I May Be Stubborn, but I Don’t Let EDS Hold Me Back

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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I wrote about it in a previous column, but seriously, how did summer go by so quickly?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll be thrilled when fall and winter get here — I’d rather have cold weather than hot any day — but it seems as if the summer’s passed in a flash. Students are returning to school, and this will be my fifth year as a college counselor. So much has changed during that time, while some things have stayed the same.

When I first started my job here, I had two horses, Artica and Indigo, and two newly rescued kittens, Stuart and Harvey. I didn’t have any dogs, and my barn was about 15 minutes from my house. Artica, who I’ve written about in previous columns, was a crucial support for me in accepting my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and deciding that I wasn’t going to let it stop me. I mean if he could fuse an entire joint in his leg and still be happy-go-lucky, why couldn’t I?

I don’t think I’ve mentioned Indy before, but he was a young horse I had for five years until it was obvious that we weren’t the right match. No amount of time, training, or patience could seem to mesh our personalities into a successful partnership. After a careful screening process, my trainer and close friend helped to find him a new home where he’s a much better fit.

Then it was time for me to find a new riding horse and rebuild my confidence, which was pretty shaky after working with Indy. Feeling like I couldn’t get through to him had taken its toll. Additionally, I’d had several falls that were far worse than they should have been because of my EDS. I had a strong fear of getting hurt at this point, and finding the right match for me was essential.

A few months before I sold Indy, I lost Arti suddenly. I was devastated. As it was clear that Indy and I were not going to be together in the long term, Artica’s death was the catalyst for Spotty to come into my life. He was supposed to be my “temporary horse” while I searched for a new one, but after several failed vettings with other horses, I realized that the horse I was meant to have was standing right in front of me. I was still emotionally raw from losing Arti, and that type of stress worsens the physical issues of EDS. With a little cajoling, I convinced Spotty’s owner to sell him to me, and I’m so thankful that she agreed.

Spotty reminded me of how much I loved riding and helped me to regain my confidence. While Indy could be a prankster and difficult to handle, Spotty is about as laid-back and unflappable a horse as I’ve seen. While I was looking forward to a long career with Spotty, sometimes life has other plans. He’s still a wonderful, sweet soul who is stuck with me forever. I ride him almost daily, despite adding Cherry to the family back in April. And with Cherry, I feel like my confidence has fully returned. While I’ll always be a cautious rider because of my EDS, my fear no longer sits over me like a shadow.

Now I have Spotty, Stuart, and Harvey, and have also added my dog, Tanner, and Cherry to the mix. I’ve also had an incredible four months with my hospice dog, Woody. I’ve been promoted twice at work, learned how to drive a tractor, helped to bale hay, and had some very interesting experiences with four-legged farm animals of all kinds.

In short, I don’t let my EDS keep me from doing what I want to do. It may take a different horse, extra help, or time, but if EDS is the only thing holding me back, I’ll do everything in my power to find a way around it.

Some people might call me stubborn, and they’d be right. But in the midst of dealing with a chronic disorder, stubborn is a positive word, not a derogatory one.


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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


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