Thursday, October 4, 2012

She's Gone Off The Deep End Rant...

So today I had to get an EMG, which stands for Electromyography, which tests your nerves' ability to transmit signals to your muscles.  Think of it this way: A technician attaches a couple of electrodes to you and then takes an instrument that is essentially a baby Taser and then proceeds to (repeatedly) shock you.  Sounds like fun, right? 

Why would I sign up for something as silly as this, you might ask?  Because I have had rank, ugly, nasty, debilitating, eat-painkillers-like-they-are-M&Ms kind of back pain for eons now, and we are trying to figure out why.  The pain is in mostly in my lower back/Sacroiliac Joint region, so I affectionately call it Giant Pain In The Ass Syndrome for lack of a definitive diagnosis.

Anyway, being shocked repeatedly makes me a bit testy, so when the technician and the doctor commented, for the third time, how dangerous riding is, I went slightly foaming-at-the-mouth feral.

"No more dangerous than driving on the highways of New Jersey." said I.  (Seriously, if you know anything about Jersey you know I'm not making this stuff up.)

My doctor's office is the orthopedic practice for an NFL team, one of the premier US Tennis tournaments, as well as several colleges and elite prep schools.  They are used to seeing elite athletes.  They are less used to seeing non-elite, borderline psychotic athletes.  They cannot understand why I continue to pursue my riding, even through significant pain.  Riding is clearly not my meal ticket and I am way too old to hope it will get me a scholarship, so they can't comprehend why I persist in what they consider irrational behavior.

"Most of your patients won't wind up in the NFL or playing in the US Open or the MLS or NHL.  Do you tell them to stop playing football/tennis/soccer/hockey?"  I ask.  Of course they don't. 

"But riding is risky.  You're so high up. It's so unpredictable" say my doctor, who, by the way, has jumped out of planes and bungee jumped off bridges.  Call me crazy, but I consider THAT irrational behavior and it's a hell of a lot farther to fall than off a horse, thank you very much. 

The thing that gets me the most, is that in many cases, they don't understand the biomechanics of riding.  They'll talk about concussion and how when they rode on the beach on their honeymoon their back was sore for days.  Umm, understood, yes, there are concussive forces, but you on your honeymoon and me with years of training are too different things. (At least, I fervently hope so.) They GET the physics of soccer/football/swimming/baseball/lacrosse, but they don't get the physics of riding.  By the way, one of the doctors is a big mountain biker.  Hello!!!!  Concussive forces, anyone?  Risky, maybe?

Yes, riding is risky.  So is driving.  So is flying.  So is football/hockey/soccer and basically life in general.  Yes, the rate of traumatic injury per hour ( according to Riders4Helmets) is the same as for motocyclists. So we do the best we can to minimize the risk.

So, to my most esteemed medical team:  Thank you for your care and advice. No, riding will never be my meal ticket.  But it is what makes me happy and keeps me sane.  So don't ask me to stop.  I'll do my best to minimize the risk, and if you could figure out what's wrong with my back I'd be grateful.  And until you do figure out what's wrong, please keep writing those prescriptions for pain killers/muscle relaxants/Lidocaine patches. 


  1. Did they find anything? I have been having HORRIBLE back pain for the past week, to the point that I was in tears on my way to work today because every bump I went over on the road was like somebody punching me in my lumbar. Oddly enough the only time I am in the least amount of pain is on the back of a horse!

  2. Have you ever tried a Chiropractor? I had HORRIBLE low back pain for most of my life. Like ... 800 mg of ibuprofen 3x a day pretty much every day kind of pain. When I ALSO got horrible pain in my neck so that I LITERALLY couldn't turn my head, a friend dragged me to her chiro. In 2 weeks, I had NEVER in my entire life felt better. My neck was perfect, my lower back for the first time I can literally remember did NOT hurt, even a little. Yes, I had to go a LOT for the first year. I was seriously out of whack. I had no health insurance, and my chiro gave me a "deal" where I paid something like $145 a month, and he would adjust me as much as 3 times a week for that. After the first year, I tapered off to once every 3 weeks, and now I'm currently (8 years later) on an "OW!" basis:) Right now, my low back is sending shooting pains up my spine, a SURE sign I need to go see him! My chiro does NOT crack my back. He uses a little hand held machine that gently taps the spine back into position. He's amazing, and if I had never gone I can guarantee I would have had disc surgery by now. So ... CHIROPRACTOR!!!

  3. Amen! I've been told the same thing, that riding is dangerous and horses are so unpredictable! Yes, yes it is, but so is driving to work every day, but I continue to do it any way. Riding keeps me sane, and you know what's more dangerous than riding? Me, not riding. :) Hope they figure out what's up with your back pain soon.

  4. What Jenn said... me not riding = homicidal maniac. Seriously I know, I didn't ride for a month or so and was questioning my sanity. I hope they figure out what's wrong but if not we'll just have to drink more wine. :)