Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE Spring 2015, Issue 11 - Page 19

Inspirational I went to their practices, and the following year I purchased my first horse from a member on the team. Filly and I became best friends. She helped me realize that I don’t have to stop living my life because of my disability. I can adapt, adjust, and find a way to be normal, if only for a few hours or a day. While I can’t ride the drill routines, I can participate in parades with the rest of the team, and I really enjoy them! On a warm September day, Mustang, Oklahoma held its annual Western Days Event and Rodeo complete with the big parade on a Saturday morning. Since this is the Rangerette’s hometown, we ride in this parade every year. This year I was very reflective about what those of us with disability and chronic pain must do to adapt. We may not look sick on the outside, and our normal isn’t everyone else’s normal, but we can still have positive and exciting experiences. I don’t think about the pain when I’m in the saddle on the parade route. When I reach the staging area and feel well enough to mount my horse and ride, I cannot express how fulfilling it is for me. For a while I’m like everybody else. As I warm up in the staging area, the people around me have no idea of my daily fight with fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, IBS attacks and other neurological problems that forced a complete change in my life and ended my professional career as a legal assistant. I had to completely rebuild my life and change the way I do everyday things. With God’s help, it became a very fulfilling, albeit different way of life. To be successful and attend the parades, I plan early in the week. There is a lot of work to getting a horse parade ready--trimming bridle paths, clipping ears, shaving whiskers--necessary things that make the horse shine and sparkle. A healthy “normal” rider can do this in one setting the night before or morning of the parade, but I must take a different approach. By breaking up the grooming tasks into little Spring 2015 steps over several days, all that remains on parade day is a quick scrub down, and we are off to the staging area! This way minimizes the chances of a flare up of the disease, allows my body more time to rest, and increases my chances of success. On parade day I’m usually a mixture of excitement and anxiety-worried that my FM symptoms, IBS or a migraine will occur at the last minute and ruin my fun. But I’ve learned that I must forge ahead and hope for the best. Most of the time, I’m fine once I’m in the saddle. On a few occasions after all the parade preparations, I was too weak or sick to ride and sat out for safety’s sake. Thankfully that doesn’t happen often. The passion I have for horses, and the friendships and support I get from my teammates helps me to overcome the bad days. There have been times where I’ve sent my son off to warm up my horse while I sat and caught my breath, hopeful that the FM symptoms passed quickly. I felt well enough to ride. I’m grateful for those days! Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Life  19