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March 22, 2019

Down with the Sickness...or Thickness?


It started back in the fall...I felt off- something wasn’t exactly right, but I pressed on. It was a weird thickness or knot in my throat that I just couldn’t accurately describe to anyone. (Plus, my mind is in the gutter 98% of the time so...you know, had the shoe been on the other foot and a friend of mine came to me with said complaint- I would make a dirty joke. #itisaterriblethingtowaste)
Weeks went by....I google-diagnosed myself with a number of illnesses. I spent too much money on OTC meds to count...nothing worked. I decided to visit Urgent Care, simply b/c it was closer to work and I wouldn’t have to take off. #loyalemployee

“Potentially sinuses...here is a zpack. If it doesn’t feel better, come back in,” the doctor said.

Part of me felt better, part of me was calling some serious bullshit. I’ve had sinus issues since I was old enough to properly pronounce the word allergy. This wasn’t that.

After a few more weeks went by, I met with my regular doctor to describe what I had then diagnosed as a potential ulcer. The uncomfortable knot in my throat had been joined with a weird pain in my side...google pointed to my gallbladder- while my doctor pointed out questions as to why I’d stopped taking my anxiety meds last year. #thishasnothingtodowiththat #focuslady

“Okay...I’m going to order an ultrasound of your side for the pain...but what about stress? Is anything new worrying you that could be causing or helping to create an ulcer?” she asked.

“Well...my best friend was just diagnosed with cancer...for the second time. My horse has a respiratory issue and can’t breathe. I can’t fix either of them...so,” she stopped me.

“You can’t worry yourself with things you can’t control,” she said, in a very namaste fashion.

Bullshit, lady. And just who are you to tell me what I can and can’t worry about?! With God all things are possible...and I’m worrying about every last one of them. #withallduerespectmaam

Moving forward, I continued to have the weird throat thickness daily, although the pain in my side faded. I was not overly concerned with the results from my ultrasound because my issue was much further north.

I logged on to mychart.com to check my results- and read a word I’d never seen before. Angiomyolipoma. Angiomyolipoma!? On my kidney!?! I turned to Dr. Google, while rapidly speed dialing my doctor for an explanation. She assured me it was nothing. I think she’s lying, naturally, because if it was nothing why was I being ordered to get a CT-Scan? (Plus according to google, it is a benign tumor- but if it ruptures...you can bleed to death. #minordetail)

Meanwhile...thickness in my throat...still there...every.time.I.swallow. Remember how the doctor said it could be stress related? Adding a new potential diagnosis to the table was not making the stress level go down, no matter how many yoga positions I tried.

CT Scan...midday...and I haven’t been able to eat since the night before so I’m a real peach to be around. I’ve been assured the scan does not include the dye-contrast. (My dad had a reaction to it so I asked because of the likelihood of me having a reaction, as well.)

I get situated on the table, with a tech on each side of me. One is explaining what will happen, while the other begins an IV.

“WAIT...I’m not supposed to have an IV. I don’t get the dye. No dye contrast! NO DYE!” I yelled, snatching my arm away from her, as if I was speaking to someone who didn’t speak a lick of english. (I am not sure why I did that but I needed to be clear, ese.)

“Who told you that? Well, they misinformed you,” the tech assured me.

At this point, I have on no-pants so it’s not like I can just prance my happy ass out of the room in protest. I was feeling a bit like those actresses with Harvey Weinstein, to be honest. #toosoon?

“You’re going to feel like you’re peeing...you’re not,” they say, in complete monotone.

I definitely felt like I had to pee...then an overwhelming urge to sneeze took over my entire body. Don’t panic, do not panic, do not freak out...you don’t have to sneeze, you are not peeing...you can’t sneeze b/c then you may, very well, pee….don’t sneeze, don’t pee...don’t sneeze, don’t pee.

Finally, it was over. At last, I could eat. A week (and a tiny-temper tantrum in the doctor’s office) later, I received the results that the angiomyolipoma was nothing to be concerned with.

“Great...that’s fantastic news. So...about my original issue- my throat is still not right,” I explained.

After I assured her I had not just swallowed something wrong…(seriously, it’s like God was testing my ability to stop myself from saying something inappropriate)...for the last three months, I was referred to a gastroenterologist. While it took two months to get an appointment- I was still excited to have someone, anyone, who may have some answers to the weirdness.

Seconds after meeting my new doctor, I explained all my feelings, while she nodded along.

“I have tried everything. Prilosec for a full month, nothing. I stopped eating any foods that caused issues...even gluten because I read online that it can be a trigger for GERD. It helped some but the odd feeling is still there. I feel crazy,” I said.

“You aren’t crazy...this is one of two things- I think we need to do an endoscopy...and just pop in there and take a look. It is not a big deal- it's a minor procedure..we will give you propofol…”

“Wait...that is what took out Michael Jackson!” I screeched.

She laughed, assuring me they wouldn’t give me that much.

“So more thriller than killer?” I joked.

“Oh...we will have fun with you,” she laughed.

I smiled...hoping she doesn’t plan to video me moonwalking out of the office post-endoscopy.

My youtube debut is tentatively scheduled for 3/26. Fingers crossed for some answers- I’m bringing my sparkly glove just in case. #futureyoutubesensation **Keep my sister/friend in your prayers...Ging is kicking some cancer tail & getting shiny, new stem cells to help her battle. She's our person...our hero...a huge part of our world...and we can't wait until she's back at home!**

February 1, 2019

PTHSD

I'm not sure what is tougher, losing a loved one or watching them suffer until you ultimately lose them. For months, I had watched, stressed, and researched Doc's condition- trying everything from modern medicine to voodoo tricks to make him feel better, all to no avail. 

A few days after losing him, I found myself lost. We'd welcomed a new equine beauty to our farm, partly to help our unicorn with his separation anxiety...partly to help with my own. Harry, the beautiful, gentle giant with the sweetest brown eyes I've ever seen- partnered with Tristan, the equally beautiful, scared of everything, majestical unicorn. My hope was they would quite literally be the yin to each others yang, all while helping to distract my brain.

The loss I felt was not just in sadness- I literally felt like I was forgetting to do something. I over-checked everything, retraced my steps, etc. but it was only a loss felt in regards to the horses. I began somewhat obsessing over their health- are they drinking enough? do they need extra supplements? the weather is changing, I need to make sure they are wearing the right blankets... I was waking up in the middle of the night, or not sleeping at all, because I was obsessively worried about my horses. As a horse person, this isn't exactly abnormal. 

One warm evening at around midnight, I couldn't sleep. I tossed, turned, and finally decided to go outside and check on the horses. (Because at midnight, certainly, they needed me...and I would absolutely be able to fix anything that ailed them alone, in the dark. Stop judging me.) I peep out the back window- Tristan, goats....no Harry. Granted, Harry is black as night, so he isn't as easy to spot as the unicorn.

I check the barn. No Harry. My heart starts beating in my ears. I call his name....nothing. #yourwelcomeneighbors

I'm sweating, nauseous and tears are welling up in my eyes...borderline about to lose my shit.

Tristan approaches me, calmly, as if to say mom, you're losing your shit. I give him a treat and walk around the back side of the hay-hut, where there is absolutely no light. My gait somewhat brisk b/c again, I'm losing my shit. My foot catches on something and I'm tossed into the air. Treats fly in the opposite direction...Tristan takes off, the goats start yelling...and I land on a startled Harry- who is now scrambling to get up from his slumber with me sprawled out ontop of him.

"Well there you are!!" I squeal, hugging him. #maybecryingalittle

"Ugggggggh" Harry lets out an aggravated sigh, while stretching.

Tristan continues to prance and snort as far as possible away from the hay hut- certain a monster had taken both me and Harry out. #cautiousunicorn

After we all calmed down, I returned to my bed- laughing a little at myself. I hadn't expected Harry to be curled up like a cat sound asleep. I guess it's good he didn't trample me, considering no one else in the house was up. 

Is Post Traumatic Horse-Stress Disorder a real thing? I wondered.

Probably. All cowgirls are high-maintenance in the most unconventional of ways. PTHSD would make perfect sense. 

January 11, 2019

Doc

If you're ever given the chance to own your dream horse, take it. Sell whatever you have to in order to make that dream a reality. #advicefromacowgirl

My daddy and my husband would share similar reasoning in saying that any horse that walked into my life would quickly become my dream horse. Each arguing that any equine in my line of sight, is the most beautiful, magnificent creature that ever walked God's green earth. They're both correct. 

I remember the day so clearly- where I was sitting, what I was doing- when I was offered the opportunity to own a dream horse. It was a bittersweet text sent from my friend, saying her husband had found his dream horse and was ready to rehome Doc. 

Doc is so special to us and needs a good home. He still has many trail miles left in him...do you know of anyone who would love him like we do?

I responded, "I do. I want him! I have to sell Kirk's mare...but I want him. I mean, you know, for Kirk."

We were in the middle of planning our surprise wedding. I responded without even talking to Kirk. I knew he would be on board because....it was Doc. Doc was the horse we would see at trail rides- hell, anyone, horses included, would see at rides and bow down in respect to his authority. #seriously

The day after our wedding, we brought Doc home. (Yes, when most people pack up to head out on a honeymoon...we traveled west about 45 miles to pick up a new horse.) As excited as I was to marry my dream-man the day before, I was just as excited to bring home our dream horse.

Doc settled in quickly to our little farm- quickly letting Tristan know he was the boss of all things. He enjoyed the extra snuggles, treats, and kisses. Nothing phased the big man- the opposite of his pasture-mate. He often looked over at Tristan as if to say, "Seriously, man...get it together. You're supposed to be a majestic creature."

A few years into our journey, I noticed some labored breathing in my sweet man, Doc. We began jumping through hoops to try to make breathing not so much of a chore. Rides were halted until the frigid winter months, when he seemed to breathe easy. We soaked hay, gave steroid injections, oral medication, and an ocean's worth of tears on the bad days. In true Doc-style, he was a gentleman through it all. 

Owning horses is not for the faint at heart, especially when it comes to making decisions like the one I knew was coming. Doc's breathing was steadily getting worse and his body was covered in sweat, even with the cool temperatures. We made the call- knowing it was the last kind thing we could do for our friend.

The nights prior, I had the same dream during the few minutes of sleep I managed to get. My daddy was sitting on Brandy, my childhood horse, in a huge field. Brandy was eating grass and Daddy was waving with both hands. (Like Lane Frost in 8 Seconds...if you haven't watched that movie, stop reading now and go watch it.) He wasn't smiling necessarily, he was just waving like he always did. Just seeing him made me smile- but I was too preoccupied to put much thought into the meaning behind the dream.

The day we had to say goodbye- also known as the absolute shittiest day of a cowgirl's life. (And ya'll, we deal with some shit. #punintended) Doc did it his way...and we let him. We held his head and gave him all the treats he could stand. We kissed him and cried over him in the rain.

He laid down gently...and I saw his ears move forward and his hooves begin to move. My heart sank...he's having a seizure. His hooves moved into a canter, as his body lay still...our vet grabbed my hand.

He's already running in the meadow. {my dream} Daddy's waving him over.

In that moment as the tears ran down my cheeks, it all made sense to me. The bad days with horses, the sick times, the hardest times...they were always spent with Daddy. He was always the voice that said "This is hard but its what has to be done, Bud...we've done all we can do here"...it was what I was missing- his reassurance. He was right there beside me, taking Doc's lead and saying "Come on, boy..."

Later that evening as I stood in the barn, I thanked God for trusting me to care for such marvelous creatures. As I kissed the muzzle of my other two dream horses, I smiled knowing Daddy was doing the same.


Take my advice...never pass up the opportunity to own your dream horse.


January 10, 2019

Goals

I don't set resolutions for myself. I feel like setting a resolution tends to set me up to fail. However, if I set a goal...it seems much more attainable. 

In setting goals, I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned that while I hate to disappoint others, (ie: let others down) I will quickly cancel on myself. In the fall, I read "Girl, Wash Your Face" and while it didn't completely rock my world, I did walk away from it with one big reminder- to show up for myself. Whether it is an hour spent in the horse-barn or a two mile run...show up. Sometimes just showing up is half the battle.

In order to show up, you have to make a plan- set that goal. Putting myself out there and sharing my goals is another way to hold myself accountable. (Because I can't very well let my four faithful blogreaders down. Hi, Mom!)

The Goals-
- Show up & hold myself accountable to things that are important 
- Don't show up to social media. It is SO okay to not be online-accessible all the time. If the world is ending, someone will call. Seriously. The more we are on it, the more we feel the urgency to be on it. Set social media times and stick to them.
- Write. Journal. Blog. Creativity fuels creativity.
- Read a chapter of something every day.
- Re-read goals list...check yourself before you wreck yourself.

So in keeping with my goals...it has been quite sometime since I've blogged, while I've kept a wildly sporadic journal over the last year or so, my blog has gone dark. 

Part of me that wants to write about 2018- the ups and downs- the happiness and sadness...the OCD in me wants to catch this page up from the lack of entries over the last year. But a bigger part of me doesn't. Ultimately, the big picture is the same from year to year...I still have a little farm with a lot of animals...I still talk about my horses almost as much as I do my kids and my husband...I still attend weddings for one career and divorces for another...I'm still really, insanely sarcastic and think I'm funnier than I actually am...and I'm still the friend who says what everyone else is thinking. 

Well...that satisfies the need to catch up. Here's to reaching goals in 2019! 

November 15, 2017

13e.1ieve in Yourself

My body hadn't fully recovered from running my first half marathon in April when I was already scouring the internet for my next race.

Outer Banks Southern Fried Half Marathon...November...click, boom, bam...registered.

Being that I didn't die or injury myself running the Flying Pirate, I felt confident that the race in November would be a breeze. At least, not rougher than my first...right? 

Between the summer heat and summer schedules, training quickly fell off my calendar. I managed to get in a few miles every week or so...most runs motivating me for the next.

Cut to the end of October...crunch time.

"I'm doing it...I can do it," I told my husband.

Having a positive attitude is half the running battle. If you let your brain tell your body you can quit, you will never make it out of the driveway. #nevergivein

I hit the pavement while Little Miss was at play practice, running a few new routes. I learned quickly that running in Nags Head vs. Wanchese offered two obstacles 1) restaurant food to smell 2) pools...lots of pools to consider trespassing/diving into. #itwashotandiwashungry The struggle was really real on my beach road runs. 

Between weather, migraines, and training solo...it could've been so easy to say eff-it and hop on the couch to train for a Netflix marathon instead. But I didn't give in to the temptation. I ran in the rain. I ran with a migraine. My determination kicked into high gear.

Friday, two days before the race, my excitement (or adrenaline) started to kick in. I thought back to the previous race- which I ran in honor of Daddy. A mix of anger and sadness stole my excitement.

"Fuck cancer," I whispered to myself.

A light bulb went off in my head. I immediately grabbed my phone and typed in those words. I found a few ideas that I liked...but, knowing our Southern community...I wasn't sure how a runner with "F Cancer" on her back would be received.

Later in the day, I picked my packet up and mentioned my idea to one of the vendors at the race expo.

"My daughter wears a headband with that on it...she is 12. It's well-received. Cancer is the offensive word there," she said.

"I agree...does your daughter have cancer?" I asked.

"Yes, for 10 years now. She recently opted out of treatments."

My heart stopped for the mother standing in front of me. I couldn't imagine her pain, her worry...her every day life. 

"Wear that shirt proud," she winked at me.

Saturday morning I woke up with the beginnings of a cold. I tried to keep myself busy designing my race shirt and planning for the following morning. 

"That cold is just trying to distract you...you're going to kill it!" my race partner from the previous race texted. #shewasright

At 4am, I popped out of bed like it was Christmas morning. #whodoesthat? Breakfast. Yoga. Immodium. (#seriouslyworstfear) Hydrate.Hydrate.Hydrate. Out the door.

It seemed like I blinked and the timer began. I ran the first 3 miles feeling great. Then someone must've attached concrete blocks to my feet and poured baby powder down my throat. I was dying of thirst and felt like I couldn't- for the life of me- pick up my feet to run.

Push through it...mind over matter...I can do this...why did I sign up to do this?!...and alone...that was dumb...I will never do another race again....I can do it...just 9.5 more miles.

I talked myself through each time I felt like I couldn't do it. I reminded myself that my battle was nothing to complain about. I reminded myself why I had those two special names on my shoulders and F-CANCER on my back. I played little mind games with myself- set short goals and met each one. Before long, I was feeling great about my running once again. 

Mile 9. Washington Baum Bridge. Holy freaking incline-that-never-ends.

From this point to the finish, I don't remember much but everything hurt and I was just trying to make it to the finish to collapse into my family's arms. (Although I do remember getting passed by a few full-marathon runners...that added a little boost to my confidence. #lies)

But I made it! (And I beat my previous time!) All the thoughts I had of never racing again, were gone as soon as I crossed the finish line.

I'm so thankful I believed in myself. I'm thankful I had two heroic names on my shoulders to remind me to never give up. And today, I'll be thankful for the moment my shins quit throbbing so I can run again. #crazymotherrunner #fucancer