I know it seems like I have dropped you. I have become such a Blog slacker in the last few months. I have been thinking about you, and I have things to write about, but sometimes life just gets in the way. I wish I could sit and do this every single day. For one thing, I am usually pretty clean when I sit at my computer. Not to give you the wrong impression or anything, I do shower daily. I just tend to do work that is dirty, and at times, pretty stinky. So, I do enjoy clean a little more than the average girl.
Enough about that. I hate apologizing all the time for not writing more often. It seems to lose it's punch when you do it over and over again. I sort of subscribe to the thought that how sorry can you really be if you keep doing the same thing over and over again? I know someone like that, and I don't have a high opinion of her. Funny how when something irks you about someone, the Lord puts you in a similar situation. As if to say, "Let's see how you handle it." He is funny that way. That is one of the many reasons that I love Him.
So, let's just get right to it. I ended my last post eluding to the disastrous December that we survived. Today, I will fill you in on a little bit of the action that you missed. I took the beginning of December pretty easy. Trying to recoup from the year, and making mental lists about the things that I wanted to accomplish in the up and coming one. I didn't stress about Christmas or gift buying or meal planning or the party schedule or anything really. I just coasted, and it was nice.
Winter finally decided to show up and it got a little cold. We had our horses stalled up for several days in a row, and they were getting a little unruly. The Man in Charge called from work and strongly suggested that I walk my horse that day. By strongly suggested, I mean he said, "Woman, you need to walk your horse today." I listened like a good wife, but in my head I was thinking, "No Way!" Was he crazy? It was freezing out there, and I was not the least bit interested in getting jerked around by a frisky mare. Even as I hung up the phone, I was thinking, "Not a chance! I am not walking my horse today. He has lost his mind! Maybe tomorrow it will be warmer?" This thought process went on for a few hours, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, "What if this is the helicopter all over again?"
No, I am not suffering from dementia. You heard me correctly. A little background story, and maybe you can follow me. Early in our marriage, we were visiting a family member in the hospital. After staying for a while, we decided to head home and went out to the parking garage. We had parked on the top level, just below where the Care Flight helicopter lands. When we exited the elevator, we had to cross an open area to get to our vehicle. Once outside, we could see that the helicopter was about to take off. The pilot and crew were running out, and I wanted to stand out there and watch it.
Well, to my surprise, the Man in Charge threw a full on fit. He was yelling and screaming at me to get under the landing pad where our vehicle was parked. I couldn't believe it. I just wanted to watch it take off, and he was being a big sissy. Yelling at me that those things crash all the time, and that what I was doing was dangerous. We argued for a bit more and he just left me standing there, going for cover himself. He was still yelling at me, and finally, I relented. When we got into the truck, the conversation continued, and I expressed how I thought he was being ridiculous, and he expressed the same about me. We drove down into the garage and I didn't get to see the helicopter take off. A few days later, I was home doing I don't know what, the Man in Charge was at work, and guess what came on the news? The same helicopter, at the same hospital, was taking off and the tail hit something and it crashed. I just sat down. Stunned at what I saw.
This was not even a full week later.
As much as I hated to do it, I had to call him at work and tell him what just happened. I knew he would read about it on the Internet or see it on the news himself later. I relayed the story, and silence. I wasn't even sure if he was still on the line. I asked him if he was going to say anything? You know like, "I told you so.", but he didn't. Not a word. Then finally, he calmly said, "This is why you should listen to your husband."
The helicopter crashing has come up several times in our marriage. Not because he throws it in my face when I don't want to do what he says, but because there are times when it pops into my mind and I can't get it to go away. More than once he has said things, and then, Boom! There they are. Random things that I can't even explain. He just has this uncanny way of knowing. So, when he says for me to go walk my horse, and I don't want to, but the helicopter keeps flying around my head. It bothers me. If you know me well enough, you know that I am pretty stubborn at times, and I can have a pretty serious argument all be myself. The super frustrating part is that he can be totally unaware of the conversation in my head, and he still wins. Times like I am describing now.
Walk your horse.
I don't want to walk my horse.
Walk your horse.
I don't want to. It is cold outside.
Walk your horse.
I finally went to the barn at about 4:30 that afternoon. Still thinking that I was not going to walk my horse. I cleaned the stalls, and did water, and all the things that have to be done. Then I sat down to take a break. There was the stinking helicopter. I couldn't ignore it any longer, and I finally gave in. Probably cussing a little, I grabbed the halter for my mare. When I pulled her out of the barn, I didn't have to worry about being drug around by an overly energetic 1000lb. animal because she was lame. I don't mean lame like a loser. I mean lame like she couldn't walk and she was obviously in pain. In the confinement of her stall, this was not apparent. It only became obvious when I got her outside. What if I had won my own argument, and not walked her?
How does he do that?
I called the Man in Charge and explained what was happening, minus the rebellious part and minus the helicopter part. After trying to walk her and take videos of her with my phone so that I could send them to him, we had several lengthy conversations about what to do. Initially the Man in Charge thought that we should call the vet because he feared that it was an attack of Laminitis (more details on what that is will follow). We had an experience with Laminitis with our older mare once, and started discussing what we saw then and what we were seeing now. They didn't match up. After discussing it, we decided that couldn't be it, and we would medicate her and see how she was the next day. Let me just say that she was just not displaying the typical signs of Laminitis.
For the curious, yes, I did confess the rebellion and the helicopter buzzing my brain.
I just got the all-knowing look that he gives so well.
She seemed a little better the next day, and we kept up our course of action. We decided that we would get her out and walk her a little each day. About the third day, she seemed to be moving a bit better, and I was walking her while my Full-Timer was cleaning her stall. I don't know about you, but I talk to my animals, and while we were walking. we were having a serious conversation about how she was feeling and what might have happened to her to make her sore. I just remember telling her that she had to be tough. Her Mom was tough, and her Dad was tough, and this would get better. At that very moment she stopped. I looked over at her and she had a worried look in her eyes. I don't know if I can explain it, but it just struck me. It made me stop and pause. I have seen that look before.
Her Mother died from cancer a couple of years ago. A cancer that is not usual in horses. I had had a gut feeling that something was going on with her, but couldn't put my finger on it. Little things were not normal. She was eating. She was drinking. She was moving great. She just wasn't right. When it got to a point where I insisted something was wrong, we called the vet in. After some tests and some labs, we had to haul her to a hospital and have a bladder scope done. It was bad. Bladder Cancer. There was nothing that we could have really done, even with a diagnosis from the onset. There were some experimental chemo-therapy treatments, but those were only buying a little time, not curing the animal. It just wasn't normal in horses. They were seeing maybe one horse in a year at one of the top equine hospitals.
I do not like cancer.
You know it is bad when you are standing with a vet and a vet tech, and while they are doing the test, another vet or tech walks up. Then there are like four or five people standing there, and every time someone walks away, two more people walk up. Then someone asked if there was a disc in the machine so they could record the scope. I am sure they now use that video as an educational tool somewhere. Regardless, after the diagnosis we brought her home and I was fully informed of what the future would hold for her. Her bladder was hard, not the soft, balloon like organ that it was supposed to be. This would eventually become so uncomfortable for her that she would stop eating, drinking, and moving around. That is exactly the way it happened, but instead of happening over the course of a few months like we had hoped. It happened in a couple of weeks. I had seen the same worried look in her eyes then. That look of, "What is happening to me, and why is it taking you so long to figure it out?" The only difference being that I knew. It was just a matter of making hard decisions. Really, hard decisions.
Sorry, again. I am crying while typing this, and I am sitting in the coffee shop trying to pretend like I am not crying while typing this...frustrating.
It was heartbreaking when I saw the look then, and when I saw it in Blaze's eyes, I knew we were dealing with something bad. It was late in the evening when we had this walk and talk, and I put her in her stall and went in for the night. Those eyes haunted me all night. Could we have been wrong? Were we dealing with Laminitis? I immediately Googled everything I could find and read everything that popped up. The next day, I called the Man in Charge at work, and told him I was calling the vet. He didn't argue, but we both knew that if we had missed the signs, it was too late. There is only a small window of opportunity when dealing with this problem.
Well, the vet just happened to be in my area, and was there within 30 minutes. I got my mare out of the barn, we walked her, talked about what had been going on, she examined her and said that she didn't feel like we were dealing with Laminitis either. It was obvious that she was sore, but we didn't have an exact answer as to why. We taped some pads on her feet, and they prescribed some additional medication for pain. My Farrier was due to come and trim the horses feet in a few days, and we talked about scheduling an appointment to have the vet there at the same time. The thought being that they could take some x-rays and possibly give some recommendations on trimming that might make her more comfortable.
Whew! What a relief, right?
We kept her stalled for the next few days, only walking her out and turning her back around to see how she was moving. Every day she seemed to be a little more comfortable. I was starting to feel like we were in the clear on this problem. My Farrier showed up, and we trimmed our Stallion. I say we, but he did the work, and I stood there. Then we waited for the vet. He showed up, and we got my mare out. We walked her, and there was even a little more improvement over what I had been seeing. We took the pads off of her feet, examined her, and walked her again. Then we even got her up to a trot. The vet said he didn't see any need for the x-rays. Later he told me that he was thinking that if he shot x-rays of her feet he would just be wasting my money.
Maybe those eyes were still haunting me, I am not sure, but I was not content to just let him leave. I started asking him questions and we were discussing different scenarios as to what could have happened and things that we could do to make her more comfortable. I wasn't arguing for x-rays. I was just not satisfied with seeing how things were going to go. I can't tell you why he changed his mind, maybe to shut me up and let him get on with his schedule, I don't know, but he said that since he had the machine on the truck, we could go ahead and shoot a couple of pictures of each foot and see.
In basic terminology, do not quote me on this, Laminitis is when the living tissue in the hoof wall gets inflamed. This can happen for various reasons, but mainly it is linked with carbohydrate or sugar load.
Example: A horse breaks into the feed room and gorges on feed.
Once this tissue gets inflamed you have a short window to get it under control or it begins to die off. Once the tissue starts to die, the coffin bone in the foot starts to sink or rotate. This is called Founder, as in a ship foundering at sea. It can be so bad that the bone comes out the bottom of the hoof and the hoof will slough off.
Just to be clear...a horse without hooves is not a horse.
She had bone rotation in both front feet. Anything above 10 degrees is bad. She had a 10 and a 13. We were shocked. My vet was really shocked. Like, he just kept saying how shocked he was. Most horses in this condition would refuse to walk, let alone trot. Most horses in this condition would have freaked out during the examination process. I mean like, flipped over on their backs and probably taken one or more of us with them. He just kept saying how shocked he was and how tough she was. Over and over again. My Farrier was right there with him. His best horse had just Foundered and ended up with a 6 and 9 degree rotation. He said he couldn't get him to take a single step. Let alone what he had just seen her do.
This was December 14th.
Finding out that your horse is tough is not really any consolation in this situation. Especially after the conversation that I had had with her. I felt like an ass, for lack of a better description. I had let her go through this, and she had done exactly what I had asked of her. She had been tough. Too tough if you ask me. If she had shown any of the typical signs of the pain and discomfort that she was feeling, we would have acted much faster.
There were moments of disbelief. Is this really happening? The pictures of her feet didn't lie. I had to call the Man in Charge at work and relay all of this new information. He was upset. I was trying to hold it together. It was just a mess. There was a lot to do. So, there was no other choice but to put my big girl panties on and deal with it. We started treating the Laminitis aggressively in hopes of getting the inflamation under control, and preventing the rotation from getting any worse. Part of this treatment is running a tube into her stomach and running a medication called DMSO into her gut. The actual medicating part takes minutes, but the effects last for days. The medication basically causes everything to be flushed out of her system quickly, not allowing her body to absorb or metabolize what is in there. The side effect is that it causes the horse to smell. It just permeates their entire body, and she stunk almost immediately. I mean, bad. We later decided that it smelled like a combination of rotten eggs and sulphur. It was so strong that it made your eyes water and your nose burn. You could smell her about 20 feet outside the barn.
My Full-Timer wouldn't even go in there at first. She came home from school and made it to the door, then turned right back around. She immediately felt like she was going to lose it. I explained to her that she would have to go in there eventually because I would need help giving shots. She agreed, but still decided to wait until later. We also put my mare on some serious pain medications, along with medication to help with inflammation, blood flow, and a mild tranquilizer. After the vet left, my Farrier put special shoes on her front feet to help give her support and relieve some of her pain. Yes, orthopedic shoes for my horse. It was a long Day.
The exact cause of this in her situation is not known at this time. She didn't have a dietary change. The facts are that I have always let her be a little heavy for the simple reason that she looks better a little heavy. She had an accident as a baby and cut her shoulder up pretty bad. When we let her get thin, she looks pretty bad on that side. So, we made the decision that heavy was better for her. Vanity, I guess. Her weight is definitely a factor, and she has now had a major diet change. This change is not to her liking, but she has to lose weight. If she can't get it off with diet, we may do further testing for metabolic issues.
I personally gave my horse 48 shots over the course of the next few weeks, and yes, I was counting. This was along with oral medication that apparently tastes bad. At first she was taking it all pretty well, but in the end it was obvious that she was sick of seeing me. My horses come to their stall door when I walk in the barn. When you pick up a halter, they are there waiting to stick their heads in it. After a period of time, that was not the case with her and it broke my heart. I hated having to keep sticking her, but I knew it was the best thing I could do for her. Some nights it would take an hour or more to get up the nerve, or courage, or whatever you want to call it, to go out there and do it again. It just happened that all of this coincided with a big project at work for the Man in Charge. He was putting in 10-14 hour days, and not available. It was up to me and the Full-Timer, and I have to tip my hat to her. She did great! She doesn't like needles. She doesn't like blood. She doesn't like putting herself at risk with a large animal, but she did it all. Never complained, and tried her best to give me moral support. I couldn't have done it without her.
We made it through Christmas and began to wean her off of her medications. With each prescription that we stopped, I held my breath that she would still be okay. Our goal at this point is to have a pasture sound horse. That means that she will never be ridden. She just has to tolerate the rotation in her hooves and be able to stand and be comfortable. I am sad for her because of this, but if that is the best she can give me, then that will be enough. I take full responsibility for her, and if she can stand and eat and be comfortable, she has a place here. There is a slight chance that the rotation could improve a small amount. If that happens then we will consider breeding her. She has traits that we find attractive. If nothing else, she has shown that she has the heart of a great horse.
So, there are some lessons I am conveying here. I will list them below. If you missed something, go back and re-read it. They will apply to your life, and it is a lot easier to learn from someone else's mistakes.
1. Stop saying you are sorry over and over again. If you really are, then you will stop doing what you are sorry for.
2. When life is going great and you want to coast for a while, you better enjoy it. The world doesn't stay that way. You will need the rest to give you energy to endure the roller coaster that is just around the corner.
3. Watch out for helicopters! There is a little voice in each of our head's that is guiding us to do the right thing. You can call it whatever you like, for me, I know it is the Lord saying, "Listen to Me." When He can't get through my thick skull, He puts it in my husband's head and then bugs me until I listen to him.
4. Go with your gut feeling. The Man in Charge and I have decided from now on, if one of us has a gut feeling about something - that is it! No more discussion. We have to respect each other's instincts and they are no longer up for debate.
5. Be careful what you ask of someone, even if it is a horse. It may not be in their best interest.
6. Not everything is typical.
7. Big girl panties work.
8. Vanity is not a good thing.
9. If you are going into battle, bring someone that carries their own big girl panties. They are the best ones to have by your side when it gets rough.
10. Sometimes being tough and having the will to get through something is enough. I know it screams things to me.