That hairy tarantula crawling around the ranch the other morning would have, by definition, freaked out anyone who suffers from has arachnophobia, a fear of spiders. While it was basking in the sun behind a tire’s worn treads, I so wanted to put it in my palm and pet it, but before I knew it, someone had scooped it up into a bucket and displaced it into a secluded grassy area, away from me and the lethal parking lot.
And come to think of it, one of the last times I impulsively picked up a feral, furry animal, it bit me. Thankfully, that scraggly rat did not have rabies, or I would have been whisked away to the nearest hospital receiving treatment for rabies which, at the time, included 21 injections, with very long needles, into my 10-year-old abdomen.
I am not afraid of 8-legged creatures, but after reading yesterday’s news, I just might reconsider my position. “Invisible Bugs In Kansas City Are Jumping Out of Trees to Bite People, read the headline of the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, it is oak tree itch mite season in Kansas City, MO and these microscopic arachnids are pouring out of trees and landing on people, making their lives an itchy living hell. Arachnophobes-beware! Don’t hang out under oak trees in Missouri.
Oak Tree Mite
The next news story, Creepy Clown Craze Sweeps the Globe, peaked my interest. I do not suffer from a fear of clowns (coulrophobia)…yet, but if I keep reading the news, I may have to ask for a lifetime prescription for Valium.
While we are on the subject of phobias, here is how I addressed my new-found support group of phobic cohorts: “Hey everyone. My name is Elizabeth and I’m afraid of inclines.” Inclines? Yes, inclines, also referred to as slopes, ramps, hills, gradients, or ascents. “Welcome, Elizabeth,” they all chanted in a monotone kind of way.
There is a word for my malady. It’s called bathmophobia. For over a decade, this phobia has severely limited my ability to function well in this world. I avoid walking on even the gentlest of slopes. I’ll walk backward up a hill, but no way will I attempt to walk forwards. Sounds weird, right? Well, if you’ve ever seen me walking backward up the jetway to the airport terminal, it looks even weirder. People stare, make jokes, avoid eye contact and get irritated at my slowness. Generally, I ignore people by pretending to be pulling a very heavy, wheeled carry-on, or feign looking for the rest of my family who has already escaped to the terminal so as not to be associated with me.
20 years of chronic foot pain can mess you up a bit. Over the years my brain has learned to avoid potentially noxious stimulus. Protecting the area of the body that hurts is a normal response, one which is deleterious if left to linger for an extended amount of time. Muscles, tendons, and fascia tighten, and rigidity sets in. My gait has changed. There is little heel to toe motion. My calves are tight. I’ve been walking as if I had big blocks of ice on my already very large, size 11 feet-bang, bang, bang. You can hear me coming for miles away. And you wonder why you never see me in a dress!
Up until now, I’ve been half-heartedly facing my bathmophobia. Like everything else in my life, if the consequences are not dire, the task or challenge will most likely remain at the bottom of my never-ending list. Here’s the thing – Gilles and I own horses who have to move to a new pasture soon, a pasture where I will be faced with a 6 percent grade incline. Oh my……
A little bit about Athos: He is more canine than equine. Initially, Athos belonged to Yohan who discontinued riding because of CMT-related fatigue and pain. Then, I started looking after him and he quickly became my primary reason to get up early in the morning to walk and exercise. Athos, lacking the 2 inches necessary to earn the title of horse, is technically a pony (shhhhh, don’t tell him), but he thinks he’s a Clydesdale, or maybe a Great Dane, depending on the day. I ride Athos too, but standing 5’9” tall, with daddy longlegs limbs, my ice blocks nearly touch the ground when I get on his back. I can almost break with my frozen heels…..no joke!
He loves kids, and kids love him. He is particularly fond of my 9-year-old “niece”, Bella, and vice versa.
Athos loves performing. In fact, he’s clicker trained and knows a lot of tricks, from nodding his head, “Yes” to pushing a ball around the arena to picking up sticks and retrieving. Athos will do almost anything for a carrot!
Watch the video below where Bella and Athos are playing!
So, I need to get moving in the upward direction. I have my mind set on conquering the 6% grade hill below (it’s steeper than it looks, folks). It’s become my Everest, my K2, my Annapurna. If I can do this, I can do almost anything I put my mind to. I’ll keep you posted.
PS: And in the meantime, stay away from 8-legged creatures, clowns, and oak trees!