Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Life and an anniversary

Well, it seems that time has gotten away from me once again!  The aftermath of the two conferences plus additional projects at work have given me few opportunities to write.  Isaiah's summer schedule is not easy as far as camp timing so riding opportunities have been limited.  I do go to the barn each night to groom both girls, but have not had enough time to ride except on the weekends.  Thankfully Louise has been keeping Nikki going for me.

The two day-camps that Isaiah is attending this summer (the Montessori where he attended preschool and kindergarten and the Reading Public Museum Discovery camps) were both closed the week of July 1.  We found this out late, but planned an impromptu vacation to a Hilton resort in Virginia Beach.  Neither Michael nor I had ever been there so we thought we would give it a try.  The plan was to leave early AM July 4 and return Monday July 8.

Wednesday July 3: Ripley at kennel: check; bags packed: check: arrangements for Cecil and Bentley to be fed: check; Suki and Nikki arrangements: check.
Wednesday PM: Bentley vomits in the kitchen.  No big deal, right?  Cats vomit.  This was not a hair ball.  Just undigested food.  For the next couple of hours I noticed that Bentley was posturing strangely.  I tried to palpate his bladder but he wouldn't allow me to pick him up.  During my restless night I checked on him several times and he just did not seem right to me.

Thursday, July 4: 6 AM: Bentley did not come right to breakfast which is unusual for him.  He did eat when offered food but posturing was still unusual.  The litter box had a wet spot in it but we have two cats.  Then I saw Bentley enter the litter box and try to urinate....nothing.  My suspicions were confirmed.  Urinary blockage.  I called the emergency vet and off we went.  Bentley was unblocked successfully but would need to remain in hospital for at least 48 hours.  While we could have had someone pick him up, Bentley will require close observation.  That's a lot of responsibility to place on someone, plus we would worry the entire time.  Hotel cancelled (Thank you HiltonHonors status waiving all fees!)  Isaiah was crushed, of course, and we were all disappointed not to spend some much needed family relaxation time at the beach.  But the health of our four-legged family members is very important, so we will just have to plan something for a later date.

Bentley reblocked immediately upon catheter removal.  He was re-catheterized but I started to think that a perianal urethrostomy might  be in his future.  When the second catheter was removed Bentley blocked again.  It was not due to crystal formation, but perhaps an anatomical issue or spontaneous spasm of the urethra.  Douglassville Animal Hospital was highly recommended as apparently not all veterinary hospitals perform this procedure.  It is critical to select a doctor who has performed the surgery many times, and that was the case with one of the vets at Douglassville.  We transferred Bentley immediately and he had surgery the next day.  He is now resting comfortably at home (July 10) and doing great!  The care and service was awesome and we have our sweet Bentley home.  He gets antibiotics and pain meds twice a day, but is eating well, snuggling with his favorite stuffed dog (he likes to "nurse" on the dog) and purring like a mad man.  So we are all relieved.

Bentley, sequestered in a guest room

July 9, 2013
Has it really been four years?  Sometimes it seems like just yesterday and others, like it was 100 years ago.  I can so vividly remember the first telephone call from Bobbi alerting me to the fire, and the frantic night ahead.  But I don't think about that if I can help it.  Instead I try to focus on Suki's survival and how much hope and inspiration that she has brought to so many people.  The July/August issue of Warmbloods Today magazine contains an article (by me) about Suki.  It was difficult to keep the word count down, so some details have been lost to editing.  My book contains more detail without making it cumbersome.

Last year we toasted with champagne, but this year I just wanted to honor the day, and Suki, quietly.  She survived and continues to thrive.  That is the most important thing.  I read something today that hit my heart: The phrase "everything will be alright." When someone says this to us I think we perceive it to mean that all will turn out the way we hope it will.  How many times during Suki's recovery did people say that to me?  Well meaning, and a way of consoling, it is a heartfelt sentiment when offered.  But these words struck a chord: " It's not that everything will turn out the way you wish, but if you live your life with grace and dignity you will be able to handle anything that comes your way."  I think that this embodies Suki's courage.  I remember thinking about all that was lost with that fire.  But really, life is full of changes.  Sometimes unwanted changes.  You can ignore it and pretend it is not happening or embrace it and make your life better not only in spite of it but because of it.  Many lessons have come in light of the tragedy.  We continue to forge ahead.

Riding in this heat has been crazy, but early morning rides seem to help.  The down side is that the arena has full sun in the morning.  When I arrive at the barn shortly before 7 AM the girls are ready to come in.  One morning they actually ran to the gate.  I felt like we were racing down the driveway!
I have kept the rides light in the extreme heat, focusing primarily on transitions and lateral work.  On days that were not quite so oppressive I added shortenings and lengthenings within the gaits, and Nikki seems to be offering some real signs of a formidable medium trot.  She gets a little heavy in the hand at the canter when it is hot so I try to do that work earlier in our ride, knowing full well that we need to build stamina.  But my goodness she is fun to ride!

I admit that on the first very hot day I pushed myself more than I should have.  Nikki recovered well, I gave her many breaks.  But during our cool out walk on a long rein I suddenly felt chills and knew that it was time to dismount.  Quickly I got Nikki into the barn and untacked her, noting that her respiration was completely normal.  I threw a wet towel over her back and grabbing a Gatorade I sat on bales of shavings in front of the fan.  Recovery was quick then, but a lesson learned.

I was able to work Suki on the lunge a couple of cool mornings and in hand on those days that were not quite so agreeable.  The greenhead flies were particularly bad on some occasions, but we got through it.  Now in the middle of an even hotter heat wave, Suki will not work and Nikki has short early AM or evening rides.  We are not pushing it.

Suki must wear clothing at all times when outside, but during the heat of the day in her stall in front of a fan she can be naked. This is a huge development from last summer.  Even so, it is still fairly hot when the girls go out for the night so I hate putting on a fly sheet.  But it is a necessity and Suki seems to do fine.  I recently bought a more open mesh fly sheet but because it does not have enough protection across the top of the back where Suki does not have hair.  My awesome blanket person, Donna, is adding a bit of breathable fabric to that section.  I think that it will work.

So as the heat continues we will work carefully and on some days not at all.  I can't wait for the heat to break, but will be cautious about wishing for winter!

No comments:

Post a Comment