“It may be the horses.” The rheumatologist looked me and I realized he was serious. “My family had horses when I was growing up in the Emirates. I know horses.” He was telling me that my extremely rare remission from Systemic Scleroderma could be due to my relationship with horses. I didn’t know what to say but perhaps he is right.
Every year I go to the Scleroderma Clinic at Mt. Sinai hospital and that is where I was today. I was diagnosed 22 years ago with this auto immune disease. For the first two years I was badly affected: all my joints were sore and swollen, my skin tightened up like thick plastic all over my body, my stomach was affected with telengiectasia ( tiny blood vessels rise to the surface of the stomach lining and often bleed). In the second year after my diagnosis my daughter started to ride horses. I had ridden when I was younger and only stopped when I was in university. I decided to join my daughter and ride again despite the fact that I often had difficulty just walking. I got on a horse and it was like I had never stopped riding. When I was riding I was a horse person and not a patient with Scleroderma.
Two years later I was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer. Radiation treatment was not possible due to the Scleroderma and the type of cancer I had did not trespond to chemotherapy. The only reatment was a major surgery and I was in hospital for ten days. Six weeks after the surgery I was back riding.
The symptoms of the scleroderma began to receed. After a year there were only some very minor sypmtoms that I still have today. The medical professionals have no answer as to why I have had such a dramatic remission. I go every year to be checked and the specialists want me to keep coming as they hope that one day they will have some way of testing me to find out how to help others with this dreadful disease. It is crippling, disfiguring and life shortening.
Was it the horses? Perhaps….
This remission has given me more than 20 years of life without the disabling effects of this disease. It has allowed me to experience much happiness.
My husband and I saw our children grow up and become independent adults. This past summer when my daughter got married, at our house, we were all together as a family which does not happen too often as our son lives in England. It was a wonderful day.
A friend once told me you can only be as happy as your least happy child. So happiness is having my children happy.
If horses are the medicine that has made me well then happiness is being able to ride and enjoy my relationship with these wonderful animals.
This has been my response to the Lens-Artists Photo Challege #22 Happiness is…. I admit that have cheated because none of these photos were taken by me. The photo of me and my horse Biasini is by Susan Stickle and the wedding photos are by Alison Hadley.
But wait…here are some snaps taken on my Samsung phone out hacking on a cold and sunny day with a friend.
For Biasini happiness is going hacking.