In which "riding" trumps "doctor's office", but sometimes I gotta do both

This is where I wanted to be:

Pilchuck Tree Farm, October 2013

This is where I was:

drawing up a few cc's of cortisone

Before we left for the Jubilee Ranch ride, we knew that the progress on my hip pain/flexibility/strength had hit a plateau.

I am significantly stronger and better balanced than I was before starting PT in July.  In fact, only after I finished loading for the ride did I realize that I hadn't flopped the hay end-over-end into the trailer.  I'd picked up a 75-pound hay bale and tossed it into the trailer without even thinking about it.  I couldn't have done that unassisted, even two months ago.

But still.  I wasn't improving anymore.  And, as the cold wet weather moved in, I was hurting a lot, and taking fistfuls of naproxen, ibuprofen, and tylenol in order to get ordinary stuff done at work and on the farm.

I rode at Jubilee with minimal pain (especially compared with my discomfort in July), but two days after returning home, I could barely walk.  Warm dry weather at the ride was lovely for my arthritic joints; coming home to cold temps and damp skies was not as lovely.

The specialist (not pictured) that I consulted participates in Ironman competitions, and has actually heard of Lew Hollander (one of the founders of endurance riding in the PNW), so he got it when I told him that I was feeling partly-disabled because I can only ride 25 miles instead of the 50-milers I'm accustomed to riding.  I don't remember him actually agreeing that I needed to get back to riding longer distances, but I certainly felt that he understood my need to try.

The injection doc did not get it.
Only about 5cc's of the good stuff

I could see clearly from his facial expression that he was thinking "there is no way on this planet you will ever ride a horse 50 miles, you short round white lady."

And that's before he saw the x-rays.

Still, he kept up a cheery chatter, telling me about the procedure as it happened, telling me what would hurt and what wouldn't and why.  It mostly didn't hurt, actually, except the initial injection of lidocaine, which is acidic and hurts.  He puts sodium bicarbonate (baking soda!!) into the mixture to reduce the acidity, but it still did hurt a bit when it punctured the joint capsule.  (Sorry if that's an ooky description, but it really was the only part of the whole thing that hurt at all, and it was very brief.)

The rads were live--that line across the middle of the image is the needle, inserted.
He didn't much look at the screen, though--he did it mostly by feel.  
Anyhow, I squeaked but didn't cuss--which is better than I did the last time I had to have stitches.

And you know what?


Not perfect.  My hip bone still has a bunch of jagged edges that "catch" on connective tissue when I do something crazy like tie my shoes, but I can now get into and out of chairs without cussing, and I can put on my own socks without having to contort myself in strange ways.  Supposedly, it will get better in a day or two, when the long-term meds are really working.  The jagged parts are still there, but there's more cushion around there (for a while).

Today, I went out for half-a-ride.  I checked in with the physical therapist this morning, and he recommended that I take it easy for the first full week.

But the weather is beautiful, and I'll be gone (to a library conference) next weekend--no riding for at least a week!

biggify to see the deer between Fee's ears
Her right ear is pointing at another deer emerging from the brush.

The PT gets it, too.  "How long would you usually ride?" he asked me.

On a sunnyblue day in mid-October when I knew I wouldn't ride again for a week?  I'd normally ride 3 hours at least!   So he told me to ride half of that.

7 miles, 1 hour, 15 minutes (including stopping time to take pictures of the deer).

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When I got off, my hip cramped, and I freaked out a little--did I do too much, too soon?

Probably not.  More likely, I'm in the "gap" period, when the short-term meds they injected are starting to fade, and before the long-term meds are really working full-blast.

This is the best kind of way to spend a day.

But I really am going to take it easy this afternoon.

I've got my sunnyblue dragontrot fix for now, and...'s good.

What do you think about the doc's opinion?  Would you believe him? 


  1. Hooray for feeling better and for sunny skies!

    I am lucky enough to work for a chiropractor who Gets It (enough). I did something funny to my knee two weeks before my most recent 25. So I explained to her the next day at work that yes, the logical and smart thing to do would be to quit riding til it gets better. But we both knew I wasn't going to do that, so one knee brace + kinesiotape later, I was back on the horse. Taking it easier than usual, sure, but on the horse.

    My neurologist doesn't quite get it. I explained that my first LD left me with a migraine. He suggested maybe I should not do that sort of thing, then. I laughed.

    I think doctors are allowed to have opinions. I firmly believe I'm allowed to go against their opinions (so long as I'm aware of the potential consequences).

  2. I hope the injections help your pain levels so you can get out and do your long rides!

    I guess some dr's try to err on the side of caution...? I take blood thinners and really shouldn't be riding (higher risk of internal bleeding if I were to take a bad fall). When I first started taking the medication, my Dr. gave me a speech about changing my activities - she rhymed off a list of sports I should no longer do (contact sports, downhill skiing etc.) but didn't mention horseback riding. So, I smiled and said "at least I can still ride". She said "Ride? Ride what, exactly?" "My horse!" I said. She just shook her head and said "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that. Please just wear a helmet!" I'm a lot younger than most people that have to take that type of medication, so I told her I'm not going to sit at home and knit all day. She didn't really get it, but doesn't hassle me about it either.


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