The Big Day

Warning, this is going to be a long one!

We arrived at Southmead bright and early after a five o’clock start (which was very much out of character for my poor boyfriend who does get up early for work but it wasn’t quite the same).  After much fussing about what needed to go in which bag and what needed to be where, we went into the theatre waiting room.  Having felt so sick and nervous yesterday, I actually felt quite excited and possibly too hyperactive for the environment!  We were one of the first to go into the waiting room and there was a flurry of people who came after us. Just after seven, names started to be called. Every time a member of staff arrived the anticipation built. When it felt like nearly everybody else had gone, my name was called and we trotted down to a ’Mediroom’. I was provided with some glamorous hospital gowns, a DVT stocking and a bonus pair of XL baby poo brown slipper socks! I felt like a bit of a celebrity because I had so many visitors.

The anaesthetist arrived first, went through all the necessary questions and then told me I had two options for my anaesthetic. Although I had psyched myself up for a spinal block and sedation, she said that since I was so young and fit, she would be quite happy to give me a general anaesthetic. Although I have been trying to feel brave about the whole thing,  when someone told me I could have the option that made me least aware of what was going on, it was a bit of a no brainer. Particularly as she said my operation was likely to be longer than a standard hip replacement, due to having two previous surgeries on my hip. She was very pleased to be starting her day with an uncomplicated patient, anaesthetically speaking and couldn’t have been more friendly and reassuring.

Next in swept two men in snazzy burgundy scrubs. I could only understand one of them, as the other had a rather deep Scottish accent. They were also lovely and introduced themselves as two more members of the surgical team. There was a minor drawback, in that the consent form I had previously signed didn’t seem to be with the rest of my notes. So off they went on a treasure hunt to see if they could relocate it. Here is where I’d like to make a comment about men and administrative organisation, but I won’t.. They returned empty handed, although once I had signed a replacement, the original was found, so at least there was no doubt about me consenting to the op.

The lovely doctor men told me that my op had the upgraded title of a complex total hip replacement and that they had a range of implants available in addition to plans a,b,c,d,e and potentially more which was due to my childhood Perthes as opposed to the standard geriatric arthritic hips. I like to think it’s because I’m special! The all important arrow was drawn and off they went.


My next visitors were two fresh faces medical students. People keep commenting on how young I am, but seeing them made me feel old! I had a lovely chat with the girls about how I got to this point. Although I would never want to do it myself, you could tell it was pretty exciting for them to be watching my operation.

The next visit wasn’t quite as enjoyable. A nice man came to take some blood from me. Now I’ve always been told I’ve got super good veins for blood taking, but him and my veins weren’t quite so compatible. Even though he asked me which arm I preferred and we settled on the left, that didn’t go quite as planned. He did however have more success on the right. It’s funny that even in hospital, I still get a laugh and an expression of disbelief when I tell someone my age and that I’m having a hip operation!


My penultimate visitor was a very smiley doctor conducting a research questionnaire about patients with allergies. I was patient number one of day one and since I have no allergies, I was a quick and easy start to her day.

Finally it was time for a quick toilet break and then off to theatre. My OH was able to get a long awaited coffee (and later I found out, a slice of lemon drizzle cake too). It felt like an awkward walk of shame to theatre. When I was a child, I was put to sleep in a different room and then wheeled in. This time however, I walked into the theatre, to find the four surgeons getting their gear on and chatting about the football. My anaesthetist and her assistant continued to be wonderful as they hooked me up. The first thing that went in was a painkiller, which made me feel completely high! Not a feeling I enjoyed, but I was soon oblivious to it.

I woke up back in the ’mediroom’ (not that I could recognise it). I couldn’t really see, the pain was horrible and I just kept crying. There were three lovely ladies looking after me in recovery, they quickly pumped me full of painkillers and by the time my six foot tall, blonde comfort blanket came in, the pain was under control though the tears weren’t! Eventually, I got my emotions under control and was feeling triumphant.

Once the nurses were happy I was wheeled to my room. I had visions of being in a ward with five other people, just like I remember from being a child. But in fact, I’m in a private room with en suite shower room, a television and a big window. Much more like a hotel than I anticipated.


The rest of the day has been a muddle of feeling very drowsy, perking up and then feeling rubbish again. I’m taking all the drugs I get offered and particularly enjoying my foot pumps, which is like a blood pressure pad on each foot. The challenges of the afternoon have been; being very itchy in hard to reach places,  going to the toilet (I’ll spare you the details), trying not to dislodge my cannula or oxygen and sudden overwhelming nausea whilst on the phone to my parents (bad timing). I had signed myself up for spag bol for dinner and although the anti sickness drugs kicked in beautifully, I tried to play it safe with some toast, but after one small bite it didn’t end well! I knew many daily activities would be difficult without bending or twisting, I hadn’t accounted for vomiting. I’ve gone a good 15 years without being sick!

Massive props go to my boyfriend who not only got up at the crack of dawn to bring me, but has been a complete rock all day. He is even transcribing all of this for me, as I’m not quite up to it myself.

Roll on tomorrow and getting out of this bed!


Final Countdown!

I have very few words tonight. I actually feel physically sick.. and not because of tonight’s ‘last supper’!


I have to be at hospital tomorrow by seven in the morning so tonight I am cramming in some last minute packing and charging (toothbrush, Kindle, iPod and anything else that I think I might need).  In true style, the washing machine is rapidly doing a last wash of favourite things and the rest of my evening is going to consist of cleaning my shoes (yard dust isn’t welcome in hospital) in front of the TV!

Typically when I went to visit Pea this evening for a quick hello I found her maskless – I’m not sure trekking round a field trying to find a fly mask is quite what the doctor ordered but it will be the last time I’ll do it for a while!


Thank you to everyone who has been sending me good vibes for tomorrow, I have had some lovely cards and messages, the support has been amazing.  See you on the other side!



My Last Week Of Pony Freedom

In my last post ( I said that I has plans for making the most of my last ‘normal’ week with Pea.  It didn’t quite go to plan!  I really wanted to put all of our progress into practise at a dressage competition so I booked ourselves up for a Prelim test at Rectory Farm.  I have always been lucky with Pea, she is generally in good health with the exception of her weight issues.  In true typical horse style though, on Tuesday, the day of the dressage competition, this is what I found at the yard..


I’m not going to lie, I was immensely disappointed.  I really wanted to be able to say that we had gone out and done something before all my time off started.  I am fully aware that horses can carry on with only one eye but if you had a swollen, itchy eye, would you want to go in a trailer to a place where you had never been before and do a dressage test?  I wouldn’t.  As much as I am becoming more confident and ambitious, my pony’s welfare comes first.

The second grand plan for the week was to have a reunion hack with my old (not old at all) hacking buddy, Rachel.  A couple of years ago we were regular hacking buddies, we used to go out for slow and steady hacks in the evening when noone else was around and gossip about our lives whilst enjoying pony time in the sunshine!  I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that she wasn’t the most confident rider either so it worked well for us to ride together.  Exams and life got in the way for her and she stopped leasing.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hacking with lots of different people but when I have been working until late and ride out in the evening when noone else is around, I miss the casual pace of our rides.  It was a long time coming but this Thursday we managed a reunion ride!


I decided that Thursday’s hack would be my last ride before the operation.  I feel like I need to be well rested by Tuesday, I can’t risk hurting myself at this late stage and actually, I have aways been a firm believer that there is more to being involved with horses than riding.  I like nothing better than just being with Pea and the other horses at Bourton Vale.  I’m not going to be able to sit in the field and just enjoy the view for a while so I have been making the most of it.  Doesn’t she look fantastic in her new fly mask?


In other news, Whiskey, the horse who built my confidence from absolutely nothing to something I could work with (  has returned to the yard after being away as a companion.  Just like Pea, she started life as a gypsy pony and seeing them together in the field makes me think of how far they have come and how far I have come!  And if Whiskey can cope with having had burns to her chest (from long before we had her) and losing an eye (having had a tumour in it), a little hip replacement should be no problem for me!


The next couple of months is going to be a very different ball game when it comes to me having ‘pony time’.  Fingers crossed I can work around the hip precautions and the crutches!


Positive Thoughts!

I have just got back from my ‘meet the surgeon’ appointment and I am feeling SO much better already!  This is the appointment I have been waiting for and I was able to ask all the questions that have been eating away at me for a while.


‘Can you still get me the length?’

Back when it was decided it was time for a hip replacement, my surgeon said that he could get the 1.5cm back that I am missing from the length of my left leg. I wanted to check that this was the case and he reassured me that he thinks he can. Although there might be some discrepancy, it should be better than it is now!

‘What anaesthetic will be used?’

I have been feeling more than a bit wobbly about the concept of having just a spinal – I really don’t want to be aware of what is going on at all! My surgeon reassured me that I will be able to be asleep (sedated) as well.

‘When can I ride again?’

Obviously this is a crucial one. I like to know where I stand, I like time frames and goals. I’ve been saving this question for the surgeon because he is the expert and expert opinion is what I need. He said six to eight weeks! As long as I keep my hip precautions..

‘When can I drive?’

At the hip education group I was told six weeks but he said as long as I can a. Get in the car, b. Do an emergency stop and c. Am off the hardcore drugs, I can drive when I want!

‘When can I swim?’

Swimming used to be a massive part of mundane life before it got kicked down the list by riding. I know it will be fantastic rehab for me though, I have vague memories of walking in the swimming pool when I was still wheelchair and crutch bound as a child. Providing my wound heels up nicely, I should be swimming pool safe by three weeks.

‘Can I have my hip afterwards?’

This was a largely boyfriend planned question – it would be cool to have my hip to show alongside the bit of metal I had in my leg as a child. Alas, they can’t give it to me. I would have to be preserved to stop it from rotting and the preservative is poisonous so not so lucky on that one.. can’t even give it to the yard dogs to gnaw on! He did say he would take some pictures for me though.

Overall it was a very encouraging meeting. My surgeon was very positive that this will make massive improvements for me and reassured me that the recovery shouldn’t be as bad as I think it will be! He mentioned riding before I did, I didn’t just feel like a number on a list, I felt like he really cared about doing the right thing for me. Big thanks also go to the best Yard Owner anyone could have for coming with me and debriefing over McDonalds!

This time next week I will be having an early night to prepare for hospital admission in the morning.. I am almost excited! As for this week, I have some plans for Pea and I to make the most of our last week of ‘normal’.. watch this space!


Self Preservation And Perspective

Today I went for my hip education appointment at Southmead.  Myself and eleven other people (all, I would say, at least thirty years older than me) listened to the advice of a nurse and occupational therapists about what we need to do to prepare for our operations and what precautions we will have to follow afterwards.  Although I have read the booklet, looked at the pictures and endured my OH’s demonstrations of what HE has learnt from the booklet, it hadn’t quite hit home how tricky everyday activities are if you stick to the precautions.  Which I am going to do.  A good recovery is going to be absolutely crucial to getting the best I can out of this hip for as long as I possibly can.  Usually I live life at speed, I always have more to do than I can fit into my days.  It sounds like by the time I have got out of bed, managed to shower and dress myself it will be time to go back to bed!  Speaking of getting dressed, I now have a long shoe horn, a special sock ‘putter onner’ and what is essentially a litter picker – I think I’ve got a lot of practising to do in the next two weeks!


After the talks and demonstrations we each had a short meeting with an OT to go through measurements of furniture and other information relating to home set ups.  We established that

  • My bed is too low so I am going to be provided with risers for it.
  • We are going to have to swap sides of the bed – just one of the many habits I will have to change and one that my boyfriend is certainly not going to like!
  • The sofa just isn’t going to work as my recover chair – I’m on the look out for an ‘old people’s home’ style armchair with a seat height of 47cm!
  • The toilets are too low (no surprise there) so I am going to be sent toilet risers
  • I shouldn’t drive for six weeks

Very crucially though – I am lucky.  I have a shower cubicle (people with showers over the bath aren’t allowed to use them for three months).  I also have a boyfriend who will feed me and help me in any way I need, I have parents who are coming to stay in the area for six weeks and I have friends who will make sure my pony is ok amongst other things!  Compared to the woman who has had two months notice that she needs a hip op, has a daughter with leukaemia and a three year old grand child who she looks after (and only a shower over a bath) I am VERY lucky and that hasn’t escaped me.

However lucky I feel, it hasn’t been a great week.  I have had one of those fluey colds, the kind I have had a million times over but rather than my usual ‘crack on’ attitude.  I’ve gone into self preservation mode.  I need to get over this cold quick.  I haven’t had time off work but I have rested, taken pills, wrapped up warm and not physically exerted myself which means next to no riding.  Pea has pretty much become a field pony and it shows.  She has got a major grass baby belly!  Again, I am lucky though, she loves being a wild herd pony.  Thank goodness I don’t have a sensitive stabled beast that needs riding all the time!  My leg pain has been worse because I’ve been all achy and rubbish.. not how I wanted to spend one of my last weeks.  I feel like I might actually be learning how to look after myself though, rather than just overdoing it like usual.  A lesson learnt just in time!


In other news, even my guinea pigs are prepping for the changes ahead – they’ve got a new feeder that refills for a few days – one small thing to worry about less often!



Making Preparations

It is now June which means I can no longer say that my operation is next month.. it is actually this month!  No more months to wait!  I still have plenty of unanswered questions about what is to come, even after reading the extensive booklet I was given at my pre op (, but proper preparations have started.

Firstly, my lovely boyfriend has started shifting the furniture so that it is more ‘crutch friendly’.  When we moved in together we amalgamated most of our furniture but the house isn’t really big enough to cope.  Until this week you had to be pretty slim to get past the furniture to the bedroom and the shower room but that clearly wasn’t going to work for me post op.  Now the spare room can only be accessed if you are a mouse but the important rooms are far more accessible.  We used to have an equal, foot wide passage either side of our bed but the bed is now shifted all the way to one side so he has been practising climbing whilst I have been enjoying the luxury of space!

After the conversations at my pre op about not being able to shower at least for the first day after my operation, hygiene and cleanliness have been at the forefront of my ‘first world problem’ panics.  I took a trip to Boots to stock up on the things I think I’m going to want whilst I’m in hospital to help me to try to feel more normal.  It felt a little funny buying one of those travel bags of empty bottles to fill for hospital rather than for a holiday.  I also got a free gift of travel sized Liz Earle products when I bought my usual products from them – again, perfect for hospital!  Two and a half weeks to go and my wash bag is packed – not bad considering these days I tend to take one day at a time.


I also bought a few new, loose dresses.  I know that there are tips and tricks as to how to get trousers on – men must do it!  I can’t help thinking that in the early stages it might just be easier to wear dresses.  As for the funny gadgets to help you put your socks on (that I have seen in my booklet) I feel like if I don’t wear socks for the rest of June and July, it is not the end of the world!

Physically, I’m doing my best effort at my physio exercises and trying to keep my muscles going whilst not knackering myself out completely.  I am having varied success with that as I still have nights where the pain completely takes over and I realise I have  overdone it in one way or another.  It is hard to break the habit of a lifetime!  I have started to do a bit of yoga (strictly in house using videos to help me) and of course I am still riding.  Not for long, not far and since the pleasure ride ( barely out of a walk!  Sometimes I feel like I can’t actually move my leg while I’m riding (not good if you need to put a bit of leg on when your pony sees a monster in the bushes!)  Most nights I’m happy just to spend some time with Pea.  Apart from the walking required to get to her, that is relatively painless!


At this stage I’m not sure what other preparations I need to make!  If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.


Pea’s Journey – My Favourite Story To Tell

This might be a post exclusively for me.  I am completely obsessed by my pony and am totally aware that other people might not quite be as interested.  Nevertheless it is my blog so here goes.


One of my greatest wishes would be to know the beginnings of Pea.  As far back as I can trace her she was called Gypsy Dawn and a man swapped her with the gypsies for some hay.  In her early years she had two foals, Star and Betsy.  She was heavily pregnant when she was sold in 2012 to a lady with the words

‘This mare can be spiteful with other horses and can be difficult to load’.


At this point ‘Gypsy Dawn’ was meant to be about four but as with many ponies of traveller descent, noone really knows her age.  Not long after, in April, beautiful baby Boo was born.


Sadly, in May 2012, the lady who owned the renamed ‘Scarlet Sweetpea’ had a nasty fall off another horse and ended up with more broken ribs than ponies!  In the later stages of that year Pea wasn’t showing signs of having been a ridden pony (contrary to what her owner had originally been told) and with a long rib to riding recovery journey still to go, the lady was given the option for Pea to move to an equestrian centre in the Cotswolds belonging to a friend, which is exactly what happened.

At the beginning of 2013, at Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre, Pea started her ridden career with hacking, riding school activities and was leased by a child.  A year later I had my second hack at BVEC on a fluffy cob – Pea!  As I said in my earlier post, in April 2014 Pea became my lease pony, we even took part in the yard summer show!


Pea was a challenge to catch at the beginning.  I spent many hours sat in the field with a bucket but once she was caught she was a fantastically well behaved pony to hack in groups and kept my confidence up well.  In the school she could be challenging, she used to take the mick out of the children who rode her in lessons. I learnt to block her from random turns to the side and we were able to produce a pretty acceptable intro dressage test.  We entered dressage competitions held in the field at the yard each summer.  Cantering in the school was an issue, in the early days she just used to put her head down and bomb off but it didn’t really matter!  Cantering out was fine though and we enjoyed several fun rides together.

a print

As time went on, I was not fully satisfied with just leasing Pea.  Other ponies from the yard were sold and I couldn’t bear to think of Pea belonging to anyone other than me.  I remember the yard owner saying

‘Are you sure you want to buy Pea?  Don’t you want ***** instead?’

But ultimately it wasn’t just a pony I wanted, it was Pea.  In January 2016 I bought myself the best late Christmas present I could have ever had.  I can’t quite describe the feeling of achieving a life long dream which had seemed impossible for so long.  She continued to ‘work’ on tourist hacks from the yard but no longer did lessons which was my choice.  No more taking advantage of children!


In August 2017 there was another big change.  I had got a job at a school in Malvern, working at the stables.  It was time for Pea and I to both fly the nest.  My greatest fear about the move was that Pea wouldn’t be happy.  Clearly I should have been more concerned about whether my leg would hold up but we all know where that one ended!  After initially moving in as a lone pony and being a little concerned over the new situation, Pea was joined by lots of pony friends and was much happier.  We had a wonderful seven months of hacking out, we even went cubbing once – an experience that she enjoyed but I did not! Ouch!  I started to go out to dressage lessons, suddenly I had the confidence and the support to be able to work towards my dreams.  Top thanks go to my yard colleague there for her encouragement and my wonderful OH for becoming a driver, groom and pony holder!


So here we are, back home.  I will never forget opening up the trailer the day she returned to the familiar sights and smells of BVEC.  Aside from being slightly shocked at the amount of mud and the arrival of pigs as an accessory to the arena, she settled in as though she had never been away.

pea home

I could have very easily slipped back into our old ways of going nowhere and doing nothing.  The fantastic instructor I had found in Worcestershire was too far away now but I found another instructor closer to home and Pea and I have been making fortnightly trips to do lots of hard work!  We even went on a pleasure ride (

The next chapter is a fuzzy one for Pea.  I will be incapacitated and things will certainly change in the temporary.  Pea is earmarked to do some tourists hacks to keep busy (if anyone can catch her!) and I’m hoping that she will keep ticking along until I can get back to normal.


Pleasure And Pain

So the other day I said I was amping it up with the riding before I have to have a while out of the saddle post op. Today I took park in a BHS pleasure ride. I haven’t been on a fun ride since December 2016 because of what the hours in the saddle does to me.  The pleasure ride isn’t about careering around the countryside and jumping though, it was meant to essentially be a long, chilled country hack – sounded perfect!


My family have always used the simile of slices of cake to work out distances on journeys. If today’s ride was split into slices, the first quarter of the cake was just normal riding pain and beautiful scenery. During the second quarter my left leg and foot were pretty much numb. We were just thinking that we must be in the last stages when one of the officials uttered the words

‘You’ve done the short part, now you’ve got the long part to do!’

Bearing it in mind my riding party consisted of a tiny child being led on foot and two ladies with a previous broken knee and sciatica issues respectively, this wasn’t great news!


I genuinely felt sick from the pain during the second half and wasn’t entirely sure if I could move, let alone get my bum out of the saddle! When I got off I almost cried – not sure if it was because my leg had started trembling uncontrollably or because I was so full of pride for our achievement!  I feel like perhaps I didn’t need to do what is probably a week of riding squeezed into one day but I am so glad I did.  Who knows when our next fun ride will be or what I will be like then!


At the end of the day though, I will take pain over what another rider on today’s ride experienced.  On our way round we had to pass the lifeless body of a horse who had died on its way round (presumably of a heart attack).  I cannot even comprehend the immense mental pain that rider will have gone through today.  It was so unbelievably sad.  Dodgy hip or no dodgy hip, I was able to go and see my pony in the field this evening – I feel very lucky I can do that.  it was a sobering reminder that life is short and you should count your blessings everyday.


Practically Passable In Every Way

I didn’t know what to expect for my pre op. What I got was lovely chats with the healthcare assistant and nurse, swabs, blood tests and lots and lots of questions! Although obviously I haven’t yet had the results to the tests but what made me leave happy was how much of an easy patient they consider me to be in terms of my general health – apparently I pass all of those tests! I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I’m not overweight, I am relatively fit, I eat (most of the time) and I’m all in for whatever they tell me to do.  The panic about how my life is going to majorly change during my recovery is still very much there but I know I am very lucky to be generally fit and well.

The other thing I walked away with was a serious amount of bedtime reading! I’m hoping that most of my pending questions will be answered in the blow by blow guide to hip replacement booklet and anything else will have to wait for the THR forum I am awaiting an invite for or my ‘meet the surgical team’ appointment on the 11th June.


As for riding, I’ve decided that since this hip is nearing its expiry date, it is time to use it up!  Time to see how much we can fit into the next month. Good for my mental health and good for Pea’s waistline. I think she’s looking rather fabulous at the moment don’t you?


Pre ‘Pre Op’ Panic

Tomorrow I have my pre op appointment for my hip replacement.  It is all starting to become a bit too real now that my op is only just over a month away.  The other evening my mum asked me if I had a dressing gown and slippers ready for my hospital stay and I spiralled into absolute panic.  I am a ‘doer’.  I can’t even hack a Sunday morning lie in!  The idea of having to be in a dressing gown and slippers (I’m definitely a onesie and barefoot kind of girl)  in the day, in hospital was somehow more panic inducing to me than the idea of my bone being cut out and removed.  Strange.


The other thing that really hit home was filling in the questionnaire that I have to take with me tomorrow.  Now I am fully aware that these are standard for anyone having this surgery (and therefore people way out of my age bracket) however it is full of not so subtle hints that my independence is going to be majorly compromised, at least for the short term.  It did make me chuckle though, for example

‘At present are you able to manage independently with ironing?’

Considering I haven’t ironed more than the odd shirt since I was sixteen, I’m not too worried about this one!

‘Do you have a commode?’

At twenty six, the last thing I would have thought of when filling my house with furniture would be a commode!  I can’t think of anything more humiliating for me..  I would rather crawl on my hands and knees to the toilet (ironically though I am well aware that I will definitely not be able to crawl on my hands and knees!)

Measure the chair.’

This one made me and my OH laugh.  We have a number of chairs in the house, a desk chair, dining chairs and a sofa but the idea of having a particular personal chair just makes me thing of old people in retirement homes!

‘Is the chair a recliner?’

This caused another laugh.  Our sofa is in theory a recliner, however the mechanism is reminiscent of a Wallis and Gromit Ejector Bed and I am sure you are more likely to hurt yourself with the violent ping of the reclining action than receive any therapy from it!

As well as panicking about what I’m going to wear in hospital (sounds pathetic I know) and my lack of disabled friendly housing modifications, my main concern is for the change in my pony time post op.  The field that Pea lives in is pretty rutted following the awful winter of wetness and the rapid solidifying of the mud in recent weeks.  She has a history of being very elusive to catch, I haven’t really had problems for years but I am worried that if I can’t safely get into the field, I will be relying on her letting someone else catch her.  The idea of not being able to go and even spend some time in the field in the evening is not a good one.


On the plus side I have had another dressage lesson this week.  I am strictly one track mind when it comes to my riding pre op – I will keep cracking on as though nothing is happening.  Fingers crossed I can get out to a competition before the dreaded op date!



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