I am just new to COTH though I've been lurking for awhile.
I have fibromyalgia and bought my first horse at the ripe age
Of 47. Mouse is a 13 yr old BLM Mustang. She had been a lawn ornament for several years at her previous owner. She has great foundational training, but suffers from what I believe to be hind gut acidosis that leads to bouts of moderate gas colic. In short about every so often she gets pain, I get tossed. The last time was two weeks ago and I landed on a cement pad on my left ribcage. So I'm sidelined till that heals. My reason for posting is to say I'm glad there are others that are out there that struggle with pain and ride anyway. With my fibromyalgia I fell off my own feet at least once or twice a month. Pain and weakness and numbness made me a Suzy Fallsalot. Riding has fixed my balance and strengthened my back and legs tremendously. Now the only time I fall is off the horse. It has also done amazing things for my mental stability. As most of you know, pain drains and depresses. Mouse clears my head, makes me focus, and just flat makes me laugh a lot. I logged zillions of miles on her this summer, alone on the dirt roads by my house. Fill a saddlebag and stare at the road between her ears for hours. I've been dismissed from my local riding group because they see her as a danger to me. Once I'm on, she is good to go. She has never bucked or spooked on trail, even when we get Dino ER by Walmart bags or rabbits out of bushes. She's bombproof. But I digress. She has saved my life. She has taught me more than I could ever tell, and if I was told I could never ride again, I would keep her. I would lunge and groom and teach her to dance to Newsboys music. I'm so glad I'm not alone. I'm so glad there are others that struggle and know where I'm coming from. I'm getting the "crazy lady" look from some people. "You have fibro? AND a HORSE?" (read, "What are you, HIGH?") I think the diagnosis should come with a horse.
Sometimes ya just gotta ask yourself, "What would Jim Bowie do?"
Oh geez. Negative nellies! I don't get that attitude. Am I supposed to lay in bed for the rest of my life?
I ride and show my horse in dressage. No I can't ride 6x a week hard. I have to plan carefully but I'm able to do a lot. I'm very affected by fibro but I figured I'll still be sore and tired at home too. Why not ride?
I am really pleased that you are both still able to ride. I know how a horse can "save" your life. But I had to quit riding, and found homes for my "biggies". I already had a mini, and found another one for a companian, which then had a foal, and they are the perfect companians for me. I have always enjoyed the grooming and caring for the horses as much as riding. Severe cramping in my groin-yes ladies have groins I discovered- so cannot get my leg over a saddle.
The little ones have little poos, and the activity of caring for small horses at home keeps me going, though it is exhausting. So that is how I cope with fibromyalgia.
I'm a lurker but thought I'd respond to this given how much fibro affects me.
I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease in my late teens. Other than raynaud's, joint pain and some fatigue, it really didn't bother me too much. However, things have been getting worse over the last several years, and the last two years have really kicked my butt. My rheumatologist thinks things may be evolving into lupus, but also that I have "a touch of fibromyalgia". Well, if what I'm experiencing is "a touch", I'm afraid of what this could turn in to.
My desk job makes me quite ill (horrible muscle pain, joint pain, exhaustion but unable to sleep), as does any stress in my life. Weather changes make it hard to get out of bed. I do have to force myself to do things, but I know I'll feel better if I keep moving. The horses and puttering about the barn keep me mobile and sane. I ride six days a week, with a couple of those spent hacking out.
I'm fit and well muscled, and not overweight, so people have a hard time seeing how much I suffer. (The classic "you don't look sick".)
Oh dear, yes, you don't look sick. I get that a lot. Most people don't know I have FM.
I have had good luck with mindfulness meditation, but yes, I too get worse in times of stress. Too bad I never get "good". Sigh.
I ride 4x a week avg, in dressage, but its tough to keep going. I get my butt kicked the next morning (I also work FT). I do really enjoy it though and have no plans to give it up. I'm sore/tired anyways, might as well ride.
I have Dysautonomia (Autonomic Dysfunction) and one of my many symptoms is Fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 14, but developed POTS symptoms at 15 and a numerous amount of other things.
I was bed ridden my entire junior year, until that March when I decided to spontaneously spend my life savings and buy my first horse. My parents (I was still a minor) only agreed on the terms we kept it at home, so that I would have to take care of it myself. Without getting her, I would have never gotten out of bed. I had no reason to push through the pain and recover. Fortunately for both of us, she was a rescue and needed an insane amount of TLC.
It's amazing what horses can do for us mentally and physically. I'm glad you have found something to help you cope.
Am new to the forum and have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Going back to riding lessons after being away from it for too long has helped in all the ways you mentioned. Very heartening to hear you describe the benefits.
I have fibro, and an autoimmune something or another that they think is lupus but aren't sure. I work full time, live in a miserable climate, and can only get to the barn four days a week if I'm lucky. Those four days are so important! They are what keep me going, even though I feel like crud I'm still going to go to the barn. One doc told me to just go on disability and get over it. Heck no! I will not! The act of driving to the barn makes me relax, and even if I am not doing well enough to ride I still groom and fuss over my pony and everyone else. Horses have been my first love in life from the time I was four years old, and they sustain me and my soul in a way nothing else can. Maybe some of us who have challenges we face appreciate our horses all the more?
Ugh. I am currently dealing with the whole "got a diagnosis, now we need to find an effective treatment program that works for YOU" phase. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease in August, and fibromyalgia in November. I hate the diagnosis because people who know anecdotes about it feel free to share, in their well-intentioned ways, how if I eat this way, I'll be cured; or, that's not a real diagnosis, you should see this person; or, my friend's sister has that, and she's able to work, why can't you?; or, of course, "But you look great!"
I've been off work (I'm a middle school teacher, at least, I hope I still am) since October, and they just extended my time off to April 1. The medication they've started has seemed to help the skull-piercing headaches, but ALL the other symptoms (and it's riDICulous how many they are) are still severely getting in my way. The fatigue (ha ha ha, what a laughable term for it), "fibro fog," tremors, weakness, vision changes, body aches, movement intolerance (joints start to stiffen and freeze up with repeated use--as in, oh, chewing), and tingling and numbness have just taken over me. Christmas was exceptionally rough because there was so much I wanted to do that I'm used to doing, and my body essentially gave me the finger and said, "No 'doing' for you! To the couch! NOW!" I managed to do some, but it was like...well, do I do laundry or wrap gifts? Do I go to the store for that gift, or do I bake? It's not that I couldn't do it all, it's that I could barely do half, if that much.
I finally cracked one night and just sobbed, sobbed, SOBBED because I want my body back. I don't want this to be forever. I don't want this to be my new normal. But there's no arguing with this, you know? It should get better--but HOW better?
I go to the barn when I can and have itty bitty rides on my boy a few days a week. It's always good for my mind as well as my body. Some days, curry combing is exhausting--muscles and joints freezing up, that whole thing--but some days, I can get on, and have a 20min ride that almost feels...normal.
I see a neurologist on Tuesday to explore the possibility of something else neurological going on. I'm still collecting new symptoms (WTH is that about?!); yesterday, I had numbness and heaviness in a limb for the first time. Today, I have muscle twitches all over when I lie down to rest. Again, WTH?
I have always been the go-getter, mega-type-A type, so this is very difficult for me to suddenly be unable to just DO DO DO like always, and push through fatigue/pain/stress like I always did. To be off work is both crushing and a relief. Each time the docs put me off (and they independently agreed I need to be), I started crying because it was frightening and so...REAL. But, I also knew how very necessary it was. again.
My most recent blog post is about enduring this mess, if you're interested in reading and perhaps nodding along.
I'm so sorry to hear about your diagnoses and symptoms, Lauruffian. I know what that laundry-list of ever-changing symptoms is like. So far, thankfully, I don't have an autoimmune illness, which is common with fibro/CFS, but women in my immediate family have autoimmune illnesses, and I'm wary about that/get tested regularly. I'm sorry to hear you're dealing with both and maybe something additional. It's hard enough getting off the couch just having fibro.
One fibro med helps my pain and mood, a migraine med helps, though the migraines are becoming more frequent. Couldn't tolerate the side-effects of another fibro med. I teach, too (college), and love it, but following pacing is challenging since I find it difficult setting limits when it comes to teaching. There's always more that could be done to make a lesson plan better, more I could comment on on papers, more things I could do to help a student. Teaching part-time helps me, but I'm still trying to figure out what kind of schedule and course-load works best and how to set realistic workload limits for myself.
Most of that work also takes place inside, as does being sick, while horseback riding gets me outside. Yoga and physical therapy helped, but I realized those were inside activities, at least where I live, and I needed to get outside. My legs can go numb during walking, my usual outdoor exercise--such a relief to be on a horse and know that if that happens he'll get me back. And I can sit while still being outside. It clears my mind in ways that help with the fibro and also forces me to stop thinking about teaching since I have to focus on what I'm doing and enjoying the outdoors. That, pacing, and saying no have been the things that have helped the most for me so far. But it hasn't been easy admitting I can't do everything I used to do and experiencing judgement from others and complete lack of understanding by many.
Though it's for CFS, the CFIDS Assoc. of America's website has helpful resources and some articles about dealing with the holidays and pacing that might help you feel better, I hope: http://www.solvecfs.org