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Friday, August 1, 2008


Here's some pictures of my fetlock.



I had a total ankle replacement in mid-March and today I saw my surgeon for the last time (hopefully) for a year. He is very pleased with my progress. I had some complications during surgery due to my soft bones because I hadn't walked for so long. Also at 6 weeks post op I was pulling some long grass up on my knee scooter for Wildairo, when I lost my balance and put my full weight on my repaired ankle. Thankfully I only tore my Achilles. It was 12 weeks before I could start to put weight on my ankle. Sunday I climbed a hill to look for Foxsun because he wasn't with his old cow wife. He was off in the sage brush grazing and when I called him from my hill he couldn't believe his eyes. He hadn't seen me up on that hill for years and he walked right to me not taking his eyes off me once. I was so happy to have been able to walk up that hill and then back down again.

That little hill is near the spot I broke my ankle 23 years ago. May 1985 I was helping Brad and his brother bring the cattle in so the calves could be branded, get their shots and the bull calves turned in to steers. Brad's brother, Milo was driving hay truck to lead the cattle into the corrals. Brad was riding an old mare and I was riding my Morgan, Magic. We had rode through the sage brush looking for the cattle and getting them all bunched up and moving behind the hay truck. We had about 100 pairs then and 4 bulls.

All the cattle had gone through the gate and then four or five calves trotted back out. I thought if I galloped Magic straight towards the feeder I could head them off and get them turned back towards their mothers. I remember I only had one foot in the stirrup, but heck I could ride good without stirrups. I have a memory of falling backwards and thinking 'I can't land good like this'. I landed on my head knocking myself out and Magic stepped on my ankle. Thank goodness I was wearing a helmet like I always do. I remember looking up at Brad and wondering why he looked upset and then wondering why I wasn't wearing my lab coat. I thought I was at work in the local hospital's lab. I was so confused to find myself on the ground all dirty. It was days before I started to remember rounding up the cattle. I never did remember how I fell off my horse. Brad said he never bucked or spooked, he said I just fell off him!

I've had some spectacular falls from horses over the years because I used to ride like a bat out of hell. I've even had a horse flip over and land on top of me while we were jumping against the clock in mud. I have never been hurt before till the day I fell off for no reason! Oh well. I told the PA at the local hospital (where I happened to be on call that night) to make the splint small so I could get my foot back in the stirrup. I try to always look on the funny side of everything. I did in fact ride again within four weeks.

The next morning we drove to Spokane for surgery to screw my ankle back together. The doc said it was crushed like an egg shell. Over time post traumatic arthritis set in till my ankle was very painfully bone on bone and then finally wouldn't bend at all. For the last 4 years walking has been difficult and in fact impossible most of the time, even inside the house.

Lessons learned; always wearing a helmet because I think mine might have saved my life when I landed in those rocks. Also, don't suffer with pain any longer than you have to because life is too short. My doctor, Dr. Craig Barrow in Spokane, gave me back the chance to live the life I love. It was hard to find a doctor willing to do a total ankle replacement on some one under 60 and then we had a fight with our insurance company for them to cover it. Dr. Barrow warned me against ever running again or lifting anything heavy. I told him about Wildairo and he was worried at first but then said if it's something I love then he would never tell me to stop doing it. He called it 'hippotherapy'. He told me to try to keep on even surfaces and to see him again in one years time.
All's well that ends well.


Cheryl Ann said...

WOW! That looks really painful! Yikes! Your story reminds me...I need to buy a helmet! Thanks for reminding me!

Linda said...

Wow. What an amazing story. I'm glad you got the surgery. I go back and forth about helmets. Sometimes I wear one and sometimes I don't.

arlene said...

I would sometimes ride without a helmet before my accident, but for some reason, even though we were doing cowboy work that day I wore my English riding helmet. I call it my brain bucket.