Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A chance to talk about Suki

During my conversations with Dr. Fugaro about Suki's recovery throughout the year he asked if I would be interested in giving a talk to one of his equine science classes at Centenary College in New Jersey. The topic would be Suki's case from the owner's perspective. All of the students were riders and many horse owners as well. But the course was from the medical side, and none of them had ever experienced an injury like Suki's.

A few months after the fire Dr. Fugaro had asked me for photographs of Suki’s injuries and permission to show them to his classes. I knew that this was a unique case, and as with the veterinary students at New Bolton, this would be a wonderful experience. The opportunity for Suki's experience to help burned horses in the future was important to me.

The class would be in October, a week after I returned from Milan for a conference. I had to prepare a Power Point presentation and talk that would last for 30 minutes, allowing time following the talk for students to ask questions. My initial reaction was whoa! 30 minutes?? how am I going to do that? My husband told me that it would be easy for me talk about my favorite topic (HORSES!!) for 30 minutes. So funny, that man. Well, he was actually right (not that I would tell him that). I went through the photographs and created slides to tell the story then wrote a commentary to refer to.

I was a bit nervous the day of the talk and woke to a thick blanket of fog and a 2 hour drive in the predawn hours. Because of course when I asked what time the class started it was an 8 o'clock class, not a noon start! Dr. Fugaro had extended the invitation to anyone on campus, not limiting it to just the students taking that course. Great, I thought, a crowd! Now I have to give presentations for my job, but the thought of talking to a room full of college students was a little intimidating! Then I thought about how this was an early class, and college students are notorious for not wanting to get up early. Well, I was wrong. The room was fairly full even at that early hour. Now for my other fear: will anyone even CARE what I have to say?

Thankfully, the talk went well. The audience appeared to be interested and asked a lot of questions. Ultimately the whole hour for the class was used! The questions were everything from my feelings at the time, to financials, to future for Suki. They were engaged, and I had a blast! Dr. Fugaro asked if knowing what I know now, would I do it again. Without hesitation I said "Yes, absolutely". That reply drew laughter. My explanation included the fact that although Suki's injuries were extensive, she did not suffer any of the potential set backs and secondary problems. Her pain was managed well, and she seemed her happy normal self throughout the ordeal. I was prepared at any time, to make the decision to euthanize her if necessary. Well, I say that now, but I would probably have had to be heavily medicated if that became necessary.

Before I left one of the students asked if Suki had a FaceBook page. She did not. "Well, don't you think she should? Then we can all follow her progress." So, I started the page shortly after: Suki the horse: burn survivor.

By October 2010 Suki was looking really well. She had a dappled coat, additional hair growth and thanks to the Elta, the skin was looking better as well. In fact, the skin of the areas without hair or just a bit of peach fuzz had actually begun to develop a darker pigment. It did not feel like scar tissue, but seemed strong and less sensitive than when it was pink. Suki still wore a fly sheet and bandage over the burn on her back, plus sunscreen on her face. I intentionally kept her mane long, to cover the area on the right side of her neck that did not have full hair growth. Not that pulling her mane would be so much fun....in fact, sedation is usually required! (Suki, not me!)

These photos are from October 2010. Doesn't she look great!! (that's Nikki walking up behind her)

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