Sunday, May 1, 2011

A tough week!

Poor Limerick, it doesn't end for her, or me. On April 13, after our first ride (which was short but very sweet!) since December, after cooling Lim off I untacked her and led her back to her stall. All was well and I began making her dinner. She stood at her stall door, watching me.

And then she got a faraway look in her eye before going over to the middle of her stall. There, she laid down with a heavy sigh. I watched her, not really believing this was happening. After a moment, it was clear she wouldn't get up so I went into the stall and sat down by her head. I texted my husband to come over to the barn as soon as he could, and as I waited for him Limerick laid her head on my lap and stretched out her legs, breathing hard. Her eyes were big and rolling, and it was clear that she was in a lot of pain. A part of me hoped that Shannon wouldn't show up right then, because it would be tough for him to see that.

After a moment, she lifted her head and was back on her sternum, legs curled up beneath her like normal, her breathing not as intense. Shannon arrived not too long after and I asked him to call the vet. When that was done (and the vet was on his way), he asked me if I would like him to call my friend Mary. I said okay...I love Shannon and was very glad he was there, but having support in the form of another horse person would have been such a relief.

As we waited for the vet and Mary, I asked Limerick to get up and walk to the arena with me. She did, obediently. Once in the arena I expected her to walk quietly but instead she kept trying to lay down, so the walk was a lot more work than expected. Finally I decided to let her stand, just in case walking was more painful than being still. She would periodically cramp or spasm up in her hindquarters then nearly collapse. She was sweaty, hot, breathing hard, and miserable. I was very concerned because in the past, Lim was fairly stoic when she had colic.

Mary arrived, and then the vet. He did not note anything very out of the ordinary when he examined her rectally, which was a relief. So although her symptoms were not good, nothing required an immediate trip to the hospital. We took her back to her stall and the vet treated her with drugs and mineral oil and water. Within moments she was much more comfortable....and once I was sure she was OK for the night, we left.

She was fine over the following days.

Then at work on Monday the 18th, a fellow boarder at the barn texted me to say that Limerick was acting like she was uncomfortable. My heart sinking, I hurried over to the barn again. The symptoms were the same as the previous week, but not as bad.

Nevertheless, the vet was called since every case of colic is an emergency and needs immediate attention. He gave her drugs and tubed her with mineral oil and water, as is standard. As he did this, I suddenly felt terrible dread. Watching Lim's eyes, I could pick up a sense of quiet panic in them. What was happening? I told myself that tubing oil helps a horse, and never hurts them. Yet I could not help but think "This tubing is hurting her".

The vet finished and pulled the tube out of her nose...all seemed well. Then within ten seconds, Limerick started stumbling around the stall in an awkward circle. She would drop to her knees and nose, then jerk herself up, then again fall to her knees, and repeat, in a circle. I did my best to stay out of her way...then suddenly, she threw herself down onto her back and tensed up in the worst way--I did not even know a horse was capable of moving in the way that she did.

At that moment, I experienced a profound sense of loss, or the possibility of loss. The sadness and grief, however premature, consumed me and I broke into tears. This was the type of thing you heard about--the type of end that you heard about.

I can tell you with 110% certainty that seeing your baby thrash around helplessly, her beautiful face contoured terribly, is one of the worst things you can see in your lifetime. Throw in the fact that your baby happens to be a 1,000lb animal that can kill you with an errant hoof to the head, and therefore you need to just stand back and wait, made the experience that much worse.

But to my overwhelming relief, she was soon up and standing, exhausted and dazed. The vet told me that we have to get her to the hospital now. Here was a vet that has been around for decades and had likely seen it all telling me he didn't know what "that" was, and she had to go to Kendall Road equine hospital.

During the ride to the hospital, I texted friends and family, telling them to keep Limerick in their thoughts. Mary drove and I did my best to not sob like a baby next to her, but it was very difficult at times.

Long story short, the hospital diagnosed her with a left dorsal displacement (her colon became looped over her spleen and remained trapped there), which was successfully treated with drug therapy. Surgery had been the next step but we never touched that, relief was immeasurable!

The next issue was the grand mal seizure she had after being tubed back at the barn. Fortunately, the vets thought it was a freak, one-time occurrence, the result of a perfect storm of many elements coming together. More relief! Limerick stayed at the hospital for two nights and was released on Wednesday.

(oh yes, and my car died the day before, on Tuesday; when it rains, it pours!)

When Limerick isn't right, then it is a tremendous burden on me...and in this case, for a while there I had this awful, sinking feeling in my stomach that this was it...this was the end....I feel so lucky, fortunate, blessed, you name it, that she is okay now. Don't ever take what you love for granted! I never took Miss Lim for granted, but over the past week I have taken more time to sniff her neck, look into her soft, expressive eyes and tell her I love her.

Here are some photos of Miss Lim at the hospital:

The first night, right before I had to leave
(and believe me, I didn't want to).
The muzzle is to prevent her from eating.

These three are from the next day--she was much
better! Top to bottom--"Hi mom!", looking for hay,
taking a nap.


Stephanie said...

Oh Heidi!!!
I'm so very glad that Lim is OK. My heart was sinking as I was reading your post. I hope Lim continues to get better and has no more problems!

Xander Alex said...
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