In which I learn to love my clamshells, one-leg stands, and ibuprofen

It comes to this:

Blue sky and ears at the bottom of the photo = my idea of Heaven

If I want to see lots more miles and have lots more photos like this:

I can't help noticing that Flower is quite a lot shorter
than the Dragon...but nearly as wide!

I gotta be willing to do this:

Do NOT attempt this at home.
Trained Dragon and rider, closed course.

and, err, this.
Yeah, it looks dumb.  And it's freakin' difficult, too!
But it really helps strengthen the parts of me that
need to be stronger.

The X-rays confirm what we suspected about my sudden severe lameness for the past few weeks:  moderate changes consistent with osteo-arthritis.

It could be a lot worse.  Nobody is using "s-words."

("severe"  and  "surgery" are both out of the picture, at least for now)

It's pretty obvious that the free ride I've enjoyed by being "not much older than 40" is over.

I'm now on the part of the journey labeled "closer to 50."

That means I need to be pro-active about pain management.  I need to begin each day with NSAIDS, and supplement with additional ibuprofen whenever the pain and/or swelling ramps up above a "2 " or a "3" on the pain chart.  The chart goes up to "10", which equals "kill me now."  When I was trying to ride last week, I was getting spikes of 7 and 8.  That's not good.

I've always been pretty stoic about pain and pretty resistant to using pain meds. However, after some lectures by people who know what they are talking about (and some follow-up research of my own, of course), I'm a believer:  I need to prevent inflammation and pain, rather than try to chase it.  

After a week of PT and enacting new, stringent pain-management protocols, I went riding yesterday!

One of the Dragon's favorite trails

About two hours, about 8 miles.  Pain never spiked above a 3.  I took a few ibuprofen while I was out there, to supplement the NSAIDS already on board.  I could've gone further or a bit faster....but opted for a short, conservative ride to see what the "after-effects" would be.

RESULT: Pain level of !!!ZERO!!! for at least 30 minutes of the ride, and for several hours after returning home.  When I needed more ibuprofen and an ice pack I wasn't shy.  I got what I needed, and I used it.

This morning, I returned to physical therapy.  Lance had already seen the "yoga on horseback" photos, courtesy of Patty (her PT is earlier on Monday mornings than mine!)

He asked me,

"How high do you need to get your foot so you can get on your horse?"

Here's the photo, Lance:

Renegade Rendezvous finish line, 2011.  Photo by M. Bretherton.

The stirrup is just about level with the knot on the sweatshirt around my waist.

(of course, I frequently use mounting blocks, rocks, stumps, and the bumpers of random pickup trucks.  I also taught Fee to stre-e-e-e-tch out her front legs a bit, which drops her about an inch.  It's still a freakin' long way to the top of this horse.)

Now you can understand why I'm so motivated!

This one stretches my hip and my bum.
And it hardly hurts at all.

I religiously practice my PT "homework": clamshells, and one-leg stands. I've learned to tell the difference between "it's difficult"  (keep going!) and "it hurts" (stop immediately!)

Because there is still a whole world of this
Blue sky, Canadian mountains in the distance.

out there waiting for me.


It's really Good.


  1. Successful PT is always a huge plus! Glad to hear about such positive results.

  2. LOL - LOVED this post!!!!! And yes, totally agree with OA about getting pain meds on board AHEAD of the pain. It's a concept we use in vetmed and I can always tell when I'm chasing instead of being proactive with pain (2 large dogs with OA currently). As a side note....all my lectures against proactive NSAIDs is specifically at DOMS, NOT against pathological conditions like this one, in case anyone is confused about my apparent sudden "switch" in positions :).

    My fav part of this post.....explaining to Mr. PT how far up you have to get your leg up. ROTFL........I'm convinced endurance riders make the for the best patients just from the entertainment value.

    1. Yes, one of my expert consultants is a vet. :-) We all know that I'd rather consult a vet than a "people doc" anyhow!

      As usual when corresponding with Mel, I learned something--had to look up DOMS, and now I'm glad I did. DOMS doesn't benefit from proactive NSAIDS. But OA does. Keeping the swelling and pain down is the goal for me. Trying to squash it down after is never as effective.

      The parallel I make to myself is my attitude towards taking allergy meds: why wait to be miserable and sneezy before taking Benedryl? If the calendar says "July" and the weather is dry, and the neighbors are cutting hay, I *know* I'm going to need antihistimine, and it's better to take the meds before I start reacting.

      The PT guys say that equestrians and marathoners and golfers are all the same: absolutely convinced that the world will stop turning if they can't participate in the sport of choice. I think that's pretty accurate!

    2. I remember one notable marathon that I was pretty sure I had a stress fracture in my foot, but I was also pretty sure that if I went in and got in diagnosed that they would tell me not to I ran my marathon that was a couple of weeks out, then went to the doc the day after, and then had to come back because the infalmmation was so bad they couldn't actually Dx anything.....and then found out I didn't have a fracture, *just* nerve damage....

      Yes, the world does stop turning when we don't ride or run. I was reminded of that yesterday. And when the world stops turning, we stop functioning :).

      Sorry....I really try hard to spell out stuff and then I get busy and in a hurry and i really just want to be done with the comment already and it's so much WORK to type out everything......... :). Glad your quick research said the same thing that I've been seeing over the last couple of years. It's something I've been keeping on eye on (the DOMS + NSAID thing) because the advice for so many years was to take an ibrophen before a marathon specifically to prevent DOMS so it's interesting to see the new stuff come out on it.

    3. BTW.......Did you get copies of your radiographs???????????? Were they cool??????? (or I guess, because the two "s" words never came up, they didn't look that cool and that's a good thing).

    4. I haven't seen the rads yet (on the phone right now trying to get them sent to me).

      Learning curve!

  3. Glad you are finding a way to manage the pain. I wonder where Dancer's stirrup would line up with me... he's freaking HUGE.

  4. So good to hear that you're back in the saddle! It's been so beautiful! That's Mt. Pilchuck in the distance - not Canada :-)


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