Monday, November 8, 2010

Bad news and tough decisions

I haven’t been blogging much lately and primarily because I’ve been busy. You may have noticed you haven’t heard anything about December since we had her teeth pulled. I wish I could say no news is good news but that’s not the case. I’ve had such a hard time dealing with this situation so I’ve been reluctant to post. I’m kind of at my wit’s end about how to help her and just need to vent right now.

After her tooth was pulled she healed fine and seemed to be gaining some weight. I didn’t talk to the lady leasing her for a while and assumed all was fine. She called me at the end of September to tell me she was afraid she was colicking. She’d stopped eating and seemed uncomfortable. She took her to the vet and had her tubed. They gave her meds, oil and water. They ran a full blood panel and nothing seemed abnormal. No infection and that was a relief. They did note that they thought they heard a cardiac arrhythmia. It sounded like atrial fibrillation but when the did the ECG it didn’t register. Since she was sedated the test may not have been completely accurate, but many horses live with the condition and it could have been brought on by the colic so we decide not to investigate further at that time. Since the episode was minor and the lady leasing her took her in to my vet I didn’t go out to check on her. I talked to the vet and we decided to wait on any more testing.

Then I got a call at the end of October. They thought she was collicking again. This time I went out to meet the vet (not my usual one but the on-call vet from the same clinic) at the barn. I was pretty horrified at how thin she was but figured if she has a chronic condition that they just might not be able to keep weight on her. December didn’t look like a regular colic but she was obviously uncomfortable about her belly and bared her teeth at me when I tried to listen for gut sounds. She was still passing manure and had a rumbly tummy but she was refusing to eat. The lessee shared that they had just ridden her in a barn pagent the day before which concerned me a bit because I wouldn’t be riding a horse in her condition just based on her weight alone. Again the vet tubed her and gave her meds and recommended a million tests if she didn’t start feeling better quickly. She checked again for the cardiac arrhythmia and didn’t hear anything usual.

I did some research and there were a lot of things that to me pointed toward a possible ulcer. The on-call vet didn’t necessarily agree but didn’t think the meds would hurt her any just to try to diagnose by seeing if they made her feel better. She’s always been a horse that seems very anxious and can be girthy and grumpy about her belly from time to time. I bought the meds and asked the lessee to start her on 2250 mg of ranitidine twice a day to see if it changed her behavior. They told me she seemed better after just a day. Then Friday I got a call. They had the vet out Thursday for vaccinations and decided not to give them to December because of her condition. The lessee told me she seemed to be going down hill quickly and needed more than she could provide her. She was depressed and no longer eating again. I made arrangements to pick her up immediately after work to take her to the vet. I cried most of the day through work wondering if I was going to have to make the decision to put her down.

When I got there she actually seemed to be in pretty good spirits. She looked dehydrated and sucked up, but not like she was in any pain. I called the vet and talked to her. We decided that it wasn’t worth the emergency call unless something changed and she was obviously distressed. I rescheduled my appointment for this coming Thursday because I’ve got the day off work. I took her home where my amazing sister met us and we quickly cleaned out the hay barn and spent some time checking her over. There are a few things I found concerning. Her muscle tone tells me she’s been working a lot. She has a rub mark on her withers because the saddle didn’t fit because she’s so thin but she was still obviously working. We checked to see if the blanket was rubbing her but it doesn’t hit her in that spot. The amount of medication for the ulcer treatment that they gave me back indicates they weren’t giving them to her on the schedule we agree to. Also, she was very hungry and thirsty. She proceed to eat everything she could get her lips on and grazed the whole time we were cleaning the barn. She never even lifted her head to see where she was or check out the pasture or neighbor’s horses. I don’t know what to think since this was very different behavior then what I was expecting. She spent the weekend eating pretty well. She grazed in our pasture, ate all of the rice bran pellets I was mixing her meds in with. I also gave her some stable mix pellets mixed with a little salt and sugar (for electrolytes) since the vet was worried maybe her teeth were bugging her since the extraction making it harder to eat hay. She is eating less hay then normal but I’m hoping only because she’s getting so much other food. She has gone through at least half of her 70 quart bucket of water per day and her sides filled in a bit. I was starting to wonder if she just wasn’t getting enough food to meet her needs based on her workload.

Everything seemed to be going pretty well until last night. She was in a lot of the day because it rained pretty hard and was cribbing because of it even though she had a big pile of hay. When I went to check her before bed she pinned her ears when I undid the blanket to check her belly. I was worried but checked her several times in the night and she seemed to be doing okay.

This morning she had eaten most of her hay and was really happy to be let out to graze. She didn’t seem to have an upset tummy anymore. My mom checked on her a couple hours later and she was still doing okay, just grazing.

I would do a lot for my animals but there has to be some kind of a limit and I don’t know where to make that distinction. She’s only 14 and not old enough for me to make the decision of what to do with her lightly. I’m not a rich person but I want her to be comfortable and happy. I’ve already done a lot for her when I didn’t even want to keep her. The lessor was supposed to buy her but then she kept getting sick. She said she wanted her back if we can get her well but I can’t in good conscience send her back there. I also know I don’t want to keep her but I can’t dump all these problems on someone else without knowing what’s going on and fixing it. I need to know she will go to someone who would take care of her if she needs ulcer meds daily. I wish I was okay with keeping her and retiring her but I’m not sure if we have the money to have three horses. I realize a good person would sell one of the healthy horses to have the money to take care of her but I don’t want to and I hope it won’t come to that.

So yeah, I don’t really know what to do except keep an eye on her and see how it goes…

1 comment:

Shanster said...

Well crap... sorry for all the difficult decisions going on...