Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mud and Hair

The muddy season has begun.

The weather has gotten colder, it rains every now and then, but the sun (when it comes out) is not hot enough during the day to dry out the muddy pastures. Both Kaswyn and Albert like to roll quite a bit, so they are both usually plastered in mud when I arrive at the barn in the afternoons. However it's too cold for baths for the horses, so both the guys have been wearing sheets during the day. The sheets keep their bodies from being caked in mud, but their necks are unprotected. This means filthy manes and large crusty mud spots on their necks and faces.

I don't mind grooming horses but mud just gets to me. First of all, the mud in these particular pastures stink. It doesn't just smell like earth - it smells bad. I think there were cows or goats or something in those pastures long ago, so the mud is rank. When I curry the mud off of their coats it always makes a dust in the air that settles on me which makes me smell. Add to that the sweat from riding and by the time I get home I'm really ripe. My husband doesn't know what's worse - summer fly spray stink or winter mud stench.

To combat the muddies I've starting using Miracle Groom. Miracle Groom is a liquid coat cleaner that you spray on the horse's hair and then rub with a cloth. The cloth then lifts the dirt out of the coat leaving it shiny, clean, and slick. I didn't used to think that shampoo-less grooming products like this work, but let me tell you I've been nothing but happy with the results. I'm sure similar grooming products work as well but since I've never used anything else I can't really say. I use the Miracle Groom on the muddy necks as well as their bodies. It really makes the hair shiny and gets all the dust and dander out of the coat. It says it's good for stains too, but I've never needed to use it for that.

I've also found another benefit to using Miracle Groom. I used to work the horses first, then use the Miracle Groom on them. Since their winter coats had grown in, they would get very sweaty during the workouts, and the Miracle Groom would remove the sweat and the dirt at the same time. But then I would have to put coolers on the horses and wait until they were dry before I could put their sheets back on for the night. This took way too long.

One night it occurred to me that I could Miracle Groom before the ride. Sure, the coat would get wet, but as the horse worked and the body temperature went up, the Miracle Groom would evaporate and dry, cooling the horse off so there was less sweat produced. By the time I was finished riding the horse would be dry, cool, and clean too! Yay for efficiency!

Unfortunately even the Miracle Groom treatment before the ride wasn't enough to keep Albert from getting sweaty, as he had grown a lot of coat. So today I clipped him. I decided to do a trace clip on him because he spends a lot of time outside in the winter and I didn't want to rob him of all of his hair. I know a trace clip usually includes clipping the whole belly, but I decided to leave the belly hair and just clip a "racing stripe" along his body.

Here is Albert before -

And here he is after -

This is my first attempt at a trace clip, and I'm showing you the "good" side. The other side I kind of messed up a little bit. The line down his body is not as straight, but we're not going to a show anytime soon so I think we'll be fine. I know the belly hair looks kind of funky, but I just didn't have the heart to clip his belly since he spends so much time outside. And he LOVES to go outside. And then roll in the mud.

Luckily for me Kaswyn didn't grow as much coat and therefore doesn't get as sweaty when he works, so I won't have to clip him. Less coat doesn't make him roll in the mud any less.

Today after I was finished with my clipping and grooming it was time for turnout. Susan and I watched as both Albert and Kaswyn found muddy patches in the pasture and rolled, covering both sides of their bodies in muck.

Silly horses. I'll have a lot of grooming to do tomorrow before I ride. I can't wait for spring!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Morose. Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

I woke up the next morning and I felt bad. However, I had also just gotten my period so I just figured that was the issue. I was bleeding kind of heavily all that day so I just let myself feel miserable.

That was Wednesday. Thursday I felt better physically, but mentally I still felt down. I made it through work and decided not to go to the barn, thinking that if I spent some time with the girls and Craig that I'd feel better. No dice. I sat on the couch and didn't want to do anything. I forced myself to eat dinner and play with the girls a little bit, but I really had no interest in it. Craig knew something was up and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I didn't want to do anything, and that I was a little blue. He asked what he could do to help and I said nothing, since I didn't know where this was all coming from.

The next morning I had the day off because I worked that weekend. Usually on my days off I go to the barn first thing in the morning and take my time riding and fussing over the boys. But I didn't even want to get out of bed. Again I forced myself to get dressed and went out to the barn. Even though I wore my breeches I couldn't bring myself to ride. I groomed both horses and went home. I took a nap, then got myself out of bed to go get the girls. Again I forced myself to eat dinner. Craig was getting concerned, and asked me how Kaswyn was. I told him that I didn't ride, and he asked why, probably thinking that my horse was lame again. When I told him that I didn't want to, he started to get worried. Then he said "You aren't having suicidal thoughts or anything, are you?"

Actually I was. I remember sitting on the couch while the girls played and watched tv, and I was thinking about the different ways to kill myself. I wanted a way that wouldn't hurt (because I'm a wussy), and something where none of my family would find me. Then I thought maybe I'll just get in the car and drive and never come back. Maybe I could crash my car really hard into something. It was not good.

So when I answered Craig with a "" he said "Listen, if the answer to that question isn't immediately 'No' then we need to do something." I assured him that I wasn't going to do anything stupid and that I'd let him know if I needed anything.

The next day after work I came home and went to bed again. We had a Halloween party to go to that night and I didn't want to go at all. It was also the night for Trick or Treating and I didn't want to do that with the girls either. Again I forced myself to go out and do my normal activities. I knew it would be way too easy to go to bed and stay there.

The girls had fun Trick or Treating and the party was okay, but I still was not myself. Sunday showed no improvement. Craig was very concerned now, and when I went to work on Monday he was calling or texting me every half hour. Monday was the worst day. I was in the lab alone and I had work to do, and I remember thinking that I just couldn't handle being there. It was all just too much and I needed to go. Anywhere. I just needed out. Out of me, out of my head, out.

But the thought of going to my boss and saying I needed to go made me upset. I know she would be okay with it because I was certain that if I asked to leave that I would start crying and she would let me go without too much of an explanation. But I didn't want to do that. I didn't need all that drama and having to explain what had happened the next time I got to work. I was trapped.

At that moment I broke down. I put the embryos away, sat down and just cried. Luckily nobody walked in, because I think I cried for like ten minutes. When I was all done I actually felt a little bit better. I called Craig to tell him and I think what I had to say scared him almost as much as the suicide thing. He said "Something is certainly amiss if you are crying at work during the day for no reason." I assured him that I would be fine that day, and I had an appointment with my therapist the next day. I made it through the day but didn't go out to the barn. Again.

Tuesday morning I actually felt a bit better. Work was fine, and there was no more crying. Then I went to my appointment and told my therapist all about my issues. He was shocked, saying that most people get more agitated after EMDR, and not depressed. Then he asked how I was doing with the anxiety of the girls vomiting and I said "To tell you the truth, I actually really don't care about much right now, so I'm pretty apathetic about that too." He said that was probably the only good thing to come of the depressive episode, and it would be very convenient if one of the girls would get sick soon while I was still apathetic. That did not happen.

We did not do another EMDR session for fear that was the reason for my depression. He did say that I should contact him immediately if I have more suicidal thoughts, and if I couldn't get a hold of him that I should go to the emergency room. I already had another appointment set for the next week, and hopefully I would feel better by then.

After my appointment I did start to feel better. Craig was a bit annoyed that my doc didn't actually do anything, and when I asked what he expected him to do Craig said "Well, something more than 'Feel better and don't kill yourself before the next appointment.' would be nice."

I started to feel a little bit better every day until I was back to normal. I've had other sessions with my therapist, who said that he wouldn't call what I had clinical depression because it didn't last the required duration (like three months or something). I can't imagine feeling that way every day for a long period of time. Mine was only like two weeks and that was long enough.

I've also had another EMDR session and it was very very helpful. I'm still having issues, like the other night when Macey said her tummy hurt right before bed. I spent the next few hours tense and anxious in bed instead of falling asleep. But I'm hopeful that I'll get over this stupid vomit phobia. I know that I did it to myself. In my mind I connected vomiting with seizures and convinced myself that vomiting is a bad thing. But I know that neither the vomiting nor the seizures is a bad thing (well, they both kind of suck..). The bad thing is me panicking, and I have control over that. I made the connection and I can break it. It will not break me.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Morose. Part 2

Part 1

So last November I started going to a therapist to help me get rid of this emetophobia. I told him all about my neurologist’s findings, which were that my last seizure wasn’t really a seizure, but a pseudo-seizure. The pseudo-seizure was brought on my the stress and panic that my daughter’s vomiting caused. Everyone has a seizure threshold, and mine just happens to be very low. The seizure the mind's way of protecting itself from the bad situation. It just shuts down. Thus in a stressful situation I will panic to the point where I have a seizure. And puking sends me into a panic, so I have a seizure and then puke, reinforcing that puke is a bad thing. See how that works?

My therapist and I worked through my puke issues until I was able to successfully watch people vomiting on video (thanks YouTube!). Then my doc said "Next time your daughter is sick, I want you to be present but not involved. Let your husband handle the situation but you should just be in the room." Sounds simple enough.

Now Macey is a puker, so I knew the day would eventually arrive when she puked again. And lo and behold that day came in late August. Craig had the girls out running errands an he called me to say "We're coming home. Macey is not right." Sure enough when they got home that little girl was pale and sluggish. She wanted to go to bed and said her tummy hurt.

I tried to stay calm, even though I knew it was coming. I put her in bed, got a bucket and a towel out, and told her that if she needed to throw up just do it in the bucket. She said she didn't have to throw up, but I told her it was there in case she needed it. I went downstairs with Craig and tried not to fret about it too much. Then we heard the thump on the floor. Craig ran upstairs and I cautiously followed. Then I heard her being sick as I was on the stairs and I hesitated. I knew I was supposed to go in there but I was scared. I took a deep breath and kept going up the stairs.

I was approaching her room, and I could see Macey and Craig kneeling around the bucket. That was all I needed to see, and I felt a seizure coming on. I turned and ran down the stairs and fell on the floor of the living room, the seizure feeling washing over me. Then I thought "No! I really don't want this to happen!" I started hitting myself in the head, HARD, saying "No! No! No!" as I did it. And for some reason, that worked. It scared off the seizure. I decided I just needed to get out of the house, so I put on my shoes and ran out the door. I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, and walked until I felt mostly normal. Then I went back to the house.

Craig was there, searching the house in a panic for me. He was sure I was having a seizure somewhere and he couldn't find me. Oops. I never told him I was leaving the house.

The next time I went to see my therapist he was surprised that I had been unable to handle Macey's sickness. We were talking about how it felt for me to almost have a seizure, and I got a flashback about how it feels to go into one, and I almost had one in his office. That was not very pleasant, with me lying on the floor with cold cloths on my head. I was getting much worse, not better. My doc decided that he had grossly underestimated how bad this was for me, and after some discussion we decided that I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) associated with my seizures that is triggered by vomiting. He suggested EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for our next session.

That next session was the session where I was sad about Blair. I didn't mention it to him, because I didn't see how it would effect anything if I was sad about her since it wasn't at all related to what we were working on. So we had an EMDR session, which was very revealing.

What we do is we sit facing each other, but he is to one side of me so he's not directly in front of me. Then he asks me to re-live the experience in question - this time a seizure - while I watch his fingertips as he moves his hand back and forth about two feet from my face. I'm just to move my eyes, as this activates both sides of my brain to work on the problem. Basically the theory is that the mind has the ability to heal itself, and the EMDR helps it happen. He waves his fingers in front of me for about 30 seconds or so, then asks me to close my eyes and tell him what's going on.

These sessions are very interesting, because my mind takes me places I didn't think it would go, and there's this internal dialogue that takes place. It's really trippy. For instance this session went something like this -
Oh, I remember what it feels like to have a seizure and this sucks!
I can't handle this!
Yes you can.
No, I can't!
Sure you can.
I don't think I can.
You don't need to have a seizure every time you're scared.
But I am scared!
It's okay to be scared.
But I can't handle it when she pukes! I won't be able to be there for her when she needs me!
I'm a bad mom!
Your mom was there for you when you puked and she didn't freak out.
That's true. I'm just as strong as she is.
Craig also was there for you.
Yes, I trust him completely.
You can do this.
I would be so ashamed if I couldn't be there for my girls.
You have the determination of an ox. You can do anything.
Can I do this?

That's how the session ended. I went home and the next day was plunged into darkness.

To be continued...

Part 3

Morose. Part 1

I knew there was a problem when I didn’t want to ride. A big problem.

This had never really happened to me before. Sure, there had been times, mostly in the winter, that I didn’t really want to drive 30 minutes or more out to the barn to ride, but once I got out there I was ready to get on my horse. February in Cleveland, OH, can be cold and snowy and some days I would just rather stay home and share a mug of hot chocolate with my kids than freeze my butt off in the 20 degree barn. But this time it was different. I didn’t want to ride.

In fact, I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to eat, or get out of bed. I was having my first, and hopefully only, bout with depression. This was ten days ago.

Normally I’m a very upbeat person. I’m the eternal optimist, and really believe the best in people and situations. I’m also a bit hyper, but that helps me “get stuff done”. That’s what I do. I Get Stuff Done. If I wasn’t wound a little too tightly I wouldn’t have the energy to cram everything into a day that I do. Normally I’m scurrying around from place to place with a song playing in my head and a spring in my step.

So what happened to me that made me not want to ride? The answer is unclear.

I think I can say it started two weeks ago with thinking about my friend and former riding instructor Blair. You can read about her story here –

19 years later I still have unresolved feelings about what happened. For years after she disappeared I would “see” her at horse shows, or see “her” truck on the road and try desperately to drive next to the truck to see if it was her. There was never closure of the situation, even though I know in my heart that she is dead. Still, every now and then I use the magical internet to search for her.

In fact, during this last bit of searching I was able to reconnect (through Facebook) with two other riding instructors that I knew from when I was a kid. While this was all very nice, it still wasn’t finding Blair, even though I knew I would not find her. I did find her High School Alumni page, where they had her listed in the “In Memoriam” section. It had her senior portrait. I met her three years after that picture was taken. She was so young.

At that point I was just sad about Blair, but this had happened before and usually amounted to nothing other than being sad and maybe crying a little at the injustice of it all. That’s when everything gets a little complicated.

Later that week I went to my therapist to have a session to deal with my emetophobia. That’s fear of vomit, or vomiting. I’ve had this problem since I was 12 when I had my first seizure. After the seizure, I threw up. No big deal, until it came to pass that the only times I threw up were after I had a seizure. And let me tell you, having a seizure is a terrible experience. I had them from the time I was 12 until I was 21, and then they stopped. The doctors didn’t so anything about it, saying that I would probably just grow out of them, which I did. Even though the seizures had stopped, they had ingrained in me a deep seated fear of vomit due to the trauma of the seizure that immediate preceded vomiting.

Last year, in November, I had another seizure (my first in almost 20 years) brought on by my four year old daughter Macey vomiting. My husband was there for the whole thing. He wrote about it from his point of view on his blog –

This set off a series of events where I finally went into therapy to get rid of this emetophobia.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Winter Blahs

It got cold today. I hate cold.

Well, first it was warm enough for the horses not to have sheets on. Then it rained, creating mud. And since it was still too warm to have sheets on the ponies went outside naked.

Naked ponies + muddy pastures = filthy ponies

So I spent stupid amounts of time cleaning Bert and Kaswyn before I could put tack on them. Albert especially. I was excited that he might keep the clean coat he got from the baths he got at Nationals, but it was not to be. That horse GRINDS the mud into his body. He gets it so caked in his halter that you can't get it off of him. Piggy boy. He stinks too.

It's now cold enough again to keep the boys sheeted, or, like today, blanketed. Soon the pastures will freeze and the mud will go away. But that means snow and ice and I hate to be cold. So if I'm not whining about one thing it something else, huh?

Let me find one more thing to complain about (because I'm really on a roll today). I wasn't riding well last night. I felt unbalanced and ineffective. Then I realized I was perching on Albert instead of sitting my butt down and keeping my legs long. So I fixed that issue, then got on Kaswyn and he didn't feel right at the left lead canter. Something is going on there and I can't decide if he's just stiff from the weather change or if his back is sore again. He didn't seem back sore to me after the ride, but I gave him two grams of bute last night anyway. I expected him to feel pretty good because he got his Polyglycan shot on Sunday. Ah well.

Hello winter. The only good thing about you is Christmas.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr