Thursday, January 31, 2013

All the possibilities ...

This week is a week of wide open possibilities and I'm sorting through them trying to figure out which way my heart wants me to go and then if that would work with my life as it is now.  It's a big red flag that the idea of going back to just a plain ole bookkeeping job makes my heart feel heavy.  Going back to school makes me feel energized and excited but only in certain areas - right now those areas or training courses to be certified as a Microsoft Dynamics Navision consultant or working with animals. 

My husband and I talked about going the Navision route and besides that it is very expensive it is also something I would need to do full-time.  I'd either need to be hired by a company where I assume they would want full-time because it is not the type of job that employers seem open to part-time and if I went out on my own not only would it be hard to get clients, but then by nature of the business the clients would want me to be available all business hours (ie: full-time).  So, I'm still tossing that idea around in my head.

The working with animals also sounds heavenly.  I looked into some vocational programs to be a veterinary technician and good lord those programs are expensive! And long - two years.  Although I would be thrilled to be in school for two years we just can't afford it even if I did sell my horse and get rid of those expenses.  We just couldn't afford the tuition.  But there is an apprenticeship program for dog trainers I could try to get into at a very well-respected training academy up here in Snohomish County.  I'm thinking of applying for that and basically lying on their floor refusing to move ever again until they take me on ... ok - maybe not that extreme.  Maybe I'd just beg.  Anyway, it's an unpaid apprentice program but it also is a free (!!!!) education.   So, I'd need to pick up some weekend work if I did that - god knows what that would be.  I'm still mulling that and looking at all my options.

So, this is a very exciting time because I have the opportunity to really listen to my heart and find the right direction for myself and my family.   Plans for this week are to log some serious time working on my Young Adult novel about Toadie and I'm going to pull out my old manuscript for how to manage one's individual finances and see about getting that edited and up as a cheap download from Amazon.  My BFF encouraged me to do that a couple years ago when we didn't have enough money and I had to close down my financial management non-profit, but I was lacking the confidence to finish it at that time.

In other good news I took the dog for a short walk this morning - her first one in two weeks since I fell down and went boom.   The L4 break doesn't really bother me but my sacrum still aches from where it is cracked if I walk too fast.   And my lower back muscles are all sorts of tight.  I'm looking forward to next week when I'll supposedly be feeling better enough that I can start swimming - since I really can't get any other exercise until the end of February.

By the time I'm able to lift heavy things and get regular exercise it will be just in time to start my early Spring prepping for the gardens.  Yay!  I'm definitely going to try to do lots of leafy greens this year because we go through those so quickly.  This time I am ready for the slugs and powdery mildew and have some good preventative tricks all ready.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I knew you were trouble when I met you ...

I have some of my daughter's music stuck in my head. Taylor Swift to be exact..  My daughter's Aunt C. in New Orleans gave her the latest Taylor Swift cd for her birthday and we've had to listen to it a lot.  It's actually better than the last cd I heard which only had one song I liked (because it's so damn cute!).  My point is that for the next few years I think I'm going to have teen music stuck in my head. It's not so bad because secretly I'm actually enjoying some of it.  This particular Taylor Swift song reminds me of being nineteen and getting far too involved with this guy in a skate punk gang who was at best manipulative and abusive and definitely has narcissistic personality disorder.  So, it speaks to my inner-teenager.  And god knows hopefully not my daughter's experience in the future! Urgh.

Oh, but the subject header actually has some reference to this blog post too though.  Coming home from work on Friday (while stuck in literally parked traffic on Mercer Street trying to get on the freeway) I was complaining to my husband about how angry I was at this new job because I was finally starting to get it despite being promised over and over again training which I never received (even though they hired me knowing full well I'd never even heard of the four new software programs I was using including the ERP system - and that I'd never used and ERP system of that caliber).  Anyway, I'd gotten the "I don't understand why it's taking you so long to get this? You need to learn how to be more organized. I just don't know what your problem is ..." talk.  I'd already told my boss numerous times "I need some training - it's taking me forever figuring it out myself" and he'd blow me off "just use the manual" (he had some idea that they have this magical procedure manual which tells you everything - which they don't but he refuses to believe it).  So Friday I was having a melt down about it to my husband who finally snapped and said, "Please, please tell me you have a deadline for how long you'll put up with this B.S. and then you'll finally quit! Your boss is a dumbass and it's starting to take a toll on me how stressed it's making you that they put you in such an impossible situation."  So, in good conscience to myself and my family I did decide this weekend I was going to quit I just wasn't sure when I would quit because I'm worried about money and I at least wanted to have another job lined up first.

But as today was looming closer and closer I *really* didn't have it in me to do any more work for them so I on Saturday I resigned myself to the fact that I was done and would probably quit today.  I put together any paperwork for them I had at home, took their company page off my "like" list on Facebook and started sending out a ton of resumes to anywhere I could think of.

Then I got an email to my home address from my boss saying I needed to call him.  It was already late in the afternoon and I was over at my parent's new place visiting with them.  I told them I had to call him before he left work (I figured he was going to fire me - and I was hoping because then I wouldn't have to feel guilty for walking out on them) and my mom said, "Just stay right here and call him and we'll be here for support."  It turned out well that they were sitting in the room because my mom said I was very composed and diplomatic and she was very proud of how I handled the call.  I did tell my ex-boss that it was good he decided to fire me because it took the pressure off me because I was going to quit (I didn't tell him I was going to take my stuff and walk out because I felt too guilty to do that and probably wouldn't have -  but it's what I wanted to do).  My ex-boss asked me if I had any feedback from them (I'm assuming he thought maybe it would be necessary since I was bookkeeper #5 for them in the last year it sounds like) and I had to think quickly. 

I could point out that they promised they would train me and it never actually worked out that they did (everyone was too busy - they even had a training scheduled my first day but it never happened because everyone was so busy) I could point out he said after the first month he'd provide training I requested but that only happened for literally two hours tops from another co-worker and an hour or more of that training was the other co-worker trying to figure out how she wanted to change a couple systems and clean up some of my mistakes I'd made while trying to figure out the software myself - so maybe 45 minutes of it was actual training.  I thought about saying it was insane to hire someone who says they need training, promise to give it to them, never do and then claim you did and tell them it's their problem.  But then I realized, he would not hear that.  He would just say "But we did train you. But you have the procedure manual. This is all because you're incompetent."  He'd just go into his strange little reality he's in regarding the admin. portion of his company and feel like a victim because for some reason bookkeepers just don't work out for him anymore after that one really good bookkeeper they once had years ago who was a saint and why or why are we none of us her??? Oh poor poor little man.  Ahem.  Anyway, I just told him it was something he was going to have to figure out on his own because I really had nothing to say to him anymore about it.

I got off the phone and was both relieved and extremely angry that I'd been put through all that stress for the last two months.  So, I just honestly told my parents, "I want to call him back and tell him to fuck off so badly!!!"  My mom reminded me to take the high road while my dad chuckled.  But now a day later I feel much better that I didn't tell him to fuck off.

When my husband got home and heard the whole story he said he was so sorry I had to go through all that but I could tell he was relieved I didn't work there anymore.  I asked him if he was worried about money and he said not really.  So he must've really not liked me being so stressed because he's usually the one more worried about money than me.  But as he said he was sorry for what I had to go through I realized how important this experience has been in my life.   The whole situation could've been a real mind-fuck (and apparently one of the bookkeepers before me had a nervous breakdown which is why she quit ... good lord ...) but I was able to see clearly where the B.S. was and to see what was my part and what wasn't and I was able to walk out of the situation with my confidence and self-esteem intact and know that I tried hard, I did my best and I actually did really well for the impossible situation I was put in.   And oddly enough, I feel more confident that I am a very smart, motivated and organized person with strong adaptive skills and will definitely do great in my next position - as long as I go into one already having the skill set for the job or going into one where they actually provide the training they promise upon hiring me.  So, though I think my ex-boss is a clusterfuck trainwreck as a manager and I never want to have anything to do with him again,  I can honestly say I am glad I had this experience and I know that I benefited from it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I am slowly starting to feel better.  I still need to walk slowly because otherwise my back hurts and I can't lift anything heavier than my cat (this is probably the most frustrating part) but I'm feeling a little better.  I was able to sleep without any pain medication last night - w00t.

Maiden is now in training with Trainer K. and hopefully her old owner will be riding her and my friend, M. is taking weekly lessons on her for the next few weeks.  I watched one of  M.'s lessons yesterday and a couple times I started to say "just let me hop on her," then had to stop myself. 

When M. was lunging her she panicked over a couple road cones that were placed over a muddy spot in the arena.  Who knows why - they've been there forever but I who knows what goes on their little horse-heads.  What was funny was Star and her husband were standing at one of the gates watching Maiden and I noticed that whenever she'd pass the cones (and was obviously scared) she would stare at me as she was passing them (with this pleading "Help me!!") look in her eyes until finally Star's husband said, "She sure knows where her mama is, doesn't she?"  Which validates what I was seeing.  I thought it was sweet that she's learning she can trust and turn to me for protection.

I finally walked over and stood next to the cones and Maiden calmed down after seeing that the cones were not going to eat me.  Of course, then Trainer K. came out into the arena, walked over to where I was standing, looked at the muddy spot and decided it wasn't covered enough, so she grabbed a huge road cone (three times as big as the original two) and put it next to them, then walked away.  Of course as soon as Maiden came around on her lunging circle to see the new giant road cone she freaked and scooting away from them and started running the opposite direction.  My husband later told me that she probably thought, "Oh no! Their leader is here now!"  Once again, she would only pass the cones if she was staring right at me and I was staring right back at her saying, "You're safe. Walk on" and M. was inside the circle saying, "Walk on ..." and motioning her forward.

I knew M. was probably concerned about getting on her and having her spook at the orange cones while under saddle so I seriously started to say "Let me hop on her first and walk her around the arena a few times to make sure she's ok with the cones ..." until I realized that I couldn't even get on her back, let alone ride her.  Even with the mounting block at this point I would not be able to swing my leg over her.  And then it would hurt like hell on my sacrum sitting in that saddle even with her walking.  Grumble.  When M. was done with her lesson and they had just finished trotting and M. needed to get off because she was at her limit (I know how that is, when your legs are just too stretched or your back or thigh muscles have had it or your brain has just had it because there is too much chaos in the arena - like it was yesterday) and I almost said again, "Ok - I'll just hop on her and walk her around on a loose rein and cool off her."  Sigh.  Once again ... couldn't even swing my leg over her at this point.  Sigh.

M. came over after her lesson and showed me how to make a beaded browband for a new bridle for Maiden.  That was really fun!  I really need to get back into doing crafts in my down time (which I hadn't had any of but I have more of right now with the whole "being on stall rest" thing).  It was so relaxing so spend a couple hours picking out beads and making what I decided was the perfect pattern for her new browband.  The coolest part is that I can make different ones and switch them out when I want to.  I also had time to work on writing my YA novel on Saturday so both those activities really lifted my spirits.  I'm up to fifty pages in this particular novel so far.  I've been toying with trying to start a writer's group so I can get some feedback, although maybe what I should be doing is handing it out to some of the tween and teen girls I know to get their feedback since they are my target audience.

Maiden's new browband ...

Thursday, January 24, 2013


This is exactly up the same alley of what I was thinking about yesterday.  This guy is my new hero because he has the statistics and eloquence to express something that means quite a bit to me:

The surprising science of happiness

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

So, how did you fall?

I've been thinking about perceptions a lot the last couple days and was thinking again about them this morning.  I tend to be a bit of a control freak (not in the "the house has to look nice" because I'm too busy for that - and not in a "I have to do everything at work" because with this new job I'm learning so much stuff I'm about as low on the totem pole as you can go).  But when it comes to what's going on around me I'm a control freak - I feel like I need to be able to see what's going on around me 360 degrees at all times and be ready to run or fight at a moment's notice.  There are probably reasons for this that I could write a novel about but I prefer to not spend a lot of time rehashing the past but dealing with how I relate to the here-and-now.

That said, I've been thinking a lot about how we humans don't really have a lot of control over how we relate to the here-and-now in many circumstances.  For instance,  yesterday at my follow-up with the orthopedic doctor he asked me, "So, how did fall off your horse?" and I started rambling on about, "Well, I tried to get on her bareback with just her blanket on and she'd never done that before so she spooked ..."  and he interrupted me and asked, "No, I mean how did you land when you fell?" and I had to say honestly, "I'm not really sure because I wasn't watching myself.  In my perception of things I came down on my butt and then slammed down backwards."  Which is probably fairly accurate in that it kind of happened like that.  But there are telltale clues that I landed on my right side and not at all on my left (a big bruise that has appeared on my right arm but not on my left). Although then there are signs that I don't know anything about like where the bruise on the inside of my left wrist came from?  So, I find it interesting that even though I was there and experiencing it I couldn't actually tell the doctor how I fell off the horse.

Trainer K. had a similar experience with a bad fall off of Gemini last summer (thank God both she and M. who was simulateously thrown off Favio were not seriously hurt!).  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for my own sanity) I did not see them fall, I just heard it and ran to the arena door and saw them lying on the ground and the horses on the other side of the arena.  But a big mystery was "how did Trainer K. end up facing the opposite direction while lying on the ground than the direction the horse was going?"  We finally figured out that the propulsion of her being thrown caused her to flip over in the air.  Once again - thank God for good helmets because Trainer K.'s head hit the ground so hard it bounced three times, but she did not have a concussion.  Yet even though she experienced it, the whole situation was the talk of the barn over the next week or so of "what happened exactly when Trainer K. and M. got thrown? How did they land like that?"

M. and I were comparing notes on when she fell off a horse and broke her back (a much worse accident than mine - she actually fractured the body of her vertebrae and had to be in a back brace for a long time) and we were talking about the EMT's coming in and taking us to the hospital and riding in ambulances and such.  She - like everyone else I've talked to - is not claustrophobic so the whole being strapped down thing didn't bother her.  In fact, she said she liked being "contained" because it made her feel safer with her injuries.  Good point.  I think I had a similar experience when my neck was broken.  Well, and I had a horrendous concussion so I was only semi-conscious. 

Anyway, we were talking about some of the questions that the EMT's asked me when they first got there.  And one of them that amused me was "So, you feel faint and nauseous. Did you feel like that before you fell or did it come on after you fell?"  To which I said to M., "Seriously? Would people not make the connection that they had the stomach flu before they got on the horse so obviously they have it a little while later after they fall off the horse?" to which we started joking "Well, come to think of it I fell *off* the horse because I was faint and nauseous".   But I guess once again it is a liability question.

But the perception thing stretches so much further past just accidents and injuries I'm sure.  I've often thought that I look at the world through the lenses of my own personal experiences and expectations.  I've been trying for years to have an open mind to not assuming I know what people are thinking/feeling just based on my own insecurities but I imagine that it would be impossible to see the real truth of the world and everyone's intention because we have too much of our own experiences clouding what we see/experience. And I imagine we would not be who we are if we saw everything purely as it is without any influence by our own beliefs and perceptions.  I guess that is part of what makes each individual unique is that there probably is an actual truth to what is real and what is not, but none of us will ever see that absolute pure truth because of our own perceptions of the world.  And if we did all see it that way -purely as things are - then we would all be the same and that would be very dull.

Sometimes I think animals are so much wiser than us because these truths either don't cross their minds or are accepted as "just the way it is".  And maybe going into life knowing that is just the way it is and it's good to have it that way is a much wiser place to be.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Back on the horse ...

No sadly, I am not literally back on the horse, I am just back to my life in general.  Not that I was really out of my life in general except for Friday when I worked from home on the couch with ice packs.  Today I went shuffling back into work and I mean literally shuffling.  If I walk faster than a zombie walk my sacrum area (read: butt) hurts.  It was good for my psyche to be at work, especially because I am continuing to "get it" and my mistakes are (hopefully) on a trend of getting less and less egregious.  Physically I was doing all right in the morning with my big pillow on my chair and my heated koala neck wrap and heating pad, but by afternoon my back hurt so much that I started to fade rapidly and by 3pm decided to pack it in.  I was relieved that my boss happily said, "Hey, but you made it until 3pm!"

It's interesting the conversations that come up when people find out you have been in some sort of accident.  It opens the door for them to tell you about their bad accidents which so far have all been far worse than mine.  After today I'm convinced that riding a bike and skiing are way more dangerous than riding horses (at least riding the type of horses I ride which are pretty sweet horses ... even if they do have some issues).  For those of you who are squeamish now is the time to stop reading ...

One story that Doogie Howser told me in the ambulance that has been haunting me is of a woman they took to the hospital whose horse had fallen on her after she fell off.  First he just told me that when they got to her helmet had literally been crushed and broken in half (and despite that probably saved her life).  He also used some medical term for "her guts were squished out" but I can't remember what the terminology was.  I asked exactly how that happened - did the skin break? And he said her intenstines had basically been pushed out her vagina.  Aaargh! But she was one of the few they saw or heard of or from a year or so later and after fifteen surgeries she was doing very well. 

Then there's my boss's story of how he dislocated his shoulder in a skiing accident and it took them two hours to be able to get him off the mountain on a backboard - all the while he was lying in the snow in severe pain (without layers of cozy horse blankets to be cocooned in like I was).  And then of course the EMT's couldn't just carry him down an icy mountain on a backboard so they had to basically hang him underneath a chair on the chairlift and send him down.  Aaargh! (I think I would have a heart attack and die right there).  My other co-worker rather cheerfully said, "I hear you got to ride in an ambulance.  What'd you think of that?"  So, of course I had to ask him if he had and of course his story was so much worse than mine.   He bit it on a turn on the Chilly Hilly bike run on Bainbridge Island years ago and broke something in his left arm/shoulder and broke his collar bone.  He too had to be strapped down to a backboard but unlike me who was maybe in the ambulance for about twenty minutes, he had to ride in the ambulance to the ferry,  ride across on the ferry, then ride from the ferry to the hospital on First Hill - all while strapped to the backboard.  Luckily for him he is not at all claustrophobic like me.  He asked me if I got that awful pain in the back of my head from being on the backboard for so long and I said I was only on it for maybe forty minutes tops between the ambulance ride and waiting for the doctor to see me in the ER.  Then I felt like kind of a weenie for getting so upset about it at the time.

So, it felt (mentally) good to be back at work and thinking about stuff other than my back/butt hurting and the other bonus is it validated that what I do for fun is really not that dangerous compared to what other people do - or it least so it seems.

I got my thank you card for the ER doctor sent.  I sent one of the ones that M. made for me - I call it the "piaffing zebra" because well, it is a design with a drawing a zebra doing a piaf.  I mentioned in the card that it had been made by my friend who also broke her back when she fell off her horse and also ended up at Evergreen ER.  Now tomorrow I call and try to find out where my EMT team is who gets the thank-you card and the Dr. Horrible DVD.  I looked up if it is common to send thank you letters to EMT's and ER doctors and found quite a few articles about how it is extremely appreciated in those lines of work because it is such a difficult and stressful job.  And apparently, there are a lot of people who complain about them which seems odd to me since these are the people trying to save your life. I mean, it's one thing if there's gross negligence which happened to me once and resulted in a malpractice suit - but we're talking gross negligence and that is rare.  It kind of got me thinking that maybe our society needs to focus a little more on thanking those who care for us - whether they are saving our lives, holding our hand during a panic attack in an ambulance, making our coffee or serving up deli food at the take-out counter or selling us stamps.  I think we all need to really make it obvious when people do a good job in all the things they do to serve the public every day and really draw attention to that - instead of focusing so much on everything that goes wrong and who is suing who and blah blah blah.  I'm going to really think about that this week and try to make sure to express my gratitude whenever I encounter anyone who's job is to "help me" even if it is just handing me a pound of fish over the meat counter or making me an Americano.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to my daughter!

Today my daughter is nine years old!  I know people say it all the time but I really mean it to the depth of my being, the day my daughter was born was the beginning of the best time in my life.  Getting married was pretty great but was trumped only by the day my daughter was born.  Granted, I spent the first two weeks or so wondering who I was going to get to raise her because I was sure that I would screw that task up so horribly I could never actually do it - it still was a magical time.  And to be honest, it is still a magical time.  She's growing up to be a really great person and I'm very proud of her.  I'm also constantly amazed that I'm a good mom.  I will never quite figure out how that happened because for most of my life even though I liked the idea of being a mom was convinced I would horrible at it.   So, not sure what happened but it's a huge source of joy every day to have my daughter in my life and to have such a good relationship with her.

I'm feeling a little better today - enough so that I realize how much my pelvis (where my cracked sacrum is) hurts.  This is good news because the rest of my body doesn't ache as badly as it did yesterday so I'm noticing the whole cracked sacrum thing.  I just have to move very slowly then I'm ok.  And I have to sit in such a way I'm not putting any pressure on it (that is challenging).  I have high hopes I will feel up to going to work at least for half the day tomorrow which I'm sure they'll be happy about.

Yesterday I felt up to going with my husband out to the barn to pick up my car that had been there since I got carted off in the ambulance.  Everyone had heard what happened and when I walked in the barn a couple people said, "Hey - are you allowed to be here?"  I assured them I wasn't going to be riding or doing anything strenuous.  I stopped to fill in some folks on how I was and saw Maiden looking out of her stall with an anxious look.  Lately, when I walk in she whinnies for me but this time she was looking at me, then would look away, then look back at me, then look away again.  So, I slowly shuffled over to her and she pinned her eyes and gave me the stink eye until I held my hand up to her and she sniffed and licked my hand.  Then she dropped her head so I could scratch her behind the ears and she laid her head against my chest and nibbled at the collar of my coat.  When I turned to walk away to go ask my husband to help me lead her to the cross ties, she let out the biggest sigh.  I think she really was worried I was not coming back for her.

My husband doesn't have any experience as horses so I showed him how to lead her, but since I didn't want anything unexpected to happen I walked in front of them so that I could grab the lead rope if she spooked.  But as it happened she kept rushing ahead of my husband so she could walk next to me, so I ended up just taking the lead rope anyway.  She was very good and I didn't even really have to hold on to the rope, she just walked nicely next to me.  Walking back to her stall later she did have a little trouble walking as slowly as I was walking but she gave it a shot.  I was able to take off her blanket and give her a half-ass grooming and she was very patient about that.  And after that I was so exhausted I had to come home and head back to the couch.  But it was nice to be out and see her and see she's doing well.

She's hopefully going to start training with Trainer K. next week two days a week and I've asked her previous owner if she could ride her some over the next six weeks so she'll get some work.  And I'll ask the orthopedic doctor at my follow-up on Tuesday when I can start lunging her and doing ground work with her.

I need to send a thank-you card to the E.R. doc and his team because I was very happy with their care and I heard the doctor was brand new to that hospital so I thought it would be good for the hospital to know he's doing well.  Even though the nurse made that comment that Trainer K. and I are "stoic" I think it also helped that everyone was very relaxed and friendly and that immediately put me at ease.  Even the x-ray and CT techs were relaxed chatterboxes who didn't act at all like there was any emergency going on and there is a huge emotional benefit to that.  I think it subconsciously relieves patient anxiety because if the professionals aren't freaking out then it must be ok.  Granted what I was going through wasn't an emergency, but still, to have that light and friendly attitude made it feel more like being served in a coffee shop on a sunny day then going in to get CT scans to see if my kidneys had been damaged.

I'd also like to send a dvd of Dr Horrible's Sing A-Long Blog to the EMT team with a thank-you note but I have discovered that finding out who they are by just knowing it was Sno County Fire & Rescue is not an easy task.  There are so many districts and so many stations I have no clue who they were.  That is frustrating.  You spend forty-five minutes with folks in a really intense situation - especially Doogie Howser who sat with me and held my hand, and you talk about all sorts of personal stuff in your lives and feel like you are on the way to being friends and poof - you never see them again and don't even know what their names were.  Doogie Howser did say it's a hard part of their job to not get to know what happens to their patients they transport so I wanted to be able to tell him that it wasn't all overkill like I was hoping and I really did break a couple things - but that I'm fine now (besides being sore) and they all really helped me.  But then they probably have already forgotten me after going through the same thing with lots more people over the last couple days.  I thought momentarily that maybe I want to change careers and be an EMT so I can be there for people like that but sadly my stomach is not strong enough to deal with the kind of gruesome injuries they see frequently. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Stall rest for 6 weeks ...

Well, in retrospect I made a poor decision that was made worse by the ground being frozen solid like concrete.  Thankfully, I made the smart decision to put my eventing vest on.  But alas, I ended up falling off my new horse and landing with enough of a thud it cracked my sacrum and broke off my right L4 transverse process.  Maybe that's all that would've happened anyway, but I still believe wearing my eventing vest cushioned the blow enough that I didn't get as hurt as I might have otherwise.  Plus, yay for helmets!  My helmet made a nice little gouge in the dirt but I don't even have a headache today (and thank goodness not a concussion!).

I knew something was wrong when I landed and it hurt so badly I did not want to move.  So, I yelled "OUCH!" as loud as I could (not sure why I didn't yell "help"???) until Trainer K. heard me and came in.  She helped me slowly move my legs and arms and I didn't have any pain around my spine, just a lot of pain in my pelvic area.  Then she helped me sit up and that lasted for maybe five minutes at the most and I felt like I was going to black out and had to lay back down.  I also felt like I was going to throw up so we were all concerned about a concussion.  It was a crisp 28 degrees out and the ground was frozen solid so while they were discussing what they should do with me I requested a horse blanket and suddenly I was cocooned in about four horse blankets with a big one underneath me so I wasn't lying on the cold ground.  I realized that all my barn friends who were there were mothers and that is the best place to be when you get hurt - surrounded by fellow moms!

With the whole not wanting to move fainting thing they opted to call 911 and although I felt like it was overkill, I was honestly wondering how in the world I was going to be able to get into Trainer K.'s truck to go to the hospital to be checked out.  And we were all worried about the fainting/nausea thing.  Even though I didn't hit my head very hard I kept thinking of Liam Neesum's wife who thought she was fine and then the next day died from a head injury.

So, the EMT's showed up (they even turned on the siren when they came down the drive which was really overkill!) and unfortunately took my layers of blankets off to roll me onto a backboard and put me in a neck brace (which I definitely said was overkill but they said I fell on my back so liability wise they had to).  I did ok until we got in the ambulance and then I started to have a panic attack because I was strapped to a board unable to move  and only able to see the ceiling in a moving vehicle and I felt really out of control.  It helped to close my eyes and visualize the roads we were driving down and ask the EMT where we were every few minutes.  Plus, when he leaned over to check if my eyes were dialating normally and told me to look at his nose I noticed he looked a lot like Doogie Howser and it took my mind off things for a few minutes to tell him about Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog.  The only problem other than my claustrophobia was that every time we went over a bump it hurt my lower back quite badly and I would have to shift around to get the muscles around my sacrum to stop carmping/spasming.  The EMT's did say they were going a route where they didn't go over any railroad tracks so I could be happy about that.

I felt much better after they took the next brace off and I got to be off the backboard.  As long as I lay on my left side I was pretty comfortable and I was relieved when the doctor felt my spine and said I was not showing any sign of spinal injury.  They took an x-ray and said all that looked ok but then decided I needed a CT scan to check my internal organs.  Since I thought nothing was broken I was a little confused as to why I'd been so nauseous and weak and almost fainted back at the stable but I was very glad my spine was ok.  And I was actually glad they were doing a CT scan of my organs just in case too.

They had me on an IV drip for quite awhile because I guess the iodine contrast they inject you with for CT scans is hard on the kidneys so I was getting up every half hour or so and shuffling off to the bathroom carrying my little IV bag with me.  Finally, I was just getting up and the nurse walked in and I asked if I could have a stand to hold the IV bag and she said, "No, just wait the doctor is coming," and I said, "I'll be right back - it'll just be a second." And she said, "No, stay there. Don't stand up yet. Do you have any tingling in your feet? Any numbness?" and I said, "No, can I answer this in just a sec? You've had me on an IV bag for hours and I really have to use the bathroom." So she said, "Please, just wait until the doctor comes.  We found a fracture in your L4 vertebrae."  To which I stayed sitting down and explained, "Seriously? I broke my back and I didn't know it?" and figured they must be mistaken (and was also quickly running through my head what they meant - back brace? traction? Shit!)

Just then the doctor came in and asked the same questions about numbness and tingling and said he had to palpate my back to check the vertebrae to which I said, "I'm so sorry but I really have to go to the bathroom.  Me and my broken back.  I really can't wait," and he said, "Are you serious?" and I said, "Yes, you can go do something important instead- I will be here when you get back," and he said, "Ok, I will go do something important then ..." and the nurse snickered.  He came back not too long later and said that I had broken off a little piece of my L4 spinous process but that it was a "stable fracture" which meant I was not in danger of it getting worse by not being in traction (phwew!) and that I also had a crack in my sacrum which was also a stable fracture that would not need traction to heal.  Phwew again!

And that explains why it hurt so badly when I first hit the ground and why I felt so nauseous and faint and couldn't sit up right after my fall.  I also no longer felt like it was overkill that they'd brought me in the ambulance.  I can be really hard on myself and think that I'm imaging it or making it up when I feel really bad, but it was very obvious when I was lying on the arena floor that "something was wrong" and I knew that if anything was broken it was in my pelvic area.  That did validate that I do know my own body and I did have a normal reaction - I wasn't just "being hysterical" which is initially what I was worried had happened when I was so nauseous and weak post fall.

The nurse made a comment just the opposite of me being hysterical.  Trainer K. and I were joking about how now I can be part of "the broken back club" (she and two other women at the barn had fractured their backs in riding accidents) and we were making jokes about how Trainer K. got to be in vacation spending the day in the hospital watching tv and eating hospital crackers so we'd have to rotate through her students making sure everyone had to go to the E.R in an ambulance every couple weeks with her.  Finally the nurse said, "You're a couple of really stoic ladies, aren't you?" and we both didn't know what to say and she said, "It's a breath of fresh air, really.  You wouldn't believe how many patients we have in here who are hysterical even when nothing is wrong."  I pointed out that if I had a broken neck or something really wrong I would be hysterical and she said, "Yes but you broke something in your back."  I'm not sure what "stoic" means - I thought it meant humorless, which we weren't because we kept making dark jokes.  It was something I was thinking about a lot last night when I had trouble sleeping because it's hard to get comfortable in bed with your lower back hurts.  And your butt.  Yes, I have a nasty bruise on my butt along with the broken stuff.

So, I just looked it up and stoic means "someone immune to the effects of pleasure or pain".  I wouldn't say Trainer K. and I are stoic.  You have to keep in mind by this time at the hospital I really wasn't in that much pain any more and I knew I wasn't in any danger.  I think I was just so thrilled that my back wasn't seriously injured that I was thrilled to just have a cracked sacrum and little chip off a piece of my spine.  Considering how scared I was right when I hit the ground and felt all that pain that I'd broken my back badly and having had a broken neck so knowing the long, painful haul it would be to recover - I felt like celebrating that I wasn't badly hurt!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fingers crossed

I finally made a decision on the horse front.  It was a toss-up between a lovely little Lipizzan on the East Coast who seemed great but who I would not get to meet before buying (although I had a gut feeling I would like her because honestly I like all horses) or Maiden who I've already been riding and who has been boarded the last year of so at our barn.  I finally decided on Maiden.  I was happy to hear that her owner is not only thrilled that someone is buying her who will keep her at the barn, but that I am buying her because she thinks we're good together.  Well, ok, people always say stuff like that when they want to sell something but let's just humor me and assume she meant it.

So, I am very excited.  I rode Maiden in a lesson on Monday morning and it went very well again.  Each time I ride her things seem to improve.  She didn't balk at all  - well, we did try to go forward once and she calmly walked backward but as Trainer K. said it seemed more like I accidentally hit the reverse button than full on balking.  I have to be very mindful when I ride her because she is extremely sensitive and despite that she is being ridden by four different people right now, she is not a lesson horse (and I'm glad of that).  She is not a push-button horse who just goes through the motions without her rider having to use her aids to guide her.  Granted she is safe enough to be a lesson horse because she doesn't spook very easily and she won't get upset and try to throw her rider, but you can't just throw a saddle on and say "we're going to walk, trot, canter with all the right speed, the right lead and I won't have to use any aids you'll just stay on the outside track and I don't have to do anything" like some old lesson horses do.  If you put a beginner with no guidance whatsoever on her she'll stand there and well ... stand there some more.  And maybe walk a few feet and then stand.  Much like Miah did with me.  Only even my seat and aids weren't working with Miah.  Aids actually work on Maiden.

Since there are two people leasing her still until I buy her I only get to ride her once a week in my lesson.  And I'm not going to buy her until after we have a pre-purchase exam which, after Alberto I'm only being cautiously optimistic about.  I don't want to blindly go into this assuming she'll pass with flying colors like I did with Alberto.  There is a chance things will not go well and I won't buy her, I need to be realistic about that.  So, since I can't ride her I rode one of Trainer K.'s horses to get in some practice and then just loomed around Maiden's stall petting her and sharing a banana with her.  She recognizes my voice now when I walk in the barn and although she pins her ears and gives me the stink eye (like she does everyone else) when I walk up to her stall, if I hold up my hand she'll smell it, then lick it, then relax and drop her head so I can giver her a neck scratch and some snuggles.

That is an issue I would like to slowly work on with her when I buy her - and that is that something happened to her before she was rescued that has caused her to be extremely food protective/aggressive and just in general defensive when she's in her stall.  If I walk up to her and she's eating she will literally swing her head over toward me and pin her ears straight back and show her teeth.  If I don't move she will wave her head and make biting motions.  What I've been doing is standing my ground when she does that, but as soon as she stops I will move away.  And if she starts doing it again I will take my place back next to the stall and not move until she relaxes and stops doing it, then I'll move away and stay away if she doesn't threaten me again.  At least until she's done eating.  I don't want to stay there the whole time and ruin her meal by freaking her out.

Trainer K said you have to be careful with horses like her whose poor behavior was justified at some point in their life because of abuse/mistreatment/neglect because if I discipline her for the behavior it will just freak her out more.  Well, I guess "not taking the pressure off" by not moving away is kind of like a covert discipline, but in other situations (like if Sinatra tried to bite me) it would be warranted to give the horse a smack in the chest with a dressage whip for doing something dangerous.  Buck Brannaman talks about the same thing - understanding where he behavior is coming from and knowing how to best react to it to get the horse to stop doing without screwing the horse up more.

So, that will be interesting.  I've already decided if she never gets over her food defensiveness it's not a big deal.  But I'd like to see if there is a way I can help her at least get over it with me.  Today I went up to her with my banana while she was eating her hay and she started to pin her ears at me, then changed her mind.  I took a bit of banana and then gave a bite to her and so on, and she seemed totally fine with that.  Even after the banana was going she was doing ok hanging out with me even though she had hay in her stall.  Then I think I pushed it too far because I was curious what she'd do if I went to her other side (the side the hay was on) to pet her.  I wasn't actually between her and the hay but I was apparently too close because she started throwing her head again, pinning her ears and baring her teeth at me.  As soon as she stopped doing it I made a point to slowly walk away so I could give her space and she went back to her lunch.  I definitely shouldn't have tried to push it that far this time.

My job has gotten easier because I am now being trained by an actual person instead of trying to go with just the procedure manual.  I don't know if things are going to work out, the first few weeks of stumbling through trying to do stuff by the manual (which is very good 80% of the time but that 20% it's either outdated or leaving stuff out and then I tried to figure it out myself was just a catastrophe) and I don't know if they're just going to throw in the towel on me and fire me soon but at least for now I am much happier actually getting training from a real person.  In just the last two times I've worked with her it's like everything has opened up more than it had the last month and suddenly I am seeing how their system works, I know far more how to use the NAV database and I understand what the whole sales/support process is.  I feel so much better now because I know I'm not just an idiot - I know that in the future if I go into a job where I'm doing something I've never done before with databases I've never used before I just need to make sure I'm trained by a person (more than just a two hour phone call while I'm on vacation which is what initially my in-person training was).  I'm sure that system works well for some people but it doesn't work for me and I'm incredibly relieved to know that as opposed to feeling like I'm just an idiot who has no accounting skills at all (which is how I was starting to feel).  I hope I don't get fired because I find the job challenging and interesting and I know that the opportunity to learn and grow is enormous and I will never get bored, and I like all my co-workers, but at least I know if I get fired it's just not meant to be and is not a value judgment and that takes all that pressure I've been feeling this last month off my shoulders. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I guess it doesn't matter which barn ...

Even my daughter has learned that when I go to the barn I'm never home as early as I say I'm going to be.  I always assume that besides not wanting to leave the presence of horses, it is because I've been boarding there for almost two years and have friends there so of course when we're all together we get chatting and then we want to show each other stuff with our horses or some new tack we got - very similar to teenage girls at the mall.  But yesterday when I went to Save a Forgotten Equine to meet some horses and ride a couple of them, I realized it really doesn't matter that it's not my barn - if you put me in a situation with horses and horse people I'm going to stay way later than I meant to - even if I didn't know any of the people before getting there.

I went out with some curiosity about handling and riding a rescue Arab named Miah.  And while I was there the resident trainer was about to work another rescue named Tilly who they said was that rare sweet-tempered beginner-safe rescue horse that had come in so I wanted to stay and meet her and ride her for a few minutes too.  Then as I was getting ready to leave the trainer's husband was getting ready to ride Sinatra (who I used to foster a couple years ago) and I *almost* stayed just for the chance to ride him because I never got to when I was fostering him because he was on stall rest.  But I was already much later than I'd said I'd be getting home so I opted for tearing myself away.

Miah gave me a terrible time but because she's so green I'm pretty sure it also had to do with my riding too.  And watching the video that one of the rescue volunteers took I'm seeing all sorts of things I could've done differently that would've made things go better.  One of my friends asked what Trainer K. thought about the video and I said she hadn't seen it but I was sure she'd say "Yep, that's a green horse" then proceed to tell me all the things I was doing wrong.  But I was also comparing myself to how the trainer had been riding and that's not fair to me because she's so much more advanced than me.

I also wonder if I was just way too heavy for her.  She was such a tiny little thing - not too short just very small boned.  I think she might be better for a physically smaller and more experienced rider.