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 (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/17/practically-passable-in-every-way/), 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.

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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 (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/20/pleasure-and-pain/) 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!

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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 (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/20/pleasure-and-pain/).

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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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Riding – How It All Started

There is no denying I was a very lucky little girl.  My parents took me to riding lessons when I was about five.  I remember going riding with my big brother and sister and a little pony called Nan.  We even had a pony to stay at our farm when I was about six.  When we moved to Devon my mum found a new riding school.  I used to ride a grey pony called Tom – he was one of those ponies who was best off on the end of a rope but I loved it.  I vividly remember the excitement of jodhpurs, my very own riding hat and desperately wanting a pair of riding boots!

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As I said in my previous post, all that horsey loveliness came to an end when I was diagnosed with Perthes.  I never lost the love for ponies.  Recently I went through all the kept paper and schoolwork from my childhood and I clearly used to draw ponies a lot!  I read horsey books, I played with toy horses, I played with a rocking horse and hobby horses and, rather embarrassingly, had a long term game with my sister involving invisible imaginary horses!  Between seven and twenty one I probably rode three times – much begged for birthday treats generally!

The desire had never left me but life went on.  When I finished university I got a real, proper, full time job and was suddenly earning actual money.  This also coincided with a number of a dates with a boy.  The story goes that on one date we were driving through the country and talking about his friends who had horses, I expressed my love for horses and desire to ride and his reply was

‘If you love horses and riding so much why don’t you just do it’.

That guy was insignificant but the words were not.  I booked a riding lesson!

The first place that I went to I wasn’t fully sold on, I went there twice and knew that riding was still for me but not necessarily there.  I then went to a new place where I started having weekly lessons.  Monday evenings were the highlight of my week, made even more special by the fact that my lesson was the last of the night so I was able to untack my horse and feed it.  I will never forget my first canter and the immense sense of achievement I felt at each small improvement.

After a few months I wanted more, I found a third riding stables (Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre) which offered hacking as well as lessons.  After two hacks there I discovered the concept of ‘leasing’ – essentially a paid commitment resulting you being able to ride a certain horse whenever you want to and to treat it as your own – I jumped straight in.

To cut a long story short, I had an unfortunate fall out on a hack off the first horse I leased.  My confidence was crippled.  I had the opportunity to swap horses and I did but that still didn’t work – I just couldn’t leave the yard on horseback.  Eventually the yard owner asked the ultimate question

‘Do you actually want to do it?  If you actually want to do it I can help’.

And she did.  I was given the option to ride the old queen of the yard Whiskey.  It worked!

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The next stage was slowly but surely swapping from Whiskey to Pea.  By Easter 2014 I was leasing a pony I was comfortable with but who still ultimately gave me enough challenges!  We did the riding centre summer show, we entered  the dressage competitions held at the yard, we went on fun rides and it was all wonderful.

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My Hip Journey So Far

When I was about 6 I started having pain in my left leg.  I don’t remember it but my mum does!  I was an active child, I used to do ballet, swimming and riding.  Originally the doctor didn’t know what it was but when we moved to Devon just before my seventh birthday, I struck lucky with my new doctor.  Another local child had the same pains and had been diagnosed with Perthes Disease.  Cut to many hospital appointments, surgery (a left hip osteotomy which essentially meant breaking, moving and pinning my hip bone and then removing the metal a year or so later) and ultimately being banned from all the good things in life.  No more ballet, no more riding, no PE.

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It wasn’t all bad, the pain was in existence but manageable and I still got involved in my overachieving family’s compulsory walks and cycling holidays.  Swimming was my one fully allowed activity.  It was an opportunity for exercise and for a bit of social engagement!  Swimming morphed into waterpolo when I moved to Gloucestershire in my university years and the pain increased but after all the years of a ‘dodgy hip’ it was just part of life.

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I started riding (more on that later) when I joined the working world.  I loved it, it was the best thing in my life (and still is) but it probably wasn’t the best thing for pain.  It was during these years that I got back into the hospital system.  I went from my GP to physio, to my GP, to my local hospital, to more physio and finally to a specialist in Bristol.  I had a steroid injection into my hip which did nothing and the discussion turned to a hip replacement.  It wasn’t the right time yet.

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In September last year I started a new job.  It was full time horsey but at a school, the perfect job for me.  I loved it but by December I was crying to my surgeon that my hip just couldn’t cope anymore and my name got put on the dreaded waiting list.

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To cut the trauma of the last few months short; I quit my awesome job, moved back to where I lived before, took up crutches for any proper walking (on the recommendation of my physio) and started a number of small jobs to pay my bills and bide my time until my op.  Now for the next part of the journey!

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