31 Days of MS: My Horse Remains the Unbroken Center of My Life
Day 31 of 31
This is Anna Sochocky’s (annasochocky.com) story:
“The MRI shows lesions on your brain and the upper part of your cervical spine, which explains the numbness throughout your body and the limited function on your right side,” my new neurologist announces. “I am sorry to tell you that the lesions indicate multiple sclerosis.”
I twist a tissue I cannot feel into a knot. When it disintegrates, I drum my numb fingers on the armrest. Rapid onsets of tears dry then moisten as another wave of recognition consumes me.
“The good news is that what you are feeling or not feeling is a result of inflammation of the myelin sheath covering your nerves. The inflammation can be pressed into submission, however, with a series of intravenous steroid injections, which I have scheduled for you.” He pauses to unzip his hunter green fleece vest and peers at me through his bottle-shaped John Lennon glasses, allowing time for this additional information to sink in.
I am drowning in a whirlwind of incomprehensible information about drugs and infusions, statistics, and referrals, and yet, the only question that matters to me is: will I ever be able to ride again?
Nearly three months after my diagnosis, I return to the barn, vowing that my new reality won’t steal my equestrian act from me. Going through the repetitive practices of grooming, saddling, and bridling my horse boosts my confidence, especially when my faith threatens to seep away. I cannot feel the contours of brushes or combs and rely on my sight to help me. My horse revels in the fact that grooming takes twice as long. Lifting the saddle to my horse’s back agitates the persistent MS hug around my core, but I believe that each movement builds my strength.
In the early days of my return to the barn, I spend hours watching my horse navigate herd relationships in the field. After riding, I watch my horse’s lips scoop up bites of hay in his stall.
Eleven years after the bottom of my world disintegrated, I’ve learned to live with multiple sclerosis and created my own therapy plan with my horse as the unbroken center of my life.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.