Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Back (and Ahead)

What a crazy ride this year has been. I always like to reflect on the past year but I have to say I am anticipating a good year in 2013. 2012 certainly involved a lot of good things but I think it was definitely my most challenging year so far too.

The start of 2012 was full of promise, with me riding Roz, Rhythm, and helping with Rheiny. The plan was to show Rhythm first level and possibly even 2nd. I was planning to continue Roz's training and had committed to riding him on the weekends for sure. When March came around Roz turned 20 and decided his riding days were coming to an end. He sustained a cut on his cornet band and never did come back sound. I took Rhythm to our one and only dressage show, at first level. We got decent scores and he handled everything really well.

April brought about the return of Pretty and a backing off in the time I spent riding Rhythm. The transmission went out in my 2006 Ford Mustang that only had 65,000 miles on it. That was super frustrating. I sold Pretty in June, and decided to sell my car (after fixing the transmission). In July I bought my Mazda 3 Dory, and I purchased Chevy! Roz somewhat "officially" retired and moved home to our farm. Chevy and I had the lovely month of August, and a great first horse show before I found out that I had Breast Cancer on August 31st. Since then it has been a somewhat crazy ride of doctor appointments, surgery, chemotherapy, and just trying to enjoy every day that I am given.

What does 2013 have in store? It's hard to say. I pray that it will be healthy year. Chemo should finish up the beginning of March, and I am SO looking forward to being done. It's definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I'm looking forward to the birth of my first nephew in April. I'm hoping this is the year that I can purchase my Cardi baby. I'm anticipating some lovely trail rides with Rozzy Ridge, and some beach adventures with Tarra. I'm beyond excited to see Carrie Underwood at the Willamette Country Music Festival in August. And I am dreaming about 2 weeks spent in Ireland with my family. I know this year won't be with out a few bumps here and there but I plan to enjoy every minute that I can.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Poll Question: Mares

I'm looking for every one's opinion on mares. I WANT to be a mare person but honestly my 2 most difficult horses were mares. My first pony was a wonderful POA mare who took excellent care of me. To this day my younger brother says that all of my horses are POA's- Prisoners of Alanna.

My next 2 mares after her, with 2 geldings in between, were both difficult and I didn't have a lot of success with them. Granted, both were off the track racehorses with unknown upbringing etc. The first mare I was not even close to well matched with in terms of my skills at that time. Then she sustained a pretty major injury requiring 6 months of stall rest. Once she got done with stall rest she was never the same again, super duper spooky and just a little crazy. So it's hard to really blame that totally on being a mare.

Some of you were around for my time with the 2nd mare, Roxanne. She is a gorgeous thoroughbred mare with tons of talent but in the end we just couldn't make it work. I got her as a feedlot rescue when she was 5. She always had a lot of opinions and wouldn't hesitate to kick at you on the lunge line or throw her weight around a little bit. We did fairly well for a couple of years, and I totally loved her, but in the end everything was too much of a fight. It wasn't simply a matter of asking her to do something and her just doing it. Every new concept she came across required fit throwing until she figured out what I wanted. Because she was so athletic I didn't feel safe really disciplining her well enough because I was afraid that she would buck me off. It ended up being a downward spiral, but even then it was really hard to let her go.

I really think that if I had gotten Roxy as a young, not started horse, our story would have turned out differently, but then I wonder if that is just wishful thinking? I'd love to hear from the mare and gelding fans out there. Anyone with similar experiences? For me geldings just seem a little bit easier to get along with and a lot less opinionated (for the most part).

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lots of Fun

Christmas is so fun! For our family it's a day spent with lots of family at my Grandparents house. It's so relaxing and I always look forward to our time together. My main gift this year was rubber floor mats for my new Mazda 3. It came with fairly nice carpet ones but I'm really not a carpet floor mat kind of girl. I'm always getting in to my car with wet and/or muddy boots and it drives me crazy to have a dirty car. My new mats hook in to the floor to keep them from being pushed up as you get in and out. I also have a mat for the cargo area which will allow me to take Annie in it. I'm looking forward to her first ride in Dory. She's going to love it. Another great surprise gift was a really nice nike sweatshirt from my little brother. I had been eye-balling it when we were shopping but decided I couldn't justify spending the money. After I walked away he bought it for me!

When we got home I went out to the barn with Tarra. I wasn't feeling that motivated but it was still nice to be out at the barn with the horses. Chevy had swollen hind legs, with his right hind being quite a bit worse than the left hind. Horses were inside today so some of it might be him being stocked up, but apparently he also got in to a kicking match with another gelding he is turned out with. That happened yesterday, so I'm thinking he's sore from that. He's a little bit off but not bad. I put standing wraps on him for the night and we'll see how he looks tomorrow. Tarra let me hop on Mystic pony and I got to jump him for the first time. He is so easy! I love it.


Chemo round #3 starts tomorrow. Hopefully it goes smoothly. I have been feeling great the last week or so. Yesterday was a super busy day, with a 3+ mile walk with my dog and my mom, followed by a hour and a half trail ride, then an afternoon playing with my friends adorable baby girl.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Chevy decorated for our annual Christmas Eve Trail ride

The 2 cute Christmas ponies

They both had cute bows in their tails. 

Enjoying our time on the trails



Chevy being a dork

Merry Christmas from Chevy and I

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Spurs

Chevy and I tried out a new training tool tonight, spurs. So far so good. I did start our ride by lunging him which I know helps us out. I didn't lunge him on Friday night and he was SO lazy I could hardly stand it. Hopefully the lunging will make him more obedient, along with making our rides more productive. He had to work hard tonight because he was being spooky at one end of the arena so I spent the majority of our time lunging at that end. He was full of himself and was huffing and puffing by the time I decided he was ready to ride.

He gets very offended by the whip so I wasn't sure if I would get the same reaction from the spurs. I could feel him respond to them, but he wasn't mad about it. It made me asking him move off the leg easier and it also seemed to help with our forward as well. He was forward and in front of my leg from the very beginning of our ride, and his poll was up. Usually when he's behind my leg and being lazy his tendency is to drop his poll and hang on me a little bit. It's not horrible but I could really feel that he was engaged tonight, and with his motor working it was lifting his front end up.

His canter transitions are something that give me trouble just about every other day. Sometimes he goes when asked and sometimes we have engine failure. I told him tonight that I am all done with those bad canter transitions. When I ask him to go, he needs to go, period. Our first transition tonight was bad but all of the rest were fairly obedient. I've been wanting to add in walk to canter transitions with him but he's normally so dull that I knew there wouldn't be any way we would get them. We tried a few each direction tonight and he really did pretty good. A few trot steps to start, but not too shabby. I think they will only help improve not only his canter but the transitions themselves. When we finished I stopped him and gave him lots of pats and praise. Maybe one day he will realize that forward is what I'm looking for.

He's becoming more fun to ride as we continue to install "buttons." His leg yields are coming along, we are starting to get a trot lengthening, and he is becoming more adjustable in general. We are getting closer to having a first level horse! April is going to hop on him soon and see what she thinks of his training progress.

Tomorrow we are heading out on our annual Christmas ever trail ride with Tarra and Mystic. The weather is supposed to be decent and I should have some cute photos to share. I'm sure the boys will enjoy getting out of the arena.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Key

Like most people with a new horse, I’m always trying to figure out what makes Chevy tick. Although I have had him for almost 6 months, our time together has been sporadic and I don’t feel like I have him figured out. He can be so lazy and argumentative, and yet when I get him working I feel like he is very capable. I’ve played with being tough on him, and using the whip despite the fact that he really dislikes it. Although he has gotten significantly better about it, if you really swat him with it he protests by sucking back and making mad faces. I’ve found that it is actually very counterproductive to me getting anything done on him. That leaves me trying to find creative ways to get him to respond appropriately. At this point, he does respond to a flick of the whip, but I have also been using my voice. Obviously that’s not an ideal aid when riding a dressage horse but I feel like if I can install some concepts that way and then phase out his vocal cues we will be better off than him throwing a fit over getting spanked. I’m also hoping to find my little nubby spurs soon to give them a try. It might be just the encouragement he needs.

Tuesday night I opted to put him on the lunge line prior to my ride. After having such a good lunge session last week I think I need to utilize this tool more. He was energetic and forward pretty much right from the start on the lunge line, and he even played a little bit. I think lunging should be work time, and I generally don’t use it to just let them blow off steam, but, I did like seeing him be energetic and happy. After about 20 minutes of lunging I hopped on to a warmed up/revved up Chevy. My ride was short and sweet, with him listening and happily moving forward. One of these days I’m going to teach this horse that forward is SO much easier for both of us! For now, I think I will incorporate a lunge warm up with our ride and we’ll see where that takes us. It’s nice to be able to get him going without making it in to a fight between us.

I have recently added walking leg yields down the wall, into our work, and he is making quick progress on those. The first day he really didn’t think he was able to do that, but with encouragement and consistency he seems to be understanding what I’m looking for and he’s getting better about them. I’m hopeful that I can show him First Level this spring so we need to get on those leg yields and lengthenings.

Last night it was super stormy again, and horses had been in for the day. I threw him on the lunge line for a few minutes before hopping and it did seem to help. I didn't get him working as well as I did the previous day, but he was still more forward once I got on. We are making progress! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Downhill from Here

Well if chemo 2 holds true to the patterns of chemo 1 it should be all downhill from here, until round 3 on the 26th. The first 3 days seem to be the hardest, with the 2nd day really being the tough one. Although, I did SO much better this time around. I went in to work on Thursday morning and so many people commented that I looked way better than the first day last time. Most people said I had color in my face and that I didn't look nearly as sleepy. I finally told my co-worker that I must have looked really bad and she said "Oh sweetie, you looked like you had been drug through a knot hole backwards." She made me crack up, but obviously I really looked as bad as I felt for round one. My nausea was so much better this time around. When I went in to Thursday for my Neulasta shot I asked if they gave me different pre-meds, but they didn't change anything. The only 2 things I can think of would be 1) my body just knows how to deal with it better this time around, 2) the ginger that I have been taking really made a difference. I've taken a lot less of my nausea meds this time around, and besides Friday, I have been pretty happy to eat.

Thursday, after my shot, I rode Chevy. He was a little bit spooky and hard to get focused but I was also feeling kind of tired, so we had a short ride since I ran out of energy. Friday, after a nap, I took Roz for a walk in his new hoof boots, to break them in. He was very good, despite blustery weather, and the neighbors dog trying to chase us. After walking him, I headed up to NDF to work Chevy. I opted for lunging him due to my low energy level and we had our best lunge session ever. He was very forward and obedient.

In other news, I'm finally bald. I had been losing huge amounts of hair the last few days in the shower. After my shower yesterday you could really see that I was losing hair and I had bald sections so my mom cut my hair really short. Now I look like a skunk because I have bald white patches and still some areas of dark hair. It was actually really sad but I'm okay now.  At least I don't have chunks of hair falling out all over anymore. I'm thinking God's job just got a little easier knowing the hairs on my head.

Lukes 12:4-7 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for 2 pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chemo #2

Despite today being chemo #2 I had a really good day. I got to spend 3 hours with my best friend, Tarra. I got to see my grandparents and my sister in law too. When I got to the oncology office they drew blood first to see how I'm doing. When my doctor came in the room she told me that my labs are perfect!!! I was SO excited to hear that. My doctor was really impressed, and said she rarely sees people that are not under going chemo with lab results like that. My body is doing a great job. Now it just needs to keep it up. Getting all of my drugs went fine. The Cytoxan gives me a really weird pressure/tingling/headache across my nose and on a couple of spots on my head. I get about 1/2 way through it before I start feeling it. It's a yucky feeling but bearable. I sucked on ice cubes during the administration of the Adriamycin as that is supposed to help with mouth sores. When I got done, in about 4 hours, I went to work out at Curves with me mom. I use Curves Smart which is a computerized personal trainer. My Performance Index or PI increased by 10 today, which is the most it has ever gone up. I worked out hard to meet my goals, and at the end of my workout I had met all of them for the day. It was probably my best/hardest work out yet!

Then we ran around town a little bit, before I headed to the barn to ride Chevy. He was a good boy and it was nice to finish the day on him. Now I'm feeling a bit tired out, although thankfully hardly nauseous. They increased the nausea meds that I am getting because I threw up once last time. The doctor said that I do not need to be doing that, so hopefully the increased dosage does the trick. Although, while they were telling my about the increased dosage they also told me it may give me a headache, so I can take ibuprofen for that. If it's not one thing it's another! Ugh. A friend of mine recently attended a seminar on integrated oncology and one of the things she learned is that ginger is supposed to stop cancer caused nausea. I started taking it a couple of days ago and I will be delighted if it works! So far so good...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pulling My Hair Out

Quite literally, I'm pulling my hair out. It started coming out yesterday and has gotten even worse today. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before all of it is gone. I will probably have my mom cut it shorter this weekend. It's such a weird thing to be able to very gently pull out clumps of hair! It definitely brings a new understanding to the phrase "pulling your hair out."

After my great ride on Chevy Friday he had bent and messed up one of his shoes on Saturday. I pulled it off and attempted to ride him. He was taking a funny step here and there so I opted to quit while I was ahead. He got his shoes re-set today and we got a decent ride in tonight.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pony Expressions Photography

I'm starting a photography business! It's something that several people have encouraged me to do over the last year or so. I really love taking pictures and rarely go far with out my camera. I never go to a horse event with out it! I love capturing that perfect shot.  If your are in the Willamette Valley area and need an equestrian photographer contact me.
You can check us out on Facebook. Pony Expressions Photography

I had a fantastic ride on Chevy last night! He was forward and worked really well for me. We practiced our leg yields and played with lengthening the trot. He was prompt with his canter transitions and was really tuned in. It was definitely our best ride yet! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hoof Boots

Rozzy Ridge got hoof boots today! I was thinking in the last couple of days that I should explore hoof boots for him so that we could do some trail riding this spring and summer. I already have plans to take him to the beach, where he should be fine with out boots since the footing is so soft. Most of the "trails" around our house are actually gravel logging roads of the research forest that is owned by OSU. It's a ton of land to ride on but not that friendly for a flat footed wimpy barefoot thoroughbred. I don't really want to shoe him if I can help it but wanted to be able to ride him a little bit. When I got to NDF tonight one of my fellow boarders was out there, and I knew she had purchased a pair of boots for her horse. I asked her about them and she offered to let me try them as she doesn't need them anymore. They have hardly been used and she offered them to me at a great buy. I tried them on Roz tonight and they fit! I'm so excited to put them on and take him for a ride. They are the Cavallo sport boots, and they have the gel pad inserts and the pastern wrap. They are SO much easier than the "easy" boot that I have. After deciding that they fit I took him for a walk on our gravel drive way and he seemed totally comfortable. I'm going to have to take him on a longer walk to get the mail or something, a few times, to break them in before hitting the trails. Does anyone else use hoof boots?


I had a great ride on Chevy tonight. He started off super lazy (like normal) but I actually got him going pretty well. I'm still playing with what works best for him. He really dislikes the whip so often times it's counter productive to swat him with it, as he sucks back worse after getting spanked. If you use it lightly it seems to work okay, and tonight I was using my voice a little more with him and he seemed to respond well to that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Way Better

I'm back in action and feeling so much better! I actually didn't nap at all on Saturday or Sunday and by Monday I was able to make it through a full day at work. I had my last expansion appointment with the plastic surgeon and now I get a break until my actual implant surgery, a month or two after I finish chemo. My appetite has finally returned and it has been so nice to be excited to eat again. I'm hoping that chemo round 2 goes more easily than round 1. Regardless I should be feeling good again by Christmas. That's a plus!

Chevy came home on Saturday and he is so happy! He really really likes his home at NDF. I rode him last night and tonight he got a beauty treatment. We will get back to work tomorrow night. It feels good to be getting back into my routine.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm Alive

Please pardon all typos and incoherent sentences. I have been re-reading some of what I have typed recently and you can definitely tell that I am not as "with it" as normal. I have been sleeping A LOT. Like way way more than a person should normally sleep. Wednesday I left work at 11am and by the time I got home I pretty much went straight to bed. Thursday was pretty much a repeat, although I stayed at work until 12pm and my mom took me home as she was concerned about me driving when I was so sleepy. Again, I slept pretty much all afternoon and most of the night. I have really really really been struggling with being nauseated. Last night my mom came home and was giving me some dinner ideas. I promptly went into the bathroom and threw up (yucky I know).  Thankfully I woke up feeling a bit less nausea last night after sending out a facebook plea for prayers that the nausea would fade. I have eaten more today than in the last couple of days combined although I'm still feeling really careful about it. Chevy comes home tomorrow, and Sunday I am hoping to tag along with April and Tarra to this neat indoor trail course in the Eugene area. Hopefully I will regain some energy! I'm hoping to work out tomorrow morning and may even be able to make it through the day with minimal napping. You know your body has been hit hard when you are deeply sleeping 16+ hours per day. It's crazy!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chemo #1

We made it through chemotherapy number 1 yesterday. So far is hasn't been too bad. But let's start at the beginning. My wonderful mom, and sis-in law, Holly, came with me. The nurse took us straight back the chemo room and accessed my port to draw blood for my lab work for the day. While this was in progress the Breast Cancer Health Nurse, had my pick out a care bag brought in by students from CV. The port makes things super easy. Although it's ugly to look at I'm glad I have one. The nurse asked if I would like a lidoacaine shot over the port before she accessed it. I had read somewhere else to opt out of the lidocaine since it burns worse than what they are actually doing. So she inserted a needle into my port and I felt a small pinch. From there nothing is painful as they have you all hooked up to receive your pre meds and chemo through your port. The taped the tubing up on my shirt and off we went to see Dr. Boric. We hadn't seen her for a while but everything was in line with what we had talked about previously. With the second biopsy back clean, there is no need for radiation. She approved my final expansion appointment on Monday. We were talking to her about the dosage of chemo that I am getting. Everyone gets the same dosage but it is done by height and weight, so because I am "so small" I'm getting the smallest dose she has ever given. Now I don't think 5'7" and 130lbs is really "so small" but it must be in comparison to other patients they see through out the day. She listened to my heart and lungs, checked for any leg swelling, made sure my knees would jump when she hit them etc. She then turned to Holly and said that all the nurses were freaking out about having a pregnant person in the chemo treatment room. We were all impressed they could tell she is pregnant because she is still pretty small for being 5 months along. The doctor explained the risks but said after the 2nd trimester she should be just fine to be in. We discussed all of the areas in our environment where we are exposed to chemicals, and the excuse is made that it is a tiny amount but once you get a tiny amount from several different things all of a sudden you have had a lot of exposure.

Back to the treatment area to get the real stuff going. I started out getting dexamethasone, and then a strong anti nausea med. I am at the most risk of getting nausea because I am so healthy and my body isn't used to dealing with posions like that. It took quite a while to just get my pre meds done. We finally moved on to about an hour of getting the first drug called Cytoxan. During that one I started getting a weird sinus pressure and feeling on the back of my head. They slowed the rate they were being pumped in and gave me some tylenol. Lastly, they hand syringe the last (worst) drug, Adriamycin. During that one I sucked on 2 otter pops to hopefully decrease the mouth sores I'm supposed to be getting.

I felt pretty well when we got done. My mom and I ran to the store to get my prescription and then we worked out at Curves. I felt great! We headed home where Tarra showed up with post chemo brownies. I had a good dinner, including a brownie but by around 8:30 last night food sounded horrible. My little brother was talking about pizza and I had to tell him to stop it was grossing me out so bad. Weird! I slept okay for a few hours, then tossed and turned for a few hours until I could take more meds.

I went to work for a few hours but I was so sleepy, so I headed home around 11am. I took a 1.5 hour nap and woke up feeling better. Chantelle visited with me for a couple of hours and now I need to head back in to the Clinic for a Neulasta shot to boost my neutrophils.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

It Will Grow Back

The great thing about hair, unlike a finger (or almost anything else on your body) it will grow back! I had my hair cut today and was able to donate 12 inches to Locks of Love. My cousin also joined me in donating and got her hair really cut (besides trims) for the first time. My head feels super lite to me now! Chemo starts on Tuesday and then I think it will be a little over a week before my hair is expected to fall out. 

The hair I will be sending in, along with 14 inches from another friend of mine. How cool is that!?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Survey

I saw this over at Cob Jockey and it seemed like fun.


Splurge or save: 

1) Saddle: Splurge- saddles last forever if they are well taken care of and they can make a huge difference in your riding and your horses comfort.  
2) Board: I'm not sure that you can really "save" on boarding. I think it's one of those things that you get what you pay for. I like wonderful care at an affordable price...like NDF. :) 
3) Halter: Save on your everyday halter but a fancy leather halter is a necessary splurge. Chevy had a leather halter (with a nameplate) within 2 weeks of me owning him. 
4) Bit:  Save
5) Bridle:  Save- If you buy them used they are cheaper and already broken in. 
6) Saddle pad: Save- you can find all sorts of good sales on cute pads!
7) Trailer: I think this is sort of like boarding. It needs to be functional and safe, doesn't need to be fancy. 

First thing that comes to mind: 

1) Haflinger: Adorable golden horses
2) Quarter Horse: Sorry QH people but I picture a downhill horse moving WAY TOO slow
3) Thoroughbred: Rozzy Ridge of course!
4) Warmblood: Sporthorse
5) Welsh Cob: North Forks Cardi and Conner

This or That:

1) English or Western: English
2) Tall or Short: Medium :) 
3) Trail ride or beach ride: Beach!
4) Long mane or short mane: Short
5) Hunters or Jumpers: Jumpers for sure
6) XC or barrel racing: XC
7) Outdoor arena or indoor arena: Outdoor as long as it's not raining or dark outside
8) Trot or canter: Canter
9) Canter or gallop: Either
10) Paddock boots, tall boots, or cowboy boots: Tall boots
11) Horse shoes or barefoot: Barefoot if possible!
12) Saddle or bareback: Both, it depends on who I am riding. Chevy requires a saddle, Roz or Mystic? Bareback is the way to go. 

About you: 
1) How long have you been riding? I've been riding since around 7 or 8 so around 15 years.
2) Do you own or lease a horse? I own 2 and that is my max. They are way too expensive and you can only ride one at a time anyway.
3) Breed? Age? Height? Name? (if you don’t own or lease, you could talk about your lesson horse) Both thoroughbred geldings. Roz is 20, Chevy is 5. 15.2hh and 15.3hh.
4) Do you have any other pets? Of course! A dog named Annie May and a cat named Patience. 

5) If your horse was a person, what kind of voice would they have (you can use a celebrity for an example) As many of my friends can attest I don't pay any attention to celebrities and have no idea who my horses would sounds like. lol 
6) Does your horse have a “color”? If so, what is it, and what do you have in that color? Purple of course, with a little bit of navy thrown in. I also have some super cute pink stuff from Roxanne but it doesn't look very good with Chevy's chestnut coat. Oh well. 
7) Does your horse do any tricks? Roz is pretty good at opening gates with his nose (if they are unlatched) but other than that they don't have any tricks. 
8) Have you ever dressed your horse up for Halloween?  No, but they do wear a Santa hat for our annual Christmas Eve trail ride. 
Roz and I-2011


Favorites: 
1) Breed? I really don't have a favorite breed. I know I want to get a Welsh Cob out of Cardi for my next horse, but I love my thoroughbreds too. And warmbloods, and gypsy vanners, and haflingers, and POA's and I could go on and on. I like most horse breeds. 
2) Discipline? Eventing & dressage
3) Coat color? Bay. My dream horse is a bay with 4 white socks and a blaze. 

4) Famous horse? I don't really have a favorite famous horse. I loved seeing Adrienne Lyle and Wizard at Devonwood a couple of years ago. 
5) Horse race/competition? Rolex or the Olympics
6) Brand of tack? I don't have one
7) Thing to do with your horse?  Go to the beach with Tarra!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Choice

Today is 7 weeks from my mastectomy and I'm a week away from starting chemo. Believe it or not it still feels very surreal to me. I'm really hoping that chemo goes smoothly and that I can continue to do all of the things I enjoy. I realized today that chemo was really my choice. When we met with my oncologist after my surgery she discussed the oncotype testing with me and asked if I would consider having chemo if that test showed that I would get a lot of benefit from it. I told her yes, even though I really didn't want to deal with chemo. If I had said no we wouldn't have bothered with the $3000 test. In the end, I chose chemo because I would rather know that I did everything that I could to make sure that I never have to deal with this again, than take the "easy" route out now and find out later on that the cancer has returned. I was supposed to have an appointment with my oncologist tomorrow but they called me today to let me know that it is unnecessary as I will be meeting with her on Tuesday before my first round of chemo.

I had my 3rd expansion appointment yesterday. I'm getting really close to being done with that phase of the reconstruction. A lot of people have asked me if it hurts but it really doesn't. When they get started they find the port to the expander by using a magnet. Once they find it they give me a shot of lidocaine to numb that area. I honestly have very little feeling there anyway so even without the lidocaine I don't think I would notice it much. They insert I nice big butterfly catheter into the port and inject 50mls of saline in to the expander. The first time the skin was not that tight and I hardly noticed him doing it. The last 2 times I have definitely felt it get tight as he injects. I feel a little bit tender right after he does it but by the next day I don't even notice it. It's pretty cool! I'm guessing I will be done after my next appointment on Monday but we'll see how it goes.

I plan to ride Chevy Thursday morning, and then I have a lesson on him Friday. I'm really excited to get back to riding. I have continue to work out at Curves and definitely feel like I am getting stronger. I carried a 50lb bag of grain over the weekend and moved some straw bales around. I'm not too far off from where I was prior to surgery. Yah!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Settling In

Chevy settled in at Inavale this week and finally got some good work done! I was so glad to get a good report on him this week. The only weird thing is that he may be struggling with a sore back.  He seemed fine when I checked him today. I'm wondering if his muscles are just a bit on the sore side from all of the extra work he has been doing the last couple of weeks. He was super happy to see me today and napped in the cross ties while I got him ready. I haven't ridden since my 2nd surgery. It felt great to be back in the saddle. His canter felt excellent and his down transitions were much better as well. I'm planning to hop on him again on Thanksgiving and hopefully have a short less on on Friday. Then he has one more week of camp before returning to NDF.

Some wonderful friends of mine had a Hat Party for my yesterday. I'm really not a hat person but I'm going to become one. They are all really cute and definitely improved my hat wardrobe, which consisted of about 3 hats prior to last night. I got the results of my MUGA scan and it came back normal so all is well there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We Have A Date

My chemo start date is November 27th.  I'm looking forward to getting started so that I can be done! Right now it's like a giant grey cloud hovering over my head, now I'm just ready to make it through the storm so that I can see the sunshine. Monday, I had my 2nd heart test. It's called a MUGA scan and it measure your heart's output. I haven't heard anything regarding the results but I don't anticipate that there will be any problems.

I also had my second expansion appointment with the plastic surgeon. They inject 50mls of saline every appointment and it makes quite a difference each time. I could definitely feel more of a stretch this time when they did it. It hasn't made me sore but I won't be surprised if the next couple do cause some soreness. Not only is the skin being stretched but the muscle as well. I'm hopeful that the next two appointments are all I need to be able to call it "done" until I get my final implant, after chemo. I think that doctor underestimates me. He was asking if I have been out with the horses at all. Umm...yes. I've been picking feet, grooming, lunging, bathing, trailering and have ridden. But of course I didn't say all of that. Then he was telling me how I would have a really good day and normally right after that you will have a bad day because you have overdone it. I honestly haven't had one bad day since my surgery. I have been really active but my arm feels great.

When I got done with that appointment I went to Curves to work out for the second time since my second surgery. They have a "smart card" program that tailors your work out specifically to you. We set mine up and it definitely makes me work harder! Hopefully I can get in ever better shape before chemo starts. I'm really excited to see how my Curves work outs help my riding. There is one specific piece of equipment that works your legs and I can really see how weak my left leg is compared to my right. I think that the extra strength and fitness should improve me as a rider.

Continuing with the things I am thankful for:

Having access to a truck and trailer! This photo was taken on the ferry bringing Chevy home. 
I'm thankful I was able to help Pretty out again
I'm thankful for April and Pants, and for all of the fun horse show adventures we get to have. 
I'm so thankful for my sister (in-law) Holly. She has been such a huge support to me over the past few months. AND...she and my big brother are going to make me an aunt in April. I'm so excited! 
I can't say I'm thankful to have been diagnosed with cancer. But I am thankful that I caught it early. I'm thankful for all of the doctors and medical staff that take care of me. I'm thankful for the outpouring of support from family and friends.  I'm thankful that God is always with me. I'm thankful that I am a strong, positive person, and I will come out on the other side of this better than ever before, with a new appreciation for life. 
I'm thankful for my friend Chantelle, and for her beautiful baby Olivia. She had a rough start but is happy and healthy now. 
I'm thankful that Tarra and April made time to ride Chevy for the month of October.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Heart to Heart

Today Tarra and I went out to visit Chevy. He was happy to see me! I headed out to grab him from his paddock, and he perked right up as soon as I called to him. I got him all cleaned up before heading to the outdoor arena. I was on the look out for anything unusual with him since he has been on the naughty side since starting his training. He behaved just like he normally would, and we toured the arena before I put him out on the lunge line. He was definitely squirrely to start and threw in some bucks here and there. He was more forward than "normal." He was also spooking in one corner of the arena near a pile of poles, and standards. We spent a while in that corner, with him alternating between the trot and canter, while shying from that side of the arena. I asked him to whoa and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I took him outside of the arena and let him take a good look at all of the "stuff" outside the arena rail. He really didn't seem too worried about it...I'm thinkin' it was a good excuse. Silly boy! But, he actually was better once I gave him a chance to check things out. The rest of his work on the lunge line was more focused. My gut feeling is that he needs turn out! He and I had a heart to heart regarding how he needs to be on his best behavior if he wants to continue his wonderful life with me. Hopefully he will be better tomorrow! I'm planning to visit him again on Saturday and hopefully take him for a spin. :)

Modeling his hair cut

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wild and Crazy

My sources tell me Chevy has finally realized he is a 5 year old thoroughbred. Darn it! I guess he has been a bit of a nut this week. Spooky and full of himself. Obviously he has had a lot of changes in the last week so it's hard to tell which one specifically has made the biggest difference. One thing for sure is that he is not getting pasture turn out like he normally does. He's in a paddock with a run in shed but it's not enough room to run. He's being ridden by a new person, who is requiring him to be more forward than I ever have. The weather just finally changed to really cold and crisp too. Whatever the reason he's going to have to settle down and work. He gets tomorrow off and then I plan to visit him and lunge him on Sunday. Then it's back to work with Kelsey on Monday. Let's hope he comes out ready to work!

I spent almost an hour cleaning Rozzy Ridge up tonight! I roached his mane! I've thought about doing it before but just hadn't actually taken the plunge. I had already quit pulling it since his retirement this summer so it was getting thick, long and muddy. He's quite a chore to keep clean anyway. I figure worst case if I decide I don't like it, it will always grow back and I won't do it again. So far I think it looks pretty good. It will be even better when it grows out an inch or so. I also groomed almost 90% of the mud off of him. It's a never ending chore but I enjoy the time spent with him and I think he enjoys it too.
Umm....I think I trained a first rate beggar! 
I got a call from my surgeon this morning....my 2nd biopsy came back clear! This was awesome news to get this morning. Now it's time for a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Phone Call

I got a message from my oncologist yesterday, she had some things that I might want to do before we initiate treatment, and wanted to talk to me. Of course my first thought was "Oh no. What now?!" But then I realized, whatever she had to tell me couldn't be that bad. After all, I've already been diagnosed with cancer, and told I need to do chemo. I don't think she could easily top those two. Thankfully she just had a couple small things she wanted to touch base with me about. I guess my heart ultrasound didn't turn out as well as they wanted it to. They had trouble getting one of the views, so I need to go back in for another heart test. I'm waiting for a phone call to get that one scheduled. Otherwise, we are still on target for my next appointment on the 21st. I believe we will have a chemo start date after that appointment. 

My soreness is much better today! Yesterday, after a full day at work, I was definitely ready to lay down for a while. I woke up pretty tired this morning but made it through the day much more comfortable. I really haven't been taking much in the way of pain meds. I know I could take more but I feel like I can just deal with it, especially since I would only say I'm uncomfortable.

I had someone tell me at church on Sunday, "you don't even know you are sick." And I told her "I'm not." Of course I realize that I've been diagnosed with cancer but at this point I choose to think I'm cancer free anyway, since my tumor was removed. Now I'm just being treated so that it doesn't ever come back! It's really strange to be totally healthy but being treated for a potentially life threatening disease. I'm sure I will not be feeling quite so healthy once chemo starts but that won't last for long. Then it will be on to summertime and horse shows. I can't wait! I'm definitely thankful I'm dealing with all of this during the winter months.

I got my first Chevy update yesterday and they had a "very good" ride. He also got his new haircut. Apparently he wasn't the easiest customer. Oops! She said he wasn't scared but didn't like the sensation of the clippers on his body so he wiggled a lot. I'm guessing that he hasn't ever been body clipped before.

I am posting things I am thankful for for the month of November, on Facebook, and figured I would re post them again here. Here's the first week.

Day 1: My awesome family of course!
Day 2: Our dogs, Annie and Paddi. You can't help but smile when you hang out on the farm with them. 
Day 3: I'm so thankful to have met Tarra. I'm not sure what I would do with out her. There is never a dull moment when we are together!

Day 4: Rozzy Ridge- I've owned him for 6 years now, and he has always brought me a lot of joy. This photo was taken the day after my diagnosis and was such a wonderful morning, escaping reality. 

Day 5: Chevy- I'm thankful to have found him this summer and I look forward to many good years together. 

Day 6: I'm thankful for my car, Dory! I just got her in July and I'm quite happy with my decision. I had a 2006 Mustang prior to this, but when the transmission went out at 68 thousand miles I was rather unhappy (to say the least).  

Day 7 (which I haven't posted yet): I'm so thankful to be a part of NDF (Never Done Farm). This is our ribbon wall for the year and represents a lot of hard work on the part of humans and horses. Everyone is so good about supporting each other and we have tons of fun!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jumping Camp

Chevy went out to jumping camp at Inavale today. I've never sent a horse to training like that before, and it was really strange to leave him. I know he is in excellent hands but it was still weird. Kelsey assured me that I can call, text or email as much as I want while she has him. He's got a great run-in shed and paddock so he should be a happy camper. Kelsey put her first ride on him today so that I could watch. She really wants to establish that he has to go forward as soon as he is asked. Of course this is something we have been working on, but I have a feeling she is really going to get through to him. As she said, we need him to be in front of our leg to the fence, over the fence, and after the fence. It really is true, and should cut down his naughty moves if he is engaged in going forward. He got really sweaty, so after his work out she asked me about clipping him. I gave him a quick bath before leaving him there, and she will possibly do a trace clip on him tomorrow. I'm really excited to see how much progress he makes over the next month. Tarra took this sweet picture of Chev and Mystic this morning, before he left. They are good buddies out in the field. I'm sure Chevy will be thrilled to be back out with the "boys" when he gets home.


I took this photo of Roz's foot, that had the false sole. You can see how much better it looks now! It looks like a normal foot aside from spot where his hoof wall is a missing. That's from the cut he sustained on his cornet band last spring. It finally grew most of the way out, and broke off a few weeks ago. While we were hooking up the trailer to go get Chevy, Roz came up the hill to check it out. I think he was expecting to go for a ride! I watched him as we went down the driveway and he watched us go all the way down. I think he thought we forgot him! 


I'm feeling good today. Definitely sore, especially from where they placed the port, but overall I'm doing well. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Second One Down

I made it successfully through my second surgery today. It was SO much less stressful than the last time. I was a bit of a mess last time, definitely scared and unsure of the whole process. I had a super busy morning today. Roz got his hooves trimmed at 7:30am and everything went well. My good old friend is not falling apart. Yeah! The farrier was pleased with how his feet are doing and they cleaned up nicely. The pony himself was quite put out with a change in his morning routine. I had locked him in his stall (while he was eating breakfast), so that I could clean him up and grab him easily when the farrier got there. He is always quite good for the farrier, and stood patiently. His farrier is super sweet with him and really treats him nicely. Once I let Roz go he was a wild child, throwing a little tantrum about his rough morning. He rolled and then raced up and down his paddock bucking, rearing, and generally being a dork. Once I went out to watch him he would race up the hill to the gate that leads to the pasture, put his head over, and then turn back to look at me. "Hey, can you open this gate for me!?" Silly boy. He gave me a good laugh, but settled down in about 10 minutes. It's nice to see him feeling so good. 

This is his foot prior to being trimmed, I will get one after soon. You can see the layer of his foot that looks like it's coming up close to his toe. That's the "false sole" that I was talking about. A couple of weeks ago it wasn't nearly as obvious. 
Not the best photos but you can see that he was feeling full of himself! 
Then if was off to NDF to get Chevy ready to see his farrier...yes, I do use 2 different people. Roz had to have nikes so he gets to use a "special" farrier. Even though he is barefoot now, he agreed to continue working on his feet for me. Chevy was the best he has been for the farrier. We were both happy about that. His feet are looking really good. We left him barefoot behind again this time around, as he seems totally comfortable. After he got his dancin' shoes on I got him tacked up and headed over to the arena to start lunging him before Tarra got there. He was great on the lunge line; volunteering to go forward, which I was delighted to see. He got about 10 minutes of lunging before Tarra got to the barn. She hopped on and off they went. He was a really good boy today and is looking so good! He was going much better than he did earlier this week. It's amazing what good consistent work will do for a horse mentally. After her initial warm up I asked if Tarra would show me his leg yields. He hasn't had a lot of experience with them but actually was doing them reasonably well. His transitions as a whole have improved so much as has his canter. I'm so excited to see how well he does with Kelsey this next month. He is heading out there tomorrow morning.

Most of the horses at the barn, have a nick name, given to them by the barn owner's husband. For example, Mystic is called Pinto Beans, and now Chevy is called Larry. I guess he just looks like a Larry to him, which I can kind of see. He was telling me what a sweet guy Mr. Chevy is. He is waiting at the gate to come in in the afternoon and likes to have his face hugged. Isn't that cute!? I told them that after bringing Pretty up there, I felt like I owed them an easy to handle horse.

Once I finished up I had to hurry home from the barn to get showered and head to the hospital. We got there at 12:30, as instructed. Shortly after getting settled in my fancy gown, my surgeon walked by, and stopped in my room. He was surprised to see us there as he had asked someone to call me at 9am to let me know that I should come in later. They were running behind, probably by around 2 hours. My surgery itself was set to start at 2pm, so we figured I'd be in by 4pm. In reality, I got started at 6pm! He asked if I was surprised to hear that I needed chemo, and of course I said yes. He really thinks it's the right thing for me to do and said that I will do great with it.

With all of the waiting we had to do I was so thankful I had lots of family and friends coming to wait for me. They all crowded in to my little room to visit, and we had lots of laughs. My parents, grandparents, sister in law and her mom, plus our minister from church were all there. It was so nice to have their company. My surgeon came back in to visit with me before getting started and explained more about my port, and about the biopsy sample they would be taking. He assured me that they would do the best they could to leave only a small scar. I told him that I didn't care and his response was "I do." I am so pleased with the doctor we chose and I really feel like he cares about me, which I so appreciate. He also has an awesome physicians assistant who has taken great care of me.

Next the anesthesiologist came in and gave me two options. Option one was for them to make my nice and sleepy so I don't really know what's going on but I'm not all the way under, so I can still breath on my own and wouldn't need to be intubated. He also said that this should eliminate the post anesthesia nausea I experienced last time. He said I may be aware of what was going on, so if that would freak me out, then they could put me under general anesthesia. He was just chatting with us while waiting for my nurse to come, and we discovered that his kids go to the same school that I graduated from, and he lives near us. It's amazing how small the world really is.

As far as anesthesia goes, I opted to do the first choice and am so glad that I did. I don't remember anything from the surgery so I was definitely asleep, but the waking up was much better. Surgery started around 6pm and I was home by 8:15pm! Probably the worst part about the wait was that I hadn't eaten anything since 10pm last night, so I had to go almost 24 hours with out food. It was great to come home and eat! I was definitely feeling some soreness from where they place my port but I took some meds and with in about a half and hour I was feeling much better. Now I think it's time for me to get some rest. I plan to sleep well!