|Before the fire|
Of course the next time I saw her she was burned over 70% of her body, slathered in SSD and eyes swollen shut. The veterinarians assured me that her pain was being well managed and Suki was getting 24 hour care. She was stable, and there was hope. The potential complications were many, and we would try to manage them as they arose. We never did have to deal with those complications, and seven weeks later Suki left ICU for life on the outside. During those seven weeks I visited her 3-4 times each week, something also attributed to her successful recovery. It has been a long road since then, but I would say that Suki lives the life of a normal horse now. She embraces her celebrity status like the diva she is, loving attention (and gummy bears!).
|2 weeks after the fire|
It is said that time heals all wounds. Sometimes it takes a very long time though, and we retain the scars from those wounds as a reminder. When I think back to that night, what stands out most is the fear. Not just my own fear but my overwhelming concern for what Suki might be experiencing. Paralyzed with fear and my inability to assist in the search because of my three year old son, I feared the worst and hoped for a good outcome. When the call did come that the two mares had been found, the news was just about as bad as could be. Suki was critically injured and would likely not survive. I immediately asked if she should be put down, but the the veterinarian who evaluated her in the field that night, said not yet, but that Suki needed to go to New Bolton Center to be examined, over an hour away. Bobbi and her husband borrowed a trailer (because our trailers were at the site of the fire) and volunteered to take Suki to the hospital. First they dropped off Whisby, Bobbi's horse, at another farm, because although she was injured, Whisby did not need to go to the hospital. To this day I have never felt that I adequately thanked Bobbi and Dave for their kindness.
So many people are responsible for getting Suki to this point. The firefighters who rescued the horses that night, the many volunteers who helped search for Suki and Whisby, the doctors, nurses, etc at New Bolton who went above and beyond to save my girl, Donna, who drove to New Bolton with me that first morning and Babette who met us there, Beth who came the next day, Kelly Buss who took care of Suki at her farm also going above and beyond with her exceptional care, Heather Mason for her support as I awaited word on the night of the fire, and during her recovery, Dr. Mike Fugaro and Team Suki (Sarah, Meagan, Kim, Becky) at Centenary College for performing Suki's skin graft and taking care of her during the follow up, Lori Ferdock for her amazing help in caring for Suki when I moved her to regular boarding and introducing me and Suki to other burn survivors. There is of course, Jenn whom I also met through Suki and takes the beautiful photos that are posted each night on FaceBook! I'm sure there are many that I have forgotten to name personally, and for that I apologize. I appreciate the support of the thousands of people around the world who understand that Suki was worth saving and know that everything I do with her is for her health, safety and happiness. Of course I can't forget my husband who has tolerated my horse obsession for years! And to Suki, who in spite of her severe burns and swollen face, responded to my voice with a nicker, telling me that she was in there and wanted to live.
Although the physical wounds have healed, and Suki seems her normal diva self in every way, it still hurts me, deep within my heart to imagine the fear and pain for Suki that night. But this morning driving down the driveway at the farm I looked across to see Suki happily grazing in the field alongside Nikki. I thought of what Dr. Kelly Kalf said early in Suki's recovery: "She lifted her head, and we never looked back". While Suki's life is quite different than it was before the fire, she is back to work and I have a small glimmer of hope that I may sit on her again. Even if that never happens Suki inspires people around the world because of her courage and will to live. I have met amazing people and made wonderful lifelong friends through Suki. And I get to see my beautiful girl every day, something I try not to take for granted. We try to live each day to the fullest because everything can change in an instant. When something catastrophic happens we can roll over and feel sorry for ourselves (I sometimes did that in the middle of the night when no one could see) or kick on. I chose to kick on, because Suki's courage gave me the courage to do so.