Saturday, November 5, 2011

First day in ICU

The first thing that I saw when I entered the ICU at New Bolton was my beloved girl, swollen and slathered in SSD. silver sulfadiazene. It is thick white ointment used to treat humans as well. Suki's entire face had been burned and her eyes swollen shut. Nothing prepares you for something like this. I honestly don't know if it was better or worse than what I had expected. Those who saw Suki before she went to New Bolton said that it was probably a good thing that I didn't see her until after her initial treatment. My heart ached for her. I couldn't get out of my mind how frightened she must have been. "Suki", I called. I was rewarded with a soft, low nicker. That lovely rumbly sound which horses make in recognition. My heart melted. I felt as if she was saying "FINALLY you are here!" That response convinced me that the she had not given up and was ready for the fight of her life.

Suki was surrounded by several doctors, nurses and students. I went into the stall and she sniffed me all over looking for treats. When I offered her a small piece of carrot she hungrily accepted it. Suki had not lost her appetite either!
There were several IV bags flowing into Suki's veins. Some were fluids for dehydration, others contained analgesics. She also wore a Fentanyl patch on her leg for pain. Suki's feet had bags of ice tied around her feet to prevent laminitis. But she was nuzzling and sniffing me and that gave me hope.

Dr. Kalf explained Suki's condition. In addition to the severe external burns, her nasal passages had been burned and were now swollen. It was important to keep the external airways open as well. If there was too much swelling a tracheotomy would need to be performed. Dr. Kalf warned that it could be awhile before we knew the full extent of airway damage. Suki's eyes were also badly burned and swollen. At that point it was impossible to assess how much damage there was, but it was very likely that there were ulcers on her corneas, and ultimately there could be some level of vision loss. We also discussed complications such as pneumonia, infections, etc. The first 48 hours were crucial, but even beyond that point she could develop one of the complications and deteriorate. It was vital that she eat, because every bit of nutrition would be needed to heal from such severe burns. Horses can lose a lot of weight recovering from such extensive burns because of the high rate of metabolism during healing. There was a scale outside her stall....Suki weighed 1460 lbs on her way into New Bolton. I became very aware of that scale.... standing outside of her stall meant that you were also standing on that scale!!

Suki's skin would also see many changes. More than 70% of her body was charred, and all of that dead skin needed to slough off. It was also apparent that Suki would lose the tips of her ears eventually. They were blackened and cold. The one positive was that she had been in excellent physical condition and seemed in surprisingly good spirits! I held on to the positives.

I am certain that I was in shock. When I think about it, although at some level I knew the seriousness of Suki's condition, I also just assumed that she would survive. Was it our bond? I don't know. But we weren't going down without a fight!

One thing that struck as funny was when the surgical team evaluated a small laceration on Suki.s right front leg, that she probably incurred during her romp through the Oley Valley. There were several additional veterinarians surrounding her and discussing closing the wound. Here she was charred and swollen, and they were discussing this tiny wound! Now, please don't misunderstand. This type of attention is what led to Suki's recovery, so i am thrilled that they even saw it! Just seemed somewhat ironic, I guess.

My friend Babette, who lives in Unionville, called and asked if I wanted her to come over to New Bolton. I was so grateful for her and Donna's company.

Suki would be monitored around the clock, with vital signs checked every few hours. Any changes could prompt additional medications to maintain her comfort. Several bags of plasma were also given. I knew that Suki was in the best place possible, but it was really difficult to leave her. The veterinarians assured me that they would call if her condition changed. I went home to prepare for a restless night.........

Nov 5, 2011
When I arrived at the barn Suki was still in her field. She decided to canter away in the other direction. It was a beautiful, relaxed canter. I wished that I was sitting on her....
If you look at Suki physically, it is amazing that her muscling and top line are still somewhat normal, not like a horse who has been out of work for more than 2 years!

Unfortunately my decision to leave her without a bandage was premature. While the graft did not open, her rolling caused some bruising, even with her special sheet and her mid weight sheet. The extra padding is still necessary.

Can't wait to ride Nikki on Tuesday!

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