The last few weeks have been a big mixed bags of emotions. There are so many positives but It really is hard sometimes to look forward and get passed the things that hold you back. Since the accident in 2015 I had one main goal and that was to get back to competition riding. I was so excited when I finally did it last year but since then there has been so many set backs which has meant we haven’t been out competing let alone riding. I knew this would take a lot of time and effort which of course I was going to do. I have an incredible support system with friends and family which have kept me going and help in anyway that they can. For me the struggle has been that physically my body cant keep up. I have always been such a fit active person so for me this has been really hard. This may sound so stupid, but getting blisters on toes where they curl under in shoes. I cant tell as I have no feeling so now I have to get them dressed by a nurse every other day and watch for secondary issues that may occur. Before and for most people blisters are an everyday occurrence but for someone with a spinal cord injury it could be a lot worse if not addressed correctly.
I had a very interesting examination in Salisbury the other day. It was nerve conduction tests on my left shoulder and arm. I had no idea what to expect but it was highly amusing for Jodie. They attached pads on lots of different parts of my hand, arm and shoulder and then would send currents down to read how quickly the current would reach that area. Sometimes my hand and arm would just start twitching. Next he then mentioned sticking a needle in lots of different places to read the muscles. We thought he was joking and then when he bought out a dressing Jodie joked ‘is that for all the blood?’ We were surprised when he answered yes! It wasn’t too bad more just a discomfort and apparently I have no blood as I didn’t bleed. We had this issue for the next test where they attempted to get a canula in 5 times and couldn’t do it.
I am having to take a step back from my strength and conditioning sessions which have really kept me going whilst I have not been able to ride. I had an investigation for the abdominal pain I get. It has been going on for a while but over the last few months the intensity of it has increased and it happens more frequently. I am waiting for the results from the hospital to hopefully find out what is causing it. Fingers crossed it will be easily solved. I know my seat belt saved my life but the damage it caused is quite insane to think about.
I’m not quite sure what I will be doing with myself if I cant work out and still not riding, I don’t like having all this time, I cant remember a time where I have been so quiet.
For the positives……I attended the Para Fit to Ride day at Hartpury College. It is always a good day to see some of the others and have a catch up. It started off with a lovely massage which I felt was very much needed. We had a group phycology session which we spoke about overcoming issues. It felt very relevant to me at the time so was very useful as It did remind me of what I have overcome how how well I have done so far. I had a ride on Margret the mechanical horse with help from Nick Rogers. As I haven’t ridden in a long time I was a little nervous as I wasn’t too sure how my body was going react, but I was absolutely fine and really enjoyed it. The last part of the day was a session with a trainer. I found it really helpful as she gave me some exercises to work my scapula placing which is important for riding but also when using a wheelchair. Constantly pushing the chair can cause shoulder problems in years to come as its not a natural movement so working them back and strengthening will help. I do a lot of this is pilates too but this gave us a few more options. We also did some strength work with weights. Apparently I should think about doing para weight lifting so maybe thats my back up plan.
Both Diamanti and Golita have settled in very well at the yard. At first it was such a drama for them when one left the stable to work, but finally they have got over that. How they became so attached so quickly I don’t know. Golita has had a lovely Albion saddle fitted so I just need to get it adapted for me which I am trying to sort out. We went to the yard with Jodie and Yasmin to introduce Golita to our Para ways. She was so good it was lovely to see. She is still learning two whips and what they are needed for which she isn’t 100% comfortable with, but has got much more understanding of the voice aids. Whilst she was being ridden Jodie and Yasmin went on either side to act as the team, which we will be using while we start riding again. She just becomes a little tense and unsure but the more we practise the better she will get. Her transitions just using the voice have improved a lot she just needs to get the confidence to carry on. What I was most pleased was how she reacted when I asked Isobel to fall on her neck. Occasionally my body can jack-knife which can cause me to fall on the horses neck. Obviously this could be very dangerous especially if the horse wasn’t used to it. So we practised this happening and she reacted exactly how we wanted her to…..she just stopped. The first time she took a few small strides, then when we did it in trot she stopped immediately. This gives me so much confidence in her. I cant wait to get back on Diamanti and start riding Golita.
At home with the horses we have set up a few ‘scary’ things to work with the youngsters. Isla was so good and we did it with a lot of carrots so we made it not so scary. We were rubbing a bag over her body and walking her in and out of string. May sound silly but we are trying to bombproof my horses as much as possible so I can be around them. This is also to help Yasmin understand what we need and so we can start doing this work with Diego.
Im sure I will start to pick myself up again soon. I am off to Southampton university next week to talk to some students about life with a spinal cord injury. I do really enjoy doing these things to give people a better understanding and it also does help me to talk about it. I am looking forward to doing some more ground work with Golita this week and hopefully I can get some shoes on soon and can get riding.