Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why & How I Started Riding Aside...

2009 has been a bitch of a year for us to say the least! Sorry about that...but that is just the nicest way to describe it! Don, My husband of 19 years was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. We found out that he was in stage 3 cirrhosis with Varaces. He has been on the standard treatment for almost a year now - chemotherapy..yes the same drugs they give to cancer patients, trying to rid his body of the Hep. and therefor slowing down the degeneration of his liver...

The best dog in the whole Chrissy had to be put down at the young age of 11 after a heart wrenching week of trying to stop a sudden on slot of seizures.

My very first show horse had to be put down at the age of 20 with the discovery of intestinal tumors and severe colic.

KC chased a rabbit into the road and was hit by a car. Thankfully he survived, but he had a terrible concussion that has left him 'not quite the same'.

This little lamb was born and rejected by his Momma, leaving us with a new pet that had to be fed every 4-6 hours!

..and finally - I was trying to deal with a gelding who was talented out the wazoo...but also had a bit of a mean streak...

..with all that I was dealing with, I sadly became a timid rider and could not discipline him to take care of this..

..and this. All I found myself thinking during these temper tantrums was "What happens if I get hurt?" How irresponsible would that be to Don who was doing so much to take care of himself during his treatment?This horse almost broke me.....

I sat in the bathtub..water running..hoping that the noise would drowned out my sobs. I was so emotionally bruised I questioned God openly if He had stopped loving me. I had an open conversation with Him and honestly asked Him to remove the passion inside of me for Saddlebreds and tell me what He wanted me to do. I vowed to Him that if He wanted me to walk away from them, I would...and I truly meant it!

Getting a bit obnoxious - I even 'told' Him that if He did not remove this from me, He had better show me what he wanted me to do with it! (yeah - I am shocked that I am still walking on the earth too!)

Very shortly after this deeply honest painful request...things started to fall into place. Information about riding aside kept falling into my lap. I found a wonderful affordable saddle at the same time some money came to me I was not expecting. My instructor told me that although she was not an accredited sidesaddle instructor, she used to show Arabians aside and was willing to instruct me when I told her of my interest. I found out that the Saddlebred show rules allowed women to show aside in any class with the exception of Equitation....and best of all... Heaven and Earth (Oliver or Ollie) came into my beautiful and Oh so talented Sidesaddle horse! I could go on and on and on with more details!

I truly believe that this was a gift from God. He heard my cries that night and in all His Mercy...He understood my pain.

Edited to add:
OMG - How in the world did I forget to mention that my Fibroid tumors grew at the speed of light this that I had to have a totally abdominal hysterectomy in August???


sunvalleysally said...

Oh. Julie. No words. But - a lot of empathy. I regret to say, my "faith" isn't nearly as strong as yours and believe me I've done worse than make "demands"--I'm sure there are an awful lot of lightning bolts out there with my name on them. Good thing I know how to hide well.

BTW there IS no way to "deal with" a horse that rears and IMHO there is NO horse more dangerous than one who rears. Please do not ever get on a horse that rears - ESPECIALLY sidesaddle. These horses are so dangerous (I'm sure I'll get some squawkback from someone about this) that they should not even be sold to someone else who would maybe choose a way of dealing with it that will result in a really bad end for the horse. A horse who rears won't limit rearing to "under saddle." IMHO there is really only one solution but not everyone agrees with that solution. I'm just sorry for you that this horse created a timid rider from a bold and competent one. But with Oliver you seem to be regaining your mojo!

Hosanna said...

I agree about rearing. That, and habitual, mean kicking.
Julie, I remember feeling like this at one time. I felt like my whole entire life was just falling apart. Every day, it was something else. It was tempting not to just walk away from my relationship with God and say "forget it."
I didn't, and he restored my hope and my "spirit".
I look back now, and see the good things that came from it and thank Him.
Hope this upcoming year is great for you and that you continue to find joy in every aspect of your life! :)

Sydney said...

That is one crazy year and it isn't over yet. I truely hope this December is a lot better than last years because I cannot deal with another one like that.

phaedra96 said...

There iS A saying "The woes that do not break us; make us." Soemtimes we do not know why things happen, they just do. It is how we deal with them. I would say you have had your share but look how you have come out on the other side. Sure hope your hubby can best his trials also. What is his prognosis? Can he beat this?

Julie said... answer your question about my husband.. the damage that has been done to his liver is permanent. Getting rid of the Hep C will slow the degeneration and that is what we are trying to do now. He only has 3 more weeks of chemo. The following 6 months will tell us if it was a success. We were told he has a 50% chance. We choose to view it one step at a time.. and that is our next step.

Thank you for asking.

Julie said...

I would like to add something to my previous post... my husband was not an alcoholic. He drank beer and we both drank wine on occasion.. but the liver damage was caused by the Hepatitis C. We estimate he contracted it when he was 19 and got a tattoo in the Army .. yeah - that was 30 years ago. Hepatitis is a slow quiet disease and only makes itself known in the last stages..unless you are specifically tested for it. Very very sad..

sunvalleysally said...

Julie, I understand your need to post about how your husband acquired the liver problem. I have a dear friend whose husband had the nearly identical situation only his was caused by tainted blood he received in a transfusion in hospital at the time his appendix was removed. Nancy had to endure endless really evil and heartless comments about Jim's supposed "alcoholism" and I can't tell you how much pain this caused her. Really thoughtless and disturbing that people go out of their way to be so ugly to others esp. in life threatening situations.

I suppose your husband is not a candidate for a transplant? Or perhaps the Hep C leaves him an "undesirable candidate". Sorry. None of my business, really, and am sure you thought of this already. Just sending hopeful thoughts your way.

Julie said...

Once Don got over the initial shock of it all..(several months) he actually asked me to write his story on my Equus Villa blog. I wrote a chapter every day for a long time until it was up to date...It is under the sidebar entitled (duhh) "hepatitis".

My Father is a Neurosurgeon. One of my brothers is a doctor and I used to work as a Surgical Tech (like an OR nurse) and I barely knew anything about it!

Thankfully everyone I have come into contact with has been very kind... I guess our mission in telling his story was letting people know not only that there are many ways to get it..and what a deadly & silent disease it is..but also what options are out there for those who have it.

Our first goal is to try and get rid of the Hep. He is currently testing negative for it..but since blood saturates every part of your body..if there is only a tiny amount can regenerate. That is why I tell people we will know if his treatment worked, 6 months after he is done with it. You cannot be on a transplant list while you are trying to treat Hep. C.

If he is cleared ..then he will have to be tested for the rest of his life for liver function and for liver cancer. He has a 50% chance of getting liver cancer. If his liver reaches a certain point (not sure yet what this is) he will be put on a transplant list...but I fear that at that point..he will truly be critical..

Right now - I have a list of things to watch for..bleeding from varaces (like varacose veins but in his throat) from either end of his body.. Also Acites..retention of fluid in the abdomen and a few other things..

I just know that no one has knocked God off of his I feel a sense of calm no matter what the future holds for either of us.

phaedra96 said...

I do not know why anyone would immediately think Don was an alchoholic. But then the Hep C pretty much told me what was going on so I never thought it. I am so sorry that anyone would come up with that. He and you have enough on your plates that you should not have to deal with judgemental crap like that. I will say a prayer for both of you to have the strength to come out on the other side of this whole thing. Best wishes to you.

sunvalleysally said...

This is why I think that the horse community in general, the Saddlebred community in particular and especially the sidesaddle enthusiast communities are every bit as important as the old-fashioned "village." The village is still around and while there may be some unpleasant individuals in it the majority are caring and supportive. And I think you know how much everyone is pulling for you and your husband!