It's been a very busy month or so here at Cascade Gold. I had ankle surgery on August 21st, where they found a big tear and several adhesions. Happily, they fixed them up and said I should end up back around 100% on that leg. That will be amazing, as I've struggled (ignored) this problem for years. This year though, it came home to roost.
Last year's "medical adventure" put me on 'stall rest' for about 7 months (breast cancer surgery and radiation), so I started 2012's conditioning behind the curve. We did our conditioning, moving up from walking in the arena to trotting/cantering 3 or so hours on the trails. In past years, that has been enough to get me and Galen ready to go for our first LD of the season. Ahh....the glories of age!
We went to our first LD, Home on the Range, at the end of March. We went at a conservative pace, as we had Danny there for his first ride and I wasn't sure that I was really in top shape. This turned out to be not so good for me, as when we came into the first vet check and I got off, I thought I'd somehow broken my ankle. I suspect that is when I did the big tear they found during surgery. Now, a SMART person would have Rider Optioned right then, but I'm an endurance rider (or right now, an LD rider), so I took a bunch of advil, found someone to trot Galen through the vet (thank you Monica) and continued on. By the end of the ride, I wasn't a happy camper, but we finished and more advil and a bunch of beer made it bearable.
We kept conditioning and I decided on a new strategy for our next rides - go faster to spend less time in the saddle! Galen has the years of conditioning, so he's all for this. So, I went out fast and Monica and Danny went at a reasonable pace. This strategy worked fairly well, as we got 11th at Mt. Adams (would have been around 8 or 9, but I couldn't get off to walk him in and it took a few minutes to pulse down), 3rd at Grizzly and 10th at Klickitat. All good right?
Well, Klickitat had a few routing issues and we ended up doing around 37 miles. I think 25 would have been ok, but that last 10 miles I had to have Galen walk most of it, as my leg was screaming. No doubt it was saying something like "You idiot, listen to me!'. In fact, I know it was. We came in and I was so sure I was way down in placings that I didn't even ask where I was, although we came in 10th. Galen was NOT happy about that boring walking in and let me know it. I had big blisters on my hands that night. Both of us were a bit disgruntled at the final vet check. Once again, I was a grade 3 or 4 lame and I had to ask someone (thank you John!) to trot Galen out. But, good drugs and more beer and I was soon feeling fine.
But, it finally did sink in that my leg wasn't getting better, so off to surgery I went. We had tried some injections (nope, didn't help much) and I had tons of tests, where nothing showed up. But, as my leg man said "We'll see what we find when we open you up". And they did find something - a big longitudinal tear on the tendon and a bunch of adhesions. All that was fixed and now it's just the boring aftermath - no weight bearing, physical theraphy and lots of time with my leg in the air. But, he tells me that if I do my physical theraphy, I should be back to 100% sooner or later. I'm really looking forward to that, because I plan that next year will see us moving back up to 50s and doing lots of rides (the original plan THIS year).
It did make me think though, as we get older, we can't skate by on the 'sort of' conditioning we used to. Or, maybe that is just me...I do tend to think that 6-8 hours of farm work a day along with conditioning SHOULD be enough to get everything working right. But, what works at 40 obviously doesn't work quite as well at 50. Sadder (and sorer), but wiser!
So, if there is a moral to be found here, what would it be? Don't expect what worked 10 years ago to work now? Take better care of yourself as you get older? Or maybe, don't be so dang stubborn and ignore obvious issues. I have plenty of time to think about it.