Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jimmy Update

This is a quick update. Jimmy seems to be doing fine, but it has been a long year of trying to figure out what is winning: old age or EPM. I am dealing with a tremendous amount of guilt about Jimmy. I knew as I was being treated for breast cancer that I would not be able to keep Jimmy as fit. I couldn't find enough willing people to ride him for me regularly, and I certainly didn't have the energy to do it. The root of my guilt is that I knew that it would be really hard to build his fitness back if he lost it, and I had to watch him lose it. At first, it was not very quick, but after about 8 months, you could start seeing his muscle turn to fat. After a year, you could tell his topline was not as fleshy. And after about 13 months, you could start seeing the residual EPM pecularities show up in his walk. And he seemed to have more problems with arthritis. Sigh. So I took him to the vet, got him all injected up, and he did well. But the EPM residuals never disappeared, so I had to ask myself whether I thought it was coming back, or if this was just old age. I treated him for a month for EPM (Sulfa/pyreth/VitE/Folic acid). I don't know if it made a difference. Maybe a little? When I took him for his reevaluation, he actually had a foot abcess hidden under his right hind shoe. That could have caused irregularities. So I didn't continue treatment, and he seems to be doing well. So now I will see if I can enroll him in an arthritis study for a new drug that you spray on the joints. It comes with free lameness exam, x-rays and blood work. It will be good to have another vet evaluate him. Now if the weather would cooperate, I might actually be able to take him in to get him started! I did ride him on Thanksgiving and he felt great. I really love that horse. I hope I am making all the right decisions for him. Wish I could be riding him every day again. I miss my horses in that way. I love taking care of them, but I really, really miss riding them right now.

Friday, June 13, 2008

5th Wedding Anniversary

Tomorrow my husband and I celebrate our 5th Anniversary!! Congratulations to us! We are throwing ourselves a big party, expecting about 70 people. Apart from starting to panic about what seemed to be a good idea a few months ago, we are excited to see everyone. It's the first big (non-holiday) party we will be hosting at our place since being on the "farm". Preparations are going okay. Our lawn mower starter went kaputt last weekend, meaning we won't have the nicely groomed look that we had hoped to have, our barn flooded 10 days ago, which means we worked hard to get the mold and mildew smell and moldy hay cleared out of there, and the house is messy beyond what our current psyches could actually take, so we have ignored the huge cleaning required until today (the day before the party). Other than that, everything will be perfect. At least we have our health, and that is really something considering all the things that have happened to us in the past 5 years. We are different people from the ones who walked through the vineyard five years ago. But we are still in love, and my husband is still the most precious person and most important thing in my life. I am looking forward to celebrating this milestone with him and look forward to the next 50 years!

Back To Work

Memorial Day weekend I officially put Zoe "Back To Work". That meant I took her to a friend's riding arena for 3 days and longed her each day. Then took her back that Wednesday and found she was lame-ish. While there was no obvious swelling, taking lame steps, or heat in the leg, she was moving conservatively. When I palpated the tendon she never moved the leg, but I could feel her shoulder muscle contract slightly when I pinched the original site of the injury. That was enough for me to do 2 things:
1) Feel horrible that I overworked my horse in the first 3 days of rehab, and
2) Put her away and gave her several days of rest.

Due to bad weather (lots of rain and flooding), Zoe has had about a week longer for resting than I had planned. I took her out 2 days ago and put her on the longe. She still seems to be moving a bit conservatively, but it looked more like she just didn't have any energy or stamina. She was content to just walk and trot on the longe. She was very well behaved, but I think I would have rather liked to see her try some big fancy trotting and some desire to canter. She did get tired quickly. Remember, she is really out of shape and being conservative on both of our parts is just what we need. I am a bit concerned that maybe I did too much Memorial Day weekend and maybe she really did reinjure herself. Aaargh. There is no heat, no swelling, and no other indication of that, but really only another ultrasound would tell me for certain. I am going to give us a couple more workouts to see before I take her in for a re-check. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Old Age

I took Jimmy in for an "old age inspection", aka lameness exam, about a week ago. I've noticed over the last 2 years (he's 22 now) that his arthritis was getting worse in his left hock. I also noticed that his right front leg seemed to be a little off once in a while. And at the end of March when I started to ride him more, he got really sore and looked awful for about a week. I felt awful about it! So, I took him in with the intention that I would inject every joint with pain killer and start him on expensive supplements and regular treatments. The exam revealed that, indeed, his left hock and right front fetlock were the worst joints affected by osteoarthritis. The vets and decided, after a $300 exam with radiographs of 2 joints, that it would be a reasonable start to his treatment if I were to start using Adequan and more joint supplements to see if they relieved his pain any. We chose the most non-invasive treatment for now, just so we wouldn't have to go into his joints with injections. I think that is reasonable, but afterwards I did feel a little bit like I copped out. I had fully intended to have his hock and fetlock injected before I showed up at the clinic. It was about 3 years ago that I almost started using Adequan with Jimmy. I even had some in my hands once, but I decided that was really too much to do at that time, so I sent it back to the vet. Now I wonder if it was the right thing at the time.... Where would we be now if I had done that then? We'd probably be at hock injections! At that would have been after spending $600 a year on Adequan for him. I do think Jimmy has been pretty comfortable up until this year. I have kept him in regular exercise up until this winter. He really did lose his fitness and muscling this winter, and it is going to be hard to bring him back up to the level he was last year (before breast cancer). Not only do I have my own physical problems now with lymphedema, but I also have no outdoor arena to work him in. I feel pretty limited. However, I am working on his training and supplements. I already increased his joint supplement, added Hyaluronic Acid (HA), and switched to a different brand with different doses. I think he does look better already, but maybe my observation is just affected by my own feeling that I am doing something for him.

I also took Zoe in for her tendon evaluation. They did a lameness test on her and ultrasounded the tendon. She looks great! The healing has really progressed in the last 2 months, and she was okayed for limited turnout! 1-2 hours/day for a week, then increase to half days for a week, then regular turnout with everyone else. I can start riding her somewhere in there (when I feel safe about it!). I think I will let her have her turnout for a few weeks, then start lunging her. I will have to take her to my friends with arenas, since good footing is essential for her work now. So it won't be easy, and it will be time-consuming. But I can't wait to be riding her again.

In the meantime, a friend of mine bought a grand prix schoolmaster. She has offered to let me take lessons on him twice a month and get some rides in edgewise, when possible. I rode him for the first time last weekend, and Wow! I had so much fun, and did pretty well on him. The people watching didn't laugh too hard, and were complimenting me at the end. I was so excited. I will be able to learn a lot on him -- the right positioning of my body, making sure I am light on my aids, and the psychology of a grand prix horse. This will make me such a better rider and trainer for Zoe. It's a really great opportunity.

So it appears that with the weather, my horse life is also improving. Everyone is back on track, including me. I will focus on rehabilitating my beloved horses, and improving my own riding skill. Yep, just in time for winter, I will be back ready to ride full time and then will have to deal with freezing temperatures, dark days, and the general unpleasantness of winter chores. Boy, am I psyched!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Breast Cancer 3-Day

I am walking in the Chicago Breast Cancer 3-Day for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Won't you consider sponsoring me?

I'm walking 60 miles in the Chicago Breast Cancer 3-Day! Will you help me reach my goal?

European Vacation 2008

We visited my sister in Holland the last 2 weeks. Awesome! Traveled through Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. Walked for miles and miles -- 20 miles in one day! Amazing that nothing happened to any of the horses or other animals while we were gone, and I only had 2 anxiety dreams in which I dreamt I forgot to feed the horses and had to clean a ton of poop. :-) Found great tack shops, and if the US Dollar weren't so weak, would have had really killer deals on tons of stuff. Instead found some decent deals and unique items like a halter and cooler with the Friesian flag motif.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

One Year, Come and Gone

February 6th was my 1st year anniversary for my diagnosis of breast cancer.

February 26th was my 1st year anniversary for starting chemotherapy.

Today is my first year anniversary for having a catastrophic car accident that totaled my Ford F-150 and a grain truck pulling 900 bushels of seed corn. We all walked away with hardly a bruise.

One year feels so different. Things seem so far distant, yet they still affect me like it happened yesterday. Does the surreal juxtaposition of life and death always stay with a cancer survivor like this?