Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Holy crap! Have you seen this video? It's amazing.

Go. Look. Now. You won't be disappointed.

Trying to be patient

Kaswyn got shots on Monday, and I expected him to have a huge swollen neck like he usually gets. I ask for Banamine to be given at the same time as his shots, but this is the first time that it's actually worked to help with the swelling. His neck looked great so I decided that I'd ride since the arena was not dry and dusty yet.

He felt really good except he was stiff to the left. I worked some trot serpentines and he had no problem giving me a nice right bend, but when I'd switch the bend to the left he'd block in his lower neck and shoulders and get lazy with the left hind. He'd bend in the ribs a bit, but I really want the left bend to feel as good as the right bend. I know it never will, but I'm going to make it as good as I can. By the end of the exercise he was much softer and willing to come through a bit more with the left hind as well.

He was a bit pooped for the canter but I pushed him a little anyway. It was great to the right (of course) and a little rough to the left. It seems like I write "stiff on the left" a lot in my calender. When we're actually working, that is.

On the arena front, Marge is unsure if she wants us to work on the arena with a Bobcat. She would be okay with Mr. K doing it, but she said she'll have to think about letting us go in there and try to fix things. I think she's afraid we'll make it worse, not better. No word from Mr. K yet.

Arrrgh! So frustrating...

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Arena Project - Modification

This is not Part Four of the Arena Project.

The plans have changed, possibly. It's kind of up in the air because circumstances beyond his control are preventing Mr. K from getting over to our barn to do the work. It's nothing personal, which is good. I just don't know when he will be available, and I'm afraid to ride my horse in there any longer. So we're on to Plan B.

We're going to rent a Bobcat and have Marge's younger son (not the one with the equipment) help us at least move some of the footing out. We won't have the hydraulic leveler that Mr. K does, but I think we'll be able to at least improve what's there. Between the Bobcat and the drag I think we can make it safer to ride in.

At any point Mr. K might call and say we're back in business. And I think that even if we work on the ring that he should come over and level it out. Unless we're able to do such a fantastic job. Yeah right.

So that's the plan for today. It's subject to change. Hourly.

The good news is that Susan and I thoroughly watered and dragged the arena yesterday, and it felt pretty decent when I rode. Using my truck to drag the arena has resulted in the footing piling up in the corners. This is good because that means less footing where I want to ride. It's not perfect, by any means, but it's a slight improvement. And Kaswyn felt pretty good too. A little weak and stiff, but good.

Oh, and he's still free of hives. We have an appointment at Ohio State University on May 15th to get allergy tested. My horse loves going places. Road trip!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The best laid plans

I had a great ride on Tuesday with the ring freshly watered and dragged. I had noticed the last few rides that Kaswyn was either lazy or weak with the left hind, or he had something else going on. It was obvious to the left that he just wasn't reaching with the left hind, but I didn't want to push it. The footing was pretty decent on Tuesday so I decided to get after him and see how much he was capable of using himself.

He was certainly stiff to the left, as always, so we spent some time suppling and bending on a 20 meter trot circle. I would flex him to the inside and then release, making him stay on the right rein on his own. The first few times he just grabbed the left rein again and pushed into my leg. In response I put my left leg on at the girth to remind him that he's supposed to stay off the inside rein. However, the gentle reminder wasn't enough and I ended up having to punch him off my left leg a few times to get him softer in the ribs.

Once he was willing to stay off my left leg (and his left side) I worked both directions by starting a ten meter trot circle and then leg yielding out to a 20 meter circle. This exercise felt really good, and made the canter very nice with lots of jump. I think I'm comfortable saying that he's going to be able to get back up to speed eventually. I just have to take it slowly and make sure I do it right so I don't end up with bigger issues down the road. And I can't really do much until we get the footing fixed! So frustrating...

While I was riding I noticed that there was one dry spot in the arena, so I ran out on Wednesday just to water that one spot. I was really excited about getting back on Kaswyn today so we could do some more suppling and strengthening work.

However, when I picked the girls up on Wednesday afternoon I noticed Lily's eye was red. I was hoping it was just allergies so I gave her some Benadryl. Unfortunately it did not make her eye any better, and before we went to bed I had to admit that she had pink eye. Her eye was pretty red and it was seeping a gooey discharge. Yuck.

Luckily Macey didn't have it so I gave Lily some eye drops and was careful to keep both our hands sanitized. This morning her eye wasn't any better so I knew she wouldn't be going to school. And that meant no riding for me. I also knew that Lily would have to come to work with me for about an hour because I had something that I absolutely had to get done.

She was pretty excited because she had been asking me for about two weeks if she could come to work with me, and I had been trying to figure out how I was going to make that happen. I have a desk in an office, but I spend 80% of my time in the lab, and it's not exactly a kid friendly place. I decided that she could come into the lab with me for a short time so I could get my work done, so I got her all dressed in scrubs, hair bonnet, shoe covers, and a mask. She was pretty darn cute.

She was very good for me while I worked and I finished up in about an hour. On my way out I told my boss that I might not be in tomorrow, depending on how her eye looked. If her eye looked normal she could go back to school. If it was red or goopy, they wouldn't let her come.

I headed out to the barn with Lily because I had to set up Kaswyn's meals for the next week. Friday will be his last dose of hydroxyzine, so if he stays hive-free for two weeks then we'll be in business for the allergy testing. Lily was also really good at the barn and played with the kitties and swept the tack room while I mixed feed. So I decided that I'd take her to the bookstore and buy her (and Macey) a book.

She was playing with the toys at the bookstore when I got the call. Macey had goopy eyes too. That meant that I had to come and pick her up right away, and that she can't go to school tomorrow either. It also meant - no riding for me again. Craig is busy all day on Saturday so I won't be able to ride then either. So just when I thought I was going to make some progress with my riding, I get thwarted! I also had to ask Susan to treat Kaswyn's feet. I think he's got a bit of thrush brewing in one of his back feet and I want to get that under control.

At least I'll get to spend two whole days with my girls. I'm sure we'll find something fun to do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A dust free ride today

I finally gave up and watered and dragged the arena yesterday. I know Mr. K said it would be easier to work with if it were dry, but I can't stand not riding almost as much as I hate riding in the dust. He hasn't called me back anyway, so I wonder if he's too busy for us now or if he has changed his mind about coming to fix our arena. Either way it would be nice to hear something from him.

I'm toying with the idea of taking Kaswyn to a local unrated show in hunter pleasure on June 1. The show is only ten minutes from the barn, and the class fee is $8! The class is for registered purebred and half arabians, and it's the only class we'd be able to show in. I'm trying to talk Susan into taking Albert too, but I don't know if she'll go for it. She might be able to borrow a friend's trailer and take me (or us) over with her truck. It could be a really fun afternoon. I have to work that morning but we might be able to make it over there in time for the class. I guess we'll just have to see. At least it's something to look forward to, since I don't see us going to a dressage show anytime soon.

Damn! I need the arena fixed already! I'm getting impatient.

Some good news is that Kaswyn still has no hives, even with the decreased dose of hydroxyzine. If I'm lucky he'll keep this up and in three weeks or so we'll make our trip to Ohio State. Yay!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Less pills, more dust.

I gave Kaswyn an allergy shot on Tuesday. It was the first one he's had since this whole hive debacle started in February, and I'll continue with them once a week. Then I will begin decreasing his hydroxyzine by half 72 hours after the allergy shot if he doesn't get any hives. So far he's been hive free, so on Saturday he'll only get 500 mg of hydroxyzine one time a day. Then I'll wait 72 hours, and if he has no hives then he'll get 250 mg once a day, wait 72 hours, then go to 125 mg once a day. If he's still free of hives then we take him off of the hydroxyzine completely and wait two weeks. Then we make a trip to OSU for the repeat allergy test. That should happen sometime in mid-May.

As for the arena? Still waiting for Mr. K to fit us into his schedule. He told me that it would be easier for him to work with the footing if it were dry, so we haven't watered in about two weeks. The ring is desperately dry and dusty and I just can't ride in it. So maybe I'll try walking Kaswyn down the road again today. I feel like I want to do something but I hate dealing with the gritty eyes and black snot that you get when you ride in a dusty arena. So gross! And it's not good for my horse either. He's always been prone to having a weepy left eye, and I think the dust make it so much worse.

And now that the weather is getting nicer, I really wanna ride. Come on Mr. K, we need you to fix our arena!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Make it Work - Part 2 - The Girls

Part 1

Regardless of my issues with Craig and horses, everything changed when I got pregnant. I stopped riding for both of my entire pregnancies because my doctor told me that if I fell off I could risk detaching the placenta from the uterus, and if that were to happen the baby could not be saved. That was scary enough for me, so I didn't take any chances and just didn't ride.

I was bummed because I had never gone so long without riding, not to mention having 6 weeks of bed rest at the end of Lily's pregnancy when I couldn't even go out to the barn every day. Craig agreed to come to the barn with me once a week during those six weeks to be sure that I didn't do anything stupid. When I wasn't on a restricted schedule, I coordinated with my trainer so that I could groom and tack up Kaswyn for her and watch her ride him.

That was the first time that Kaswyn had been in full training for more than a few weeks. I trust my trainer and I know that she did wonderful work with him, but it made me a little sad to see my horse progressing while all I was doing was getting rounder and wider. Kaswyn was very happy to see me, so I just tried to focus on the time when I could get on him again.

I ended up having a c-section with Lily (the little booger was breech!), and I didn't get on Kaswyn until I had my 6 week post-partum checkup. When the doc gave me the green light I called my trainer and we set a time where she could hold Lily while I rode Kaswyn. That first ride was wild. My horse was so happy to have me riding him that he was jumping out of his skin. At one point the started bucking joyfully, and I thought I might come off. I suddenly realized that my abdominals were complete mush and I was having problems just holding myself upright in the saddle. Not to mention posting the trot, cantering, or sitting the trot (which was impossible for weeks). Now after two kids my body is almost back to normal.

Those early days where the kids were babies and I wanted to go ride were tough on everyone, but mostly for Craig. I would wait for him to get home from work and try to time my last feeding session to end just as he got home, then I'd run out to the barn. Since I was breastfeeding he did his best to keep the baby happy while I was gone. These riding sessions were very short, and I felt very rushed and stressed. I knew I had a baby at home who wanted more boob as well as a husband who was unequipped to give her said boob. I was constantly looking at the clock and rushing through everything, and my stomach would clench when my cell phone would ring and I would hear a baby wailing in the background and Craig's harried voice saying "Are you on your way yet?" Sometimes I would tell him just to try and give her a bottle, but sometimes she wasn't having that. She wanted her mamma, and would torture her father until she got what she wanted.

Now that the kids are older this isn't an issue, especially with Lily who is Daddy's Girl to the end and, while she's happy to see me, it's Daddy she wants. Macey is a little more of a Mamma's girl, but lately there are some things that only Daddy can do. I try and spend my evenings playing with the kids for some amount of time, but after working all day and then riding I'm tired, and there is only so much "You're a monster! Chase me!" I have the energy for.

I already described how we coordinate picking the girls up every day, and I don't go to the barn every day so sometimes it's not an issue. But spending time at the barn creates different problems than just girl toting logistics. It involves guilt.

I have long struggled with the guilt of not being home when I'm at the barn. I've always been made to feel guilty about spending time with my horse weather it's from my parents, my husband(s), or even my friends. The only people who didn't make me feel guilty about being at the barn were barn people! To be fair, most people didn't purposely try and make me feel bad, and most of the pressure I put on myself. But the guilt was still there, nagging at me.

Since my girls are sweet little things (even though Macey, the youngest, has somehow recently picked up saying "Dammit!" when something doesn't go right. I blame Daddy because her inflection and tone matches his exactly) they don't make me feel guilty about being at the barn. They even get to come with me occasionally - sometimes to ride, sometimes just to give my horse medication or make his food or something. They love the barn. They like riding, but they also like to run in the arena, play in the dirt, and feed the horses.

I decided long ago that if my girls decide they don't want to ride, that will be okay with me. I grew up seeing too many spoiled brat kids who didn't really want to ride but were pushed into it by their parents. It was an awful sight and did everyone a disservice, especially the poor horse or pony. So while I would love to share my passion with my girls, I won't force them into it. In fact, whatever passion they choose to have I will support to my fullest capacity.

Unless it's stripping or whoring. I'm not sure how supportive I could be about THAT.

Stay tuned for Part 3 - Work

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Loose Ends

I've been a bit busy and scattered lately, and I realize that there are things that I've started to talk about that I haven't finished with. So I'll tidy things up a bit around here today.

First, this patient that I talked about here. I've been afraid to write anything, but she is indeed pregnant with one baby, due in early October. We're all really happy about this, and hoping that she has a smooth pregnancy and easy delivery. Luckily she still has some embryos frozen, so hopefully they'll be able to try for #2 in a year or so.

Kaswyn's hives are gone. He's also completely off of the dexamethasone, but still on the full dose of the hydroxyzine. I've emailed the OSU vet who has been helping me out with this hive issue and I'm waiting to hear what the next steps are. I think I'll be starting up with his allergy shots again, and then reducing the dose of the hydroxyzine. When he's been off of the hydroxyzine for two weeks with no (or very few) hives then he'll go back to OSU for an allergy re-test. Even though I know it will be an expensive trip, not only in vet procedures but also in gas, I love going down there because there are so many interesting things to see and I always learn something while I'm there.

More good news is that Kaswyn has been sound! His leg looks great - it's very tight and cool with no swelling anywhere. With all of his hives I haven't been able to ride him much so he has gotten a lot of hand walking, light lunging, and turnout. I think all of that helped to heal up his leg. Even now that he's hive-free, I haven't been riding him for more than 15 minutes because of the footing in the arena. When I have been riding him he's felt very good to the right, but fairly stiff to the left. I have the feeling that we're going to have a lot of suppleing and strengthening to do when we finally go back to work.

And we won't be doing any serious training work until the arena gets fixed. I called Mr. K and he will be coming out this week to work on the arena. I'm so excited! I know that he's going to run into a few problems. The first one is going to be the boards that make the sides of the arena. They are just plywood that is nailed to a rail and runs at a slight angle down to the ground . The footing is deep in many places along the wall and I know that it's covering some big holes at the bottom of those boards. This means that when he removes the deep footing that these holes will be exposed and the horses will be at risk for putting a foot through them. Not a good situation. So once we get the footing fixed I know we're going to have to replace some of those boards. I don't think it will be hard, but we'll just need to get it done. What scares me is that we'll be pulling nails out of the old boards. Since I don't know who "we" is going to be, I can't be sure that anyone else will be as careful as Susan and I would be about making certain we collect all the nails and don't drop any. Also we're going to have to convince Marge to put even more money into the arena for the boards. I don't know how well that's going to go over, but it's really a safety issue. I guess we'll just have to see how bad it is and go from there.

The next problem is going to be where to put all of the extra footing. I asked Marge where she wanted it, and she never gave me an answer. Right now she is out of town and told me just to handle Mr. K and the arena thing. Which is great, unless I do something that she doesn't like. I scoped out the back of the barn and thought that the extra footing could go behind the arena to one side of the big door. However, someone dumped a bunch of firewood right in that place two days ago. Susan told me who did it and we're going to have to get that moved tomorrow. If we got all that wood moved Mr. K will be able to make a nice pile of the extra footing. If not... well I guess we'll get creative about it.

The last thing - the manure pile is in back of the barn. Someone really needs to get out there with a front end loader and push the pile back about 30 feet or so. We don't get it hauled away because every spring Marge's son uses almost all of it for his landscaping. However, over the winter the pile creeps too close to the barn and then we need someone to push it back. Marge's son is happy to use the manure but he doesn't really want to do any extra work, which sucks because he won't let us use any of his equipment to move it ourselves. So, so frustrating! Anyhow, the manure pile is about 20 feet from the barn and I'm afraid that Mr. K won't have room to maneuver his equipment back there to make a pile of the extra footing. I'm just crossing my fingers that he can work with what we've got.

That seems to be the story of my life right now - making the best with what I have.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A colic question

The little mare at our barn coliced again this week. She was quieter and calmer when she was in the arena with her buddy, so we were keeping an eye on them from the arena gate. At one point she laid down, but didn't roll. I looked at Marge and said "I'm thinking if she's going to lie there quietly that she'll be okay. Do you agree or should we get her up?"

Marge said "Well I've had vets say two different things to me. Dr. W used to say that they could lie down between pains if they didn't roll, while Dr. A said never let them lie down and keep them moving. This one time I had a colicing horse and I thought that Dr. W was coming, so I was walking the horse in the pasture and let him lie down. Turns out that Dr. A came instead and he came flying down my driveway, spraying gravel everywhere. He jumped out of his truck and yelled 'What the hell are you doing??!! Get that son of a bitch up!! Are you trying to kill him??!!' "

So, what do you guys think, and what do your vets think? Is lying down quietly with no rolling okay, or is lying down strictly forbidden?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What was THAT?!

When my horse spooked and bolted, I have to admit that I laughed. I really didn't take Kaswyn seriously and figured he was just being a boob. He was really agitated but I was able to get him slowed down and under control. Albert was freaking out too.

Susan and I had a quick discussion and we decided that there might indeed be a bear nearby and we should probably get the hell out of the woods. Kaswyn took the lead and I think that paniced poor Albert because instead of hopping over this one log he launched himself so high and hard that Susan damn near fell off. I was still laughing, but Susan was not. She kept saying "What is wrong with him? He never gets like this. He must have seen something."

I told her that I thought it was because Kaswyn was all freaked out and that Albert was feeding off of that. I tried to slow Kaswyn down so Albert wouldn't feel like he was getting left behind, but Kaswyn just wanted the hell out of there. He started doing a very nice piaffe, and when that didn't work he decided to canter in place. Not really what I was after, but it allowed Albert to catch up.

Eventually we made it out to the street. I thought this would calm the beasties down, but it did no such thing. In fact, Albert was more wound up than ever. He kept going sideways and bouncing off of Kaswyn's butt and flying into the road. At one point a car came up behind us and of course it's someone we knew. We chatted for about a minute but then it was clear that we really needed to keep moving or our horses might bust out of their skins, so we said goodbye.

By this point Albert was beyond reason. He started swinging his butt one way then the other and ended up getting one of his rear legs stuck in the deep mud in the ditch. I watched in horror as he tried to pull himself free, but failed twice. On the third try he got out, only to leap onto the road. Even though he was barefoot the pavement was slippery and his feet were sliding. Then he decided that he was just going to run backwards.

Susan jumped off of him before he could fall down. She was SO pissed at him, and I kept telling her that he was scared and not to get mad at him. She smacked him on the neck and walked him down the road for a minute or two. He seemed to have calmed down a little bit, as had Kaswyn. I offered to switch horses with her so Albert didn't think he could just throw a fit and be hand walked home.

We walked into a driveway and made the switch. Albert immediately took off trotting towards home. I would not let him trot, but kept on giving half-halts until he walked. He was not happy with me and was really strong, but he was obedient. Kaswyn was a very good boy for Susan, despite the fact that he was rushing a little bit.

When the crisis seemed over, we started talking about what happened. I think they saw something, or smelled something that they didn't like out there in the woods. Yes, I really do think there was a bear close by, because neither of our horses gets rattled like that. When they got scared in those woods they started feeding off of each other's panic until Albert just went over the edge. Susan thought it was not excusable for her horse to act that way, since he's so trained and never does things like that. I think she's a bit too hard on him sometimes, and I told her so. She didn't agree, and thinks he just needed to be disciplined. Then we starting laughing about the whole episode. Of course I couldn't resist and said "Aren't you glad you wore your helmet?" and she said "Yeah but I'm not glad that my horse decided to be an ASS!"

We were almost home when a big dog came running out from behind a house. It was tearing towards us, barking and posturing, clearly on the offensive. I looked around the dog's neck and I saw a radio collar, so I waited for him to reach the invisible fence. Sure enough the dog knew it's boundaries and slid to a halt, still barking. I commented to Susan about the fence and collar and she said "Thank God, cause we don't need any more drama today."

Two houses later Susan says "Uh oh. I know these three dogs coming up don't have invisible fence because they've chased me before. Kaswyn, I hope you're okay with dogs!" Sure enough three giant labs bounded out into the yard, barking their fool heads off. The bravest one got about fifty feet from us, but luckily didn't come any closer. Our poor ponies had already had enough for one day.

Finally we made it home. Both horses got bathed and then returned to their safe stalls to relax all evening.

I'm sure next time I suggest a ride down the road that Susan will think twice. Or just beat me over the head with something. And if we decide venture off the property again, I think that we'll just leave that nature conservatory to the bears.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Come on, it will be fun!

Famous last words.

After my potentially scary (but in reality not scary at all) dental appointment I headed out to the barn to see my boy. I was finally able to make it out there on a nice day and decided that I just couldn't face riding in the arena. I asked Susan if she wanted to ride down the road with me. There are no trails but both of our horses are great by the road. Kaswyn is so level headed and Albert is a trained and deputized police horse who has seen just about everything, so I thought it would be nice and relaxing.

Susan was hesitating, but I convinced her. "Come on, it will be fun!" I said. She said okay, and we both began cleaning our horses up. They had been outside and both were fairly covered in mud. Since the mud was kind of stinky, both horses smelled bad. I decided that when we got back Kaswyn was getting a bubble bath. I just can't stand smelly dirty horses, and this had been a long winter without a bath.

I went into the tack room to grab my helmet and asked Susan where her helmet was. She said at first that she didn't have one at the barn. I knew that was baloney, so I went in her trunk and pulled one out. She really doesn't like to wear a helmet, but I pester her about it until she wears one. I know when she goes on patrol with Albert that she has to wear one, so I don't see why she balks at wearing one at other times.

So I guilted her into putting on her helmet and we got on our horses. I got on first (using the bench outside the barn as a mounting block) followed by Susan. As soon as she rode up to me I saw that her reins were crossed under Albert's neck. I told her that she had to fix it and she said, half jokingly "Are you sure it won't just work this way?" Of course not! So I rode over to Albert's head and fixed the reins without getting off of Kaswyn. I know I should have dismounted and fixed it, and that's the kind of stupid stuff that usually gets people hurt, but it only took ten seconds and then we were off.

We walked down our street and then turned down a side road with less traffic. We came up on a large boarding barn where we both know the barn manager. As we rode up to the far pastures we saw the guy out by the road cleaning out the ditch. We stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes. At one point I commented that we had to ride on the road since we didn't have trails at our place, and he told us that across the street from where we were standing was a nature conservatory and we could ride back there. I asked if there was a trail and he said there used to be, but it's probably not very defined anymore. He said it's about a hundred acres and he rides back there all the time.

We thought that sounded like fun so we took our horses off the road and into the woods. It was pretty muddy in spots but we were able to navigate around the mud and over a few large logs on the ground. We had been in the woods about five minutes when Susan points at a tree and says "Hey, that tree looks like it was scratched by a bear."

I eyed the gigantic scars in the tree bark and said "But that's so high up the tree!"

She said "Well, the bears are big!"

I said "You really think there are bears in here?"

"Sure. There are bears around my house and I live just down the road."

"Really? Huh."

I didn't think much of it because I didn't think we'd actually see a bear.

Suddenly both of our unflappable horses spooked, then turned tail and ran back towards the road in a panic.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Another dentist = Another diagnosis

I was pretty freaked out going to see the endodonist this afternoon. Luckily I didn't have to wait very long in the waiting room. This very nice lady (a dental assistant or hygenist? not sure since she never told me) ushered me into a patient bay with a chair. I took a seat and she donned gloves, a face shield, and put a bib on me. As she prepared to take yet more x-rays of the tooth in question, I looked around and saw a syringe already loaded up with some clear liquid.

Oh Lord. Everyone had assured me that this would not involve needles or pain in any way. If there was to be no pain, why the syringe filled with drugs? Did they mean there would be no pain AFTER they jabbed me with the needle? I tried to think of what I was going to do if she came at me with that thing. I didn't want to look like a crazy patient, but as far as I knew I wasn't going to be getting shot up with anything.

She took the x-rays and it seemed like only minutes went by before she and the doc were back. He took a good look at my x-rays and then quizzed me about the tooth. Did it hurt? Was it sensitive to chewing or cold? Did it have a filling, crown, root canal, crack, or anything else? My answers were all no. He said that they were going to test to see if the tooth was alive.

I told him then that I was nervous about this, and he said that all he was going to do was apply cold to the tooth until I could feel it. He said he would explain everything to me before he did it, and that it would not be painful. Then he pinched a small amount of gauze or cotton in some forceps and cooled it down with some cooling spray. Then he touched it to a tooth, and I said "Uh huh" when I felt the cold. It didn't hurt, but it was cold. Then he did the same thing to the tooth in question and all the teeth around it.

Then he told me that the tooth was definately alive, so I didn't need a root canal. He also said he would not recommend a biopsy. He felt that the area on the x-ray was just a small abnormality that was normal for me. He said it wasn't a tumor, and was surprised that the oral surgeon thought it was. He seemed very disdainful of the oral surgeon, and clearly thought my tooth should have been tested by him a few weeks ago at the oral surgeon's office instead of waiting until today. Anyway, the bottom line is he thinks it's nothing. Just an odd formation of bone that's normal for me. I said, "So that's it? I'm done?" and he said "Yep! Not everyone who comes here gets to have a root canal."

And that syringe filled with mystery liquid? I got far away from that thing as fast as I could.

Of course, I was thrilled! I called Craig to tell him. While he was happy to hear the diagnosis, he was wary of just accepting it since we seemed to have two very different opinions - the oral surgeon who said biopsy if the tooth is alive, and the endodontist who says do not biopsy despite the fact the the tooth lives. Craig really wanted a second opinion to give him some peace of mind that we weren't missing something important.

I called my dad to give him an update, and he was actually going to the airport to pick up their good friends who were flying in for a visit. The husband of this couple used to be my dentist. My dad said that he'd ask the doc what he thought, and then call me back.

A few hours later I got a call from my dad. He gave the phone to the doc and we chatted about my situation. He said that he was amazed that the oral surgeon would even suggest a tumor so early in the diagnostic process. He thought the endodontist was correct in that we should not biopsy a tooth (or jaw around the tooth) that is having absolutely no symptoms. He suggested that I go back to either my general dentist or the endodontist in six months for another x-ray to see if it has changed. He said proper monitoring of the area is the best course of action, since a biopsy could cause me to lose that tooth, and possibly the teeth around it if the jaw bone were to become compromised.

This made both Craig and I feel much better. Espeically me, since I don't need a root canal or biopsy! Yay! A triumph for dental chickens everywhere!

Oh, and I went to the barn after my appointment. Let's just say it was an interesting ride. I'll dish that up tomorrow.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Scared silly

Tomorrow I have to go to an endodontist about one of my teeth - #30 to be exact. I didn't even know what an endodontist was until a few weeks ago, when I was told that I should go see one by an oral surgeon. This was the first oral surgeon that I had ever seen either.

You see, my teeth are great. I have only had one cavity in my entire life. It was in a baby tooth, and after they filled it the tooth cracked and fell out the next day. My dental checkups are always glowing, with the dentist and hygenist saying how nice my teeth are and that I take good care of them. The only flack I get is about my wisdom teeth. I have four of them, and they are 95% in , and they're straight. Most dentists think they should come out so I can have more room to brush that last molar back there, but they say that if they don't decay and aren't giving me any problems that I can just leave them alone. For now.

Recently I had to switch dentists because my old dentist stopped taking my insurance. I just blindly picked a dentist in my plan, and I was lucky. He's nice, young (and cute!), and seems to do a very good job. He had a panoramic x-ray taken of my teeth, which I had never had before. If you've never had one, it's this contraption that takes one big long x-ray of your whole mouth instead of all those little tiny x-rays. It was pretty cool, and gives a good view of the gums and jaws as well as the teeth, something that the small x-rays can't do.

I was feeling pretty good about my visit until Dr. Cutie says "Has anyone ever talked to you about this area under this tooth?", pointing to a circular spot at the root of one of my molars. I said no, what is it? He said he didn't know, but it needed to be looked at by an oral surgeon because it might either need to biopsied or removed. Is it a tumor, I asked? He said he didn't know, but I needed to have it checked out ASAP.

Oooh boy. I'm the worst patient in the whole world. Seriously. I'm a total nerve bag. I don't like needles, especially if they are going to get jabbed into my gums. Yeech. Even talking about it freaks me out. Years ago this one dentist and I were having a consultation about getting my wisdom teeth out. We were in his office, like the kind of room with a desk, computer, plant, that sort of thing. No dental chair and not a pointy or dangerous instrument in sight. Things were okay until he said that he might have to put a stitch or two in the bottom holes after the extraction. I thought I was going to faint, so I purposely knocked my purse off of my lap so I could bend over to get it, thus getting blood to my head so I wouldn't flop over and drool on this guy's floor.

Hearing that this circular area of lucency on my x-ray had me worried that it was a tumor, so I had to get this looked at right away. So a few weeks ago Craig went with me to an oral surgeon. The dentist looked at the x-ray and said he thought that the tooth was dead and had developed a cyst on the root. If that is the case, then all I would have to do is get a root canal and that would solve the problem. If the tooth is alive, however, then a root canal will not solve anything and my jaw would need to be biopsied. I had to sit down when he told me how they would do that.

The oral surgeon recommended an endodontist, which he explained is a dentist who specializes in saving teeth. The endodontist would test to see if the tooth was alive or not, and would perform the root canal if the tooth is dead. If the tooth is alive, then it's back to the oral surgeon for a biopsy.

Tomorrow they will test my tooth. Craig says all they will do it spray cold water and air on my tooth and see if I can feel it. If I can't, then the tooth is dead, so I'll need a root canal. Yikes. And if I feel the water or air, then the tooth is alive, which means I'll need a biopsy. Double yikes.

Honestly, neither one of these options sound good to me. Despite Craig's assurances that tomorrow won't be a big deal, I'm really scared and nervous about it. He says that I shouldn't freak out about tomorrow's exam, and that I should save the freaking out for the impending root canal or biopsy. Because I'm getting one of them, whether I like it or not.

And I DO NOT like it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Make it work - Part 1 - My Husband

I've been contacted by more than one person asking how I manage husband, kids, work, and still find time to train and ride dressage, so I thought I'd dedicate a series to the subject. It's got to be a series because it's far too complicated to fit into one post.

I thought I'd start the series by talking about my human partner - my husband. He's not my first husband - in fact he's my third. My other two marriages didn't end because of issues with my horse, but my riding addiction contributed to many arguments. It also lost me a few boyfriends along the way who were unwilling to share me with my four-legged friends. I can only speak for myself as to how Craig and I have a successful relationship that involves a family and a dressage career.

When Craig came onto the scene I had been riding for almost twenty years. As related in earlier stories, my riding was always discouraged by my father. It had also been looked upon as competition to various boyfriends along the way. There had been many fights about how much time I'd spend at the barn, or time away at shows. It would have been nice to find a boyfriend who rode also, but I never found a man who was even marginally interested in horses. Maybe that's a good thing, because horse men might be crazier than horse women. Anyhow, by the time Craig and I started dating I let him know the deal with Kaswyn.

I had already had Kaswyn for six years, so I told Craig about the riding routine I had established. I let him know that I spent most evenings after work at the barn for a few hours. I let him know that during the spring and summer I would go to shows on the weekends, sometimes in town, sometimes hours away. I gave full disclosure about how much time, effort, and money I spent on Kaswyn, because I wanted him to know what he was getting into by loving a horsewoman. I also let him know that I acknowledged that this dressage thing is an addiction. It's a need, an aching craving for horse time that transforms me into a grumpy crab if a few days go by and I can't get my fix. The quest for the perfect seat, the feeling of accomplishment after a productive lesson, and finally breaking 60% on a difficult test at a show, are things that can only be satisfied at the barn with my horse. I let him know that spending this time with my horse, and getting this satisfaction didn't mean that I didn't love him. But it did mean that he'd have to share me with my hobby. My addiction. My horse partner.

He said he knew what he was getting into. He thought it would be no big deal. He knew my past issues with my father and other men about horses, and he was determined not to be those guys. He was going to be supportive!

It was much harder than he thought. When he moved up to Cleveland from Columbus he left all of his friends behind. I was his only friend, and sometimes I didn't come home until 8 pm, tired and dirty from riding. Those first few years were difficult. Not wanting to complain about my horse like other men had, he just kept it inside and the resentment built up. Then we'd have fights about silly unrelated things, but the underlying cause of his unhappiness was the time I spent with my horse. He felt trapped because he thought he should not complain about my horse time, even though that's what was making him unhappy.

Although we were happy together overall, the horse issue caused some major problems in our relationship. A few months after he moved in we had a fight where I told him "Maybe you should just go, then, if you're so unhappy." Months later he decided we should go see a couples counselor, who helped us to be able to get to the root of our problems and work through them instead of skirting the issue and fighting about petty things. Most importantly he taught us how to have a fair fight without laying blame or bringing up the past. And, after we were married, I went to my trainers apartment one evening, crying so hard I could hardly speak, to ask her if she would just take my horse. I couldn't bear to sell him because I didn't view him as a commodity like a car, but I was so tired of fighting with men about horses that I just wanted the drama to end. I loved Craig and I didn't want any more strain between us, and I thought that getting rid of Kaswyn would fix everything. Thankfully, she refused to take my horse, talked me down from the ledge, and sent me home to work things out with Craig.

It's taken years, and it hasn't been easy, but we've now established a sort of system that works for us. Because I go to work early and leave work early, I'm able to ride and still usually get home for dinner. I don't go to the barn every day, but when I do I always call him when I'm on my way home so he knows what time to expect me. If I'm finished early enough I pick up the girls from school. If not, he can get it done. Unless he has late meetings, in which case he brings his cell phone to meetings and he'll send me a text message if he's going to run late. This gives me enough time to jump off my horse (sometimes in the middle of a lesson), put him away, and still pick up the girls in time. I don't always get to clean my tack or Kaswyn's stall, which eats at me a little bit, but it's something that I can deal with. I'm riding, and we're not fighting.

I've said before that we try and have dinners either made or mostly planned for each evening. This means that Craig is sometimes cooking after the girls go to bed, but we've found that this system works because every night we can get dinner on the table quickly. For example, Craig will stick a chicken in the oven after dinner and get some potatoes cooking to be mashed. Then he'll steam some veggies and everything goes in the fridge. The next evening when we get home all we have to do is reheat everything from the night before and dinner is ready in minutes. This take a lot of the stress out of the evening, and we usually end up spending time together after dinner as we clean up and start prepping for the next night's meal. It takes teamwork and planning, but in the end it makes life easier.

I think another important factor is communication. There are some evenings when I know that I'm going to be late. If I have to clean Kaswyn's sheath or talk with my trainer or something and I know that I'll be longer at the barn than usual, I make sure to call Craig and let him know what's going on. I don't want him thinking I'll be home at 6:30 and then not show up until 8. That's just rude.

It's taken us years to establish this routine that works for us. We're both satisfied with it, even though I know that Craig isn't always happy with the time I spend at the barn. I do try and spend one weekend day away from the barn and at home with him and the girls. Fortunately Craig knows that riding makes me happy, so he puts up with it. He also has his own hobbies and friends, and he'll let me know if he has something he wants to do or somewhere to go on the weekend. I do my best to accommodate his wishes because I know what sacrifices he makes for me every week for me to be able to pursue my riding career. If his plans mean that I can't go to the barn for a few days, I work it out with my trainer or someone else to have something done with Kaswyn so at least my horse is busy. I know he'll be fine and glad to see me when I get back to the barn, and even though I'll miss time away from my horse I know it's important to give Craig his time to do things that he wants to do instead of always making sacrifices for me.

So, to sum up - we practice full disclosure communication, work as a team to make our household work, and we both allow the other to do things that we each want to do. Communication, teamwork, sacrifice, and hard work. And lots of love and understanding.

Next up, Part 2 - Our Girls.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's not getting what you's wanting what you've got

I'm done.

I decided that I'm no good to anyone that I love when I'm this way. So I'm going to stop this "feeling blue" nonsense and start being positive. I'm not just burying my feelings and saying "Everything is peachy! Wow, life is grand!", because I know that's not always the case. In fact, I realize that I can't change this thing that's got me down right now. Instead of trying to change it, I'm going to do my best to accept it.

A very wise woman once said to me, "When I pray, I never ask God to change a situation or do something for me or someone else. I always pray for the same thing - I ask God to give me peace. When you're at peace, things will get better."

So I'm going to pray for peace. And a winning lottery ticket. HA! Just kidding. Just the peace, please.

In a few days I'll post the beginning of a new series. I started writing it a while ago but never finished it. Time to get going on that.

Lastly, a big thank you to everyone who commented and sent positive vibes my way. May God (or whatever you believe in) give you peace as well, especially when you need it most.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr