Tuesday, November 29, 2011
A bump in the road
The first few days at Kelly's farm went well, as we all tried to settle into a routine. Kelly was performing most of the treatments and medicating, so my visits primarily involved grooming and fussing over Suki! She was going outside twice a day for short periods before sunrise and after sunset. The exercise was a crucial element in Suki's recovery, both physical and mental well being. She was learning how to be a horse again. While I am certain that she was happy about this, you can't tell me that she didn't miss her air conditioning and lack of bugs from ICU!
Kelly recognized Suki's diva personality right form the start. She was constantly amazed by how gentle Suki was given her enormous size. Kelly also discovered Suki's game with water. "Suki spit water at me!" she said. I just laughed. "Oh yeah. I forgot to warn you about that!" I laughed. Suki loves to take a big drink of water when you are standing in her stall. But she doesn't swallow it, and you can see (once you know that she does it) that she is holding the water in her mouth. "Spit it out", I say to her. Suki then turns her head and spits the water out on the floor. Such a jokster, that girl!
Toward the end of the first week Kelly called me at around 10 PM. "Suki has gotten her halter over her ear and she won't let me get near her head", Kelly said. Suki has always been fine about having her face, head and ears handled, but the treatments required after the fire had made her little head shy.
Again, Michael was away of course....perfect timing as usual! I suggested sedating her and removing the halter, but Kelly did not have the appropriate medication for this. My friend Donna was farm sitting next door, so I called her for help. Donna agreed to go and give a hand, so I found myself waiting again for a telephone call. Donna and Kelly re-evaluated the situation and we decided to call the vet for assistance.
Dr. XX sedated Suki and tried to remove the halter. Because she had been scratching her head on the wall the halter had pulled over her ear and caused some bleeding to the wound on her ear that was still healing since the calf incident. The fabric on the padded halter was now adhered to Suki's ear with dried blood. All of that was removed and the wound dressed again. Dr. XX recommended that we keep the halter off to avoid this problem in the future. I was hesitant to do that because it was our only means of restraint, and Suki was not to the point where a halter could be put on and taken off easily. With daily treatments required, my concern was not having the ability to control her for that purpose. But Kelly had been treating Suki's wounds while she was eating and felt comfortable continuing it in that way. With a door directly leading into her paddock, she did not even require a halter for turnout. The area behind Suki's ears was taking a long time to heal because the halter was rubbing on it also. Everyone agreed: best to leave the halter off. "Okay," I finally agreed. "Let's give it a try."
This seemed to work well, so we were back on track. I have to admit, Suki seemed much more comfortable without the halter. It's just so difficult to determine what is going to work best in that situation. No one really had any experience in dealing with a horse recovering from severe burns, so we operated a lot by trial and error! The common denominator was that everyone's main concern was keeping Suki comfortable and happy.
Poor Kelly had to mix the sloppy medicine potion every day and make sure that Suki ate all of it twice a day. I know that it was a lot of work. With Suki's requirements and the need to check her every hour or so, Kelly became somewhat tethered to the farm. There isn't any way that Suki would have been able to be in a regular boarding situation with all of that care. I would not have been able to devote that much time to her care with all of my other responsibilities. It makes you realize the necessity of good rehabilitation/lay up farms in the horse industry.
November 29, 2011
Rainy day today, so Suki was only out for a little while this morning. But that is certainly better than nothing! She really enjoyed her grooming, etc last night and even let me massage her face. I wish that I didn't have to put the bandage on her skin graft area, but it needs the padding for now still. I am hoping that by spring the skin will be tough enough to go without it.
The shadow on Suki's eye in this photo is not an ulcer....it is just the photo. The ulcers cleared within a week and her vision appears to be completely normal.