A Human On Stall Rest, Vol. II: Hand-Walking

The subject of an Amateur’s Corner interview in 2021, Elena Perea is an Emergency Room physician who balances work, family life, and competing in Area II. In her latest blog, she brings some unfortunate chronicles on the trials of being a human on stall rest. To read Vol. I, click here.

Photo by Elena Perea.

I feel a little bit like a Star Trek episode. “Star Date whatever the hell day it is and I’m still in this stupid sling.” #nerdalert.

The shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore, I am sleeping more or less normally, and my resting heart rate has recovered to something less than a rodent’s. I am going to physical therapy twice a week, and my terrorist-I-mean-therapist says I’m where I’m supposed to be. When you think of PT, generally you think of throwing balls and lifting weights; I’m stuck lying on a table letting her passively move my arm while I tell dumb jokes and swear.

I own a prelim horse. Beezie went to Jumping Branch (by the way—awesome job, new Jumping Branch property owners/course designer/volunteers! Jumps were beautiful, course was great, everything went smoothly). It was supposed to be a good move-up, but ended up being fairly stout. She gained the nickname “Perfect Princess” in Durr Eventing’s world, and lived up to it. While she will always struggle to get her shoulder up (“I was bred to race, not do this fancy prancing nonsense”—you can literally see it in her eyes), she will also always try her crooked little blaze off. The stadium jumping involved some galloping, which was a good warm-up for the XC, which she looked like she has been doing for years. She beat some nice horses and finished top half of the pro division.

It was sort of fun because I got videos and texts from friends.“She looks amazing!” “She’s so confident!” “You are going to have such a great time with her when you get back in the irons!” JM’s parent-teacher conference (his term, made me laugh out loud) was similarly reassuring, full of ideas for how to make the come-back easier on my bum wing, etc. And we entered her in two more Prelims.

JM Durr competing Beezie. Photo by Christine Quinn Photography.

There is no doubt she will be experienced and confident when I’m able to ride again… but what if I can’t ride her? Not because she’s too hot, but simply because I lost a step? The anxiety surrounding my slow progress is pretty overwhelming sometimes, perhaps slightly compounded by the fact that my horse is 1) perfect and 2) talented. I once took 3 years away from riding when I was raising tiny humans, but that was different, and I was 10 years younger. Then, I didn’t have an agenda or a horse, while now I have both. I have no doubt Beez will be patient with me, but will I be patient with myself?

Staying in the moment, practicing mindfulness, has been key to not going down that dark hole of “what ifs.” For right now, she’s home, friends are helping me keep her ridden, and I get to kiss her as often as she will tolerate. Winston Churchill was good for a quote, and I think my favorite one right now is “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” I get to start hand walking soon–next week, I get out of the sling and can officially drive. I’ll need some help to hook up and unhook the trailer, but I’m taking Beez to Sporting Days (for JM to ride), and get to see her do her thing in real time. I’ll get to watch the William Fox Pitt clinic, see the Eventing Showcase, catch up with friends, all on a longer leash, but still tethered.

Hopefully the next update will include tack walking.