Saturday, August 23, 2014

Suki's Medical Records: An Eye Opener!

Today is one of those rainy days that makes you want to curl up in a big chair with a good book and a glass of wine.  I awoke to the sound of rain pitter patter on the skylight, a comforting sound had I not been planning to go to the barn to ride.  It was only 6 AM so there was time for the rain to stop (or at least slow down!) to still allow enough time to ride Nikki and lunge Suki before Isaiah's riding lesson.  I did curl up in a big chair for awhile, but with my morning caffeine (Mt. Dew) and Suki's medical charts from New Bolton.  Not exactly light reading, but also not unusual for someone like me who reads Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy for fun.  My original goal was to go to the barn between 6:30 and 7 giving me plenty of time to work both girls before going back home to pick up Isaiah for his lesson.  As 7AM gave way to 7:30 then 8 it was apparent that the rain was not going to slow down.  Just before 9 I ran over to the barn to check on Suki and Nikki.  By then the rain HAD stopped or at least trickled to a drizzle but there wasn't time to really do anything.  We managed to fit in Isaiah's lesson during a break in the showers although it did start to rain quite hard toward the end of the lesson bringing them back to the barn a little early.  The meteorologists predicted that the day would not be a complete washout so I tried to be optimistic that I would squeeze in a ride later in the day.  How I wished I had an indoor arena this morning!  By 3 PM I gave up on the ride and decided to spend some time grooming Suki and Nikki.

The barn was quiet with just the sound of the rain and the girls munching on hay.  Most days I enjoy when other people are around and in the barn, but today the peaceful solitude was welcome.  Suki and Nikki make me laugh at their playfulness and little idiosyncrasies while I groom.  They had dried since their time out over night and though I know they will get again when they go out after dinner, I think we all enjoyed our time together!

When I got home the child was in the yard in his raincoat and Wellies digging and building.  He was having a blast.....what's a little dirt when your child is smiling and having fun!

Earlier in the week we ad had a few light showers here and there so the footing in the arena has been quite nice.

Monday, August 18, 2014
Third day in a row of riding for Nikki.  Sometimes she can be a little cranky on the the third day, but always gets over it in a few minutes.  Today she started with nice energy and a super attitude.  I spread the trot poles a little further apart to encourage the big trot, and Nikki conquered it beautifully!  I was nearly propelled out of the saddle by the push and suspension, but I will take that any day!  It seemed fairly easy for her so I may have to increase the distance from there occasionally!

Leaving the trot poles at the distance I used for Nikki, I warmed up Suki on the lunge.  She too was nicely engaged and forward.  At times too forward to pay attention to my halt command, but we addressed that quickly and brought it back together!  There was some slight tail swishing on the trot to canter transitions so I am wondering if there is some discomfort.  Sometimes Suki has stiffness but I didn't see any during this session.  The footing was soft and Suki just had her feet done late last week, so I don't think that is the problem.  Something to keep a watch on though.  I decided to put her through the trot poles which would also show lameness if there was something.  Suki trotted through the poles with ease showing no signs of lameness or discomfort.  I opened up the poles a little more to ask for a bigger push and extension.  No problem.  I finished with a nice easy canter then some leading exercises to cool down.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Higher temperatures today so I started early again with Suki and Nikki.  I was also expecting visitors just before noon so I was hoping to get back home and shower after my ride.

Nikki started off sluggish on the lunge, and I could totally relate!  A sinus headache had awakened me around 3 AM, so I was slightly sluggish myself!  Once I got on Nikki was fine and happy to work, showing good energy.  That was a pleasant surprise given the lunge warm up!  I worked with Nikki on nice forward gaits then moved to shoulder in exercises.  She was so light off the leg, that once again, even in my bad direction, the shoulder in was amazing!  I may have to stop referring to it as my bad direction soon! I know when to stop so I wrapped it up with the big stretchy trots in serpentines.

By then it was hot and buggy and i briefly debated not working Suki.  But she is not fine china and perfectly capable of working in less than perfect conditions.  Suki rose to the occasion, working through transitions sharply, paying close attention to each command that was given to her.

At just about noon Kryssy and Kevin arrived from Saratoga, on there way to the rest of their holiday.  I first "met" Kryssy on FaceBook because of her dog Duke's page.  She had adopted Duke, a pit bull mix, at 11 months of age and in spite of any issues he had in the past, he is a sweet and loving member her family, training to be a therapy dog.  Once again, through Suki, I have met wonderful people who have been supportive during her recovery, sharing their own life stories.  It was so much fun to finally meet Kryssy and Kevin, and Suki was sweet and cuddly letting them scratch her face and head and of course she accepted their peppermint candy gifts readily.  This has been part of the silver lining of a tragic event.

On Friday I received Suki's complete medical records from her stay at New Bolton.  I am planning to incorporate some of the information into the book, providing a little more detail.  So today as the rain continued to come down I continued to read through Suki's trials and tribulations during the first seven weeks of her recovery.  Quite an eye-opener of a read.  Some of the information I knew, of course, but there were many more details, written in doctors, nurses and veterinary students own hand.  The level of care was amazing.  Every parameter was measured 24/7, with changes indicating pain or discomfort resulting in an adjustment of pain medications.  Suki was not always an easy patient, and this too was noted.  Much of it was attributed to discomfort, boredom and fatigue.  Suki likes to lie down to get a good sleep and during the early days she was clearly not comfortable enough to do this.  I think she was worried that she would not be able to get back up.  As the burned skin began to slough off it seemed crinkly, which Suki did not like.  When she became so itchy that it was like self mutilation, the gabapentin was increased relieving the neuropathic pain.  Notes were made if she seemed agitated or bored, and even when she was apparently asking for attention and treats.  Some of my favorite parts were when they tried to take her outside to graze, noting that she would not relax if the cows were nearby.  Different vet students rotated through every two weeks and the attending physicians tried to match someone to Suki's care who was patient and dedicated because of the extra effort and high level of patience required to deal with Suki and her injuries.

Some comments irritated me because it seemed that some couldn't fully appreciate how uncomfortable it was for Suki to wear a halter.  Obviously she needed to be restrained for certain treatments and early on she was sedated for many of them.  And it can be dangerous to have an out of control 1400lb 17.3 hand horse to deal with.  But others noted that they understood why she was behaving in a certain way and that made me feel better!  Notes also described when she was resting comfortably, dozing and her massive appetite.  But I don't want to give too much away, because that you will have to read in the book!

Initially I thought it would be really difficult to read, and yes, some of the early descriptions and concerns showed just how grave her situation was.  But notes about the cows, and her daily walks were pretty funny and Suki really showed her personality as her condition improved.  Her treatment plan was not easy, and changed frequently because of the unknown.  That is clear from these notes and I applaud the team at New Bolton for their efforts and saving the life of my beautiful Suki.  The discharge document thanks me for my "commitment to Suki and endless patience."  And I am forever grateful to them for giving back my girl.

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