“The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse.” Winston Churchill
Sometimes, you learn about riding in unusual ways. Or painful ones.
I have been extremely ill the last two months. Out of the blue, I was hit with upper intestinal bleeding. I woke up with this immediate need to hit the bathroom, and instead of the runs, I passed ‘coffee ground stool’, blood clots, and black blood. LOTS of it. For 18 hours. I was hospitalized for two days, had to do a colonic cleanse despite the fact that it was ‘obvious’ it was my upper intestine or stomach.
That wasn’t all. Whatever demon had invaded my digestive system had many more evil tricks to play.
I developed dysphagia. If bleeding out is immediately life threatening, dysphagia can also kill you, but far more slowly and miserably. It means inability to swallow. Yes. I could not swallow anything solid. I’m told there are people who live for years with this, but to me, it’s not living and I was despairing that I’d never eat again. The idea of being fed through a tube in my stomach was not something I wanted to even contemplate.
But the demon wasn’t done! After a few weeks of blending everything, I could swallow again, but then I was hit with regurgitation. This isn’t vomiting. No, its one step below. Whatever you swallow doesn’t stay in your stomach. No, it comes back up into your esophagus to rest in your throat or just behind your sternum. Up and down it goes, or just hangs there for hours…sometimes days. The only way it goes into your stomach and stays there is to eat ramrod straight, do not bend over or do anything sudden for 45 minutes, and even then, hours later, it still might come back.
I had to worry most about inhaling the stuff that liked my throat better than my stomach, and when you inhale food, you develop pneumonia and have to take antibiotics…that kill the good bacteria in your gut, so you get C. Difficil. Which tried to kill me years ago.
Did I mention the pain? Despite the fact that it was my stomach and gut acting up, something in the mix decided to send pain to my chest and shoulder. Nothing touches it: not aspirin(which, I am now forbidden to use), none of the other ‘pain killers’, nothing. It gets worse at night, and the only way I can sleep is with an ice pack on my shoulder. Even then, the pain is such that I’m only getting about 3 hours of sleep a night. I have moved into the guest bedroom so that my dear husband can sleep.
I’ve had several blood draws, all of which say I’m anemic. Ya think! when one’s red blood cell count drops to 9.0 because of a bleed, you’re instantly anemic.
Oh, and I’ve lost weight. Yup, who would have guessed? I dropped 12 pounds in two weeks, and it doesn’t look as if I’ll ever get it back.
And through it all, I have yet to talk to a gastroenterologist…the doctor who looks in your stomach and gut and diagnoses whatever it is that is trying to kill you. That’s because my insurance company, the one I pay a lot of money in premiums to every month, can’t decide if hemorrhaging for 18 hours constitutes an ’emergency’; is still trying to decide if I was truly admitted into the hospital as an “inpatient’ or was I just ‘under observation in a hospital’ as an outpatient, which, of course, means they don’t have to pay. That, and not being able to eat or sleep is something they don’t consider ‘medical’. Thus, they figure, if there’s no medical problem, they won’t pay for you to see a doctor who CAN make that decision. But damn it, get that premium in or we’ll cut your ass off. Can’t lose a dime, now can they!
But that’s not why I write.
A few days ago, I was feeling well enough to go to the barn. Sue (who’s an RN) insisted I ride Raven bareback, as I always love to do.
You’ve heard that old saying, “just what the doctor ordered”? It’s true. That first ride…after two months of illness, feeling like death warmed over, staying indoors and trying to stay alive through blending every atom of food into a liquid, being atop a horse was …incredible. Raven, always intuitive, was VERY careful with me, he knew something was wrong. It felt so good to be on his back. It felt so good to be in his mind, feeling him responding. What astounded me was…me.
I had ‘forgotten’ how to balance. No, actually, I had NO balance. Losing 12 pounds caused me to lose that ‘set point’ for balance I’d developed over the years. I weighed a lot less than before and that, apparently makes a difference!
But…unlike my other problems, twenty minutes or so of riding bareback helped my mind re-adjust to the new me (no matter how unwelcome it is) and I recovered that sense.
Today, …I am feeling so much better, and I’ll tell you how in a minute…I rode him in a saddle. Again, something is new. I haven’t gained an ounce back, but my balance was there. And…for the first time in my adult life, I found I had thighs that fit the saddle. Up until this weight loss, my thighs have always been, ahem, Rubinesque. Okay, let’s call them for what they were. Thunder thighs. I never could ‘put the flat of my thigh’ on the saddle because I didn’t HAVE a flat thigh. They were nice and round. Fleshy. Fat.
But now? They’re gone. No thighs. Well, yes, they’re still THERE, but there’s no meat on them…and now, I can put them on the saddle. It makes a HUGE difference in how I ride. I am astounded at how much difference there is.
Which is sad, because most women I know have thighs that are like mine were. It’s just how we’re built. Thunder thighs kept us women alive during the Ice Ages.
Is it fair to say, then, that the top notch riders have no thighs? Or thighs that are nothing but bone, like mine are, now, ‘correct’? Damn it……
Honestly, I’d rather have the weight back. I refuse to go out and buy all new pants/jeans/etc. I swim around in my jeans. My belt ran out of holes. But I do like the way it feels to sit in a saddle, with thighs ‘flat’ on the panel.
Now how, do you wonder, have I healed whatever it is that caused me to bleed? Well, I still have the pain, but I can eat now, slowly and thoroughly chewing my food and it goes into my stomach and stays there-and comes out the other end without blood.
My acupuncturist…who IS willing to see me, and if you have never had acupuncture, let me tell you, it works, told me my gut was tissue paper thin and I need to build up my levels of iron and protein. I needed to heal my gut. How to do this?
Bone broth and collagen.
So I’ve been drinking a lot of bone broth and ingesting beef collagen. It’s a tasteless powder that one can put in soup, or a glass of water. I am convinced it has brought me back a lot quicker than could be hoped. No, I’ve not seen a gastroenterologist yet, but when I do, and they do an endoscopy to find out what the hell happened, hopefully they will find I’ve healed.
Hopefully. Hopefully I never have another bleed, because it was bad.
Because, while seeing what seemed endless gouts of my blood going down the toilet, I thought I was going to die. Then I was afraid I WASN’T.
I didn’t. And I learned that one’s weight has a great deal to do with riding, and a bony thigh makes all the difference in the world to riding.