching, the washrack drain is still clogged and the water hydrant by the washrack has been broken for a while and is still not fixed. And last week Kaswyn got a salt block holder put in his stall, but the genius who installed it didn't get the top screw into the wood. It looks like he just pounded on the screw because it's totally bent over and not in the wood at all, so the holder just turns upside down and the salt block falls out. Brilliant. Oh yeah, and to top it all off, yesterday the tack room reeked of cat pee. Someone pissed on top of one of the trunks. Not mine, thank goodness.

Can you tell I'm a little frustrated? I'm not asking for the barn to be a million dollar showplace. I just want it functional. I think the least that could be done is that things are fixed when they are broken. I will water and drag the arena, and fix the holes. The salt block holder I can fix too. But the ATV, the washrack drain, and the water hydrant I can't do on my own. All I can do is keep asking when these things will get done, and remind people to shoo cats out of the tack room and close the door so our stuff doesn't get pissed on.

I love Marge. I love the fact that Kaswyn gets outside all day every day, and he's very happy there. But sometimes I just get sick of nobody caring but me. To be honest, the place is just dirty and is getting run down. A few months ago when Kaswyn got shoes, my blacksmith and I were talking about the barn. This was during the whole "got to get the footing fixed" stage, and he made some comment to me about not being able to make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

I don't need a silk purse. A functional wallet would do just fine.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

No NaBloPoMo

Today officially starts NaBloPoMo, also known as National Blog Posting Month. It's where you post on your blog every day for one month. I did it for two years, but I'm not going to be able to get it done this year. I used to be able to bang out a post at work, but work has been too crazy, and they are predicting that it's going to be simply stupid busy here until the end of the year. Lots of people want to get pregnant before Christmas, I guess.

I'll see if I can hit the 50% mark and post every other day. It will be much better than I have been able to do lately, so I'd be happy with that kind of improvement. I have stuff to talk about, just no time at work and no motivation to write after work. Lately when I get home from work and the barn I just want to eat dinner, spend time with my family, and crawl into bed. When work is busy there is added stress on top of the already underlying pressure of my job, and when I'm done with my job for the day I just want to spend a few hours and not think. I don't even really want to do laundry, which I usually love to do. And Craig is grousing about doing more dishes than me lately. He's washing dishes while I write this, probably in an attempt to make me feel guilty. Passive aggressive punk. He's doing NaBloPoMo, so we're probably going to fight (ie do rock, paper, scissors, which is how we usually decide these things) to see which one of us will post Halloween pics of the kids first.

So check back here every other day. I'll see what I can do. No promises though!

Monday, October 27, 2008

How to save $100

I went to my vet's office today and bought a one dose vial of Legend, which is 4 ml. It was $92. If I go through Smart Pak and buy a multi dose vial with five doses it works out to $70 a shot even with the shipping costs. Of course buying five doses at once sucks, but if I save $20 a dose over five doses that's $100.

So my advice? Order Legend in bulk from Smart Pak if your credit card can handle it.

Oh, and I went to the barn right afterwards and injected my boy with it. He stood perfectly still and I hit the vein on the first try. Yay me! Hopefully I'll see a little difference tomorrow when I ride him. Although the weather has been really crappy here today and will be crappy tomorrow, so he won't be going outside. Consequently he might be a little fresh for our ride. We'll see. As long as he's just energetic and not disobedient it should be a fun ride.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's Legend time

Today I decided to lunge Kaswyn instead of riding him. Almost every time I go to the barn to work him I ride him, but today I wanted to watch him go just to make sure everything looks like it should. Unfortunately, I think Kaswyn looks stiff and a bit uncomfortable. He's not lame, and he certainly willing to work, but he just doesn't look as loose and flowing as he should.

So I think it's time to start him back on Legend shots. Legend is a monthy IV injectable joint supplement that increases the overall joint fluid, increases it's viscosity, and decreases inflammation in the joint which can cause damage. It's much less invasive than injecting medications directly into the joints, which really helps any hock problems but is costly and carries a risk of infection. I got his hocks injected last year, and while I don't think he's at the point where he needs them injected again I think he could use a bit of help in the joint department. I really don't want to go into his hocks and inject them unless I really have to, and it's not a critical situation yet so I'm just going to go with Legend. Also the Legend will reach all of his joints, where hock injections just address the hocks and nothing else. Usually after I give him a Legend shot he looks like his joints are all greased up, and I can tell when I ride him that he feels better.

Kaswyn used to be on Legend shots but I stopped that when he was lame and in recovery from his various injuries and incidents. I didn't start up with the shots again until now because they are SO expensive. They are like $80 a shot and you are supposed to give a shot once a month. I found that I could get away with one every six weeks during the winter, and once a month during heavy show months of June - September. I think that will be my plan this time around since it seemed to work well in the past. However with his advancing age I might have to go once a month. I'll just see how it goes.

So it's off to the vet's office Monday after work to pick up a vial of Legend. I know some people are nervous about giving intravenous injections to their horses, but Kaswyn is a champ about it and I can usually hit the vein on the first try. I've been out of practice, so I hope I don't have to poke him more than once!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bad connection

My training with Kaswyn has been coming along slowly but surely. I've been careful not to push too hard because I don't want to have an injury or make him sore. Everything was going as expected until a few weeks ago. He warmed up very nicely, but then after the warm up he would not make a good connection at the trot. He would pick up the trot fine, but after two or three strides he would back off the bit and jiggle his nose in an out, making it impossible for me to establish a connection. Since Dr. Tooth was just out, I know it's not his teeth!

When he did this he would also hollow his back ever so slightly. I knew he wasn't working over his back, so I went back to the basics to try and fix this. I tried lots of transitions first. This worked for a day or two, but then he returned to the "back off and jiggle". Next I tried lots of changes of bend, starting with serpentines then expanding to heading down the centerline and doing a half circle to change direction. When that stopped working I tried some lateral schooling, doing shoulder-in to haunches-in on the 20 meter circle. During all of these exercises I was able to get him to connect and work nicely, but the moment I asked him to just go straight at the trot he would always back off and jiggle after four or five strides. There were none of these issues at the canter at all.

I was starting to get really frustrated. I had gone back to the basics, worked on releasing and making sure my hands were soft and not constricting, and Kaswyn felt stronger than ever. I was beginning to think that I'd need a lesson ASAP.

Yesterday I finally had enough. As soon as he started the back off and jiggle, I said "No.", quietly but sternly and tapped him firmly with the whip. He leaped forward into my hand with a renewed connection, and I said "Good boy." He took a second to process this development, and then backed off again. Before he had a chance to jiggle his head, I said "No." and tapped again.

Now, Kaswyn is not a horse that likes to be in trouble. If he thinks he's in trouble for something he will try his hardest to get himself out of it and back into my good graces. Sure, he's lazy if he can get away with it, and he'll always try to take the easy way out if possible, because if I'm okay with it and it's easy for him, then everyone wins! So he was confused about what was going on. We were just trotting forward. I wasn't asking for anything - no changes in bend, no half halts (until he leaped forward in response to the whip), no lateral work or transitions. So what was going on here? What was with all the whipping??!!

He started to get himself a little uptight, so we went to the canter, and I praised him for making such a nice connection and working over his back, then it was back to the trot. Of course, out of habit, he backed off after a few strides and got another whip tap. After a few more cycles of trot-canter-trot I think he finally got the idea, so we called it a day.

Today when I rode him I only had to remind him twice not to back off and break the connection. I'm hoping that this trend continues and that we can get back on track. Ah, so nice to have a thinking, learning horse!

Albert has been steadily coming along also. His main issue is still his tendency to raise his head up and tighten his back if he feels pressured or scared in any way. He's really doing much better with that and today we were able to do some very nice leg yields at the trot. They were so nice in fact that I thought I'd try some half-pass, which he did with no problem. We also did some beginning collected canter work, but it's still challenging for him. He tends to have a quick tempo at the canter and gets a little bullish about the half halts, running through them and bearing down in front instead of lightening the forehand. Now that I can put pressure on him without him coming above the bit and blocking in the neck I'm able to get some lightness in the front end and more weight behind with my half halts at the canter. He gets fatigued quickly so we can't do much of it, but I can certainly see improvement.

Now I just need a lesson on each of them, and some kind of plan for a show. It's so much more enjoyable for me to ride with a specific goal in mind, such as "Gotta get ready for the show in Janauary!" or something like that.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Everything old is new again

I tend to use horse realted equipment well past it's functional life. This stems from the fact that I have always had to operate my horse activities on a tight budget, and why buy new things if the old ones still work? However, since I got some gift certificates for my birthday, and found a gift card that I didn't know I had, I decided that three of the items that I use every time I ride needed replacing.

Here is a picture of my old boots. Believe it or not, this is as clean as I can get them. I've had them for probably seven or eight years. I love Ariat boots, and wouldn't even cosider getting anything but Ariats to ride in. Even my show boots are Ariats, and I think they are fantastic. anyhow, the old boots...



Notice the lovely holes in the sides. While the water tightness was comprimised, the holes provided some nice air flow while cantering. Also the soles (which I had already replaced once) were starting to separate from the toe.



But finally, the old boots had to go, and were replaced by these snazzy numbers. I went with zippers this time, and I'm not regretting my decision. I was afraid that the zippers would not be tight enough around my ankle, but they are working just fine. And they are faster to get on and off, which I like very much.



My old gloves. I obviously wore the crap out of them. When my fingers starting sticking out through the many giant holes I decided it was time for a replacement pair.



This is actually the second pair of new gloves that I got. The first pair split at a seam in the finger after I had been wearing them for only twenty minutes. They were promptly exchanged for a new pair, which so far have not sprung any seams. These are SSG gloves and I am enjoying them.



This is a shot of the end of my old whip. I had it for about a week when I accidentally propped it up against Kaswyn's stall within reach of his constantly moving lips. He chewed the end and I've been using it for almost two years that way.



And the new whip. Since the lash is intact it's longer than either one of us expect it to be so we're getting tons of jump when I give just a little tap. Yay for responsiveness!



I feel so spoiled with all my new stuff!

The one where I own up to something - Part 2

Part 1

On Saturday Z picked up Kaswyn and I and we went to the SCA event. We parked our horses in stalls and went to check in. Then we got our ponies ready and headed over to the arena. I got Kaswyn used to me carrying a weapon and swinging it around while I was on his back. I let him see and sniff all the equipment and then we were ready to go.

Here is Z on Henry.



And here is me on Kaswyn! Dig his funny pony clothes!



The games that we would play in the SCA with our horses that day were -

*Behead the Enemy aka "heads"
*Tilting at Rings aka "rings"
*Pig Sticking
*Birjas
*Quintain

All of these games are meant to train the rider to have skills needed in combat, like maneuverability for heads, accuracy for rings and pig sticking, hand eye coordination for birjas, and strength, speed and courage for the quintain. I got video of both Z and I doing the games with our ponies, but they might be hard to see because they are kind small and far away. But you'll be able to get the idea.

To do "heads", there are fake heads or round foam pieces on top of posts which are set in a straight line. Your job is to weave a slalom course down the line and knock the heads off the posts with a sword.

Here is Z, and then me, doing the heads with our horses.

video

video

For rings, the posts have crosspieces that have rings dangling from them. You ride your horse down the line and try and spear the rings, which are of different sizes. Smaller rings get you more points.

Here is a pic of me tilting the small rings, then doing a game with bigger rings and a sword instead of a sharp pointy lance.





And here are two videos - Z then me doing rings.

video

video

Pig Sticking is where you spear fake styrofoam pigs on the ground using a sharp lance.

Just me doing pigs, I didn't video Z.

video

The birjas is where you take small stick and throw it through a ring and then catch it on the other side without knocking the ring off the post. This is a picture of me just after I caught the stick, and you can see that I knocked the ring off the post.



Videos of Z, then me with the birjas.

video

video

Finally, the quintain is a shield on a cross arm on a post that swings around. You gallop towards the shield and then hit it with the lance to make the shield spin around as many times as possible.

Here are Kaswyn and I running at the quintain.



Videos of the quintain, which is a whole lot of fun!

video

video

Both Kaswyn and Z's horse Henry were awesome. Kaswyn was a bit excitable and wouldn't stand still between games, but he adapted well and was a complete star. We ended up winning the challenge course, which was where you run through all the games for points and who ever gets the most points in the quickest time wins. I was shocked, and even got a little prize out of it. Also everyone who rode was really nice, and even though it was a competition there was much cheering and supporting everyone.

We also tried mounted archery, where I had to ride Kaswyn down a roped off lane, drop the reins, and then shoot a bow at a target off to the side. He, of course, was wonderful, but my aim sucked and I missed the target entirely and hit the side of the barn. Oops.

The best news is that Kaswyn didn't get hurt! I did, however. As I was dismounting the end of my belt (which has a very heavy metal end) came flying up over the saddle and hit me right below my eye. It was bleeding and everything, and now I have a bit of a black eye. Better me than him, since my black eye will not generate any vet bills!

All in all it was a great time and I'm certainly going to do it again because I had a lot of fun. Provided, of course, that the footing is safe and that I can afford the gas it takes to get there. I think Kaswyn had a good time too, which is important. I would not go again if I thought he was really stressed out or too upset by the whole situation.

So now that I've outed myself about the SCA geekiness, be prepared to read more about my dorky hobby. Especially since Kaswyn is now a big dweeb too!

 
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr