As I ran in the indoor ring on this chilly New Year’s Day, I wondered if I can truly run for God this year? I was scheduled to run a virtual 5K last year, but days before I fractured three ribs when another’s horse bolted right after I mounted him. I fell of before I knew it. His saddle did not fit and he had a sore back and a very tender spot from an old injury, none of which I knew at the time. Now I know I will never, ever ride a horse who does not have a properly fitting saddle again. I also know to be on guard even if the horse is a schoolmaster, as he was.
He taught me a great lesson. This one “who would be king” gave me an experience I will never forget. Just days before, Fr. Bart at St. Anthony’s in Laurel, Montana gave a homily on Our Lady of Fatima on the 100th anniversary of her appearance. He emphasized the prayers and while I knew them and used them already, it was a first for me to hear a Catholic priest preach about Fatima at a Mass. I was taught them by Elizabeth Clare Prophet and they are in the prayer book she published, as well as the story of Our Lady’s appearances recounted in books she wrote.
The message of making sacrifices came in extremely handy in the next week when I broke my ribs. After coming off of the 17 Hand Warmblood–about 6 feet from the ground–I led him to the round pen and got back on him there to contain him more in case he tried it again. I have had it drilled into me that if you fall off, you get right back on–even if only for a moment. So, I did. I knew then that I had broken ribs because it hurt to breathe. I did not stay on long because I wasn’t sitting square anyway and I knew I needed to get x-rayed. So, I unsaddled him and led him back to his paddock, up a hill and back and got in my car and drove to the emergency department.
They x-rayed me and wanted to take a urine sample to check to see if my kidneys were damaged. I had a debate with the attending doctor about getting a shot for pain. I did not want it. He said it would help with inflammation. I said, I have a brain disorder I need to best preserve brain functioning and I do not want narcotics. He told me it was not a narcotic but a local anti-inflammatory, so I let him give it to me. He did not try to give me pain meds because I guess he knew I did not want them, but he said that someone would call me the next day to see if I needed anything, including pain relief, I suppose.
He told me I could wear a rib belt when I was caring for horses, including feeding. Other than that, I was not to wear it because restricting breathing can cause pneumonia. That is why they recommend pain management.
Well, I just decided that I would put to use the Fatima prayers of offering up sacrifices for a Higher Good. So, with broken ribs, it hurts every time you breathe. That is just the reality. I practiced deep breathing that I learned originally from a Sister at Sacred Heart High School who taught yoga. I also said the prayer Our Lady gave, “O Jesus, this is for the love of thee, for the conversion of sinners and for reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” I prayed that prayer a whole lot. It did not take the pain away; it just helped me cope with it by believing it could be used for a higher purpose.
When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my rib belt, as I was leaving, a neatly dressed man said to me that he was wearing a rib belt, too. He said he tried not wearing it but he would put it back on because of the pain. Also, he was there for his pain meds which he also tried to go off of but he started to feel the need for them again, so he was back. I could see he was jonesing. He was a dear, respectable man who attended the local evangelical church in the town where I live. I thought to myself, this is how it all begins. This is where the opiate crisis originates. I told myself I cannot afford to go down that road.
For one thing, opiates would be sure to cause my brain to become more disordered. I was sure of that and I also did not want to become addicted. I already have an addict’s brain and it is the last thing I needed.
I knew I could probably legitimately take time off of my job of feeding another’s horse. I had a good excuse. Every step was painful on uneven surfaces and it was an unpaved dirt road I needed to walk on to feed. I just told myself to get through it, and I offered it up, again.
The woman whose horse I had been riding kept trying to get me to take Ibuprofen but I did not want to and I didn’t. I have read about research that even taking that common remedy can decrease empathy, as studied in college students. It also is not ideal for bone regrowth either.
My doctor said I was the only person he knows who has gone through broken ribs without pain medications. I give all glory to God and the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima and great gratitude to Fr. Bart Stevens for his most useful of homilies. I am also grateful to the equine schoolmaster–the first horse who has seriously hurt me–to drive home the lessons I must have needed to learn. I skipped confession that Thursday which is the only day it is offered in the town I live to ride both him and Mel. Mel was a delight that day but it would be many weeks before I could ride him again and be able to sit squarely and evenly and be effective as a rider. I missed a good part of the summer’s riding because I did not go to confession that day. I realized that if I go to confession every week, I may eventually not have to be in therapy. That is my goal.
Now I have a story to tell, as well, about addiction and the opioid crisis. Just as Saul of Tarsus was thrown from his horse and converted to St. Paul, I pray that I be raised up to spread the Good News about bearing one’s cross through Our Lady’s intercession. Her prayers work and they are free and simple and easy. May this message travel far and wide because many are dying needlessly in this epidemic. Karl Marx’s dismissal of religion as the “opiate of the masses” may not be valid; instead, I affirm that at Mass, we can learn to do without opiates.
This is not just religion, though, but a spirituality, as evidenced by the fact that it is used in a church other than the Catholic Church. These prayers are available to anyone and you do not have to be a Catholic, so it is not promoting religion per se, but a spiritual approach to pain management. I remain a Messianic Jew, although I have been re-baptised and confirmed as a Catholic. I prayed the holy rosary before I became a Catholic as well as the Fatima prayers. It does not violate the separation of Church and State because the prayers are not confined to the Catholic Church. Just as the Lord’s Prayer is prayed at the end of every Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, so could these prayers be utilized by those of any faith or none. Here is to Our Lady’s Blue Army of recovery to triumph in this year 2018! May my pain be for Divine gain and may I be able to be a Freedom Rider for the Faithful and True spreading the message of liberation from the enslavement of addictions, the Death Rider that stalks the country…and may this blog on this New Year begin my life as a Freedom Writer, as well, God willing…