An Unintentional Christmas Vacation
I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful holiday! We had a fantastic time with family, and Dino got some pretty sweet presents - including a Fleeceworks halfpad and a lovely soft finishing brush.
And Max got a new squeaky toy:
On the riding/training front, not a lot of either of those activities has been going on. I've finally kicked my awful cold and the weather's cleared up, but a few days ago my back went out, so I'm on the bench again. And now you, dear readers, get to learn about the human spine!
I have a condition called Degenerative Disc Disease, which sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. You can check out the link for a super in-depth article about it, or just read my Reader's Digest version.
In between the bony vertebrae of your spine, there are discs. Discs are squishy little blobs of cartilage and other fun stuff. You can think of them like a jelly donut. They help support, connect, stabilize, and cushion the bones of your spine and generally keep the spine doing its thang the way it's supposed to.
When a disc begins to degenerate, it loses its little jelly donut shape. That's when the fun begins! Since the disc is no longer doing its job, all hell breaks loose in the spine. Nerves that shouldn't be touched get touched, inflammation starts up, and sometimes your body will initiate muscle spasms in an attempt to put your spine back where it should be.
This results in severe pain in the back, hips, and legs. Nerve pain: the gift that keeps on giving.
Thankfully, my DDD doesn't cause any issues 95% of the time. But when a flare-up occurs, it's pretty debilitating. While I can generally do everything I normally do, it's at the speed of an 85-year-old grandma. And it hurts. A lot. I've never been repeatedly stabbed in the spine with a sharp, pointy object, but I like to think I've got a pretty good idea of what that feels like. Unfortunately, this kind of pain makes riding just about impossible.
And lifting water buckets, and throwing hay, and lunging, and even just turning out horses is a serious challenge.
The good thing about Degenerative Disc Disease is that it's not technically degenerative, nor is it really a disease. Because of the way the degeneration process works, the faulty disc actually slowly stiffens over time, reducing the movement and inflammation that cause pain. So by the time I'm 50, flare-ups should be rare. Yay!
And while there's not much one can do when a disc flare-up occurs, keeping fit and keeping the core muscles strong can go a long way to lessen and even eliminate the chronic pain that comes with DDD.
So, now you've had your human spine disease lesson of the day!