Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Soooooo tired ...

I think the hypothyroid of the thyroiditis has made its switch to hypOthyroid because it was soooo hard to get out of bed this morning.  It was so comfortable and it felt like a high powered magnet was holding me in. Even though I had a stress dream right before I woke up that I had driven to Buckley for an acting seminar and had picked up some old high school classmates from Burien on the way.  After I got to the seminar Trainer V. borrowed my car and I thought I'd be fine because surely someone would give me a ride back to Seattle (apparently my subconscious hasn't caught up with where I live yet).  But no one would.  Even my old friend, Bill Cody, made an appearance snearing at me that I hadn't contacted him in years and now here I was asking for a ride home.  Then one of the actors overdosed and died in the men's bathroom and there was all sorts of chaos.  And I ended up sitting in a corner crying hysterically because I'd been abandoned in Tacoma.  Finally I called my parents and they came to pick me up.  At one point in the dream I picked up the phone and all the numbers were whirling around and I thought, "Crap. This is one of those stress dreams where I can't dial the number because the numbers on the phone keep changing.  I'm going to have to use my mental powers to overcome this part of the dream."

I don't know if part of that was triggered by my liberal guilt over a little experience yesterday.  I gave KD a ride to the grocery store in the morning with her three-year old daughter and when we got there - in our tiny little urban center in our bucolic, peaceful neighborhood, there was a big, dumb-looking, IQ lower than his shoes, guy in his early 20's at most loitering around the parking lot.  I noticed he was avoiding men and only going up to women - especially ones with children.  When we got out of the car he came up to us and in his hipster-swaying moves (which amazing did not cause his pants to fall all the way down) he asked, "Hey-a, can I ask you a question?" and I said, "Not right now, sorry," and he looked disappointed and swaggered away towards a woman with her baby in a front pack. Kristine made a sighing sound and I said, "I know that sounds rude, but my friends used to panhandle too and I can tell you nothing good comes of 'Can I ask you a question'." Kristine said, "I'm just glad you're here right now."  Which made me realize that a lot of people may not actually be used to panhandlers and it is probably kind of disorienting for them.  Then I felt like following that kid around and saying over his shoulder, "Don't listen to him - if it's not going toward booze or drugs now the next wave of panhandling will.  You're not helping him - you're actually hurting him by giving him money to continue not growing up and taking care of himself."  But of course, I didn't because I didn't have time to and it potentially could've gotten me in trouble I wouldn't want to be in.

Yesterday I road Toadie in another short lesson and we didn't do as well as the lesson we videotaped a couple days ago.  That is probably because I was feeling nervous and not on my game at all and Toad was testing me.  One time she just wouldn't listen to my leg at all and went weaving all the way across the arena no matter what I did.  Trainer K. said just to keep going and make sure she kept moving as opposed to getting flustered about steering.  I didn't understand the logic in that but did what she said.  Then she got frustrated with me and stopped and used all her 1,000 pounds to push her legs into the ground and refuse to move.  Apparently, I had to adjust my seat and relax my legs and then give her a firm tap with my heels and the command to walk.  When I did that she started walking and was more willing.

It made sense to me why Trainer K. said the other day that for awhile I can't ride by myself with her.  Not because she's dangerous but because she's too smart and will learn what she can get away with if I get in a situation like that and don't know what to do.  The only options I could think of were to just keep kicking her asking her to go and then when she started to get upset I would just get off and give up.  Then she'd learn that if she didn't want to work she'd just stand there and I'd get off and she could go back to her stall and eat.  Or I could stay on and keep kicking her and yelling at her until she threw me off.  So, I'm glad Trainer K. was there to tell me how to adjust my seat and just doing that worked.

I was going to ride her again today but she had new shoes put on and had what Trainer K. called a "hot nail" which means that it was a little too high in her hoof and was pressing into soft tissue.  She explained that on most horses it was a fine place to be, but for some super-sensitive horses like Toad it was too high.  She's kind of a special-needs girl because she's so sensitive (such a Thoroughbred). That might be why she tried to rear a couple times while my farrier was shoeing her.  Although, honestly she just didn't want her front feet worked on at all today.  At one point while I was holding her suddenly her front leg (that the farrier wasn't holding) started to buckle under her and she looked like she was just going to fold in on her legs and land on the ground.  I said, "Oh No!" and not knowing what else to do I gave a little correction yank on her lead rope and snapped, "Ah-ah-ah! Stand!" and she stood up again.  The farrier thanked me and I said, "What was that? She looked like she was going down and going to hit the ground," and he said, "No,  she was preparing to go up, she was going into a stance to prepare herself to rear."  She did it about three more times but this time I knew what to look for.  The farrier thanked me again and said I was doing exactly what I should be to keep her from rearing which was good to know.  I don't recall if he was nailing in shoes or not.  That might be why she was doing that because it hurt cause last time she didn't do that.   I'll have to remember each time to remind him that she's special needs girl and needs the nails really low.  Trainer K. says her Warmblood is the same way and gets all ouchy and freaked out if the nails are as high on a normal horse.

So, I have to go back at some point this evening to meet him to get those nails put in lower.  And I might go out tomorrow morning to ride Girlfriend again.  She wasn't quite so hyper and crazy today.  I did not canter her out of fear she'd gallop off and that would be bad for her feet with new shoes.  I might be a bit burned out on the barn by the end of this week - which I didn't realize was possible.

Because I was out there for so long today I took the pitbull with me so she wouldn't be locked in the house all day.  One of the other trainers had a little mixed-breed puppy named Whiskey and we put the two of them in the arena and closed the doors and they literally raced in big circles until Willow literally fell over on her side and lay there panting.  When I went over to put her leash on she tried to run again but she was so exhausted she just fell over again.  I put her in one of the empty stalls to rest because she can't be running around the farm like that.

While I was riding Girlfriend the other training was training her horse to drive - as in driving to pull a cart.  I've never seen anyone do that in person before (the training part) so it was very interesting to watch.  I had absolutely not idea what she was doing or how in the world she was getting the horse to understand what she wanted him to do.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My first lesson with Toad!

Yesterday I showed up at the stable to watch Toad's training and was wearing my breeches and boots in hopes they would let me ride her after training.  I was dubious though because the weather was in the low 80's and extremely humid and here in the Pacific NW the people are not acclimated to such high humidity and the horses are even less acclimated, so I knew we couldn't work her very hard.

But when I got there Trainer K. said that Trainer V. was having a personal issue she had to take care of so wouldn't be able to come to do training.  I asked what that meant and Trainer K. said, "I guess that means we're going to ride her."  Yay!  I was surprised because Trainer K. had originally said she wouldn't ride Toad, only do ground work training because she had such a reputation of being crazy.  But that reputation was not unfounded, her previous owner had been thrown off her the first time she tried to get on her in an English saddle and she'd bolted on her a bunch of times.   And she would dance and kick in the cross ties and throw her head and literally drag her previous owner down the aisle when she was trying to lead her.  I have a new theory though - I'm wondering if she was having her chiropractic issues on and off then too. I wonder if she was having pain in her face like she was before the vet came out a few weeks ago.  It must have come and go because she was so mellow when I started working with her before her neck seized up.  Maybe it was that and she didn't have firm, consistent handling to help her feel safe.  All I know is she is uber-sensitive, but with a lot of firm but gentle handling and *a lot* of snuggles and love she is very calm and happy.  She loves it when I kiss her on the nose and give her big hugs on her neck.  She'll even lift her leg to beg for more hugs!

So thanks to Trainer V. being so adventurous she had ridden Toad enough that Trainer K. was willing to work under saddle with her.  I was still nervous about taking a short lesson with her though because it's one thing for two Grand Prix level riders to ride her, but I'm still at Training Level at best (The dressage levels are Intro, Training, Level 1 through 4 - so that shows how much farther down the scale of riding ability I am from my trainers.   And just to clarify, few people out there riding horses or taking riding lessons ever actually get to Level 4 in dressage). This is an example of Level 4.

But my short little lesson went really well.  I wore an eventing vest to help with my confidence, but honestly it's only prudent.  I'm in my forties, I've had a broken neck so all those muscles are messed up enough that they take a long time to heal when hurt and I have severe rheumatoid arthritis and whenever I get hurt it causes a huge, painful flare-up.  And since I couldn't ride for six weeks when I got thrown off a horse last April, it is only reasonable to wear an eventing vest when riding a new horse that everyone said, "Are you nuts? Why are you buying that horse?" when I bought her (well, everyone except Trainer V. who saw what I saw in her).

I didn't do very well when I first got on because as with the last three times I rode her I was super nervous.  But after a bit of instruction (especially on relaxing and breathing) we did pretty well together.  Trainer K. said she thinks we will make a good team.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My funny little pony

Since I've been sick the last month or so I haven't ridden Girlfriend much at all.  And now that T. is back in Montana that means Girl went from being ridden on average five days a week to once every two weeks and then only for about fifteen minutes.  So, when I got on her day before yesterday she was so excited that she started trotting before my leg was over her back and when she'd warmed up and I asked her to canter she did a series of little bucking-bronco-bucks that made Toadie's trainers laugh.  So, I need to ride her a lot to get her back to her normal self before the little girl who is going to lease her starts riding her in a week.

Yesterday I went out to ride her and spend a little time with Toad, although technically it was Toad's day off.  And I'm still getting my energy back and riding Girl can be pretty tiring so I just groomed Toad and braided her mane.  But I read Girl quite hard for a half hour to try and get some of her yah-yahs out.  She didn't buck when we cantered but she definitely broke to a gallop a few times and once when we were trotting she suddenly bolted.  She always does it in a very polite way and stops as soon as I ask her - I can almost hear her saying, "Ooops - I'm sorry. Did I just gallop? I couldn't help myself!"

After our ride since it was so quiet and only Trainer K. was at the stable I took Girlfriend's saddle and bridle off and left her in the arena to roll.  There are three big doors to the arena - one is always chained shut because people rarely use it, one is so heavy that even it's always latched you have to really throw your body against it to get it open and then there is the one I always use on our side of the barn and if you push it all the way closed it jams and won't swing open on its own so I never think to latch it.

So while Girlfriend was rolling, I went and put her saddle away, rinsed off her bit and put her bridle away, then went out to the parking lot to get something out of my car.  When I came back in the barn Trainer K. was grooming one of her client's horses, Titan,  and said, "Girlfriend is back in her stall,"  I said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I was coming right back, I didn't mean for you to have to put her back for me!" and Trainer K. said, "I didn't put her back.  She put herself back." 

Apparently, while Trainer K. was leaning over to unbuckle Titan's fly sheet, she heard the clip clop of hooves in the aisle and thought, "I thought J. just went out to the parking lot?" and she looked up and Girlfriend had pushed the arena door open and was calmly walking back to her stall.  She walked right into her stall and went over to her hay and started eating like it was no big deal and she was just as capable of putting herself away as I was! She is so cute!  Apparently, I need to start latching that arena door too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Third time riding Toadie!!!

I got to ride Toad after her training again today.  It was my third time riding her and I'm feeling like I'm starting to understand how to communicate with her.  It was especially odd today because I was riding Girlfriend during Toad's training and she was super hot and amped up and acting like she did when I first got her - bolting and throwing her head and when I asked her to canter she did an excited little buck up with her butt, down with her head, up with her butt. 

Totally opposite of Toad who just stood there when I got on her.  First time I rode her on the lunge line at a walk.  Last time I rode her around a little more with Trainer V. walking along nearby and today I rode her by myself with the Trainer V. standing in the middle of the arena and Trainer K. riding around on Girlfriend.  We walked a little then I asked if they thought I was ready to trot with her and they said that was fine so I asked her to trot and she did a pretty darn good transition for a green horse!  Her trot is amazing! It's much slower than Girlfriend (of course, whose isn't?) and while you feel like you're getting bounced around on Girlfriend, with Toad it's really smooth and like flowing along on some gentle rolling waves!  I think the only other horse I've ridden with that kind of trot is Sparky at my old stable ... I think it was him.  It was either him or Penny, but I think it was Sparky.  It must be a large Thoroughbred thing because Girl is only 15 hands and short and squat but Toadie is 16.1 hands and has got long legs and a long body. 

I'm totally not kidding, it felt like we were dancing while she was trotting and I was posting.  And she listened to my leg and staying on the wall, but the moved out just a little when I asked when she almost scraped me off on the wall.  Then she stopped as soon as I asked her in a nice smooth transition! Woo-hoo!  When we stopped both my trainers said, "Wow, you guys look really good together!"  Which was really great to hear.  Weeee!  I had to lean over and give her a huge hug around her neck I was so excited. 

I stayed a little bit after to watch Trainer V. with a client's new horse - a little gray Arab named Jafar.  He is really really cute.  But of course Toadie is the best horse ever.  I can't wait until we can start doing schooling shows next year because I think she will do really well!  I have some great video of her from her training session yesterday with Trainer V. riding her and a cute clip of her and Trainer K. just standing around before training ... but I can't figure out how to upload the video onto my computer because my computer is not recognizing the camera when I plug it in.  Grumble.

Instead here is a photo of our newest neighbor, who I believe in just under two weeks old because I was lucky enough to pass by and see him not long after he was born and I think that was less than two weeks ago.  When I walked up to the fence his relatives thought that it was best to charge the fence and bare their teeth and make scary hissing noises though.  I was glad there was a big fence there but honestly they are still scary.  I may have to get an alpaca as a watchdog.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Silly pre-coffee kitten

With three cats we have two litter boxes (one upstairs in the laundry room and one downstairs in the half-bath) otherwise it becomes really overwhelming.  As it is we have to clean the litter boxes twice a day for optimal non-grossnes.  And we have a cover with a filter in it to help keep the smell out on the litter box in the downstairs half-bath so that we don't totally gross out our guests if they need to use the bathroom.

So, this morning while the hubby was making pancakes with the girl I decided to be helpful and clean the litter boxes.  So in the downstairs half bath I took the lid off the litter box and put it on the bathroom rug while I cleaned it out.  Snowie came in and looked at the lid, then crawled inside which I thought was perfectly innocent exploring.  Then I heard her scratching on the bathroom rug. Hmmm ... but then she came out looking confused and got into the litter box to pee.  But when I picked up the lid to put it on litterbox - sure enough - she had pooed on the bathroom rug.  The funny part was as soon as I put the lid on the litter box, she looked at the litter box with the lid, then looked at her poo on the rug, then looked back at the litter box with the lid.  Then she got a horrified look on her little white kitten face and ran out into the hallway and crawled under the shelf that we keep the shoes on.  Ooops!

Here is a photo of Snowie when she is on top of her game.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Plagues & kittens

Just as I might actually be getting better from this thyroiditis now my daughter is sick.  I think she just has a cold but it's a bad enough one she needed to stay home from school.  She seemed pretty happy about it though and spent most of the day in my bed watching tv with her dolls.  Except for the hour when I needed to take some supplements to Girlfriend and wanted to stay to watch some of the Toad's training.  She got to stay in her pajamas and I told her I'd carry her to the bleachers and she could lay down with her head in her lap and watch but she said she wanted to stay in the car.  I was feeling like this might be one of those times that gets brought up by her in therapy in twenty years "... and I was on my death bed and my mom dragged me out to the barn and left me near death in the back of her car, all alone in the woods with no one to hear me scream ... all because she loved horses more than me!"

It turns out that Trainer V. stopped by to stop to talk to her and she was quite energetic and animated so I didn't have that much to worry about.  I think she would've been entertained if she watched some of the training.  Toadie is in heat so she was pretty ADD and having a hard time sticking to her tasks at times.  At one point right before I got there Trainer K. was lunging her and asked her to canter and she bolted and she's so clumsy and distracted right now that when Trainer K. pulled back on the lunge line her legs came out from under her.  When she got up she walked over to Trainer K. and hung her head and put it gently against her the way she does with me when she's either submitting or has spooked and wants me to comfort her.  So, she was acting up a little when I was watching but she calmed down under saddle.  She appears to be able to stay calm more easily if she is directly interacting with a human.  She really responds to the cues and emotions of her handler.

So, I'm sitting here half-watching Beauty and the Beast with my daughter and the scene where Gaston convinces the villagers that the Beast is evil and will "come for your children in the night", etc. and all the villagers go out chanting "Kill the Beast" it reminded me a lot of the Bush Administration with Arabs and how so many people in this country still believe that being Arab or Muslim means that you are cruel and "hate freedom and Americans".  How easily us humans are sucked into propaganda.

But I have digressed.  I was going to write about kittens.

Which I did write quite a bit and somehow managed to lose all of it.  Aargh.  Bascially, Nermal and Snow are spazzy, destructive little kittens with very different personalities.  Nermal is more of a carpe diem type of girl with a raspy little meow that sounds like she's been smoking filterless Lucky Strikes and drinking whiskey.  Snowie is more of a worrier and follows Nermal around and tried to groom her even though Nermal doesn't want her to and goes back and re-covers Nermal's poop in the litter box for her.   Nermal follows BuddyCat everywhere and tries to be just like him.  Snow follows the pitbull around and sleeps next to her and rolls around under her nose until the pitbull licks her head.  Here is a gratuitous cute kitten photo that my husband took last week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Second Time Riding Toadie!

I'm actually starting to feel better.  I woke up with a lot less pain but still very little energy.  But at least it's a start.

I went out to visit my horses and watch Toadie's training.  She was a little pissy today because she's in heat but as soon as she started working she went into her wanting to please mode which is so sweet.  I took Girlfriend out and rode her for about fifteen minutes.  We cantered in a 20-meter circle a couple times I felt like I was going to keel over right off of her from exhaustion so that was enough of that.  Then we just stood in the middle of the arena with Trainer K. and watched Trainer V. riding Toadie.

When Trainer V. was done with her training ride I asked if I could ride Toad again just briefly at a walk.  I still felt a little shaky from exhaustion but really wanted to at least try.  She had on Trainer V.'s slippery saddle that I don't like but at least today I was wearing my breeches instead of slippery blue jeans.  Toad did really well.  She responds better right now to voice commands for her gaits and listens really well to the leg (well, as well as a super green horse can listen).  I was a little nervous because it's only the second time I've ridden her and it was all on my own, off the lunge line, but she's a sweet girl.

She had a little more energy in her step than last time I rode her but none of that running-off/bolting energy that Girlfriend has.  And a couple times she got confused and just stopped and refused to budge, so I gave her a minute of not doing anything, then asked her to walk and she did.  The second time we went down the center line and I planned to turn to the left at X (the middle of the arena) and she got confused and froze in place.  The reins definitely are still confusing her some so I just did a gentle tap, tap, tap with my left heel and asked her to walk on and she eventually did turn and walk.  I gave her lots of praises and pets for that because I think she's wasn't being stubborn, she was just confused.  On the full arena and the 20 meter circle she did really well and when she'd start to drift in to the middle of the arena I'd use leg aids to ask her to go back out on the wall and she listened to that really well.  It was pretty cool! And I was starting to feel a lot more confident with her.  I feel like it's going to be ok and she and are really are going to be a good team under saddle!  I can't wait until I can start taking regular lessons on her!

Of course, now I am completely exhausted.  Sigh. But I don't have anything physically taxing to do the rest of the afternoon so there will be much rest for me. Yay!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm actually feeling a little better today.  The Endocrinologist prescribed prednisone which I started taking yesterday and my pain level has gone down a lot.  It makes me feel weird though, like I'm on coke and it makes me feel kind of nervous and agitated, which now that I think about it is how I felt on coke.  Hmmm ... yuck.  Oops ... once again public information that will be used against me if I ever run for public political office. 

When I went out to watch Trainer K. work with Toadie I actually put Girlfriend's saddle on and road her for about 15 minutes until I started to feel a little nauseous because I was feeling so weak.  It felt good to hop back up on a horse though, even though I felt like my form was awful.  I did enjoy watching Trainer K. working with Toadie because she tells me everything she is doing and why she is doing it.  It makes me realize how little I know about horses but it's great information.   Toadie is so good with her and whenever she's around she gets this look on her face like Trainer K. is her mom and she gets all calm.  Of course, she does the same thing with me, but I think a bit more so lately with Trainer K. because I haven't been there much to work with her the last few weeks while I'm sick.  But I like seeing her looking so calm and relaxed.

I need to go wash the pitbull now.  I let her run around the stable while I was out there and she found the compost pile with the manure to roll in.  Then I had to put her back in the car because she got the two farm dogs and one of the stall cleaner's dogs to chase her and they were running top speed all around the farm and freaking the owners out.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jen's obnoxious music

Before we moved out of the city I made one of my favorite city friends a compilation of my favorite super obnoxious songs because we were talking about music that makes us laugh because it is so over the top.  It's got songs like Cookiepuss by the Beastie Boys and Big Dumb Sex by Soundgarden.  Jen said she listened to it while on her morning run and started laughing out loud in the middle of the jogging path at Greenlake because of some of the songs.  So, it turns out that my neighbor, D. would like a copy in exchange for loaning me a stack of cd's earlier in the summer - like all his AC/DC and Journey and Bay City Rollers.  I like D. because he is like an overgrown kid and we are the same age.  And he and his wife have a membership at a local gun club and love to go target shooting.  In large doses he might drive me nuts (his wife doesn't even try to have rules like me such as "no wild frogs in the house") but I still really enjoy hanging out with them.  Ah yes ... another of my favorites on the compilation is Born With a Tail by Supersuckers because it's just so over the top "I'm gonna hop on toppa yo mom before I go ..." Sigh. I swear I really am over thirteen years old.  But some people just bring out the teenager in me - like D. and Jen.  I miss Jen.  I wish they lived closer.  I think my obnoxious taste in music might be my way of carrying a "don't expect me to be politically correct because I think that's a cop-out to not be honest and pretend you're superior to everyone" sign.  And yes, I swear to god I really am a bleeding-heart, Christian liberal.  I just think a lot of times people using politically correct language being so sensitive about words is just a shield to cover up their racism and misogony and make them feel less guilty for what they really think.

This is my first evening in awhile that I have not had a fever so I have high hopes that after three weeks this stupid virus is FINALLY going away.  Gah.  I felt well enough to go out to the stable today by myself and check on my horses.  Girlfriend seemed to be doing just fine and Toadie is doing fine except she has a swollen bump on her belly right by where the girth goes that Trainer K. is a bug bite that has just swollen up a lot because Thoroughbred's have very sensitive skin.  I stayed long enough to put an ice pack on it for 20 minutes that seemed to really help.  And I put fly spray on her for the first time. Trainer K. has been putting fly spray on her but I hadn't yet.  She's extremely scared of spray bottles, but has been getting better.  I sprayed it on a soft brush right next to her then brushed it on her and she was doing fine.  So after doing one side of her and she being fairly calm about me spraying the brush right next to her, I went ahead and sprayed some directly on her rear flank.  Ooops.  That didn't go as well because I swear she just flew right across the grooming room. It's like her feet just came off the ground and she was instantly as far away from me as she could get while in the cross ties.  So, that was the only time I sprayed it on because I didn't want to completely traumatize her.

But then she was all riled up. so when I took her out to the pasture she was all bouncy and at one point the wind blue a tree branch near her and she bolted off to the side and bounced like she was thinking of rearing.  I was so exhausted by then it didn't even scare me ... well, that and I'm getting used to her and am starting to really know her so it's not so scary even though she's so freaking big.  I told her to calm down and she pranced a little and bounced a little but otherwise didn't run off like that, until we got to the pasture.  I wanted to put her in the back paddock next to Girlfriend and so they'd both be in the shade.  But for some reason she was all riled up and even though the entrance was not big enough for both of to go through at the same time safely, she ran past me and out into the paddock and tried to pull the lead rope from my hand.  I was so exhausted and feeling so sick my muscles were shaking so I glared at her and said, "Really? I mean ... really?" Then pulled her back in and muttered, "Crap, let's do that again." So, I took her back out to the front paddock and she started jumping around until I was able to correct her and get her to stand still.  I stood with her a minute and told her to calm down and just stand still and she seemed ok, but tried to run past me into the back paddock again.  I should've just done it over and over again until she was polite but I felt like I was going to fall down, and because she was more reserved and respectful of my space that time I said fine and took off her halter and dragged my sorry ass back to the barn.

We have this gigantic wading pool that takes up our whole back porch so most of the kids in the neighborhood spent the afternoon floating around in rubber floaties and pushing each other out of said floaties.  It was a lot of loud, raucous fun and I got to spend most of the afternoon on the couch trying to rest and keeping my ears open for screams that were not happy screams.  Luckily, there were no unhappy screams except for a few "Why did you push me off?!" but that was usually followed up by someone getting dunked so everything was ok after that.  I really like this neighborhood because there are so many kids close to my daughter's age.  When they got too cold they all migrated down the street to someone else's house until they had dried off and warmed up, then they all came back and jumped back in the pool.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thunder and heavy rain ... most unexpected

That was my Facebook status yesterday morning because I was sitting, having my coffee and looking up stuff about this nasty virus I have, Subacute Thyroiditis when I swore I heard thunder.  The weather report for the Greater Seattle area said sunny and 80's for the whole week so that was odd.  I brushed it off as some sort of construction sound that sounded like thunder.  Then I heard it again and it really did sound like thunder and I couldn't imagine anything industrial that could be dropped or pounded on that would make that exact sound.  Then I heard it again and it started to pour down rain.  When I posted my status a couple of friends who live in downtown Seattle replied "Is that a song lyric?" "Are you on vacation somewhere?"  But no, we get the freaky weather up here. And I like it that way!

So, speaking of the Virus from Hell (VfH) I got in to see and endocrinlogist specialist yesterday and she confirmed what my mad-Google-skills had told me, that it is Subacute Thyroiditis. It is a virus and will go away on it's own and since I'm half way through week 3 it should start clearing up soon.  Of course, the VfH was not going to have any of that and when I got home I felt so weak, chilled and like I'd been run over by a truck I called my husband, told him I couldn't make dinner so pick up take-out, put the girl in front of a movie and collapsed in bed.  I've been taking round the clock tylenol/ibuprofen but had skipped my afternoon dose so I could take the prednisone the doctor prescribed (and my husband was picking up on his way home from work) and apparently without my large doses of ibuprofen and tylenol I had a nasty fever.  That would explain why I've been so exhausted the last two weeks.  I had a little meltdown and cried and planned my funeral in my head, then took a bunch more tylenol and eventually felt well enough to watch a documentary on who Jack the Ripper might be and how he probably continued his killings in NYC.

Then, as though it's not enough to feel even sicker after 2.5 weeks of being sick, I got that dreaded call from one of my friends (M. - Gemini's owners) at the barn saying Girlfriend was acting colicky.  I would've panicked but I was too achy and exhausted.  I asked poor M. a billion questions "Is she looking at her stomach? Is she sweating? Will you go in her stall and see how she reacts to you? Ok - what did she do? Is she lifting her tail and peeing a lot (that would mean she's in heat) ..."  She was very patient and answered all my questions and even went so far as to listen to her heart (I forgot to ask her to listen to her gut sounds for me).  In the end we agreed she just needed to be watched but didn't seem to need the vet called because she eventually calmed down and went back to eating.  I feel very indebted to M. for doing all that!

It was so frustrating though because I wanted to jump up and run out to the barn and see for myself. And it's only 5 miles away.  But even just sitting up made me feel like someone was crushing me with a pallet full of anvils.

This morning my fever is gone again (yay for huge doses of tylenol/ibuprofen) and I have just enough energy to barely function.  But I don't think I'll be able to make it out to the barn so I'll need to call and make sure Girlfriend is ok.   Toadie has been doing better which is great.  I really wanted to go watch her training but there's no way I'm going to be able to rally and do that.  Plus, I think at this point I may as well just give in and spend the day on the couch.  Maybe I'll finally start getting better if I do that.

The endocrinologist I saw yesterday was great.  And Evergreen Hospital is so swanky!  The doctor asked who my primary care physician is and I said I didn't have one yet because we'd moved here a few months ago from Seattle.  She said she had moved here a few years ago and people in Seattle talked about the Eastside like it was this horrible "other place" they never wanted to go, so why did I move and I said, "Because I like it better.  It's so much nicer.  Less congested, way less crime, much better schools, nicer houses for less price, no stuck-up city people telling me the city is the only place to be ..." and the doctor smiled and said, "Smart woman!"

My mom even liked this doctor and commented on the way home "Now that is a good doctor.  Smart, with-it, takes time with her patients, takes her job seriously.  That's the way doctors are supposed to be!"  It's kind of a big deal if my mom (a retired nurse) actually likes doctors these days.  But then after my brief stint of working at Group Health many, many years ago I can see her point.  That was like the McDonalds of health care.  Their system seemed to be "get 'em in and out as fast as you can to make the most money and do the least amount of work to help them so the overhead costs less." 

The general-care physician I saw in my new neighborhood pre-endocrinologist has a clinic like that.  They recommended a different specialist but he was on vacation, so I found this one so I could see someone sooner.  I even called the general care doctor's clinic to give them a head's up that this new specialist would be calling for a copy of my lab results, and the specialist called them three times asking or them.  But they never sent them over.  Finally, the specialist called me before the appointment and asked if I could pick them up on the way because they really needed them.   My mom was driving me because I didn't feel well enough (and all my non-working friends had to be home to pick their kids up from school) so we stopped by this other doctor's office to see if I could get my lab results on the way.  But they had a sign on the door "Closed for staff meeting".  But they were all sitting right inside beyond the glass door.  So I knocked and they all pretended not to see me.  I knocked two more times and they pretended not to see me.  Then I pressed my face against the glass, pounded on the door as hard as I could until someone looked at me (with fear in her eyes like I was crazy) and I mouthed, "Get Your Ass Over Here!"

Finally, the largest of the receptionists opened the door and said firmly, "We are closed right now!" and before she could shut the door I snapped, "I have an appointment with a specialist in fifteen minutes and they have called numerous times for my lab results and nobody sent them.  So they called me and asked me to pick them up on the way to my appointment."  Thankfully, the receptionist looked embarrassed and went back and printed up my lab results.  But so much for that clinic.  My mom laughed a little when I got in the car and said, "Don't mess with you, huh?"  Then she said, "I bet they hope you never come back because you might actually demand that they do their job and show some competency."  Well, not to worry.  Never going back to them.  But it was frustrating.  Back in our old neighborhood we went to the Polyclinic and had the same family doctor for something like ten years and we could always count on them.  It's too bad they don't have a branch of the Polyclinic out here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My dreams used to be so literal ...

My morning alarm usually wakes me up right in the middle of a dream and when I'm lying in bed trying to wake up (with the pitbull, two kittens followed by the 7-year old jumping on me) and I review the dream in my head it is always very literal and "real life" like.  Like this morning I was having a dream that I went to a party with my first boyfriend, Jon and we were seeing all these people from 25 years ago and were getting along really well (in reality he refuses to speak to me to this day ... such grudges!).  But then yesterday morning I woke up from a dream that actually did not make sense in real life.  My husband and I were driving home from work downtown and got onto Mercer Street and suddenly it turned into I-90.  In real life that would've been fine for getting home but in the dream we lived somewhere completely different so we were upset to be heading onto the I-90 bridge.  Somehow I managed to make an illegal U-turn before the bridge but ended up on the shore of Lake Washington by the Arboretum.  We had to get out of the car and stand in line with a bunch of people to wait our turn to get back onto the highway.  When I got in line the person in front of me said, "Where is your carrot?" and I shrugged and she said, "You can't get in line unless you have a carrot.  You have horses right? Everyone in line has a horse, so you have to have a carrot."

I blame the chronic pain I've been in from the Subacute Thyroiditis for my weird dreams.  And I'm starting to feel kind of depressed which I mentioned to my husband and he said, "Well, yeah, constant pain will do that to you."  I switched from naproxen/tylenol to ibuprofen/tylenol today so I'm hoping that combination will help more.  It occurred to me I should just break down and ask a doctor for some vicodin, but then it brings up the problem that those kind of pain killers deplete your natural pain killing endorphins and can make the pain last longer and hurt worse before it goes away.  I reminded myself of when I had a broken neck and after I got out of the hospital I only took rx strength ibuprofen. The first couple weeks were really hard and I lived for my next dose, but then the pain receded much faster.  I recall in the next couple years meeting people who had also broken their neck and how they had much worse and much longer problems with pain because they continued taking morphine when they got out of the hospital.  Anyway,  I figure I'm probably well into Week 3 of this nasty illness and it's only supposed to last 3-6 weeks.  And if I'm lucky it will only last 3 weeks.  Or at least start getting considerably better soon.  Ugh.  I made it through having a broken neck and counting the days till I felt better,  and I made it through morning sickness for 9 weeks and counting the days till I felt better ... I can make it through Subacute Thyroiditis and counting the days until I feel better.

Meanwhile,  Trainer V. called me last night to say Toadie's training lesson went well and she's not snorting and shaking her head so much.  Yay!  I'm going to go today and watch her training and see how she's doing today so I can see for myself.  I'll be very relieved if that situation has been resolved.  I should ride Girlfriend but I honestly don't know if I'll have the energy.  She'll survive if I can't.  I need to remind myself she hadn't been ridden much at all for about three years when I got her and she was fine.

I went in to work all day yesterday and managed to make it through the whole day and get most of the stuff I needed to done.  I could've gotten more done but we had a very, very long staff meeting because we haven't met as a staff for about a month.  I'm grateful I have a job where they are understanding when one is not doing so well physically.  At one point my co-worker Jen was talking about a lunch meeting we'd had in Bellevue with the Treasurer of our Board and she said, "Is that what you got from what he said or do you want to add something?" and I realized I'd been sitting there with my head in my hands not hearing a word she was saying because my head and neck hurt so badly.  Instead of admitting I hadn't heard a word she'd said I just said, "I'm sorry, since I'm not feeling well I'm having trouble focusing and I think it would be best for me not to try and comment on that right now," and everybody accepted that. Phwew!  Well, hopefully by next week my fog of pain will be lessened. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Toad be Illin' - Update

We had the vet out to see Toad last Friday.  My vet was busy all weekend with the Evergreen State Fair being in town, but luckily, she has hired a partner who was able to come out.  Trainer K. was there which was good because since I'd been sick I hadn't been out much to see her behavior, I'd just seen it the brief time I was out with her Wed. and Thursday.  Basically the problem was, she was very sensitive about her face (more so than usual) and was shaking her head a lot and snorting and sneezing like she had something in her nose.

The vet looked her over then had me take her out and lunge her at a walk and a trot.  She was good at listening to my commands on the lunge line but was throwing her head around like crazy as though the cavesson had burrs in it pressing onto her nose.  Luckily, I did not have to have her canter because I am still getting over my sinus/ear infection so spinning in circles was not high on my list of things I wanted to do.  After a full exam and watching her on the lunge line the vet said she thought it was an issue in her neck causing nerve pain in her face.   So, she did some chiropractic work on her which Toadie seemed to really like.  The vet said the first couple days she shouldn't work at all and she might not show signs of improvement till the third day.

Saturday and Sunday she was snorting like crazy every time she put her head down to eat or drink and throwing her head like crazy when I'd put the halter on her to lead her from the pasture to the stable.  I was starting to feel really frustrated and hopeless.  But today she was doing a lot better and Trainer K. was able to do a lesson with her on the ground.  Gemini's owner, MT did some equine massage on Toadie's neck and she really liked it and ended up sighing a lot and nuzzling her head happily into my chest.

MT laughed and said, "I don't know who this horse is," and Trainer K. said "I know. This is a totally different horse!" So I finally said, "You guys keep saying that but I didn't see what was happening before. Can you tell me why she's so different?" So, Trainer K.  told me a little about what they're talking about.  For instance, she said that Toadie wouldn't have stood there and let MT give her a neck massage.  And you couldn't groom her fully because once you got back near her butt she'd flip out and go crazy in the cross ties.  And nobody in her right mind would take her temperature - but on Friday the vet went to take her temperature and Trainer K. said, "Be careful!" and I asked, "Why?" and Trainer K. said, "Just be careful with this horse," and the vet went right back and took her temperature and she pinned her ears at first but otherwise stood there very politely.  Trainer K. said she was shocked.

Something must have happened between when she was acting like that and when I started trying to work with her.  When I first took her out of her stall she did try to run off with me but listened when I corrected her.  And when I first tried to groom her she tried to squish me against the wall with her butt but she moved when I told her.  So, she really wasn't that bad.  I don't know what happened between then and when I started working with her, all I know is she is just the sweetest girl now!

Meanwhile, my health is a real pain (no pun intended).  The official diagnosis appears to be Subacute Thyroiditis which means that my thyroid is very swollen and painful and I have hyperthyroid for awhile.  The hyperthyroid isn't bothering me so much yet, but the pain is awful!  It feels like a horrible sharp pain in my thyroid that radiates terrible achiness all over my neck, back and head like someone beat me up with a huge club.  And it's supposed to last a couple more weeks at least.  Ugh.  Thank goodness for large amounts of naproxen and Tylenol.  It also looks like I have a ping pong ball stuck in my neck, although so far no one has says they noticed it until I pointed it out.  At least my energy is coming back a little, which is good because I have to go back to work tomorrow and make up all I missed last week.  I guess if worst comes to worst I can always kick my dog off the couch in my boss's office and take a nap tomorrow afternoon. Blah.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Toad be Illin'

In a couple hours I'm going out to meet the vet at the stable so she can check out Toadie.  All week she has been acting strange and as I told L. the vet's receptionist "I'm not sure if she's acting strange because she's not feeling well, or if she's just strange."  For the last three months or so that I've been working with her she has been calm and wanting to please and very attentive to me.   That has also been Trainer K. and Trainer V.'s experience with her.  But Monday when I took some friends from Seattle out there to meet the horses she was all riled up and acting really strange.  She was throwing her head and spooking at the slightest thing and kept pinning her ears and getting a wild look in her eye.  She was pretty hard to handle and just like the "crazy-ass horse" that people initially couldn't understand why I'd buy.

Add to that that she's been sneezing a lot and a couple times tried to rub her head on my leg like something was bothering her and she was trying to rub it off on me, I decided that she's not feeling well.  As opposed to what initially crossed my mind which was "Wow. I was totally duped.  She acted great for three months and now she's completely insane. What happened???"

So, I'll be curious to see what is wrong and I hope that the vet can figure it out.  The way she was acting this week I could barely handle her.  I *could* because I'm used to her now and know her, but I don't want to in the long run.  And Trainer V. said it was really hard to ride her this week so that means I can't ride her like this.  My gut says she's not feeling well though.  Why else would she go from being that sweet, compliant, attentive horse to one who's throwing her head around and bouncing off the walls?

The kittens are attacking my shoes. Sigh.  They've been attacking *everything*.   Good thing they're so cute. Grumble. 

Now that I'm starting to feel better I need to set a date to use my gift certificate for a full-day guided tour of fly fishing.  As it turns out I posted on Facebook to see if any of my friends wanted to go and I got a ton of responses.  Who knew! My husband actually asked what it would entail and I said, "Quick lesson on flies and lures, quick casting lesson, then head out to fish.  Lunch is provided - chips and Snapple and burgers cooked over a camp fire."  And suddenly my husband was interested in going.  I think the burgers cooked over the camp fire are what got him. 

The living in the suburbs gossip continues to amuse me.  My friends out here are so open about what people say about each other behind their backs it makes me wonder what the heck people were saying about me back in Seattle.  Surely my fellow PTA moms had something to say about the girl who didn't wear the same designer jeans as them, always had dirt under her fingernails and came to the PTA board meetings with hay in her hair and breeches and field boots.  But everyone was so uptight I never heard it if people talked about me.  Well, except after we moved one of the PTA moms said, "You are the talk of the school! No one can figure out why you had to move out to the sticks like this!"  To which my reply was, "We *wanted* to."  "But why????"  Sigh.

Anyway, latest gossip is I'm a "predator" (I'm assuming meaning "Cougar") trying to woo all the young, pretty moms in the neighborhood.  I guess that comes from my two talk-to-daily-mom-buddies being 29 years old and pretty.  That's not taking into account my other five mom-buddies in the neighborhood I talk to almost as frequently who are my age (and still pretty).  In fact, no gossip was said about my little crew that goes out on regular lunch dates together because I'm from here and they are from India and Nigeria so we go out and try different Indian restaurants together.  Anyway, now I need to set up a movie night for my fellow suburban moms to watch Predator. My husband has been making Predator/Drone jokes.  Being the dork I am I did not know what a Drone was.  Ooops.   Of course, before that gossip was the big "Does she smoke pot or not?" debate.  The answer was "Surely, she could not be so friendly and open and *not* smoke pot!"  In case you're wondering, no, I don't smoke pot.  The last thing I want to do at my age is get arrested for illegal drugs, plus last time I smoked it umpteen hundred years ago it gave me panic attacks.  Hmmm ... now I can never run for president because it is publicly known I inhaled.  Too bad.

Speaking of presidents ... I am getting much more bitter in my old age and am not feeling very hopeful about the state of our country no matter who is president.  I can understand the frustrations of the folks in the Tea Party but I think they are so off-base it's horrifying.  I saw a little snippet on Facebook yesterday to was so spot-on I just have to share it: "A CEO, a Tea Party member, and a union worker sit at a table with 12 cookies. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, then whispers to the Tea Party member, "I'd watch that guy. I think he's trying to get your cookie".

Sometimes I think we should move to Saudi Arabia and live with my cousins because at least their country is rapidly getting better instead of worse.