Tuesday 8 August 2017

Matters of the heart.....

I have got all my bits and bobs together NHS number, insurance number, authorisation number, phone number and am basically just waiting…
Waiting to go and visit the Cardiologist.
At present I am trying to work out whether or not I want all this to be a storm in a teacup or actually something serious…
I don't want it to be too serious but I do want there to be something wrong…
If you get what I mean.
Nothing too wrong, mind.
To put you in the picture ever since I was put on Tricyclics/serotonin for depression back in 1992 (Yes I do mean last century) I have had dizzy spells. I stopped taking anti-depressants more than 20 years ago but the dizzy spells have persisted. Every now and then I get them so badly I sway and a few times I have blacked out totally. However, after 25 years I am used to them - more or less.
However recently they have been a bit more noticeable and the other day in Finbows, while buying some kit for the builders (when am I ever without builders), I had such a bad turn that I frightened myself. It was horrid and I remember thinking that people must have thought I was drunk.
I decided to get hold of the Doctor and rang them up. There was a spare slot that very afternoon so I took it.
Not such a clever idea, I fancy.
Or maybe it was a lifesaving move...???
I am afraid the jury is still out on that one.
Anyway, I saw the Doctor she asked what had happened and took my blood pressure and pulse.
I thought she was going to pat me on the head and send me away admonishing me for getting worked up and stressing myself out.
She instead asked me to go immediately to the other clinic and get on the heart monitor.
OK says I a bit bewildered.
“Oh!” says she, “did you drive yourself?”
I looked at her as if she were mad – we live in the countryside FFS, its four o’clock in the afternoon in the middle of the week and bus services between villages are unheard of even at the best of times… “Yes.”
“Well you’ll have to leave your car here and get someone to take you.”
I was non-plussed to say the least, but so very forceful was she that I did as I was told.
I went to the other clinic, I was strapped into the monitor and the next thing I know an ambulance is called and I am on my way to hospital.
To cut a long story short I have low blood pressure coupled with a low heart rate of under 60bpm – which is fine if you are Mo Farah or Usain Bolt  - not so good if you are me - an overweight 50-year old mother of two who instead of exercising for the past 11 months has taken up chocolate eating as a past time.
I stayed I the hospital overnight and was released back in the community the next day a bit shaken up but more or less OK with the promise that I will be booked into have an ECG and 24 heart monitor at some point as an out patient.
Not really knowing what was going on  and keen to get to the bottom of this I went to speak to my GP the following Monday morning and what happened there put me in  a real spin.
I arrive, having driven myself. I get to see the doctor.
I ask what is happening and when will I get to know what is wrong. I say I am fed up with being dizzy and tiered all the time and not getting any headway as to what is wrong. I suggest perhaps it’s my thyroid.
I get told forcefully that I have had every blood test known to man over the past 10 years and that the problem lies with my heart.
For a moment I am silent.
My heart? Seriously?
Yes seriously – the heart should always be taken seriously.
And I would advise that you don't drive…
Oh! But I have to drive – FFS we live in the countryside, I am the sole carer of my children during the week, its the holidays, how can I shop….
It’s too risky for you to drive or take exercise
What do you mean too risky?
If your heart rate increases then the oxygen cannot get to your brain  and that is serious…
You need to talk to the DVLA and inform your insurance. I have written this down on  your medical notes…
The upshot is basically no driving at all. The DVLA are happy for me to drive but I am uninsurable so I am stuck…
This has necessitated me calling in the troops and my mother turning up to act as chauffeur for the time being and it has brought home to me that perhaps: THIS IS SERIOUS.
With that in mind I am afraid my imagination has run riot.
I am one of those people who have to know and understand what is going on or else I worry.
So for the last week I have worried.
I have also Googled but luckily - or unluckily depending on your point of view - my symptoms are not very normal so there is not much about it.
If you look up  slow heart rate and low blood pressure you get a lot of stuff about low blood pressure but the combo of the two  there is not so much…
When you look up the technical medical terms for low heart rate and low blood pressure (Bradycardia and Hypotension) it just becomes far too bizarre and way beyond my technical medical knowledge.
And thus I sit here trying to calm myself…
No kidding I have devised a worse case scenario but it wasn’t pleasant especially the first couple nights when I could not get to sleep for fear my heart would stop beating. I only managed to calm myself enough by writing out my will…
Now that that has not happened I have gone onto other scenarios – heart transplant was the worst I could think of and managed to reassure myself that I would be Ok as I have bulk standard ordinary blood: Type O Positive.
I have also worked out that if I am never able to drive again I could move to Framlingham quite happily and live in town. There are a number of very nice homes available with big enough gardens for the dogs that I can afford and we would be able to buy a pad in London too for Charlie to live in as Fram is just too far away  to comfortably commute with his long hours.
So I have crossed of the worst scenarios and found that I can survive quite happily.
But there is the thing…
What if there is actually nothing wrong with me at all?
The last week has been just a storm in a teacup..
THAT is a scenario I am totally unprepared for….and I will feel SUCH a fraud.
I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t my fault especially if it IS a storm in the teacup. I didn’t take myself to hospital. I didn't just decide not to drive…
So there is:  I don't want there to be anything wrong and yet I do….

Friday 24 March 2017

Somewhere along the way I have lost my confidence: problem is, I have only 20 days to find it again...

That's it in a nutshell really.
I have 20 days to find my confidence.
My show jumping confidence that is.
Yes, I know someone my age really shouldn't be gallivanting around like a teenager - but I love it. And loving it should mean that I am confident about it - shouldn't it?
It does not seem so at present.
Two years ago I was persuaded to take part in the British Horse Society's Riding School Competition, which is held at Moreton Morrell in Warwickshire every year. It is a horse riding competition that is only open to those who do not own or loan their own horses or ponies and all the horses and ponies have to belong or be used at a BHS Affiliated Riding School or Equitation Centre.
It is a wonderful opportunity and somehow I qualified for it being one of three adult riders selected to go. I might add there were only three of us who could!
Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came last after a disastrous dressage test where I and my caller got in a frightful muddle as to what test I should actually be doing and generally mucking it up (note ALWAYS learn your dressage test off by heart). I then had complete a stable management test - where I astounded myself by getting all the answers right.
And finally I had to jump a course of nine show jumps in a professional arena with full watching audience!
My lovely equine partner at the time, Candy, took me round with aplomb and although not a tidy round  - it sufficed. I was incredibly proud as only three months previously I had never jumped a show jumping course in my life!
Me riding the wonderful Candy aka My Sweet Girl at Warwick in 2015
Roll on two years and I have jumped a lot of show jumps - with a variety of equine partners. But the other day I scared myself.
God only knows how but I really did.
Normally I ride ponies that need a bit of encouragement to get a move on and wake up - and that is fine with me. But I am getting better and so I have progressed onto horses, which thoroughly love their job - especially jumping.
And that is the rub I think.
I am not quite as keen to go at their speed as they think I should be and we tend to part ways - sometimes quiet literally.
Tonight I have fallen off twice.
Once I landed perfectly on my own two feet and would not have disgraced the most elegant of horse vaulters and the other time I involuntary dismounted so as to avoid being smeared against the riding school wall - the look on my mount's face was of total astonishment and consternation.
This loss of confidence - which I fear now is becoming a somewhat self fulfilling prophecy - all started I think about two months ago when I was competing to be selected to go once again to Warwickshire. I was riding the incomparable Poppy, a 15h bay thoroughbred mare with pretty white snip on her nose. Usually she is very quiet and will happily plod on if you let her so is excellent for those learning to ride. She was my mount of choice when I returned to riding through the 2012 Olympic Legacy's Take Back The Reins programme. While she is great to learn to ride on she isn't just a one trick pony: with the right rider she can also pull out all the stops: four years ago she and her rider Helen won the heavily contested Dressage competition at Warwick.
But the thing Poppy loves most is jumping.
The change in her attitude is astonishing from barely going forward, suddenly she is very up for it! Positively dancing in excitement. Her ears twitch forward and she flies.
However, she is not a push button horse and you do have to have her straight and balanced before a jump and when you do she just takes you - she loves it SO much!
When I rode her, I had actually never ridden a full show jumping course on her before. In fact, I had only ever jumped one or possibly two jumps in succession on her.
My mistake.
We did a lovely dressage test then we went in to show jump. I will admit I was a tad nervous - wrong make that suddenly very afraid.
We got to the practice jump and refused. I had taken her in at an angle and quite rightly she said (if she could talk): You what???!
It wasn't very elegant.
I bottled it and was not keen to ride at all. I was all set there and then NOT to do this silly thing and leave.
However, I was persuaded to jump the practice fence properly, which we did. And although I was ready to leave and everyone was just about OK with that; I realised that I could not do it and with the understanding that I would be overseen round the course, I went for it knowing I would only kick myself if I missed the opportunity.
I can honestly say I have no recollection whatsoever of how I got round - we flew. At one stage I was told by my coach to sit up and back as we soared over a skinny and tore round a corner. I never heard her but everyone says I did it beautifully almost before she spoke.
I don't think I breathed at all.
The whole way round.
I rode out not feeling pleased and happy as you would expect - but utterly shaken.
I burst into tears.
And that I think is when I started to overthink.
Get scared.
And lose my confidence.
Each and every time I have jumped since, it seems I go backwards in ability. If I watch others ride before me I almost start to hyperventilate and I look for almost any excuse NOT to do it.
It has landed up with me today - on a new horse I will admit - unable to jump a cross pole. And it was only one side of a cross pole as well - barely off the ground...
I have only 20 days to get this sorted and be able to jump a course of nine 2ft 3 inch show jumps on a new horse  - the fabulous Earwig, with whom I really am doing very well with on the flat. We are unsure that the gorgeous Poppy will be fit enough to go - but that is beside the point as I am just as scared about show jumping on her at present.
So my many friends, and any who are into horses - what on earth should I do?
How am I going to get over this lack of confidence and do myself and everyone else proud?
Is there enough time?
Should I just forget it and stop the pressure and perhaps just concentrate on the dressage?
Do I go at all?

Go on you know you want to...


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