Monday, July 6, 2020

Acute Injury

It's old news to those who follow me on Instagram, but Q and I suffered a slip/fall/crash 2½ weeks ago. Q is very fortunately fine beyond rattling her confidence. I on the other hand suffered an acute injury to my upper trapezius muscle. 

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I have no media to accompany this story, so have some random shots of the horses one pretty summer evening

I was on a ride with Kate and Dave when it happened. We reached one of our favorite gallop sections and I became a bit caught up in the moment, giggling as Dave and Stan rocketed past Q and I because Dave was making silly faces. I knew that there were pseudo water bars present in this area, but forgot in the moment. ...until Stan and Dave tripped slightly (but regained balance and momentum without issue) in front and to the right of Q and I. Fractions of a second later, we hit a slightly more uneven piece of ground. 

Q stutter-stepped as she encountered the uneven terrain. In her attempts to save us, her left foreleg slipped out from under her - and me. I was propelled unceremoniously over her left shoulder (a first!, it has always been the right side before now) and slammed into the mountainside. I essentially pile drove my left shoulder/neck into the turf and heard my neck (maybe other things?) crack 8-9 times. I quickly checked my CMS (circulation, motor, sensory) by wiggling all my fingers and toes and found everything to be in working order. In fact, one of my first thoughts once I had done that was, Wow, that was a shock, but it wasn't so bad at all! Not so different from my visits to the chiropractor...well, other than the suddenness and force of it all...

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I love her big ol' eyes. 

Within seconds of my unplanned dismount, I was up and mobile. Q was standing idly with Stan and Dave while Kate, who had witnessed the entire thing, gaped at me in abject horror before asking me multiple times if I was sure I was okay. In that moment, I truly felt fine. My shoulder was a touch tingly, but nothing too crazy. The bones seemed to be in fine order and there were no deformities anywhere between my neck and shoulder joint. All in all, I counted myself lucky. 

More importantly to me in that moment, Q checked out to be completely fine. She had a bit of mud on her left stocking, but that was it. The worst of it was that she seemed a bit alarmed/uncertain about me being on the ground. I can only assume that my coming off her her left shoulder surprised her. In the countless times I came off that mare during 2014-2015, it was always over her right shoulder. 

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He looks so great right now. I'm so freaking pleased.

I massaged my shoulder and surrounding muscles on and off as we rode for another 45 minutes. But by that evening, the pain in my shoulder had grown to a steady 4 on the pain scale. It would spike to a 5 or 6 if I did certain things. I dosed with NSAIDs and iced it and called it good. The pain was still present the next day, my range of motion (ROM) was further limited, and my shoulder had a "dropped" appearance that friends could see from a distance. Even Dave, who is notoriously bad at observing such deformities, could see a difference. 

By Sunday, I was highly suspect of a second degree AC injury. I continued NSAIDs, ice, and soaks in a cold river to ease the pain and inflammation and [slowly] one-armed all of my barn chores. I slept shittily Sunday night due to the pain waking me up multiple times and was in throbbing pain by Monday morning. At that point, I cried "uncle" and headed to the closest urgent care. I was checked over by a PA and sent to the hospital for x-rays. By Tuesday afternoon, the PA called me to let me know that my x-rays were clear and she was going to refer me to a physical therapist. My first appointment was set for 10 days later.

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The whole reason I flitted out to take photos of the horses in their temp fence grazing area this evening was because that gorgeous rainbow was cascading down behind them

In the 10 days leading up to that appointment, the pain was a steady 3-4 with spikes up to 5-6 if I pushed myself outside of my comfortable ROM...and my ROM became increasingly limited during that week. The only way I could sleep was if my shoulder was heavily iced. The NSAIDs helped, but not as much as the ice did. As soon as the ice pack warmed, I would wake up from the pain. Not an enjoyable experience! 

In the 2-3 days prior to my first PT appointment, I regained some of my ROM. I was still limited, but not as much as I had been. The pain was finally under control with the sole use of NSAIDs, too, which was a big relief. 

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His little cheek freckle has remained unchanged since I met him 15 years ago. I always wondered if it would evolve as he aged.

Upon arriving at the PT, I rehashed how the injury occurred, demonstrated my ROM, and discussed the limitations and pain I'd been experiencing since the crash. The PT assessed me and said that I'd suffered an acute injury to my upper trapezius. The muscle was "stuck" in a contracted state to protect itself and was the cause of all the referred pain I was experiencing throughout my whole neck/shoulder region. I knew it was knotted, and was incredibly relieved to hear that it was just that muscle and not the AC joint! My PT is confident I'll be back to normal in short order. In fact, he told me to not limit myself and noted that it's highly unlikely I will make it any worse. So that's pretty sweet! ]

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The teeny black tips on his ears in the summertime make me so happy. And I know many of you are a fan of his "lipstick" 

After receiving this news, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the most uncomfortable therapies I've ever experienced: dry needling + electric stimulation. The logic behind it makes perfect sense to me and I'm happy to deal with the discomfort of the treatment because I do know it will help speed my recovery. But fuck, y'all. That shit sucks. The PT took time and care to insert three needles deep into my trap. All I can say is thank god I've had tattoos and acupuncture before because those experiences were the only thing keeping me from crying out more than I did as he placed the needles. 

Once the needles were placed, he hooked them up to electrical stimulation that then triggered the muscle to twitch on and off for the next 20 minutes or so. While bizarre, the twitching due to the electrical stimulation wasn't actually painful. Once the treatment was over, he removed the needles and had me lie with my shoulder on a vibrating ball for a few minutes. Then he sat me up and HOLY SHIT. I couldn't exactly turn around to confront him face-to-face, but I exclaimed, "Ohmygod what did you do to me," as I devolved into nervous laughter over my predicament. The PT laughed with me, then noted that yes, I would be sore. Really sore. Really, really sore for the next 24 hours or so. He applied CBD salve, told me to continue my NSAIDs as needed, MSM/arnica salve as desired, and to lay with some kind of ball under the muscle a few times a day until he sees me again next week.

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So happy to finally capture this little maneuver on camera! It always makes me giggle to watch them do this.

My trap was SO SWOLLEN AND ANGRY within 30 minutes of leaving PT. I wish I'd taken pictures! I couldn't help but laugh at myself every time I caught my reflection for the rest of that day. The swelling was absolutely comical.

Fortunately, by 72 hours post-PT, my shoulder was feeling the best it had felt since being injured. The pain no longer wakes me up at night, my ROM is vastly improved, and barn chores are a breeze again.

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Q and her minions...erm, I mean geldings.

I'm so grateful that the crash didn't result in worse injury for myself and Q. I'm especially happy that Q is okay. I've only ridden once (under Kate's watchful eye) since the incident, and am so very relieved to report that Q's confidence, which was really shaky immediately following the incident, seems to be right back to its normal level. She led half of our 90-minute, 4-mile ride without a single nervous step. (And that ride didn't bug my shoulder one bit!) I think Q and I both needed that time in the saddle to move forward. 

I hope to resume riding with my previous frequency over the next week or so! There are many adventures to be had through the rest of summer. Hopefully without further injury ;-)


  1. I'm glad you weren't killed and didn't break any bones, but that's a beast of an injury. OUCH!!

  2. What a scary experience, I'm so glad Q was okay (minus the confidence rattling) and that your injuries weren't worse!

  3. oh my god, you poor thing, that sounds AWFUL :( take care of yourself and heal up, ugh, even tho that dry needling description makes my skin crawl bleh omg. for real tho, what crappy luck. charlie had a trip-'n-fall a couple weeks ago while we were cantering (in the dry flat well-maintained footing of the dressage court, wtf) wherein he did his best wheelbarrow impression for like 15-20' and i ate dirt as ingloriously as possible. which like, sucked, obvi, except we were both totally fine aside from some road rash. it's amazing to me how easily a fall like that can go from "fine" to.... definitely NOT. :(

    1. UGH. Your fall sounds absolutely dreadful! Poor Charles and poor you.

  4. Oh man, I am so glad that wasn't worse than it was. Getting lawn-darted like that is not fun. And holy cow, I think the dry needling would have had me in tears. :o

  5. I'm so happy you're feeling better. I had the same treatment after a fall once and the only reason I think I didn't cry was that i was expecting something soothing and pain relieving and it caught me completely by surprise how much those freakin needles hurt :D

  6. Ugh that sucks! I am so sorry, but glad that you'll be ok!

  7. Oof. I'm so glad neither of you had worse injuries. Although..I did have to skip through the part of the physical therapy. I just can't read about pain..and needles.. lol

  8. That sounds like a horrible fall that could have been a lot worse. I'm glad it looks like you will recover fine and that Q seems to be fine as well.

  9. Ouch that sounds super painful. I am glad that it wasn't more serious but muscle injuries can be irritating for a long long time.

  10. Jingles that you recover quickly and just fine! I'm so glad you're ok :)

  11. So glad you're (mostly) okay and that Q is no worse for the wear! Also, your photos are amazing you really capture their personalities in them!

  12. Ouch... glad you will both be ok and I hope healing continues quickly!

  13. Ouch! I'm so glad you are doing better and it wasn't more serious!

  14. Glad you're feeling better and that your pony is also doing fine. Hope you continue to heal well!
    Also I'm pretty envious that your horses can pose for such pretty summer evening photos without fly masks - mine would be attacked and munched on by all those vicious, relentless summer bugs! :)

  15. I'm sorry that you were injured but that PT fascinates me! How cool is the human body and all the weird ways we take care of it?

  16. Ouch! Your story was horrifying and well written at the same time! So glad you weren’t hurt worse, and Q too. The physical therapy sounds awful and amazing, glad you’re on the trail to recovery.