Staying Positive When Frustration Sets In

Staying Positive When Frustration Sets In
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I’m exhausted.

I feel like I say that a lot, but it’s true. I’m physically tired, both from going nonstop and from being sore due to falling off my horse Cherry. I’m emotionally tired because I’m fed up with the fact that something as small as a broken finger can affect me so much.

Despite my efforts to be a positive person, I realize that sometimes we all have bad days, and that’s OK. I’ve found that it’s much better to express frustration in a healthy way and move on than to let it fester. Then I can go back to being my upbeat self.

Chronic fatigue is my nemesis. As I’ve said many times before, if I could choose one thing about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) to get rid of, it would be chronic fatigue, hands down. I’d rather deal with physical soreness than constantly feeling tired. As much of a no-brainer and as ironic as it sounds, being constantly tired is exhausting.

Cherry has been doing amazingly well in rehab after fracturing her foot last May. She’s been on limited turnout and a restricted exercise program for over six months. She has been so well behaved during this time, and I can’t really blame her for reaching the end of her patience with all of the rehab she’s doing. I’m frustrated, and I’ve only been in rehab for five weeks. She’s been in it for months!

Last weekend, a group from my barn went to another farm about two hours away to practice cross-country jumping, which entails jumping solid obstacles in the open. Cherry loves cross-country, and while I’ve taken her out without letting her jump during rehab, this time, she’s much more fit and close to returning to full work.

As a result, she was pretty upset that I wouldn’t let her gallop and jump like the other horses. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the best idea to take her — it was like letting a kid go to a birthday party and telling them they can’t play the games, eat the cake, or enjoy time with friends. It’s just not going to end well.

A good cross-country horse enjoys their job, as Cherry certainly does. As we were walking and trotting around the fields, she kept locking on to fences, and I had to keep telling her no. She wasn’t happy about that, but she listened. Then, she saw a jump and really wanted to break into a gallop and take it, but I told her no. She immediately expressed her frustration by giving a big buck that sent me flying.

Usually, this type of thing probably wouldn’t have unseated me, but because of the broken finger on my right hand, I couldn’t hold the reins. To keep a horse from bucking, you prevent them from lowering their head. But because of my hand, I couldn’t stop her when she did. She bucked in frustration, and I landed on the grass in a pile of poop. Yep, I totally did.

That made me incredibly frustrated. While a broken finger is a pretty small part of a person, it’s amazing how much impact it has, mostly because you have to protect the entire hand to protect the finger. I’m not someone who takes “no” very well, and I have a tendency to plow through physical issues that get in my way. I’m too stubborn to let EDS keep me from doing what I want to do. That doesn’t really work when you have six screws and a plate in your hand.

So, I got pretty upset. I’ve been working with Cherry through rehab for months, and the moment she gets cleared, I injure my hand. Now I’m the one holding us back.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal. I’ll be fine, eventually. Cherry’s fracture looks great on X-rays, and she’s comfortable and moving well. But even the most positive person will have their moments, and I’ve come to realize that it’s OK. Getting upset doesn’t mean you’re not positive, it means you’re human. Positivity is the ability to avoid dwelling in negative space, but it doesn’t mean you never go there at all!

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Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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