Nana Dalton’s ‘getting back on my feet’ blog: a disaster, an operation and settling into life with the Fox-Pitts

A great three-star run, a disastrous showjumping round, a mammoth house/yard move and an operation — these are just a few of things that have been occurring over the past couple of weeks!

What makes me really smile is when Miley (Absoluut Opposition) is feeling well and happy. Barbury proved he’s in great form — although we had a steady run due to the ground being firmer than his ideal, he did a lovely test, which had him well-placed after the dressage, and then felt magic cross-country (pictured top, credit: William Carey). He sometimes struggles to contain his enthusiasm for jumping and can get very strong, but a change of bit and noseband really helped and he was a sheer joy to pilot. All the more fun was having members of the ‘Miley’s Friends’ syndicate there to share the enjoyment of the day and picnic with.

There weren’t so many smiles though when Fiddle decided to play skittles with the showjumps in the intermediate novice class — she is such a talented, classy horse that to have seven fences down resulting in a compulsory retirement was a head scratcher and isn’t an accurate reflection of her. It’s back to the drawing board with her but we have the advantage of her breeder/part-owner being a vet, so he’s been out to check over and has found that she’s sore in her stifles, which might well explain things. She’s had some treatment plus a couple of easy weeks, and we won’t be in a hurry to do much with her until we’re happy she’s 100%.

Unpacking into my new house

The days following Barbury were filled with packing my life up into the horse box and moving to our new house and life in Dorset!

Monday: 4am—9pm packing the lorry of my house contents.

Tuesday: driving it all to Dorset and unpacking in new house.

Wednesday: drive to Sussex for an operation at East Grinstead Hospital.

Wednesday night: getting back to Dorset with Toby ready for his taster day at his new school on Thursday.

Then it was back to Surrey to stay with my sister until the end of term then move the three horses, a pony and all yard stuff to Dorset. I am getting there but it is also why I’m a bit slow in writing this blog!

I’ve been very open about my surgery in previous blogs, so although I’ve got to the stage that I’m a bit ‘over it all’ now, I will just touch on my recent operation.

All of this ‘work’ has been done on the NHS and I simply can’t fault it, especially my amazing surgeon, Adam Blackburn, who is an absolute genius in his field. He told me that he’s used my case and photos recently in a worldwide conference as my adaptation of this surgery and the donor site was a first.

My inner thigh eight months post-operation where fat and muscle was taken to make the reconstruction — matching scar on other leg

We chatted and decided to squeeze this operation in before I moved out of the area. It was to create nipples and as it was ‘only’ under local anaesthetic, I didn’t give it much thought and have to admit that I somewhat dismissed and underestimated it! I was checked in to the main theatre and I’m not sure who was more surprised — the surgeons and nurses, who couldn’t believe I was up for watching what was going on, or me when I saw my breasts being chopped completely open, bits being thrown away, some artistic work with the scalpel and then a whole heap of needlework as everything was stitched back up in various different ways!

It’s not been much fun being reacquainted with the physical limitations and pain, which I’ve found quite debilitating and draining. But it’s done now and although there’s still a lot of bruising, it’s getting better every day. Once this lot of scaring has settled down, the next procedure will be tattooing which is booked in for November. There is suggestion of a further procedure but it’d involve another general anaesthetic and I’m just not sure I want to go through any more at this stage.

Continued below…


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The horses quickly settled very happily into their fab new palatial pad at Fox-Pitt Eventing with William, Alice and their fantastic team making us feel very welcome. A real advantage in Miley’s preparation for Burghley is their wonderful on-site gallops and there’s a buzz around with William and Kazuma getting ready to fly horses to Japan for the Olympic test event. Also going to Tokyo next week to look at things for Australia is Chris Burton, so I’ll be heading over to his amazing new Dorset yard to help ride some of his top horses while he’s away.

Miley enjoying the beautiful Dorset views on the Fox-Pitt gallops

When I mentioned to my father at the beginning of the year that I’d be doing a fortnightly blog for H&H, he asked if I’d have enough content… well, I have to confess, I seem to have had so much going on of late, I’m quite looking forward to dust settling and a ‘slow news’ week!

Nana

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