She Shoots- She Scores!

 Ok, so not quite…I have never played basketball, or soccer, or anything like it in my life. If the game involves a ball, I probably can’t play it, I seem to be magnetized to balls; by that I mean balls repel me. Where the ball is, I won’t be. That doesn’t work well except for dodge ball. But, in order to “get a goal” you have to have one. Therein lies the rub.

I look at the girls that ride my older horse, Vanya; they both have some pretty awesome goals. Jennifer wants to get to our local Dressage Championships next year at Training level. It is a great goal. It’s achievable as after riding the horse for times she got a score that was within 3% of the score needed to qualify. So, given a few months she should be well on track to get that extra 3% that she needs, and probably more. She is planning how she will reach the goal; what memberships she needs and how much money she needs to save for shows, what equipment she needs, and what shows would make sense to attend. She is also taking more concrete action and riding and taking lessons to get the improvement she needs. She has an achievable short term goal of getting a score that would be a qualifying score (60%), and is taking steps to get there.

Similarly, Nicole, who also rides Vanya, wants to be able to show in Jumpers rather than Hunters next year. The lowest jumper division height is 2’3”-2’6” and since I am helping her, I am asking that she be jumping at least 2’9” comfortably at home before she does 2’6” at a show. Again, this is a great goal; she is working hard towards it and making good progress. She rides every chance she gets and is putting in the work she needs to achieve her goal. In fact, in her ride last night she did a course that was entirely 2’3”-2’6” very well. She even took her first oxer set at 2’3”!

However, I am not doing as well. I would love to improve my dressage scores with Strider, but I don’t really have a clear goal on it. And once I improve my dressage scores at First Level, what then? I don’t have the skills for Second level and I know that (I mean hey, I barely have the skills for First!) I want to jump bigger jumps, specifically I want to get to 4’, but I seem stuck at 3’9” and don’t have a plan to get past that. I want to get more consistent lessons, but again, seem somewhat stuck as far as finding a trainer I am happy working with and can afford and get my horse and I in contact with regularly. I am making more progress on that front than on some others, but still am nowhere near reaching that goal. If I want to get somewhere with my riding I should probably set some clear, well thought out, achievable goals. I am debating trying to qualify for local Dressage Championships at First Level with Strider next year, but can’t make up my mind as Jumping is still a priority. Any ideas? Please feel free to comment if you have any good ideas on good goals as I am open to suggestions.

All that being said, I realized where one of my big problems with RA has been lurking like the glass of milk you forgot in your guest bathroom last week. (You can smell it but can’t for the life of you figure out where it is…get my drift?) My Rheumatologist and I don’t have the same goals. My goals for me with regards to my RA are being mostly pain free most days, having energy, being able to sleep through an entire night without waking up because I have to change positions, and preventing as much joint damage as possible. My measurement of that is simple, do I hurt today? Do I have the energy to ride my horse and go for a run? Did a get a good nights sleep recently? Are my joints popping? Can I set my elbows on a padded elbow rest without pain? Can I stand up after sitting for twenty minutes without pain? Lately the answers to all of these questions have suggested that I am definitely not reaching my goals. I have called my doctor, since he is over an hour away, and talked to his voicemail and his assistants about it. We tried a burst of corticosteroids, we have increased my methotrexate dosage (and can I say that I really wish my hair would stay ON my head?), and neither approach has worked. I told him this and gave him a suggestion provided by my wonderful GP…his assistant simply said, “You will have to wait until your next appointment for the doctor to look at your joints.” Interesting; I admit, the not very charitable part of me wanted to say, “Go hold onto an electric fence for a day, imagine feeling like that all the time, and then tell me I should wait. And I’ll tell the doctor how my joints are- red, swollen, inflamed, painful and stiff.” But, I am not that uncharitable or rude I promise, so instead I said, “Isn’t there something we can do before my appointment?” Basically pleading with her. She said no. So I learned that my doctor has different goals than I do, and that is part of my problem with RA. I plan on addressing this at my next appointment, as I know, not all my goals are entirely reasonable, but at least we could try to get on the same page. And how else can you possibly reach a goal if you don’t set it in the first place?

 So, sorry if today’s post was a bit of a downer, but I hope it might be enlightening…I prefer entertaining, but I suppose enlightening will do the trick. Until next time, RAWR!

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