I’m derailing from my usual pony-centric blog topics a bit on this one. It’s intertwined a bit and I want it noted for myself, but feel free to skip on by; pony posts resume later this week.
I went in for an already-scheduled doctors visit late in the week following my fall. I expected to be mildly chastised for riding with headaches, and had already prepared my defenses: I can’t stop my life every time my head hurts, I self-evaluated, it didn’t seem that bad, I won’t get back on until things are back to normal. Instead, since the concussion had already been evaluated, that seemed to be of little concern. (Which: great! I’m comfortable with that and comfortable with my plan to continue self-evaluating and moving forward when it seems reasonable.) ‘The migraines have improved from the month of misery I had earlier this year back to my baseline of not-ideal-but-normal. The new meds, though, seem to have helped slightly with the general joint pain and sensitivity. No, we’ve never talked about that, I thought it was normal?’
Apparently I continue to have a very skewed idea of normal, but I am lucky enough to have some professionals in my life who can tell me that my reactions to certain things are Not Normal, and that doing X or Y or Z has improved it or not improved it. On my own, I just keep grasping at straws. Maybe I’m riding crooked? Maybe Fetti’s pulling on my shoulder and I’m not bracing correctly? Maybe I’m holding mane while riding bareback in the winter and that’s why my shoulder is flared up for weeks or months at a time?
The visit concluded, my head spinning, as we discussed the possibility of fibromyalgia and that it sounds like it might be a match for what I have going on. Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion. I’m not nearly far enough in the process to claim that this is the correct diagnosis for me, only that it is a possibility and I can see why.
I have a horse. I ride for several hours at a time. Endurance, though, at least the way Fetti and I do it? It’s a low-intensity sport. I’m not mentally or physically “on” for hours at a time. A good ride has us cruising down the trail, not working too hard, just keeping up our all-day trot. I don’t get tired posting (although! I could definitely use some lessons to correct my form, but right now, we’re making do).
Lessons, though? Lessons wipe me out and have since high school. Ride an hour, really working the whole hour, then go home and nap. I never thought anything of it. Isn’t that normal?
Maybe I need to manage my spoons differently, but I can still ride. I’m already making choices that allow me to keep things under control. This just reinforces that it’s very possible I’ll need to continue doing that on a broader scale.
The good news: my post-fall headache was completely gone, so I considered myself cleared to get back on the horse for a leisurely ride, assuming she was capable of giving me a leisurely ride.. in the interests of cramming everything into one day, I’d scheduled a trainer ride (!) for the afternoon.
I’m about two weeks behind on getting things posted (as is probably obvious by now), and in the two weeks since the maybe-diagnosis, I’ve had time to go through a bunch of the stages of grief. My injuries were always supposed to be fixable. Some I have come to terms with being chronic pains; others ebb and flare enough that I’ve sought answers time and time again from the medical profession and been left without anything solid. I’m grateful that I might have an answer. The answer itself sucks. Knowing that some of what I have now might be lifelong challenges sucks, too.
But you know what? Endurance is a great sport for me. I completed a 50 without feeling the need to immediately curl up in a heap and nap. I’m young and early in the process. Fetti’s never let me breed-limit her; I won’t diagnosis-limit me. Staying active is supposed to be one of the best things I can do? Well, with this pony, I’m not allowed to take time off.
It’s an interesting journey we’re on, she and I, but we’re still making our way down the trail.