Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Another bump in the road besides relapsing on the cigarettes is it turns out my back is broken after all. My girlfriend says to stop talking negatively, it’s not actually broken. She says broken would be like if you had two bones that were completely snapped in half like a wishbone. In that case I think I would be paralyzed because the spine protects the spinal cord and that would be pretty negative but that’s not happening.
I have two fractures (T12 and L3), one “severe”, and a multitude of wear-and-tear issues—degenerative disc disease in many of the discs and some kind of scoliosis thing that’s probably from my bad posture. I’m not too worried about the degenerative disc disease and the scoliosis thing. I expected that. Most of us cowgirls have that. It’s from riding and lifting fifty-pound bags of grain and pushing wheelbarrows. You get that. I also had a feeling about the fractures. This back pain felt different. It is not the worst pain that I’ve had but it’s different. It feels like an accordion collapsing in on itself and when the doctor drew me a picture, that’s exactly what it looked like.
I have to go to the orthopedic doctor. He will probably order an MRI so they can make sure the fractures are stable. If they are stable, it’s just a matter of rest, possibly a brace, and if I could, water therapy might help. (I learned this from the Internet, not from my family doctor who knew squat. I call family doctors “gateway doctors” nowadays. You have to go to them to get referrals to go to the real doctor who will fix you.) If they’re not stable, I would need surgery. They would put something in there to hold it together so that the bones don’t impinge on the spinal cord. Trying to be positive, I assume I’d be in more pain if the fractures weren’t stable so I’m not losing any sleep over it.
But I’m afraid my barrel racing career is over before it even got started. All these years I’ve been trying to do it and one thing or another got in the way, mostly moving. Every time I got my horse ready, we decided to move again and then I had to fix the house and stage the house and sell the house (we always sell it ourselves with no real estate agent so that takes a lot of work) and pack the house (one time I packed the house completely by myself because Kurt was recuperating from double bypass surgery—he didn’t even see the new house when I bought it because he was in the hospital) and then we’d move into a new house and we’d have to build fences and build barns and replace roofs and replace heating systems…. And start our business all over again. That’s like starting a whole new business! I’d get halfway settled in and then start riding my horse again and I’d go to a barrel race or two, and then something else would happen. So all these years I never really got going. And now I don’t know if I will ever be able to get going. Those high speeds and hairpin turns really throw you around in the saddle and I’d be afraid I’d reinjure the healed fractures. I imagine it will always be a weak area and the spine is nothing to mess around with.
I’m not ruling it out though. I am looking into protective vests. The eventers wear them. Jockeys wear them. They protect your ribs and your spleen but I don’t know how well they protect your spine because they don’t stop the spine from compressing. I know of a company that makes a safety vest that blows up like an air mattress when you fall off the horse. It attaches to the horn by a cord and when you fall off, the cord breaks and the vest inflates. We made jokes when we were told how it works by the vendor at Colonial Nationals a couple of years ago. He zeroed right in on us because he thought we were an easy mark since Kelly was one of the only riders wearing a helmet, plus she had emergency-release stirrups, a real rarity in the western world. He probably thought, “Here’s a family that’s safety conscious!” But we laughed. We wanted to know if we’d bounce. We asked if there was a parachute attached to it because when Bullet bucked, Bullet bucked hard and one time Kurt landed up in a tree.
But now I’m thinking it’s not so funny after all. I’m trying to be positive but there’s nothing wrong with taking every safety precaution as possible. Because bumps in the road, or the arena, really hurt.