Writing My Horse’s Prayer

My poor boy with a tube in his face.

My poor boy with a tube in his face.

This week has been tough. I have been faced with one of my worst nightmares. Monday evening, after my first day back to work in 2 weeks I was making dinner and enjoying my red wine. I was starving. Boyfriend, myself and the dog were hanging out, chatting with my mother when I got the phone call that my horse was displaying classic signs of colic. Some horses colic when the weather changes, food changes or they get stressed. Not my horse, typically. In fact, in the 12 years I’ve owned him, there has been ONE other colic that was relieved with one dose of muscle relaxers and the cause was a common toxic plant he had found. Easy Peasy. So, We turned off the oven on our highly anticipated dinner, put 2 more layers of clothes over our work clothes, called the vet and headed out.

We got there and I could see it on his face he didn’t feel well. We spent our 45 minutes waiting for the vet talking to the family we board Justice with. My vet arrived and did a thorough exam. The diagnosis was as expected colic. He was given a tube that went through his nose and into his stomach that is intended to pump him full of water and mineral oil. Mineral oil is a laxative for horses. After we had done all that we could, we observed him and he quickly regressed. Immediately my vet proposed an option I knew I couldn’t do. I need to either take him to the veterinary hospital ($$$$) or prepare to make a really important decision…

Livestock veterinary medicine works a little differently than small animal veterinary medicine. I don’t have the budget to take him to the hospital. I can’t afford it. A lot of people can’t. And although there are options like financing, credit and assistance, it’s not something I am able to do with my other financial obligations, unfortunately. So I prepared to make the decision any animal owner dreads. I called my father, out-of-state, cried my eyes out. Boyfriend and I sat in the car and warmed up (did I mention it was a single digit temp?) and I cried my eyes out some more. Then as I was prepared to come out, load him in the trailer and say my goodbyes one of the women that I board with comes to tell me he was starting to show interest in food again. So suddenly, game on.

He was loaded up with drugs and I was given a tight schedule to come back to the barn and check on him at 12:00 Am, 2:00 Am, 4:00 and 7:30. All the while monitoring if he passes any stool or eats and behavior. On the 2:00 visit he looked rough with no signs of improvement. So we called the vet, scheduled the dreaded appointment for the morning at 9:00 and went home on pins and needles.

When I went home that night, I did something I hadn’t done yet. I prayed in the form of a Microsoft Word Document. I literally sat by myself and typed my prayer on my work laptop at 3:00 in the morning while watching George Lopez reruns. I finally forced myself to close my eyes and get 2 hours of sleep and face whatever I had coming in the coming hours. When my boarder checked on him at 4 and 7:30 there were 3 piles of manure and he was looking like he was interested in hay. GREAT! So at our morning appointment we tubed him again with more fluids and then re-medicated him. My vet put a tube in for the rest of the day so I could give him fluids without her having to come and do it. That is what he has going on in the photo above. Then I settled in for coming by again every 2 hours to give more warm fluids, thawing the tube and monitoring his output and appetite. So, 2:00 Pm, 3:30, 5:45, 7:45 and 10:00 came and went. At 10:00 after his fluid treatment while boyfriend and myself were standing there, Justice passed what was the beginning of his blockage. Words cannot tell you my relief. I mean I almost cried. I called my vet ecstatic! We pulled his tube, we offered him some hay and monitored him.

Fast forward to this morning: 

This morning when the vet came, she gave him another rectal exam with a positive diagnosis of things going back to normal, Hooray! Except… he still isn’t acting 100% himself. Now, the vet seems to think this is weird because most horses tend to bounce back almost immediately after passing their blockage. Not my horse. He’s a princess and he’s still dealing with residual ick factor. So We are still on high alert watching him every couple of hours and monitoring him as closely as we can without making things too weird for him. So, as of now, we are still in a holding pattern. But it’s a much more normal pattern. My evening today includes a little more monitoring than normal, another shot of muscle relaxers tonight before bed and again in the morning with close attention to the stall he’s been in all night. Although we’re not out of the woods yet, we are getting close.

I am so incredibly grateful for the wonderful women I work with who have been nothing but supportive during the last 2 days. They have helped cover where I couldn’t all while sending encouraging and loving emails and texts. I couldn’t have done any of this without my vet. Even when she was pushing toward the hospital, she had the patience and understanding to help me do as much as we could in the field. And I couldn’t have done it without all of the people I board with who opened their home to me for warm water, a place to crash in the wee hours of the night and offering help, hugs and love when we thought it was the worst it would get. I am so surrounded by amazing people and I never thought a Microsoft Word Doc would reach the ears I needed it to. I am so grateful for faith and hope. God is good!

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