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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Better Me Now = Better Mare Later.

I had a bit of a rough time this past Rolex weekend. Not being there brought a lot of things to my attention that I wasn't quite ready to face, and I subsequently spent a lot of time sleeping and pretending like I honestly didn't care about the things that were bothering me. But I do. I kind of snapped out of my weekend funk yesterday finally, and realized I haven't talked about any of the important or interesting things that have been happening to me in the past week. Despite the financial difficulty of doing so, I've finally taken some initiative and am working to fix some of the things that have always plagued me but I've never really bothered to do anything about.

In short, I finally went to go see a chiropractor for the first time in my life.

It wasn't pretty. A week ago Monday was my first appointment, and I completely love the practice and the doctor herself. Dr. B is a fun, bouncy, bubbly, singing, funny woman with a good soul, and all her techs are always smiling, which I severely appreciate at the end of a long and stressful day. At my initial appointment, they were very thorough with me - they did a physical exam, a thermal scan of my back, and a few radiographs for good measure as well. While doing my physical exam, Dr. B tested my ranges of motion (which are extremely poor), felt for pain on my part, found what was out of alignment, and told me what a huge disconnect I have from my brain to my nerves to my organs. She could tell from what my body was doing which side of me was worse, but I honestly couldn't. There was such a disconnect in my mid-back that all I could do was identify that something was hurting. Dr. B took all the information from the physical exam, the x-rays, and the thermal scan, and formulated a blueprint with it. What she found wasn't very pretty. I have degenerative changes in my mid-back and neck, and quite a number of things out of alignment, torqued, pinched, and in general not-where-they-should-be, including a section of my lumbar spine that was completely locked (probably a byproduct of when Metro kicked me in the hip so very long ago). Given the incredible daily pain I am in, all this makes a lot of sense. This could have been corrected long before I ever got painful. Fortunately for me, we caught it at a pretty good time where we can realign everything properly and prevent further serious damage from happening in my back. I mean honestly, I'm 25. Should I really have the beginnings of arthritis in my spine?? Awful. As added fun, I also have very mild scoliosis. Sweet! I guess maybe that explains why I wake up crying in the middle of the night in pain - and also why I sit so crookedly to the right in the saddle. Seeing the degenerative change on the actual films was the scary part. I certainly don't want that to get any worse than it already is.
I'm on an intensive program right now which takes me in there 3 times a week for a month. My honey commented in a rather alarmed way last night after my appointment that I was suddenly ridiculously taller (it was scary, I felt like one of the Avatar people), and that's the way it has pretty much been after every appointment. I am taller! I am standing straighter, I am more comfortable. THAT is a very new thing to me. I had honestly forgotten what it was like to not shift uncomfortably every few seconds while standing or sitting. However, this isn't a quick fix by any means. Even after my adjustment last night, I was sitting in a chair in the office for awhile afterwords getting a bit of a lecture on spinal nerves, and the normal electric pain returned. Simply sitting upright in good posture is so foreign to my joints and muscles (did I mention I slouch like a sack of potatoes?) that it causes me excruciating pain right now. I have to try, I have to practice for my body's sake, but good lord. Thankfully, once I got up and moved around, my back felt like a hundred bucks again. Not a million bucks, mind you... but it's a start.
The bad news is that my insurance offers me pretty much no help at all for this, so I am on my own. And it's not cheap. I think I can manage to do it, but yikes. It's not easy. BUT I'm not showing this year, so I'm not trying to squirrel money away for show season and feeling crappy about spending it elsewhere, so if there was ever a time to get this sorted out, it's now. I have to do this. I can't live in pain any longer. I am starting to feel really, really good after my appointments - which currently include getting adjusted, getting electro-stim and also getting heat therapy - and the prospect of being able to live and function pain-free is so, so, SO exciting. I honestly don't remember what it is like to not hurt day in and day out. I can't wait to find out.

(A super-sexy picture of my dog and I wearing questionable outfits and hiking in questionable places)
The second thing I am doing - running in the Avatar Shoes, as a few of my readers like to call them! I've really only just begun in earnest, and I've been taking it pretty lightly until I got my chiropractic situation sorted out, but now that we are under control there, I feel more comfortable getting a little more serious about it. Running in the Avatar Shoes (or Vibram Five-Fingers, as they are actually called) is different from anything I've experienced. I am still adjusting to them slightly, seeing as I am so used to the old incorrect running style used with big, squashy running shoes - a heel-first landing. Yep, with horses this is the proper way, but with humans, it is not! Landing mid-foot first and then letting your heel make contact with the ground is shock absorbing, efficient, and comfortable, versus a heel-first strike where all the shock shoots directly up your spinal column, or a toe-first landing which makes your calves want to explode. Running improperly in these minimalist shoes is impossible to do, simply because it hurts! A padded heel takes a little of that uncomfortable shock if you land heel-first while running. When you have zero padding there to save you, it just KILLS! I'm working this week on formulating a better workout plan; I will keep you updated.

And lastly, for those of you wondering, I AM actually riding some right now. A few of you expressed concern that I wouldn't have much time in the saddle while Gogo was off, and for the most part, this has proven to be true. I'm not really much into riding other horses unless there is something in it that I can then take and put into Gogo at a later date. I never wanted to be a trainer or a teacher by any means... I really just don't enjoy that sort of thing beyond doing it for myself. And riding horses while on the clock is good, but I usually have so many other things to do in a day that it just seems like one more thing that will make my very long workday even longer. However, I've found that I actually have been enjoying my random bits of saddle time on other horses for once. The one horse in particular that I've been on a bit and that I hope to ride a bit more is this one, James:

James is a silly guy.

He feels a little like riding a wet noodle (he is 6 going on 3), and he is your typical goofy goob type of gelding. I am so not a goofy goob gelding lover - I am all about those snarky mares! - but James is a ham and he's a NICE horse. I rode him in front of my boss the other day, which is extremely nervewracking but apparently went well enough because she asked if I wanted to ride him in our clinic with Jeff Cook next weekend! (She even said she'd pay for half!) She did pick on me for being a defensive rider (well come on, do I really want to ride Gogo like a sack of potatoes?) and for riding "like a dressage rider"... well, maybe because I ride dressage! XD This will be very good for me, although it might be horribly embarrassing because the last time I jumped was in September. Hmmmmm we will see.

As for Gogo, she is getting spoiled rotten with baths and primping, grazing and cold-tubbing every morning and every afternoon, and her treadmill of course every day around noon. She is feeling good - a little too good even, remember what happens when she feels like that? - and as a result has been more obnoxious as ever. The other day I didn't come over and day good morning soon enough apparently, so in order to get my attention, she clamped her teeth down on her stall door and rattled the thing. She NEVER does that because she knows I will knock her brains into next Tuesday if she ever so much as thinks about putting her mouth on anything that isn't food. Cheeky wench.

But I have to say, her feeling good is making me also feel very, very good.


Austen said...

Yay for feeling better! And, James is a nice horse. I totally understand what you mean by dopey gelding syndrome though!

Vibrams rock, don't they!? I love my pair, and am finally up to running around 4 miles with them comfortably. Word of warning, though. Not only is running one mile in them akin to running 3 in normal shoes until you get used to them (whew!), but your running form changes drastically when you tire. For me, that means being lazy with my foot clearance to the ground and broken toes. Oops! Gotta say, the risks do not outweigh the sheer fun I've had otherwise. And, my normal mileage doesn't cause my hips and back to ache anymore! Whoo!

Enjoy them!

Katherine Erickson said...

that's so excellent about getting physically better! I remember when I found out that I'd been living with a broken and improperly fused neck for 18 months... it was so amazing to realize how much pain I'd been in without realizing and how much more awesome life was without it. Good luck!

Nicku said...

Wow, that is good that you went to see the chiro! They freak me out a little, I've never been, but probably would be a great case study for them. I too struggle with posture, I am SUCH a slumper at work. My abs are weaker than they should be as a result. Your new horsie is gorgeous! Enjoy that, you'll be glad that you're not totally out of riding shape once Gogo is up an running again! I prefer mares as well, but my little gelding is a nice break from the snarky rehab mare I was dealiing with for the past year. He just DOES what I tell him, everyday...go figure :P

Anonymous said...

You won't regret the investment in good chiro and physical therapy. I started a few years ago and it's completely changed my life! I'm no longer in constant pain and my riding has changed completely. I'm now straight, I don't hunch and I can actually move my hips independently of each other.

I spent many years at Training level but after bodywork, I moved to second in two seasons. It works!

~Kelley said...

Love the chiro! My back was not in quite such a mess as yours, but I was in terrific pain everyday. I have been seeing my current chiropractor for 3 years (2 car accidents ago). I am straighter, I am taller, I am nearly pain free. I have a lot of scar tissue in my back due to whiplash and right now I am making huge progress because of a combination of pilates and chiropractic care. My muscles were nearly non-existent - especially my tiny neck and back and shoulder-girdle. If you can swing it financially, sign up for about 12 sessions of private pilates instruction and you will learn things about your muscles and your body that will change the way you feel.
I have to say that about every six months I go - wow, so much better, I must be almost well, then keep working at it and another few months later find another level of feeling great.
This is really a life-long recovery project. You will be very tempted to start skipping when you start to feel better, but from long experience, once you have really damaged your body you must keep at least a monthly or bi-monthly schedule of tune-ups. You probably won't believe me, but it's amazing how the pain and crookedness will sneak back into your body if you start letting it go again.
Anyway, I'm happy you are feeling better, and I hope you get all the way to WELL!

Jen said...

Yes, Chiropractor's are AWESOME! My pelvis is always out of whack because of work and riding, but going to see the chiropractor at least once a month makes a whole lot of difference.

Glad that Gogo is getting all pampered during her time off.

Grayson P. said...

Good luck with the chiropractory! Also, good for you to keep riding. Even if you don't like riding other horses each one can teach you something new and the best part is you can incorporate those lessons into riding Gogo

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

I'm in love visually with the Vibrams, and my runner husband w/ a bad back is intrigued too!! SO COOL looking!!
As for James...I'm in love, are u kidding me! sigh....
but GOGO gets kisses too so she doesn't get jealous! :)

MalteseLizzieMcGee said...

You know, if you were to drink enough blue slushies, you might actually get the skin tone of one of the Avatar people,as well as the height and the shoes that you already have :P Sounds like the chiropracter did a good job-I might look into one when I'm older.
I wouldn't mind riding a dopey gelding-my regular ride is like dynamite about to go off, but he's fun too.

Deered said...

have you ever thought that you spend a lot of money on the same sort of thing for Gogo, but by not having your body right - you may be impeeding her?

Andrea said...

Deered, that's why I am doing all this! XD

hwbowen said...

I am terrified to go see a chiro, because I suspect that I can ride much less crookedly than I do and if I find out how much less, I won't be able to avoid fixing it, and I can Not Afford It right now. Augh. Will be watching this with interest, and glad to hear you're nipping potential problems in the bud!