Saturday, April 28, 2007

From the Inside

X-rays freak me out a little bit. It’s not so much the thought of radiation, although it never feels good to have the tech leave the room while I’m stuck under the machine with a lead skirt on, its more the idea of looking inside myself. More of an existential issue than a physical one. I even sound nutty to myself sometimes.

I’ve had three x-rays of my left hand now and there’s been no healing yet, according to the ortho doc, but he said that’s normal with fingers. Your body goes through a process and the bone itself is the last part of it. I have a purple stripe of a bruise across the joint on the underside, while the rest of the finger turned a sickly green color, most of which is gone now. It doesn’t hurt if I keep the splint on straight and tight and remember to elevate it before it starts to throb. Every once in a while I will forget enough to try something I shouldn’t and I am reminded that I have a broken finger, like tightening a girth, for example. The ortho doc wants to see me one more time in three weeks to check on the healing progress and possibly get rid of the splint.

Part of the radiologist’s write-up reads “…there is mild palmar angulation of the head of the third middle phalanx.” One of you nurses out there correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that means my finger is crooked. The doc said it will probably always be that way.

I rode yesterday for the first time since the incident, almost two weeks. That might have been a bit premature, it was very difficult to control the left rein, but I didn't want to wait any longer to ride again. As it was I could feel my body wasn't hitting the right positions and my legs weren’t under me enough. We are going to try to do a light lesson this weekend sometime on the gray horse Tommy (who I rode yesterday), he's about the easiest horse outside of a pony there.

I also had a mammogram recently and just received the results: the girls are OK.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Comments on the Comments

I’m now able to type with both hands, I just can’t use the broken finger, so I am typing like my Dad at the moment. Many things are difficult; it’s more frustrating than painful. My darling husband helped me wash and dry my hair last night, what a sweetheart.

Going back to my Death and Taxes post, Callie advised against taking the drug I mentioned. In truth when I said I’d be willing to try it that was more for the purposes of the post than a pre-cursor to a phone call to my doctor. It would be interesting to have insight into how my thinking patterns on everyday life would be different if everything wasn’t filtered through the dark lenses of my past, but I’m far too concerned about side effects to actually take a drug like that. Drug use was a part of my abuse; also my own history of being misdiagnosed and given inappropriate and/or dangerous drugs and my mother’s hypochondria and rampant prescription drug addiction make me very hesitant to take any drug.

Cricket referenced specific treatments for PTSD. According to his bio, my last therapist is a member of the California Psychological Association, Obsessive Compulsive Foundation and EMDR International Association, and is certified as a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Expert in Traumatic Stress and Addictions Counselor. He did some EMDR sessions with me (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and they were helpful. At the time I was basically house-bound with panic attacks and depression, and he brought me back to functioning again. Most of the time I feel quite normal, presenting what I think are normal responses to sad, stressful or happy events, but when the deep recesses are accessed through a trigger I just have to wade through it. This will be a lifelong pattern.

Sarah thanked me for being brave enough to talk about things so personal in such a public forum. I appreciate the comment but in truth I don’t feel brave at all, I feel selfish. The Mother Voice in my head starts berating me -- Who the hell wants to hear about your crap? You’re just looking for sympathy! Get over yourself, etc.

For a very long time I kept many many secrets, fearful of the repercussions of talking, so talking or writing about my experiences is liberating and cathartic. I’m not here to be a poster child for anything, but I also know from living inside the cage that it can be helpful to others to hear or read about a similar story to their own, to know, as Rising Rainbow and Sally indicated, that you are not alone.

I have a couple more posts in the works, both good news, but for today I will leave you with some more spring flowers, purple-themed.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Now With 100% More Painkillers - Updated

Thank you for all your comments. I would like to respond to them all, but unfortunately I broke the middle finger of my left hand yesterday and typing with one hand is a tedious process.

Short version: it was very windy and Miss was spooking in the crossties. I grabbed her halter in an attempt to settle her and just at that moment the door to the tack room 3 feet in front of her slammed shut and she reared. My fingers were caught between the halter and her nose chain. When I got my hand out the segment of the middle finger above the upper joint was at a 45 degree angle. Not.a.good.thing. I instinctively shook my hand very hard a couple times and that helped with the angle but it still looked crooked. Then I noticed a piece of skin along the outside of my little finger was thrashed and it was bleeding. Then I felt dizzy and had to lay down.

Miss is fine. Finger is splinted and taped to ring finger. X-ray showed break right at the joint. Waiting for referral to orthopedist. I guess I'll be pretty famous at the barn now!

Saw ortho today, weird old guy. He said I did "a fine job" of breaking my finger, but that he wouldn't recommend surgery (thank God). He gave me a clear plastic high-tech splint to wear to try to help straighten out the end of my finger, and wants another x-ray taken in a week to check on progress. He said to wear the splint for 5 weeks! I'm going to go crazy typing with one hand for that long, don't expect any wordy posts for a while.

I went to visit Miss yesterday and found out that the best rider at the farm broke her collar bone and suffered a concussion in a bucking incident/fall yesterday. They haven't had an injury in over 5 years, now two broken bones in less than a week. I hope I didn't start a really bad trend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Death and Taxes

We all have anniversaries in our lives, some we look forward to with great anticipation, while others we wish we could forget entirely. As a person who has lived through a lot of trauma, sadness and fear, unfortunately many of my memories are those in the latter category. I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy and will probably be on the Blue Happy Pills the rest of my life, and I’m OK with that. I read several articles today about research into using the beta-blocker drug propranolol to help lessen the intensity of memories in people who have been diagnosed as having PTSD. This one is a good representative.

Clearly this topic is in the media right now due to the many soldiers coming back from the war zones in the Middle East having survived physically but with broken minds. I’ve lived with my memories for so long now I can’t really imagine what it would be like to have their power lessened, although I would be willing to find out.

I realized today that I had let one of my anniversaries slide by without my noticing: the date of my abortion. Not that I don’t remember the date, I do, it was March 21, but for whatever reason this March 21st I did not think of it, not once. I suppose you could count that as progress, I would call it a delayed reaction as I did think of it today.

This year the government has given you until April 17th to file your tax return, and this corresponds with the 2nd anniversary of my brother’s death in a car accident.

I continue to grieve. I mourn so many things… the loss my mother feels for her beloved son, my brother the loss of his twin, and (perhaps selfishly) those years I lost thinking I was weak or sick or accountable, and the very real loss of the ability to resolve anything – my anger and sadness at his inability to take responsibility, my fractured relationship with him and how that bleeds onto my relationships with others within the many things.

Sometimes I feel whole, I take a breath and don’t expect the air to come whistling out of the cracks, but sometimes I feel irreparably broken, and no amount of time or love or therapy is going to fix me.

You probably have heard by now that the great American writer Kurt Vonnegut died this week. This is the image from his site. Some day I hope to join you, Mr. Vonnegut, out of the cage.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Play It Loud

I heard Rocco DeLuca and the Burden on Jimmy Kimmel Live a while back and I fell in love with the song Colorful. It's been on constant rotation ever since I downloaded it. I can really get behind the lyrics as well (verses only):

You swim like you're on fire
Live like your last day
Drink like it's water
There's no tomorrow
And you think no one can hear you
Raise your hands to be called on
You know all the answers

You dance like no one's watching
Sing 'till the song ends
Then you sing some more
And we can hardly believe it
Words that flow from your mouth
Drink like it's water

You are an enigma walking
Make no excuses for the way that you carry on
And we can hardly believe it
The words that flow from your mouth
Drink like it's water, girl

Go to VH1, scroll down a bit to You Oughta Know: Rocco DeLuca & The Burden link and play the full-length video. And turn it up.

What's your current Play It Loud song?

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Mane Event

Seems me and my horse have something in common: naturally thick hair. At the farm where she lives the horses that are ridden English have their manes pulled or cut to between 4 and 5 inches, ostensibly to keep them above the rein line. Because Missy’s mane is so thick, having it this short causes some problems (in my view). First, I think it looks terrible, all choppy and uneven. Second, you can brush it all you want but the moment she shakes her head it naturally parts half-way down her neck, the upper part laying on the left and the bottom part laying on the right. Did I mention I think it looks terrible? I kept meaning to tell my trainer not to pull it again, so last week when I went down and saw that it had been pulled, I finally told her that I wanted her to leave it alone so I could see what it looked like a little bit longer, maybe it would all sit on the right like it’s supposed to that way. After an awkward moment of silence during which she physically stiffened, she said quietly, but with emphasis, “English horses don’t have long manes!” As I was walking away with Miss I said over my shoulder, with good humor, but with emphasis, “Well, she’s not an English horse, she’s MY horse, and for now we’re going to leave her mane alone.” She followed me for a bit, explaining that you don’t want the mane long enough to get caught up in the reins, blah blah, but I stuck to my guns. During my next lesson she said she would show me how to thin it out so it would sit better on her neck. I don’t want it to look like my friend old Walter here, I just want it to look natural.

At least my farm doesn’t crop the tails! As you can see she has a beautiful tail (does this horse make my butt look big?). For those less fortunate horses there are always tail extensions. You can also get mane and forelock extensions, but in general those look very fake, even to my untrained eye.

Two weekends ago I went with the lovely Coloratura to the first hunter/jumper show at Pebble Beach and was very pleased and surprised to see all age categories represented, from kids on adorable ponies to women over 50 in the jumper and equitation classes. I suppose there’s time for me to compete yet, should I decide to go that route.

As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend I went to the Grand National Rodeo and boy howdy, what a different crowd that was from Pebble Beach! The thing I love about Western folks is they aren’t afraid to wear all the regalia and they don’t feel the least bit ridiculous doing so. There were some pretty damn hot cowboys there; too bad I’m not single and about 20 years younger! I almost bought a pair of Ariat cowboy boots and now I’m kicking myself for not getting them, they were so beautiful and comfortable.

The “mane event” of the title (sorry, couldn’t resist) happened on Good Friday: my trainer Willow actually got on Missy’s back. She had told me before that Miss hadn’t been ridden in about a year and a half, but she looked back in her notes and now says its closer to 3 years. She’s been lunging her with all her tack on for several weeks. She lunged her and she seemed fairly quiet so she put her helmet on (something she rarely does) and quietly got on. Miss just stood there like it had happened yesterday, then walked and trotted as asked. She does throw her head around a fair bit so we may have to put a martingale on her for a while, but overall both Willow and I were very pleased. Mama’s so proud! When I took her in January we talked about me being able to ride her by about May. Looks like we’re right on track.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Photos of the Day - Easter Edition

I took these yesterday at the Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco. Damn, now I want a lamb (or two)!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Harshest Cut

I found out last Monday that a friend has breast cancer and is having a single mastectomy tomorrow. She's my age (early 40s), single, no family close-by. She was pretty nonchalant when she announced to everyone, saying she didn't want anyone to feel sorry for her or make a big deal of it.

I literally cannot stop thinking about her and what she must be going through. Like most women I have a love/hate relationship with my breasts. They are small, always have been, so of course I always wished they were bigger, even just a little bit. Despite their size, or perhaps because of it, they are perfectly round, symmetrical and, if I do say so myself, rather pretty. I like them. I'd like to keep them.

She's about to have a part of her body removed. Yes, she will have reconstructive surgery and eventually, hopefully, noone will be the wiser. But she will always know there is a part of her that is missing, and what is there in it's stead isn't real.

I don't have any personal experience with cancer of any kind, and know nothing about mastectomy other than what I've researched this week, and I hope I never do. I have a slip in my purse for a mammogram. I'm making an appointment tomorrow.