Everyone has a breaking point. Because of my high pain tolerance, it took me longer to break than others.
Remember when I broke my collarbone? Eight months later, and something is amiss. I have the bulging deformity, sure. The stiffness in my neck, check. But the excruciating pain, bone movement, constant headaches, and complete loss of motion was something I was not expecting.
My collar bone never healed.
Rewind. After two months in a sling last fall/winter, complete with complete horse withdrawals and utter misery, I was given the OK to go back to riding in December. So I got on a horse that very same day. Constant competition and training left me a little sore, but I chalked it up to general bone growth pain and called it a night. Night after night after night. And then it started getting worse.
About two or three months ago, midway through my final semester of undergrad and midway through the spring show season, the pain escalated to unbearable proportions. Advil wasn’t working, the horses I was riding were only getting stronger, the jumps were getting bigger, and ice baths and ice packs were having little to no effect. I went to a chiropractor that travels the circuit with us and she was the first one to break the news: my collarbone was moving.
Fun fact about bones: they aren’t supposed to move. They are supposed to be stationary, the tree trunks of our entire being. Mine were grinding against each other and popping in and out of place more often than not, and surprisingly, that wasn’t exactly normal.
So I saw a specialist. Well, first I saw my regular doctor and got my first round of x-rays, and then she recommended me to a specialist. But not just any specialist, oh no, this was a works-with-the-United-States-Olympic-teams-specialist and I was woefully underdressed and overanxious. He broke the news to me a second time: surgery. Surgery (with a potential bone graft) featuring plates and screws. And then the kicker: 3-6 months recovery time.
3-6 months. 6 weeks in a sling, then intensive physical therapy with constant monitoring to make sure the bones are actually fusing together this time. Fun fact #2: only 5% of collarbone breaks don’t heal on their own the first time. Based on that depressing statistic, I guess I’m unique.
“But Skye, you’ve been competing and training and doing so well!”
You see, here’s the funny thing about pain: adrenaline will always kick in and make it seem like you’re more capable than you actually are. The problem comes when the adrenaline wears off. I’ve always had a high pain tolerance (look at my tattoos!) and in this case it worked in my favor, to a degree. After all, everyone has a breaking point. Because of my high pain tolerance, it took me longer to break than others. Yes, that means that I have been on the circuit with a broken bone, and yes, I was in pain the entire time, even if I wasn’t showing it. Some days were better than others, but lately it’s been hard to even put clothes on in the morning, let alone control one of my jumpers.
So, now what?
Well I have a new horse that needs a grueling flatwork course in order to be able to course around successfully. I still have a job, and I have this blog. Realistically, not a ton is changing, minus the fact that I’ll be learning from the ground for the next few months, working out on my own time, being one-handed for a month and a half, and trying to stay sane without being in the saddle. Wow, okay nevermind, those are some pretty big changes. Luckily for y’all, it means more blog posts and better content, so long as I can figure out how to type with one hand again.
For lack of a better way to end it: that’s what’s been going on.
See you after surgery,