Pinterest Recipe Review: chicken (pork) and broccoli stir fry

https://pin.it/kikwpu365nzqh3

Ok so I have this idea and clearly I haven’t thought it out clearly yet but this year I want to blog about different stuff. Just go outside what I normally write about. So I decided as part of that I was going to review Pinterest recipes. I’m surely not the only person who does this. But I just feel like trying it so I’m going to.

I need to be better about taking pictures of the food before we all dive into here at Glory View Farm. I have a Frittata recipe that I cooked but forgot to take pictures.

The fun thing is that I often make changes to recipes and sometime that’s a blunder. The frittata was one of those. Well people ate it but – maybe I’ll write about that one next! No pictures.

So maybe I’ll get better at this as I go along. But here goes.

I posted the recipe link above. I love Pinterest it has been my guide to many things in my life especially redesigning our home. Much of my inspiration comes for there.

So I pin and pin recipes. And I’ll warn you I am no chef. Not even a great cook I like to cook but don’t want to have to cook – does that even make sense?

So when I want to cook I plan out my meals and I use Pinterest a lot for ideas.

Case in point. I got a new stir fry pan for Christmas. Thank you Santa! And I wanted to try it out. So I picked out a chicken and broccoli stir fry from Pinterest. And I wrote the ingredients on a shopping list.

I want to also say that now the my boys are in college (home now on break) we shop more often but buy less stuff. So I try to plan 2-3 meals and shop for this while picking up other sundries like almond milk and bread as needed. It may be helping our bottom line grocery expenditure i am still in the process of figuring it out.

I mention this bc I was in a hurry to plan these meals that included the chicken broccoli stir fry and I had another chicken meal planned so last minute so I decided to make it pork instead of chicken because I don’t want an overload of chicken. I try to vary it’s up. I’ve Been eating less meat as well. I haven’t had the taste for it for some reason. So anyway I digress -we decided to change to pork so we picked up a pack of pork stew meat and that was that.

Stir fry is very easy. You cut up stuff and toss it in oil until it cooks up and you throw in some sauce. I love that something this simple yields such a good outcome.

We started by cooking the jasmati rice first as that takes longer to cook. Obviously you could serve this with many types of rice and I am also a big fan of rice noodles too.

My husband -Kevin- acts as my asst and cuts up the veggies and washes most of the dishes. Sometimes when I cook I create a huge mess. I use so many dishes. So I say yes to anyone who wants to help me clean up. Sadly bc Of arm nerve damage I really can’t always complete the full task of prepping, cooking and cleaning up. So it’s nice to have help.

In this recipe I learned to cook the veggies first in the oil. In the past I had done it backwards. I like this because the meat doesn’t have to be warmed back up the veggies do but that is faster.

So we began with some oil on medium high heat in my stir fry pan (it’s not an official wok so I won’t call it that! ) we tossed in the veggies. Oh I forgot to mention we added peppers to the broccoli just because we had some in the crisper. I think I should have done the broccoli first and then added the peppers halfway through the broccoli stir fry but I added them all together. Nothing got mushy but that was luck and me watching closely.

When the veggies were cooked we set the then aside in a bowl that I covered with a paper towel in hopes they wouldn’t get too cold. And then we added the meat into some more heated oil in the pan and throughly cooked it up. This is when you add the sauce. It asked to move the pork to the sides of the pan and put the sauce in the middle and let it thicken.

So about the sauce. I mixed that up in a bowl. The hoisin, soy, cornstarch and garlic-etc. We had twice as much meat and veggies so I did double the recipe- but in the end I feel I should have made more. I like my stir fry saucy. I added more hoisin onto my portion but it wasn’t as good as the sauce.

Going back to the pan and adding the sauce. Mine thickened fast. So I tossed the meat with it then added the veggies. Let it cook covered on low medium for a minute or two (until veggies coated and heated back up ) and it was ready to serve. Some rice and then the stir fry on top.

I really liked the outcome even with less sauce than I would have liked.

I did place soy sauce and hoisin and toasted sesame on the counter for people to add as the desired.

It was a hit with the family as well. The boys don’t tell me but if it’s almost gone I know.

I didn’t even take pictures of this until we had dug into it. But the recipe is attached here and there are plenty of photos in that.

I will get better at this or maybe I won’t! But I’ll try.

I give this recipe 👍👍👍👍 thumbs up. It could be a five if I had been better with the sauce. But it was a 👍👍👍👍👍 as far as the family food consumers were concerned.

Thanks for reading!

(Def my photos need to be better!)

Clearing my mind

The last few days I’ve felt a growing sense of anxiety. So much to do. Worrying about things I can’t control. And worrying about things I can.

Will I be able to physically do the things I need to get done? I am hoping so. A visit to my surgeon a few weeks ago ended with him draining another couple cyst like things from my axilla and giving me a nice big steroid injection and so far I have had some relief. Still I can’t do many things I once could. And still I push to do as many things as I can. So much I leave in others hands. That’s hard for me too.

I think the issue is also mental. I forget so many things. I get overwhelmed and I get mad that I forget things. I forget to check my calendar and my notes app where I write so many things.

Today the cell phone repair guy showed up around 1pm. I had completely forgotten he was coming. I hadn’t even checked the calendar and I had put something else as a priority. Thankfully we were home. He came for my sons broken phone screen but if we hadn’t been home he likely wouldn’t have heard the door. Well anyway that worked out.

Other days I don’t get so lucky and one thing or another is forgotten or lost or a new fire shows up that needs to be put out ASAP.

My mind needs a break.

Yesterday wasn’t rainy – as so many days here seem to be. It was breezy and cold but sunny so I took off to walk on the lane to clear my mind.

It takes me half the walk to stop thinking about all the crap that I need to get done. I stop along the way and take photos. I listen to the shifting breeze. I listen to the quiet. I play some Coldplay on my phone for a bit.

I brought my dog Rudy and I watch him Focusing himself on the walk at hand. The smells and eating gross things. He just is in the moment.

And finally so am I. I feel the angst leave even if for just a while. My spirit lifted.

I have more energy for the day. And more patience. I feel happiness. I get a lot done.

Why -I think to myself – don’t I just get out and get into the natural world every morning. I need so habit. Something that centers me. Otherwise the day gets away from me.

My thoughts are not like they once were. They used to be in order – do this and then this and then that. Now they can start anywhere. It’s the difference between a straight line drawn on a board with a few blips, and squiggles drawn all over the board. My mind is squiggles. Maybe this is the meds I take , aging , a result of all the surgeries I’ve had to have over the last few years – who knows.

Anyway Clearing my mind helps get the line straighter.

It’s just a matter of making that a priority.

Filling in the cracks.

img_5583It’s as if I’m living in the middle or my own story. I don’t know how it will end yet.  But it is like that for everyone…they might not think of life in such terms as an unfolding story is all. I feel this is yet another chapter of my life that is still being written. I want it to come to  some good end but I know I have really no control over the outcome. There are too many hands at play. And maybe the outcome isn’t even the point . Maybe it is what we learn in the middle of that chapter that matters.

I feel like I am trying to put the broken pieces of a pot together again except some little fragments are gone. So the pot can never be the same. It is small seams that may not appear to the eye but they are there. It may seem the same if you aren’t looking too hard -but in fact it is not the same at all. Even if the pot looks whole, there is a before the break and the after. 

This is how it has been with my life – my family. Some choice, some event and the trajectory of life how it once was is changed. We have had our little world rocked a time or two lately and from the outside it might seem the same but from the inside I can see the fissures and the leaking holes. And I keep trying to fill them up. There are the befores and the afters. The what was and what is. The need to forgive and grow and move on. Its tiring really – but again ….life.

This last five years has had my life trajectory pinging to and fro. There are so many before and afters. I have not been able to really get on an even keel. But I’m trying. I think if the old Weeble commercials from when I was a kid or did they come later? “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”. I thinks that’s me.  A Weeble trying to just get upright for a little while.

There is also the life before cancer and the after. I define a lot of time by that. Before the pain went crazy and after. And on and on. It’s what happens. And now I’m trying to put it all back together yet again. To make a pretty pot. But won’t their always be the cracks? 

I used to feel more resilient. More get up and get on with it. More able. But time does wear on a person. Sometimes I feel too darn tired to try to fill those cracks- but you have to or more will come and then you will be over your head  and what then? 

What then? I don’t know because I keep filling the darn things.

This Christmas season I haven’t been feeling much into it. I don’t feel bah humbug or anything. But I haven’t felt merry. I am just doing what I do. Arranging for gifts. Planning a menu. I am looking forward to seeing extended family and friends on Christmas Day. So thats a plus. Kevin insisted we do lights outside (his way of healing too I think )and he got the tree out and my mom and I decorated it- and it looks quite pretty.

We have a dear friend coming to stay with us. I am very glad for that. Not only to see him but in a way he will be part of the after. Maybe a new tradition of having him in our home on the holiday. Something we need. And maybe too he would be the buffer for any awkwardness that might ensue between family members as we confront this new territory- this new after.

I think when I got cancer it was the fear that everything would seem so different that I wanted so much to make things seem the same when it came to holiday time. I worried for my kids but also for me.  The cancer had shaken me up. Fear loomed over my shoulder constantly and I felt if I tried hard enough to make things seem all good and the holidays bright nothing would be different. But its just a show. 

I realized as we sailed into that holiday that I would not be able to do like I thought I would. We got a tree up as I recall. I think I may have decorated it with some help. But apart from the decor and gifts – thank God for online shopping- things weren’t the same. I stopped radiation Christmas Eve. There would be no cooking for me – I was bone tired. Family had decided to gather at my in-laws home and they were very adamant I bring nothing.  I think I managed to bake an easy pie. I can’t recall. If I did it was pride I guess. But the point was – as hard as I tried there was no way I could keep anything from being different. It just was.

So maybe it is not necessary to try to make things seem shiny. I believe we still have to fill the cracks. Its part of moving forward. Its the healing.  It helps keep the foundation strong. Its how we keep life from rolling us over. But time can also help healing and in time the after will be normal – or there will be an entirely new after yet again – more likely this.

My family- we will be ok. We are a an assembly of different parts. We make a pretty good whole. And while I may notice the cracks in my pot- I probably don’t notice them in yours- but they are likley there. And each crack that is mended holds a story – one that may be sad or filled with remorse, one that may contain grief and maybe even some laughs. But this is what makes up parts of the chapter of our own book.. A chapter in that chip here and a paragraph in that crack there. We all live this and we will all learn something from each before and after. We all break sometimes and I pray like hell that I will keep being a Weeble -that I will keep having the faith that I can keep trying to right myself long enough to fill in the cracks as they come. And I wish that for you too.

Today’s shakeup

Photo cred : mycdi.com

Nope didn’t vote today. That’s not what this is about. I voted last week. I didn’t want to deal with the crowds when I am in pain.

Today was MRI day for me. Every year I get an MRI now instead of a mammogram because I have such bad nerve damage my surgeon is afraid more will be inflicted if they squeeze my breast into a patty in that machine of torture known as a 3D mammo.

Listen 3D mammos are great if you aren’t damaged in the way I am. I just can’t tolerate it. At all. So every year I have to get my MRI approved by insurance -last year there was a big POW WOW of doctors over the request and after weeks of debate it was approved. This year the process went much smoother.

Today was the day. I really didn’t want to go. I woke up in horrendous pain. This flare that began in early October has been relentless. I’ll have a decent day which means I can maybe go for a walk or to the store. Not a whole lot. But then I have a flare of the flareup!

Today I felt crummy and I was going to cancel this MRI but I decided no I’m going to go. I skipped the Valium this time and opted for some medical MJ and some CBD. I had my cold friend with me. Mr. Ice Bag.

Kevin and I drove in awful rain to the building where the wide MRI is. I like wide. But it still feels like a skinny tube with lots of noise.

I got checked in and changed into scrubs and a gown that opened in front. Kevin got changed into scrubs. He’s my wingman on these excursions. Hand holder extraordinaire.

They gave me great news. The test is only 15 minutes now. Some change in software. Blah blah. They put my IV in. They had me on the table. For breast MRI you lay on your stomach. They pushed me in. I had the emergency call button in hand. Earplugs in. I felt that encased feeling like being shut off from the world. And then…

Nope nothing. You thought I was going to say I freaked out. No I did not. But I was very uncomfortable but thought I could last 15 minutes. But the place was quiet. I was waiting for the banging. Nothing.

Then the techs come back in and roll me out of the machine. There is an issue machine won’t go on. We will try to reposition you.

Back in the tube I go. Ok so here we go. Let the banging begin. Nope. Nada. Nothing.

So by now I’m getting a tad impatient sitting in a wide tube that seems skinny to me and we don’t have anything going. I would never on purpose lay in a tube face down one arm up above my head with an IV needle stuck in my arm with a blanket on! So I wanted to get the show on the road.

Then techs come in again. They roll me out again. Machine isn’t starting – we have to call the company and you need to get up and go sit in the waiting area. They said they may need to restart the computer. As past software engineer I agreed. Reboot.

Kevin the most patient person and I -not the most patient but I was acting like a very patient patient because the techs were very nice -sat in the waiting area in our little scrub outfits. We looked kind of doctor like. Or as Kevin said later- escapees from a mental hospital. That would be more like it.

The techs came back and said the cooling system on the roof broke and they can’t use the machine at all. They said we could head up the road to another of their locations in the same town where there was another wide machine. And the test would be fast. But I had to decide fast because they only had one opening and that was in twenty minutes.

I with Mr. Ice Bag pondered this. I could bag it and reschedule because I felt like crud. Or I could try to go get it over with. Hmmm. In my head I heard “Bag it Bag it Bag it” but I said “ok let’s do it.” I just wanted it over with.

So Kevin -saint that he is- grabbed all of our clothes and we left in the scrubs. Me with the surgical gown tied as best we could get it so it would not open and scare others and the IV needle jammed into my arm.

What a morning this was turning out to be. I took a little more medical MJ. Clearly it wasn’t enough because I was as aware of all that was going on once I finally got into yet another “wide ” machine. But I felt somewhat calm – so maybe the medical MJ helped.

The tech from the first radiology office I was in came to this location with all my paperwork And performed the MRI. She was great and professional through this major blip in her day. Not only did it effect me but also many other patients who may have needed that broken machine now had to be rescheduled.

So crap happens -let’s just get this MRI done. And finally as I lay face down yet again – earplugs in – arm up – IV ready – I hear the sweet sounds of banging metal. Ok let’s start thinking about fun Pinterest things. Bang , whomp, whaa whaa. Contrast in. I always feel a bit weird when that happens. Don’t think about how skinny this machine is. Is fifteen minutes up soon?

And finally it’s over. Done.

I powered through and have had terrible pain the rest of the day. But it’s done and this pain flare will hopefully pass and now I’m counting down the days until I see my surgeon.

23 to be exact. 23.

Imperfect

Today I turned on an episode of “This is Us” to binge watch. I promised myself only one (so not a binge) because they make me emotional every time. I thought I could handle one today before I went off and did things on my to do list.

As the episode began to run I realized it was going to be a tough one. It was the one after the fire where we see how Jack (the father of the triplets) dies. I actually forwarded it through the first few minutes because I was afraid to watch -and it went on to some commercial and that commercial made me think about something and I went to check today’s date.

Oct 23- my dad died two years ago today. His death was sudden -as was Jacks who made it out of the fire only to die later in the episode.

So by now you know I watched the episode. I cried almost through the entire thing. A snotty nosed cry- not pretty.

It’s ok. I kept going because I think it helped me emote and sometimes as hard as that is it’s cathartic.

I miss my dad. A lot. And I often wonder why I miss him so. After all he was imperfect and he had his demons and he and I struggled in our relationship together. I guess I thought because of all of these issues I wouldn’t feel so much grief – that I would have missed him less.

But maybe it is because of these things I miss him more. There were things I lost with my dad. I didn’t have his adoration. Nor did he ever seem to get me -though he and I are so much alike but I only saw it after he died. I can’t blame him for not seeing me as being like him if I didn’t see it either. I spent years not wanting to be like him. And yet… here I am.

We fought a lot. I spent too much time being mad at him. Much less as I aged but I was mad sometimes. I didn’t understand his drinking problem. I didn’t see why he thought he was fine. I worried it would kill him. And in a way I guess it did. He lived to 81 but maybe with less drinking he’d still be here. But that we will never know.

I wanted him to get me. Be proud of me. Later I would realize he was but didn’t show it to me very often. I heard it from others later.

I wondered why he held back praise to me. But as a parent I’ve done the same sometimes to my kids and I have no idea why. See I told you I am like my dad. But I’m trying to praise my kids more. When I see things I want to change I own them and try to do better.

Sometimes my dad seemed mad at me. I didn’t always know why and sometimes I did. We danced all over with each-other never getting the right rhythm. But I’d gladly take one more off kilter dance with him.

Relationships have so many facets and that’s what I had with my dad. I have so many quick snips of memories. Some sad, some not great, some funny as hell, and some so wonderful.

My dad walking me down the aisle at my wedding. I see him looking up the staircase at me (I had a long one to traverse on high heels. On wooden steps). I was praying I’d make it down alive -and I see my dad watching me he’s smiling brightly (at me!) -and his arm is outstretched and his hand wide open ready to take my hand. Step by step I made my way down each step feeling stronger when I finally had his hand. Hand in hand we made our way to Kevin. I got that memory. Some people never get that.

I remember him taking me homecoming dress shopping in 9th grade. I’d been grounded for four weeks — I deserved it. But he shortened it so I could go to the dance with a boy who had asked me. He took me to the mall. (My mom and he were separated at the time and I lived with my dad and my brother.) We went to David’s Village Shop. I knew I had a short period of time before he got impatient but oddly he let me get through a few dresses as he stood awkwardly in the shop. And I only needed to try a few as I found “the one” in that bunch. I got that memory and some people never get that.

I miss hearing him say “How’s Annie today?” I even miss hearing him joke “picked up any horse shit today Annie? “.

I just miss him.

My imperfect father. One thing for sure was that he was always there. Call him and miss him. He’d call you back not long after. I didn’t always confide in him but sometimes I just needed to hear his voice. I’d listen to his rant of the day or a bad joke. Just to listen.

You don’t have to be the perfect human for people to miss you when you leave. God knows I have too many things I’d like to do over. It’s part of life. It’s the hindsight’s 20/20 cruel joke.

My dad could sometimes take imperfect to a perfect level. But we are all trying to figure this freakish world out. My dad was my dad and he meant the world to me.

Two imperfect people just trying to get the dance right.

Miss and love you Dad….always.

Dad and I in 1964

Over planning – my claim to fame

I always have the best of intentions. I always think I can accomplish what I plan. Sometimes I get more done than I planned but often now with my physical limitations I can’t meet my goals.

Case in point. I planned a trip up north for Columbus Day weekend. I was headed to upstate New York with Kevin to visit friends and attend my friend Jon Katz’s open house he has each fall on his famous Bedlam Farm.

I was so happy I was feeling well enough to go on this trek. We were going to drive..and it is long- 7 hours plus. This was to be my first long drive and furthest vacation from home since all my pain trouble began back in May 2016. We have a new large truck that is very comfortable to drive in so I thought the drive would be fine.

I got an AirBnB not far from Bedlam Farm. We planned two nights there. Then I decided to tack on to the trip. I wanted to go see Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law in Maine. It was less than 4 hours to their place from Cambridge NY (the home of Bedlam Farm). So we added two more nights – one in Maine and another in Connecticut. The latter a place as a rest stop to break up the ride home from Maine to Maryland. Oh and we were bringing two dogs. That adds to the planning but I like to have them along.

In my head I was going to be fine for this trip. I planned ahead trying not to do too much the week before we left. I didn’t want to initiate a flare up of pain. I didn’t ride my horse. I didn’t do barn chores except feed the horses and add water to chicken waterers. I didn’t do much walking and I went into the gym once and did a few leg exercises. But I really tried to keep it light.

The big day came. Kevin packed the car and loaded the pups and we were off. I was very excited to see friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Then it happened – just a short time into the drive I began to feel the twinge of pain that often comes at the beginning of a flare. I didn’t want to say anything to Kevin. I wanted to power through it. But my heart sank just a bit.

By the time we got to New York I was having definite pain issues. We got to our house – which was awesome by the way- and we got the dogs settled. I had taken some medical marijuana which I use only when I really need some extra pain relief. I also had a glass of wine. Normally I am not a big mixer of these items but drastic times….

I did all this in the hopes that I would make the flare go away. I know better they normally last 3 days – more even. I woke on Saturday feeling just so so- and we went over to a local restaurant in Cambridge NY to meet friends for breakfast. But by the end of the meal I was feeling badly again. I was determined to go to the open house though. I came all that way and I was freaking going. So I took some medical MJ again and I had a couple sips of wine- God I sound like a wino druggy! I can assure you this isn’t the case – but this is what I needed to do at that moment to get through the day with less pain. I carry opiates with me. But I don’t want to take those again unless it was absolutely needed. Medical marijuana is much safer. I will write on that topic a bit more sometime.

I attended the open house which was really nice. I think the best one so far for me. We enjoyed sheep herding and sheep shearing as well as poetry readings and lots of  wonderful art for sale. When we left that afternoon I fully intended on attending it on Sunday as well. Though I was feeling pretty rough I was able to enjoy a nice dinner out on Saturday night with friends. It meant so much to be there among these really nice humans. I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

Sadly the meal didn’t sit well with me later that night. Probably too rich for me and I was a bit ill all night. So I sat much of the night awake and fretting about how bad I was feeling and how I really should pack it in and go back home. But that felt like such loss to me. I didn’t want to give up. In the morning Kevin and I talked it over and it didn’t take long for me to see that it would be better if we went home.

I was sad and depressed.  I had my cry. I worried about disappointing people. Would my New York friends think I was rude for not saying goodbye before I left?  I was feeling so crummy and was so down I just could not bring myself to make formal goodbyes in person. But a couple friends ended up driving behind us on the road 30 miles from the farm.  what are the odds? So we pulled over and I got my formal goodbye with both of them – that did make my heart hurt less for sure.

I also worried I would be disappointing family in Maine because we were cancelling. I have wanted to get up to see them for so long. It wasn’t to be. I think many of these friends and family know my heart and that I would not skirt out without saying a formal goodbye if I wasn’t feeling crummy.

I feel like pain won and I really hate that. I really really do. I am trying to navigate this life and have some semblance of life despite this pain. I don’t like IT to win. And often it is an adversary that wins some of the battles.

It took me this long since I have been home to write this because I have been so disappointed in myself. I am still dealing with pain. I was dumb and went to get a laser treatment this week which caused more pain. Which it shouldn’t but did because we did too big an area. So frustrating.

I just want to live my life and although I have come to accept that pain will likely be part of my life forever ( I sigh when I think this) I hate when it makes me unable to do something I set out to do.

My heart hurts over this. But I need to look at the bright side- and there is one. I had a great time seeing people on Saturday. I got to talk with many people – though there is always more to talk about. And there are people I wished I could have spoken with longer. But overall the experience and being with some people who share my creative spark was just what I needed.  It was enough.  I wanted more but it was enough.

This is what I am trying to take away from last weekend. The good time, the good people, friendships. So I think I won. Screw pain – the visit might have been cut short but it was enough. What was accomplished made me happy and that lifts my spirits.

And I just have to learn not to over plan.

–side note – I have discussed my pain concerns with my surgeon – and the laser debacle-and we are have an initial plan of attack for this flare up.  He is a great doctor to have on my side. Lets hope we get this under control.

_____

Here are some unedited photos from my phone that I took over the weekend – my DSLR camera was too heavy for me to use – bummer.

Red keeping the sheep in on place

Jon Katz- Author and friend and owner of bedlam Farm (along with Maria)

Maria Wulf with an amazing sheep shearer! 

Just shorn

Fate 

Mary Kellogg reading her poetry- she’s a wonderful person

Our next guest home?

On the way home

Somewhere in PA

Taken through a filthy windshield!

Sometimes things work out…

All I can say is we just never know where we are going to end up. We have no real control over anything. All we can do is make plans and have hope that things will be okay. For  the last two years  the one thing I had wanted so much to do was to ride my horse again. It wasn’t  a lofty goal really but one that seemed to be unattainable to me not long ago. I didn’t want to give up the hope that one day I would ride again…..but for a while it was iffy…

Two years ago I thought I would never be able to do many activities again let alone ride a horse. My only goal then was trying to find someone to fix the pain I was in. That was a battle unto itself but I did not want to give up- because to do so left me in a very dire situation. One that I could not accept.

June 2016 was a start of an intense pain drama that was caused by breast cancer treatments. The pain had been an issue since my surgery in October of 2013. I had sought help for it with no luck and then it really  reared its ugly head in May 2016 leaving me bedridden for much of the next year. It was hell trying to find the a doctor who would listen to me and not send me away with a shake of the head. They either had no idea what was wrong with me or they thought I was nuts. But finally I found a surgeon who listened.

Today, three surgeries later. I am not that woman stuck all day and night in bed anymore- but I still live in chronic pain. But the levels I am managing- and there may be more surgery in my future. I am left with a disabled arm that I cant use fully and overuse causes pain. Sometimes I don’t know what that overuse is. But I just try to dance with it- sometimes I am in the lead and sometimes the pain is.

I have been hell bent on doing more living- I have always been a physically active person and I missed the mental boost such activity gave me. So many things I could not do. Some because of the limits of my arm and some activities were contra-indicated by my surgeon- one being horse back riding. It was a total bummer to hear this but I temporarily shelved that disappointment and sought another activity .  I bought a kayak with pedals so I could go out in the bay near our beach house. The feeling of independence being on the water propelling myself was intense and important in my recovery. I bought a bike. I began to walk more. I can do limited exercises in the gym.  But I was really missing the one activity I was told not to do—ride my horse.

In the summer of 2017 I was still in enough pain that I was not sure I could ride and on enough drugs I was not sure I should ride. But one day that summer  on a whim Kevin and I tacked up my horse Harley . He accepted the saddle and bridle so well  that I decided to get on and have Kevin lead me around the dry lot. I knew the surgeon had not been keen on my riding but I wanted to be in the saddle. It was just a pony ride but it was the kick I needed – I set a firm goal – I would  ride my horse again. But there were still obstacles to overcome.

I didn’t think it would take another year before I was able to ride again. I had another surgery in November of 2017 to hopefully further reduce my pain. I would say the result have been pretty good. I am off opiates but still need nerve pain medications. . I have pain flares more often than I would like. But I am doing more. The surgery itself – which was fat grafting -had a longer than expected recovery time.

Every time I went to see my nerve surgeon – Dr. Williams- I would tell him that I wanted to ride my horse.  HIs concern was that my arm would be yanked forward if the horse pulled the reins forward suddenly- and this does happen. This can cause more damage to my arm. Also there is the risk of falling off but I think in my case the real concern was with the yanking of my arm. So I wanted to rectify that. How to keep that from happening. There had to be a way . Maybe I would ride one armed. I began to look into that as an option.

Then sometime this past spring my farrier came. I was telling her my plan to try ride again. I explained my concerns of riding with two arms and one getting yanked and I was also becoming nervous about not being strong enough to ride using only one arm (my horse is also neck reined) if my horse pulled suddenly. She told me to get a Daisy Rein. I had no idea what they were but it turns out they are used often for young riders. The rein hooks onto the saddle and also to the bridle and that keep the horse from pulling his head down. Maybe it would work for this old rider!

I saw my surgeon again in July and explained how much I wanted to ride and told him about the rein. He never did give me his blessing but he told me if I did ride I needed to send him photos after I was safely off.  So that to me was an ok to go ahead.

My plan was to move slowly into riding my horse Harley beginning in early August- but life threw us a loop as we suddenly  lost Harleys companion a- our beloved Arab mare -Airy to colic. It was a tough loss on all of us and I again shelved trying to ride. This time more for Harley than for me. I knew it was a stressful time for a horse when there are changes like that adding me riding him after such a long time off might add to the stress – and we wanted another companion for Harley so the focus shifted on that. It took some time but we now have Hank and Yukon here. Hank belongs to our neighbor and Yukon is our Guardian horse form a local rescue.

One  day a few weeks ago  I went out to the barn to feed the horses and our neighbor was bringing Hank back from a ride. I began to feel that envy. That yearning to ride my horse. I really felt it was now or never so I began to get Harley tacked up. It is a bit of a chore for me to get it on while trying to limit the use of my arm but I was able to do it with Kevins help.

Before long I told Kevin I wanted another pony ride. I have to use a step to mount now to get on- it allows me to not use my arm too much.  I got up and settled – feet in stirrups and I was holding both reins because we put the daisy rein on to give that a try too. He tolerated it well and best of all it worked! He couldn’t pull very far so no yanking of my arm.  After a bit, I asked Kevin to let me go and and I took a deep breathe in and let it out and off I went.  I maneuvered Harley around the dry lot for a while..at a walk.. nothing fast. He did very well – and we then called it a day. Best to end on a good note when working with a horse. And I was not ready to ride in the fields yet. But it didn’t take much time for me to be ready! So much for slow starts.

Since that day I have ridden twice out in the fields. The last time – this past Saturday- I was able to tack up on my own. I have learned to yank the saddle out of my locker with one arm and I can toss it up on his back with one arm too.  It was very freeing to be able to do this on my own.

I also can ride with one arm so I switch from using two hands on the reins to one. It turns out my arms are in a “safe” position so I don’t think I will get a pain flare if I am careful – but again it is that dance i mentioned above. That day I was in the lead. Dismounting is a bit of a challenge. I now lower the stirrup iron and dismount on the  right which is the opposite side we proper English riders are taught to do.

Obstacles aside I can’t begin to explain the mental effect being able to ride again gives me. It is something I have needed. It didn’t feel like it had been two years since I had ridden solo. It was as if no time went by at all. I felt right at home in the saddle. I am so lucky to have the horse that I have. Some horses may have been too much for me after not being ridden for so long. Harley is a true champ. We have a bond.

My goal is to ride twice a week for now. I will have to be flexible on this as well as I live my life around things we have planned – social visits, traveling, and doctors visits. So I often curb any physical exercise for a couple days prior to doing these things because I don’t want to have a flare up of pain which may require me to cancel the plans.

But that is life as I live it now. I accept it. You just never know where you will end up…right now for me I ended up back in the saddle. How lucky I am….

….And Dr Williams has been sent a photo..with more to come…