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Not Quite Out to Pasture

By Cindy Hale | Monday, October 1, 2012

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I know it’s been a while since I posted here, and I apologize. I’ve gotten more than a few queries asking, “Where’s Cindy? Is she okay?”

While I’d prefer to say that I’ve been out of contact due to some glorious, grand adventure—like trekking across the Tyrolean Alps aboard Franz, my hardy Haflinger stallion—that hasn’t been the case. Instead I’ve been dealing with a health problem. And darn, it has nothing to do with that nasty jumping accident oh so many years ago.

Instead, this is a health problem I was born with. It’s called Common Variable Immune Deficiency Syndrome or CVID. Don’t bother Googling it unless you’re fascinated with medical jargon. I’ll just summarize by explaining that a healthy immune system keeps you from succumbing to the bacteria lurking in that room-temperature mayonnaise you just slathered on your cheeseburger. And I don’t have a healthy immune system.

Beyond the tummy upsets, my CVID has led to far more profound consequences. Most memorable was the decade-long infection in the bones of my face and skull. That started innocently enough when I had my wisdom teeth extracted. Gee, thanks a lot Madam Tooth Fairy.

Since no vitamin or special elixir (sold via late night infomercial) can rejuvenate my immune system, I must resort to other measures. In the past, a nurse came to my house each month and administered antibodies directly into my bloodstream. I stopped that regimen once my health stabilized. This time around things have changed. Now I’m doing the infusions, aided by my mom, who fortunately happens to be The World’s Best (retired) Nurse.

Another change from my past infusion days is that I must do this every week. I fill a 35cc syringe with human antibodies that arrive pre-packaged in sterile bottles. Then I hook up some IV tubing, attach that to a trio of inch-long needles, stab myself three times in the stomach, flip the trigger on a little hand-held pump, and let the goo flow. Mentally I retreat to my Happy Place, which at this time is back-to-back episodes of “Judge Judy”.

The worst part isn’t sticking myself with the needles, it’s feeling crummy for a couple of days afterward as my body sifts through antibodies contributed by anonymous blood donors. Apparently my body deems some to be uninvited guests. It’s also unsettling to open my refrigerator and see vials of antibodies sitting on the top shelf. Somehow it never bothered me to store horse vaccines alongside the butter, but finding evidence of my physical limitations next to the lemonade is unsettling.

If I come off as whining or complaining, that is not my intent. I feel blessed that I have a health problem that can be addressed and managed. I think of myself as a reliable show horse that happens to have a few physical quirks. Just give me my Legend shots, my daily dose of joint supplements, and wrap my legs at night. I’ll be fine. Tack me up, trot me into the show ring and I’ll win another ribbon.

What I cannot do, however, is write regularly. I simply don’t feel well enough. In fact, I often don’t feel well enough to ride regularly. Since riding and being around horses is what prompts me to get out of bed each morning, you know I’m anxious to get better. So I’ll add to this blog whenever I can. In horse terms, I’m not quite out to pasture. Consider me relegated to stall rest and hand-walking.

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Reader Comments

cc    Provo, UT

7/15/2013 3:49:15 PM

I admire that you feel grateful during this time. I hope by now you're feeling better!

Rebecca    Mount vale, NJ

12/25/2012 3:23:26 PM

Bless you I hope everything is all right now!

Janine    San Luis Obispo, CA

12/9/2012 10:44:27 PM

I'm so sorry about this news, Cindy. Take heart, life could be so much worse. Glad that you have a manageable issue and I do hope you are feeling better soon and back in the saddle. I'll be praying for you~

Rene    Wrightsville, GA

12/4/2012 5:54:00 PM

I'm sorry to read you are having to endure this disease/illness. I'll say a prayer for you. Horses saved me when I was a young girl, & Cookie is the best in the world! Somehow, horses are the missing medicine in our lives. Stall rest isn't so bad... as long as you realize at some point, it's no longer stall rest. ;) Love life & horses & count your everyday blessings.

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