I am currently on stall rest.
As an (overly) active woman who is always on the go, this has not been the most delightful time of my existence.
Thankfully, so very thankfully, this is temporary. I am blessed to be a remarkably healthy person, and I truly give thanks for that daily. I’m at the age where I see friends, relatives and colleagues dealing with health concerns that are not as simple as mine. While I feel a hint of annoyance regarding my current slow status, I realize my troubles are small.
What was not small, however, was the giant uterine fibroid that was removed from my body on Nov. 1. Along with that, I elected to have a hysterectomy, as the only thing my uterus liked to do was grow humongous tumors. Not shockingly, my fibroid was the largest my surgeon had ever seen. My reproductive organs apparently follow my general life plan of “go big or go home.” Entirely unnecessary, and yet, entirely on brand.
I had been putting off this procedure for years, with my doctor’s blessing. The notion of taking six to eight weeks off from work was rather staggering, and with manageable symptoms, I elected to wait. Until waiting simply was not an option anymore. Early this fall, the beast had run out of space. I was constantly needing to pee, and the mass pressed aggressively against my hipbones and ribs. Plus, I could barely squeeze into my riding pants, which grew more and more snug as the weeks wore on.
I told my doctor from the beginning that as soon as she said I needed to move forward with surgery, that I would. Thus, in early September when she confirmed a significant increase in the fibroid’s growth (gross) and told me I needed to suck it up and cut it out, I did not hesitate.
That’s a small lie. I did hesitate for a hot minute. Somehow, at almost 42 years old I have never needed surgery, a remarkable feat for sure. I had my share of concerns, most of which had nothing to do with reality and everything to do with my anxiety-triggered fear of the unknown. Thankfully, from the moment I met my surgeon, I knew she was going to do an amazing job.
So long story short(-ish). I had a robotic hysterectomy and fibroid removal on Nov. 1. They knocked me out in mid-sentence and I awoke almost six hours later laughing hysterically and talking about my dog. (Like a complete weirdo!) They kicked me out a couple hours later, and then my stall rest began in earnest. I spent about 48 hours stuck in super slow-mo mode of weird sore post op sluggishness, and then began to gallop forward in my recovery at a pretty impressive rate. Which brings us to today, where I am still carving out time each day to put my feet up, read and snuggle my dog Ellie, but man am I ready to get back to work!
If I was a horse, I would probably need to have a big dose of ace daily at this point, as I have had about enough of the quiet life. I have followed orders pretty religiously, as I do wish to heal up swiftly
THAT BEING SAID….. Get me out of here!
After my day or two of moping along, feeling iffy (and six pounds lighter, thank you very much), I was immensely thankful the whole procedure went very well, and that the pathology report came back looking perfect. But let’s be honest, a person never feels their best when a ridiculously giant growth is unceremoniously extracted through a small incision in one’s belly button. (Again, gross. Amazing, but gross.)
Over the years, I have had a few chances to rehab horses after injury or illness and, as such, can easily sum up where I am at in terms that horse people can fully understand:
• I would be a horse who kicks the stall down within two days of being held captive. I would definitely need a tiny turnout so that I could soak up the sun and pretend that I had all the freedom in the world.
• I would also be a horse who would occasionally have a mini spaz attack in said turnout. I would definitely let out a few good bucks, then dramatically regret my choice (which is something that horses do NOT do).
• When on pain meds I would lie around sickly, moaning to the point that you’d consider calling the vet. The vet would tell you to discontinue the meds, and then I would bounce right up (and kick the walls….)
• When hand walking became part of the routine, you would need a lunge line, a helmet and probably more ace. I would be a horse transformed into a kite, which (as a human) is possibly my least favorite thing.
I essentially am at the “hand walking” phase of recovery right now. I’m back to teaching some lessons, which is wonderful, as the lazy life is not for me. I’m able to take some good walks, which sounds great but is literally the most boring thing for me. I’m a runner and a hiker, and live for adventure. Walking up the street, after Day One of recovery, was no longer the thrill that I sought. (Though, to be fair, it WAS a thrill that first day. I walked 0.1 mile in about 20 minutes, and it felt like a marathon.)
Thankfully, I’m able to do more and move more daily and will be back on the horses before Christmas. I’m sure I will feel just horrible at riding the first few times. (Stay tuned for blogs about my very rusty and triumphant return…) This whole ordeal has made me even more thankful for my good health than I ever have been. I’m reminded daily that health is not something to take for granted, and that I am lucky that this was an easily remedied situation. I’m also very grateful that I had expert guidance through this journey, and an amazing support system both at work and at home.
I also have realized that even though gynecological conditions, and especially fibroids are incredibly common, they are rarely discussed outside of the doctor’s office. It can be stressful dealing with issues like this, and feeling like you are alone. You are not alone!!! If you have questions, are dealing with similar issues, or just want a little female support, please don’t hesitate to message me on my Instagram. I have already connected with so many people about this, and I’m always willing to chat (and I’m not shy about sharing my story)!
I’m Sara Bradley, a full-time dressage trainer, currently resisting stall rest, from the lovely state of Maine. Most of my time is spent educating young horses and young riders at my facility, Waterford Equestrian Center. (And yes, I do like to instruct mature horses and humans as well, and have some lovely ones in my stable!)
When I’m not busy juggling the day-to-day activities at my farm (or resting up, per Doctor’s orders) I enjoy activities like trail running over actual mountains and running marathons. (Life in the slow lane is not my style!) I enjoy many dressage adventures with my German Riding Pony, Dubai’s Dream, and you can follow this journey on Instagram @dubais_dream.