Hi-Yo Silver, awaaaaay

Well I’m back – not that I’ve actually been anywhere; the last few weeks have been pretty bad health/pain-wise [as in, worse than the usual status quo “bad”] and I haven’t felt much like posting.  Time spent at the laptop has mostly been aimless web-surfing and drooling over yummy food I don’t have the energy or appetite to make. 

Also desperately craving … well various other things.  When one is in so much pain one can’t bear to be touched, certain activities become quite impossible.  You know, like opening screw-top jars and scrubbing the kitchen floor, things like that.  Things that give me pleasure and are fun and … ahhh feck it; you know, I really can’t include scrubbing the kitchen floor in that group, not even to maintain a weak analogy.

So life has been a bit tough of late, and I’ve been pretty depressed about everything … Well to be honest I’m pretty much always a bit depressed, it’s impossible not to be when circumstances and consequences thereof are so beyond my control and I’m always in screaming pain, but there are times when my strength to deal with it and keep myself “up” simply fails and I fall in an emotionally wobbly heap.  Life is just not fair.

To make matters worse, we’ve had bad news after bad news.  The gorgeous vibrant wife of a close friend of my brother’s and the rest of our family, who always comes to family do’s and Christmas drinks with their even-cuter kids, was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy, and the prognosis is not good.  She’s starting chemo and radiation which are vile and debilitating in themselves.  Her kids are in pre-school/early primary, and realistically she probably has only a few years left.  Life is really not fucking fair.

Then my uncle, my mum’s younger brother, who is my favourite relative and one of the few [only?] people in my family who has ever thought I was any good, died after a horrible prion brain disease that none of the medical profession was able to identify.  Scary shit, prion diseases, and to attack the mind of my absolutely brilliant, creative and fun uncle was terrible to see.  This last year the decline has been so swift, it’s been difficult to absorb.  I was one of the very last people he recognised, several months ago, when he could no longer recognise his own wife and kids and grandkids.  That has helped me in grieving, that I was important to him as well.  It’s just so fucking sad, I still tear up ever time I think of him …

Life is so bloody fucking sodding unfair!  I know, I know, no one ever promised me a rose garden etc etc.  It amazes me that humans have the strength to keep plodding on, keep reproducing, fight for rights and democracy, try against all odds to make it a better world … when life is so unfair and painful.

[Let me say, for the record and on the flip side, life with my wonderful Tux is so much fun, he makes me deliriously happy so that I seem to live at the extremes of life; intense pain and intense pleasure.  It’s weird.  He keeps me going – and wanting to go on.  I literally couldn’t live without my handsome charming Irishman.]

. . . . . . . . . .

Anyway, enough of all that.  I decided, when I was at the bottom of my deep dark well of pain and depression, that I had to do something that was fun, that had no other aim but FUN.   Now I know everyone is going to roll their eyes at me here, but I love horses and horse-riding.  During my teen years it was one of two things I was good at.  [The other was drama – acting etc, I was damn good and could have had a career in it if I wasn’t such a wuss.] 

So, horse-riding.  I’ve heard all the Freudian crap, that little girls loving horses is all about penis envy and having control over a powerful member throbbing between your legs.  And yes, there is some truth there.  When one is a small, female person then these “power” and “control” thingos are rare commodities.  Being able to control [no brute force required] and communicate with an animal that weighs about 600 kg is very cool.  So yeah, I loved, and continue to love, horses and horse riding.  [And yes, I have asked Santa for a pony – in recent years upgraded to a pure bred Andalusian gelding – since I was three.  Still no luck, fuck.]

However I realised I have my physical limitations.  As a teen I rode huge horses and tiny vicious ponies; mad, untrained three-day eventers, racehorses, green-broke Arabians, insane Shetlands.  I was a good rider and helped school and ride horses that were way out of my league.  And because I was small, and physically weak and sick – remember this was more than 10 years before I had an actual diagnosis of my own personal beastie – I fell off a lot, usually in a dramatic manner, which makes for good stories.  Unfortunately it also makes for unsupportive, fascist parents who won’t let you do what you’re good at and have fun doing anymore.  And you can forget about the fucking pony from Santa.

. . . . . . . . . .

So about those limitations … I have them, although surprisingly I am actually physically stronger and have better control and balance than I did when I was 12-18.  A proper diagnosis and treatment kind of helps, you know?  I know I can’t – in fact, don’t want to – ride the same way and the same kind of horses I used to.  Right now riding would add the necessary FUN factor to my life, and if additional rationalising was required, also helps build core strength, joint stability, stamina and general strength all of which I need.  And yes, I could get such physical therapy at Shenton Park Rehab Hospital, but that isn’t any FUN, and I do my exercises pretty much daily anyway.  So, nyah.

I web-surfed and found the WA chapter of the Riding for the Disabled Association, and then a couple of the groups close to where I live.  I told my parents that I was going to do this anyway, but would appreciate their support and help, which they are always offering and I’m always avoiding.  Dad could understand where I was coming from, and overrode my mother who was as negative and pessimistic as always [“You’ll be KILLED!”], and last week I went out to meet the coach and sign up for next year, as both an advanced dressage rider and a volunteer.

The riding is VERY exciting, and I can’t wait.  The volunteering is something I need to do, and if I say so myself I have quite a bit to offer.  I can work in the office, I can write and do web design, help with lobbying and sponsorship;  I can school and work with the horses; and having a background in teaching and working with disabled kids – and being disabled myself [how I abhor that word, though, and all the PC versions are even worse – I like Rob of Schuyler’s Monster’s “broken” best] – I can work with the younger kids as well. 

The coach and volunteers out at the centre I visited seemed really pleasant and entertaining; very supportive and understanding of my type of “ability” and what I wanted to get out of “hippotherapy”, as it’s called; and also very excited about what I had to offer as a volunteer.  As a rider I’ll be placed in a group with others of approximate age and ability, as the social aspect is encouraged; I’m pretty thrilled about that and the general vibe of the centre and it’s goals. 

So while it may not be precisely a case of “Hi-yo, Silver, awaaaaaaaay” and galloping into the sunset, it’s good stuff.  Helps the blues.  And like other activities involving, excuse me *cough* throbbing members, DAMN FUN.

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  • Dave  On Thursday 13 December 2007 at 11:26 pm

    It’s very suckful to hear your EDS is getting ever worse. Wasn’t there some cutting edge procedure you were talking about a while back which was going to help you a bit? Something involving a very large needle?

    Yay for horsies, though! Admit it: you just like being tall for a change 🙂

    In other news: we got a kittie! A family that were moving to, of places, Australia wanted a home for a little black and white moggie, two years old, with an insatiable appetite and a fondness for REALLY KILLING this little bouncy ball with a bell in it. You should see her trying to disembowel that fucker; it really is adorable…

  • otterkat  On Friday 14 December 2007 at 10:19 am

    Hey Dave, how wunderbar to see you! Hugs to you and the missus. Yes, the sitmed ’tis indeed suckworthy. I had the whole whizzbang cryo-neuro-surgery stuff back in Feb this year; lots & lots of really huuuuge needles, gore, disturbing buzzing noises and no anesthetic mmmm mmmmmmmm. It really had no effect on the pain levels – then again I didn’t cop any bad side effects either so I’m grateful for small mercies.

    Ack, ye got me viz rationale for horse-riding! Yes it’s nice being taller & being able to see more of a person than their elbows … so long as they don’t put me on a shetland pony. Tho I think even I’m too big for one of those evil creatures now.

    Aw a pusscat has joined the W Family, that’s lovely! She sounds a real character, they get pretty serious about their toys don’t they? Tooo cute. What’s her name?

  • enya727  On Sunday 16 December 2007 at 10:55 am

    Otterkat, it was great reading your blog, even though i am one of those “usans” you referred to in some of your posts. i’m not in the faction you were “ranting” about though. i definitely march to the beat of a different drum than mainstream usans do. I’m with you girl. our fearless leader is on his way out and it won’t be soon enough to suit me and many others over here. At any rate . . .I’m writing because I was recently diagnosed with ehlers-danlos. You think your dr.s were slow in finding out what was wrong with you . . . i’m 53 and have been living with this thing all these years. I’ve lost 5 siblings to this lowsy syndrome. Do you have brothers/sisters? would you mind commiserating with an old lady like me? I would love to find an online chatroom for ehlers but i haven’t had any luck yet. those sleepless nights would sure seem shorter if i could find someone to talk to.
    Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Jules aka otterkat  On Sunday 16 December 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks so much for your comment, Enya. I’m so glad to hear from another EDS person! I’ve never met another, we are just too unique, huh? I don’t have words to tell you how sorry I am for your losses, and then not to have had reasons, whoa … that’s just too much to cope with. Do you know what type of EDS you have? I have two elder brothers and neither they nor my parents show any sign of EDS Hypermobility Type [what I have] which is unusual as it’s autosomal dominant [in plain language that means one or both parents must have it for you to get it] … I guess I’m a mutant! Or there’s something my mum ain’t telling me … oops

    The problem with EDS and getting it diagnosed is the reaction people have [people on the street, medical professionals, colleagues, family] of “But you don’t LOOK sick!” No, I don’t, but goddam do I feel it so how about you listen and look properly? And of course, being female, if there’s no discernable reason for pain et al, I must be neurotic, here have some heavy duty anti-depressants. I bet you can relate to all that.

    Yep, I’d love to commiserate and bitch! I know about those long dark nights, oh yeah. As for USAns … well I’ve been meaning to write, not a retraction, but a clarification, that it’s the administration and the religious right that angers me. The concept/organisation, not the individual, if that makes sense.

    Chat soon, and keep on plodding on. Thanks again for commenting.

  • desperatehorsewife  On Sunday 16 December 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Well, I’m going to have to do some reading up on this EDS. But you’re right about the anti-depressants; don’t know what it is that ails them? Give them an anti-depressant! The dr’s tried doing that with my younger sister, too, and as it turned out it was her liver. Diagnosed by a naturalpath up in BC. Diet change and all was well… Gotta love mainstream medical, eh?

    Sorry Santa never brought you a pony, but glad you’ve found a way to get your wish just the same. Horses are wonderful therapy! Lord knows that’s what keeps me sane 🙂

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