Sunday, January 8, 2012
January 2011: I see a skin graft in our future!
Suki and Nikki
January brought snow, and plenty of it! Those nights of wound management and grooming of the girls was cold indeed! No more lunging for now. Since neither Suki nor Nikki were wearing shoes at this time, I did not have to worry about getting snowball pads for them to prevent ice balls*.
Even while wearing a heavy blanket (and sometimes more than one layer!) and a bandage, Suki still managed to roll hard enough to rub open the burn on her back. The cold weather also made it difficult for the Elasticon to adhere well, so I often kept a roll in my car to help it stick. I also kept bottles of saline at home so that it would not be cold against Suki's skin while I cleaned the wound. The setbacks became frustrating, and I started to think about the possibility of the necessity of a skin graft.
Heather had sent me some photos of the horse owned by one of her boarders. Dr. Fugaro had performed a skin graft done on his fetlock, and the results were amazing! I guess that was her subtle way of telling me to speak to him about it! : )
Cost was a bit of a concern, as I was still paying off the New Bolton bill. But I knew that this burn was never going to heal at the rate that we were going. I decided to speak to Dr. Fugaro about the possibilities and the logistics of such a procedure. He had previously told me that the skin graft could be performed on site at a barn, but he is in New Jersey and I am in Pennsylvania. One option we considered was bringing Suki to Heather's farm which was in close proximity to Mike's office and the college. Post op examinations and treatments would be time consuming which would require someone from the veterinary practice going to the farm in addition to Mike, or having someone from Heather's already busy staff to pitch in. Mike suggested that perhaps Suki could be boarded at the Centenary College Equestrian Center which he visited daily and had access to staff and students. This had to be cleared with the college before we could proceed. In addition, the only cost to me would be board and Suki's personal incidentals....Mike was not going to charge me for the procedure or follow up care. There are simply no words to describe how grateful I was for such a gift. He felt that it would be a great learning experience for the students, but I also knew that it would be time consuming for all of them. With me living nearly two hours away, I was not going to be much help on a regular basis.
The college approved the idea, and Mike set about assembling a team to help with Suki's care. Because I was going to be taking Nikki to Heather's March to get back into work, we decided to coordinate the dates so that only one trip would be necessary. Dr. Fugaro thought that Suki would need to stay at Centenary for 4-6 weeks, depending on the progress following the skin graft procedure. He had also arranged for a representative from a blanket repair company to adapt one of Suki's fly sheets to protect the graft area. I was excited and nervous....a lot of people were donating their time, and I wanted it to be worth their efforts. They did not feel that way, of course. The most important thing to Team Suki was getting that burn to heal. In our cold and cynical world, extreme acts of kindness and generosity seem unusual. I suspect that is not really true, as I have witnessed so much kindness all around me since the fire. It inspires me to be a better person and to "give back" in whatever way I can.
January 7-8, 2012
Wonderful rides on Nikki the past few days. This morning was cold, so there was a bit of squealing and bucking on the lunge! But as usual, she was delightful under saddle, and she did some excellent lateral work. Suki has been in a good mood, and her graft area looks great! I posted a photograph of it on FB yesterday and received an overwhelming response to her progress!
* When horses are wearing shoes, the snow becomes balled up in the foot creating an ice ball. This makes them look as though they are walking in high heels and can lead to slipping and injury. Snowball pads are typically a rubber covering that fits between the hoof and the shoe, preventing this from happening. Although ice can accumulate in the hoof of a horse without shoes it doesn't seem to get stuck and make a huge ball.