Saturday, November 21, 2015

In which healing continues and I don't dawdle around about it

I'm not saying that all surgery recoveries 
are this quick and easy.

Brushing the Dragon in the driveway
THREE DAYS after total hip replacement

What I'm saying is what other people said I would say (about the first hip replacement, March 2014):

"I wish I'd done this sooner."

I still tire easily and run out of spoons pretty early in the day. But already there is so much less pain. 

I don't know how soon I will be back in the saddle, but if things continue the way they are going, it won't be very long. 

For now, I am content with short grooming sessions and lots of napping. 

It's good, y'all.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

In which Total Hip Replacement 2 is going pretty well so far

I'm not ever going to say that a Total Hip Replacement is fun.

But I will say that this time is going much better than the last time (and the last time was pretty remarkable in terms of fast recovery and getting me back on my horse).

Rolling out of the recovery room.
Epidurals are awesome.

I should preface by saying that I went into surgery this time with a much less-injured joint, and supporting tissues that were not nearly as "angry."  

I could have walked into the hospital on Monday without my cane, in fact. 

The day before surgery we hosted a firewood moving party at the farm.
Lots of friends showed up to process more than a cord of wood,
and then feast on homemade pizza.  I helped move wood for about two hours,
then they made me relax and drive the truck instead.

I had several advantages this time:
  • I wasn't as terrified.  Sure, still not thrilled at the prospect of deliberately subjecting myself to time in a hospital, plus the recovery time at home and not on my horse.  But my fear level was significantly lower.
I had plenty of visitors in the hospital.
Will and Lisa both stopped by to say hi
and catch me up on their gossip.
  • I wasn't as injured.  The doc wouldn't let me have the 2nd procedure at this time last year, 6 months out from the first hip replacement.  But I was having pain on the other side at that point, we knew that it would only get worse--and it did.  When I consulted with the surgeon two months ago, I pointed out that I was only getting fatter and more sedentary because of the pain, and neither of those things speed recovery.  Also, it's not like my hip was going to miraculously heal itself, and there are no "miracle cures" for this kind of arthritis hovering on the horizon.  It wasn't a question of "if" I needed a replacement.  We just needed to set a date.

Sirie brought Thai food and coconut water, bless her!
  • We learned stuff last time. The most important trick we learned:  Sudafed is my friend.  My biggest impediment in hospital is chronically low blood pressure (90/50 or lower) which causes me to turn grey and tip over.  Sudafed raises my blood pressure and keeps me upright, which makes everything better.  More upright = more activity = easier recovery. 

My forays around hospital hallways were much more
frequent and comfortable this time.

  • We learned stuff this time, too. The nurse on duty the first night usually works on the gastroenterology unit, so she pays closer attention to metabolic stuff that should sound familiar to endurance riders, especially the part about hydration.  Turns out that hydration is also related to that turn grey/tip over thing.  Dumping huge amounts of saline and lactated ringers fluid into me, especially at night when I wasn't drinking as much water, scared away even more of the wibbly-wobblies.  Taking Sudafed also made me thirsty and thus more willing to drink quarts of water on my own.
And yes, this does have implications for endurance, especially at the longer distances I want to tackle next year!

  • I had a lot less pain this time around.  Last time, my pain rated a 6 or higher (scale of ten, where zero = epidural and 10 = it couldn't hurt worse even if you punched the incision site) while lying still in the bed at the hospital. That kind of pain deserved some pretty major narcotics.  This time, my pain didn't spike higher than a 3, and was controlled down below level 1 using ibuprofen and Tylenol!  Less pain = no narcotics = fewer drug side effects.

They sent me home on the third morning
after surgery with no joint pain.
The supportive muscles and ligaments
are inflamed and sore, but not nearly as
bad as they were in 2014.

My assignment until the end of 2015 is to rest and heal. 

I will start physical therapy as soon as I'm cleared to drive again (surgery was on my right side, so I need to regain pretty good use of that leg before I can drive safely), and the surgeon has approved of riding as soon as I feel comfortable swinging a leg over the saddle.

Not immediately.

But soon.  

In the meantime, I think I'll take (another) nap.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

In which the rain pours down and I play Yenta for Duana again

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,

catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match

Duana and Hana, February 2011

Duana and I like to tell the story about how I called her one day back in February 2011 and said, "I have your horse, you need to come ride with me."  

Almost exactly two years later, Du bought Hana.  That was a good day.  They've had lots of fun together so far, and they aren't nearly done!


Happy at the finish line, but Hana didn't pass the final vet check

Hana is done with endurance.  She's 19 years old, and the x-rays show concussion fractures in her front feet.  She's sound enough...for trail riding, for dressage, for working with the crew at Renegade and hauling tools up the mountain.

But sound enough is not sound enough for endurance.  Endurance is hard...and that's why Duana made the very wise choice to retire Hana from endurance while she's still sound enough to do other stuff.  


Duana and Hana, May 2015

Du loves endurance.


We're looking for another horse.  

This time of year is a good time to shop.  Lots of people are looking out the windows at the downpourings we've gotten lately, and thinking that they don't really want to slog around in the mud to feed an extra horse this winter.

Unlike poor lytha in Germany, Duana has a vast and helpful village to assist with the search.  Several of the Usual Suspects took the ferry over to Poulsbo a few weeks ago to check out a prospect.  

"Cute horse," said Dory.  And Patty agreed, "cute horse."

"Cute horse" = "No way, Jose."  Duana tried him out anyway.  And walked away.

Then somebody suggested that a friend-of-a-friend of the village had a horse that wasn't being ridden.

8 years old.  Arab/Appy cross, no spots.  About 14 hands.  Sturdy. Nice feet.  Smart, but not too smart.  Willing to learn, but he doesn't know much yet.

Dory has given the "all clear to proceed."  She likes the way he moves...which is no surprise.  The horse's sire is Dory's stallion Ballistik.

Du wanted me and Monica to take a look too. 

So yesterday we headed out in a drizzling downpour to meet Basalt.

We weren't looking for a show of skills.  

He has the basics:  walk nicely on a lead, pick up feet, accept being handled by strangers.  He's been backed some, but not ridden much yet.  

That's fine.  Our Village contains plenty of people who can add skills to a horse.

He will need to pass a pre-purchase exam, of course, but we don't expect any problems with that.

"But, will we like each other?" Du asked.

I greet you!

I don't think that will be too much of a problem.

I'll be going radio silent for a few days while I'm in the hospital for Total Hip Replacement #2. 
Santa Jim and the Usual Suspects will post updates on Facebook.  Plus, I've time-delayed a new Skookum story that will launch on the day before Thanksgiving.

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In which I'm not procrastinating. I'm going riding. Not the same.

My hip replacement surgery is scheduled for next Monday morning, 
and there are so many things I "should" be doing before that..., I'm going riding.

Here's a video to watch while I'm gone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In which I'm supposed to be writing a novel, so here are pictures

It's November again, in case y'all haven't noticed.  
And in November, I WRITE.

Sometimes the things I write are good.  Sometimes they are awful.  Two books drafted during the month of November have been published, another will be when I can wrap my brain all the way around the edits.

November is National Novel Writing Month, when all over the world, writers commit to composing  50,000 words:  the first draft of a novel.  NaNoWriMo is about writing, not about goodness, awfulness, or editing.  With only 30 days in the month, there is no time for quality.  December is the time to figure out solutions for character development, plot holes, and grammatical gaffes.

You can join us, if you want.  

My personal challenge this month is to write the book in two weeks, rather than a month, because on November 16th, they're gonna numb up my brain and take a hacksaw to my right hip joint.  I learned the last time around that, following surgery, creative thought doesn't happen for at least six months.

It's comforting to understand that this side effect is temporary.  But it means I have to get my main character safely into her treehouse and away from the zombies by midnight on November 15th. Wish me luck.

I'll be blogging through my recovery, as before.  I hope the redux will be boring.  "Interesting" almost always equates to "Thing Gone Wrong."

Here are some pictures I unearthed this week while I was supposed to be writing.

Profile picture of Fiddle, age 3ish

The first three photos were supplied by Greener Pastures, the adoption agency that facilitated the matchup between Fiddle and me.

early under-saddle training, 2005-ish

These three pictures were all I knew about Fiddle before she unloaded on a rainy night in December 2006 and they handed me the leadrope.

You can't tell from the photo that she was a true klutz as a young horse

I had never met her before that night.  It might have ended badly.

Our first training session.  She was unimpressed.  December 2006

Fortunately for all of us, it has not ended badly at all.

The klutziness is a little more evident in this picture.  January 2007

You might even say that,

In good weight, but lacking the muscles she sports today.
I worked her on the ground for 5 months before mounting up, June 2007


 Under saddle with me at last, she was very clumsy, but sensible.
July 2007

thus far,
Our first year on trails we did not compete.
At the Lakeview 2008 ride, we pulled ribbons
after the event.

Fiddle and I

We also marked routes and did some basic trail work together
at the Renegade 2008 ride.

are learning how

Just for fun: a costume ride in October 2008

to live

More costumes?  Why not?  Easter Sunday 2009

happily ever after.

Out of the boarding stable at last, we brought the horses home
in May 2009

We've learned a lot together

Fiddle and I went with our friends Sky and Cricket into the backcountry
August 2009

over the years.

Our first year of competitions was
limited distance only.
Klicitat Trek 2010

I've taken care of her,

Back to the mountains again in August 2010.

and she has carried me

Another week of trail maintenance before entering
(and finishing) the 50-miler at Renegade 2011.

to places

Profile, July 2011
Fiddle finally grew into her head.

I probably would never have seen otherwise.

A lot more muscles are visible in summer 2011.

When it was her turn

Legging up after a rainy winter.  April 2012

to take care of me

The day after the ride:  Renegade 2012

she taught me how

Sensible face mare.  HOTR 2013

to accept help from my friends

These days, she has a pretty face, and even
a bit of a smile for one of her favorite vets.
With Dr. Dick Root, 2013

(including her)

She didn't hurt anymore post-spay, but I was in pain at the
Cariboo Gold Challenge 2013

and that sometimes,

Hurting, but still riding at Jubilee 2013
She took good care of me.

it's okay

Back in the saddle and pain free again!
Renegade 2014

to let the horse

Hovermare does not need wings.
Mt Adams 2014

do the driving.

She carries me in beautiful places.
Jubilee 2014

We've had almost nine years together

My other hip hurt, but riding is still the best thing.
Klickitat Trek 2015
(so far)

Renegade 2015

and you know what?

It's mostly been really, really Good.

Friday, October 30, 2015

In which I review the entire ride season in one blog post (with pix!)

It seemed like a long ride season.

10 rides.  515 miles of trails.
4532 miles in the horse trailer to get to- and from- competitions 
(not counting training rides and lessons)

But it went by so quickly!

Some of the 2015 ride cards, slightly worse for miles

We had rain,

April Daze ride at Riverside Park,(75 miles)
photo by Monica Bretherton

and sun,

Mount Adams ride, (55 miles) photo by Jessica Anderson

and dust,

Start line of the Klickitat Trek ride, photo by Brenda Casebeer

Klickitat Trek day 1 (50 miles)
photo by Cassidy Rae

Finish line: Klickitat Trek day 2 (25 miles)
photo by Monica Bretherton

and heat.

Renegade Rendezvous day 1 (25 miles)
photo by Monica Bretherton

We explored trails in the mountains,

Finish line, Renegade Rendezvous day 2 (50 miles)
photo by Monica Bretherton

in the Swamps,

Bare Bones ride (50 miles)
photo by Cassidy Rae

and in high desert.

Oregon 100 ride (50 miles)
photo by Laura Spear

I actually own more than two purple t-shirts, but you'd hardly know it from the ride photos.

Milwaukee Road Rail Trail ride (80 miles)
photo by Cassidy Rae

Throughout the year, Fiddle just got better, and stronger.

The Haunting ride (55 miles)
photo by Ashley Chatton
I'm walking with a cane once again, and my second hip replacement surgery is scheduled for two weeks hence.

I'm about as ready for surgery as I'm going to get.  Most importantly, I'm ready to throw away that cane forever.

After all, the 2016 ride season is coming soon!