Friday, May 30, 2008

OSU trip 2008 - Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

After we came back to the hospital after lunch we walked around, looking at the llamas, cows, and other horses. There are four aisles of stalls that open on both ends into two large main hallways. The one large hallway is reception, while the other one has exam rooms, procedure rooms, and the entrance to the surgical suite. We just wandered around, and I was taking pictures of things I thought were interesting. Such as, this picture of the treadmill room, which I'm assuming is for gait analysis or some kind of stress test.

Then I took a picture of a situation, without knowing what was really going on. L and I discussed what we were seeing, and it soon became apparent that this was not something that we should be seeing, let alone have a photo of. I'm not going into details, and nothing unethical or illegal was going on, it's just that this particular situation was not one that should be seen by patients, or, more importantly, posted on my blog. I immediately deleted the picture, and we decided to move on to another area. However, one of the technicians (or possibly a student - hard to tell) saw that we had been standing there. She didn't say anything, but I felt like we had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We walked over to the surgery center, hoping to see a horse prepped for, or even undergoing surgery, but there was nothing to see there. So we headed back to our stall to wait for Dr. Derm. A few minutes later she showed up, read the test again, then had Senior Student get the paperwork together for our discharge. Before we left I had another question for her about Kaswyn's coat. His coat looked terrible. It was rough, dull, and had lots of long guard hairs everywhere. Dr. Derm said that he had a classical steroid coat, indicitive of a horse who'd been on a course of steriods. I had never heard that, so I was surprised. He also has a little hump in the center of his neck that he hadn't had before this whole hive incident. She explained that steroid use in horses, as with humans, can redistribute fat in the body, so he might have picked up a little fatty area on the crest of his neck. I'm hoping that his coat will eventually return to normal and that fat pad will go away. It's not a big deal, but I don't like the way it looks.

After Dr. Derm answered my questions she said it would just be a few minutes for the paperwork, and that we could wait at the stall. That's when Dr. Med came up and asked if he could talk to us. I thought he was just going to tell me about after care for the surgery site, but he said "I heard that you were walking around, and that you saw something and took a picture?"

I said yes, it was true, and that I hadn't understood when I took the picture, but once I understood what was happening I deleted the picture. He seemed concerned that we might be upset about what we saw, and wanted to make sure that we understood what was actually going on. We said that we had figured it out and that we were sorry, but he seemed more concerned that we would misinterpret what was happening, get upset, and then tell people what we think we saw. He seemed to accept that this was not the case and that we weren't crazy people. We thanked him for his help and he said goodbye.

Both L and I felt like we had broken the rules. We felt really bad, and figured that the staff all knew about it by now. It got really uncomfortable and I really was ready to leave, but noticed that Kaswyn's lead rope was missing. Even though we didn't want to, we started walking around searching for the missing lead rope. Dr. Med saw us in another aisle, and said "Can I help you?" I explained, sheepishly, that our lead rope was missing and he said he'd get right on it. I didn't want to walk around any more so I went to go check out and pay my bill while L hitched up the trailer. By the time I got back to the stall, the lead rope was there. Dr. Med must have found it in an attempt to get us out of the facility before we could cause any more trouble!

As you can tell, Ohio State Vet Hospital is a teaching hospital. It's a fantastic facility and any time a student touched my horse there was always a vet present. Because it's a teaching hospital, the prices are fantastic. The allergy test was the most expensive, coming in at $290. The splinter removal? A reasonable $90. No charge for the skin scrapings, and I went home with a free bottle of anti-bacterial/anti-fungal shampoo and a syringe full of wound ointment for the surgery site.

I'm just hoping it's a long time before I have to go back there. That will give the staff a chance to forget the trouble that L and I think we might have caused. I'm hoping the remember Kaswyn, though. As we were leaving Dr. Derm said "You're horse was such a wonderful patient. He just made my day!"

I couldn't agree more.

To be concluded with the test results!

Part 5

Thursday, May 22, 2008

OSU trip 2008 - Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

We left the horse stalls and followed Dr. Med to the triage area. Dr. Med introduced us to another doctor (who I think was an intern) that would be doing the surgery with Senior Student. Dr. Intern told me to lead Kaswyn into the stocks for the surgery. He'd never been in stocks before and he was a little hesitant but obediently followed me into the stocks. As soon as Dr. Intern started to close the gate behind him, Kaswyn got a little scared and calmly but deliberately backed out of the stocks. I reassured him that it was okay, and led him back into the stocks. This time he stayed put but still had a very worried look on his face.

"Uh, don't lock me in!"

"Okay, this is cool. I'll stand here."

"But I'm still worried!"

Dr. Med, Dr. Intern, and Senior Student all examined the area and formed a game plan. I told L that she'd have to take pictures because I wasn't going to look. I didn't need to almost (or completely) faint again. She said that she'd be able to watch, no problem. Senior Student scrubbed the area while Dr. Med and Dr. Intern prepared for the surgery. Then Dr. Intern numbed the area with the local anesthetic. Of course Kaswyn was a star and didn't fuss. Dr. Med even commented that Kaswyn was a good horse. Then he joked with me saying that he's so good because he's a spoiled boy. I said you bet he's spoiled, he's worth spoiling.

Surgery scrub

Senior Student scrubbed the area again. Then with Dr. Med watching the whole time, Dr. Intern made an incision and tried to pull the splinter out. He wasn't able to get any splinter pieces, but found instead the capsule that Kaswyn's body had formed around the splinter. I asked if it was necessary to remove the capsule and Dr. Med explained that it probably would have been okay to leave it alone, but that it could have possibly abcessed at some point down the road so it was better to have it removed.

**Warning! This video is of the actual surgery! It's kinda icky!**

Video of the splinter surgery

The video is hard to see because of my camera. But see what a good boy my horse is! He didn't move at all. Such a superstar.

When Dr. Med had examined the incision and found nothing else to remove, he directed Senior Student to put two stitches in. That's when another team of vets said that they had to turn the lights off for an eye exam on a horse in the triage bay next door. Dr. Med found a flashlight and held it for the stitching. The first stitch went fine, but he had Senior Student cut the second one and re-do it. Dr. Med told me that he was leaving the end of the incision open to drain, and that every day I could press gently on the area and try to express any fluid. He wasn't going to give him any antibiotics since Kaswyn had just finished a course of doxycycline from the last splinter, but if I got any pus out of the wound he would have to get some antibiotics.

Sewing the incision by flashlight

We took my fabulous horse back to the stall and gave him some hay that we had brought with us. Then L and I decided it was time to eat, so we left for about an hour. When we got back we had about 45 minutes to waste before the four hour reading of the allergy test, so we walked around and took some pictures. That's when we got into trouble.

To be continued...

Part 4

Friday, May 16, 2008

OSU trip 2008 - Part 2

Part 1

We put Kaswyn in the stall and soon were met by two students. One of them, a senior, took Kaswyn's vital signs. The other had a clipboard of info. After a few minutes Dr. Derm returned with a dermatology technician (she might have been a vet too, but I'm not sure) and two or three more students. We all stood in the hallway while I gave Kaswyn's history of hives, medications, and the ingredient lists for all the feeds and supplements that he is getting. While we were discussing Kaswyn another doctor form the medical team came over - Dr. Med. Then we were ready to start the preparation for the testing and Dr. Med said that he'd be back later.

The allergy test works like this - purified allergens are suspended in sterile saline and loaded into a syringe. Small amounts are injected just under the skin, which initially makes a small hive-like swelling because of the fluid. If Kaswyn is not allergic to it the swelling should go away and not return, but if he is allergic he'll get a welt or hive in the area, the size of which equals how allergic he is to the allergen. There were 76 allergens for Kaswyn's test, including a spot for saline alone (which should give no response - negative control) and histamine (which should give the strongest response - positive control). All the allergens will be compared to the negative and positive controls to judge if there is a reaction or not. For a spot to be considered reactive it must be more swollen than the negative control. The allergens were a variety of molds, grasses, weeds, trees, and animals.

Dr. Derm got the trays of syringes ready for injecting into Kaswyn's neck. Senior Student gave him a light sedative and we waited about ten minutes for it to take effect. He seemed to get a little sleepy, but not nearly as sleepy as I thought he would be. Dr. Derm commented that he didn't look very sleepy, and I said that I didn't think they even sedated him last time, so she said we could just go for it and start the testing. I held his head while she clipped an area on his neck and made dots with a black Sharpie to indicate where the allergens would be injected. She would use the dots later to read the test to determine what reactions he had.

I enlisted L to take pictures and videos while I held his head, and they began injecting. Although he wasn't very sleepy, he didn't move or shake his head during the whole time that they jabbed him in the neck with 76 tiny needles. When they were all done Dr. Derm said that he was a very good patient, and seemed impressed with his demeanor.

Picture of the Allergy Test

Video of Kaswyn during the allergy test

Before she left I had Dr. Derm take a look at a few other skin related issues since I had a dermatology expert on hand. When I was grooming Kaswyn the day before I found something on his shoulder that felt like another big splinter on the same side of his neck. Not as big as the other one, but about an inch long and a little puffy. I told her about the previous splinter extraction and showed her the old incision and then the new splinter. She had a feel and agreed that it was another splinter. After clipping the area for a better view, she began tryng to push the splinter out and was able to push out some of it, along with some pus, but was concerned that it was breaking off inside the wound. We also were able to find three or four more small splinters that were not inflamed so were easily removed.

As we were feeling around for more splinters, Dr. Med came back, examined the area, and agreed that it would have to be cut out. He said that we could take Kaswyn over to the triage area for a quick minor surgery to remove it. Dr. Derm asked how Dr. Med was going to sedate Kaswyn, and he asked what would be best so as not to interfere with the allergy test. She suggested local carbocaine, and Dr. Med looked at Kaswyn and said "Well, we can only do that if he's going to be very still and good about it" and Dr. Derm said "He wasn't very sleepy when we did the allergy test and he didn't move at all. In fact he was fantastic so I don't think you'll have any problem."

Dr. Med looked skeptical, and then looked at me and said "He's an arab?" I said "Yes, but he's really a good boy. He'll be still for it, I'm sure." He frowned a bit and said "Usually arabs are not that calm." I assured him that Kaswyn was a special case, and he agreed to go along with the plan. I could tell that he thought there was no way that he'd be able to locally numb the area without a sedative. I knew that Kaswyn had been poked and nerve blocked lots of times before with no sedatives and while he might flich a tiny bit he's never done anything remotely bad like kicking or rearing or running you over. He's just not like that.

Dr. Derm did the fifteen minute read with Senior Student and Derm Tech (with two other students watching). Before we took Kaswyn to triage I also had Dr. Derm look at a spot on his left hind pastern right above the hoof and also some areas on his hind cannon bones. I kind of knew what the cannon bone issue was, since he gets this flaky skin there every spring and fall that I've been able to clear up myself with antibacterial shampoo. The spots on his pastern I was unsure of, so she said she'd have the students do skin scrapings and look at them under the scope. She said she wouldn't charge me because she knew what it was and it was a classical case of bacterial dermatitis so having the students see it would be a good thing.

When the skin scrapings were complete, it was time to go to triage for minor surgery.

To be continued...

Part 3

OSU trip 2008 - Part 1

I got out of bed Thursday morning and I was beat. Macey decided to wake up at 3:30 and didn't want to go back to sleep. So I brought her into bed with us and tried to sleep myself. Unfortunately she spent the next 45 minutes crawling over Craig and I, poking us in the face, and whispering. Craig took her back to bed but I was unable to sleep after that.

But I had a horse to get ready for a trip to The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital, so I dragged myself out of bed and got on the road by 6:45. I got to the barn and fed the horses, and while I waited for him to eat I got Kaswyn's wraps and shipping boots out. Usually if he's going on a short trip I just put the boots on him, but I decided that since he was finally sound I wanted to make sure he didn't bang himself up in the trailer so he was going to get double protection - standing wraps with boots over them. Sure, it was overkill, but sometimes my horse steps on himself in the trailer and I just didn't need that right then.

As he was eating I started wrapping his legs. I had the first one was half-way on he started to get excited. He knew he was going someplace, based on the wraps and the fact that he had gotten a bath and clipped two days before. When I put the last wrap on his back leg he wasn't eating anymore and began pawing. Forget food, he wanted to go!

I got a call from my trainer, L, to let me know that she was on her way. She has a four horse goose neck and she said that she'd have to meet me on the road to load Kaswyn. It was no problem because it's a four horse head-to-head trailer with a ramp on the side, so she just pulled over to the side of the road and dropped the ramp on the driveway. Kaswyn hadn't been on her trailer in a long time, but he just walked up the ramp no problem. However, I started to lead him head first into the stall, and L says "Uh, no, he needs to go the other way. He's riding backwards." Oh. Yeah, I get it now. So I turned him around and he backed into the slot. She hung the hay bag and we were on the road.

Now the reason why my horse sometimes steps on himself in the trailer is because he doesn't do corners very well. I don't know what the deal is, but he tends to scramble when you turn. He never kicks or fusses any other time, but it's like he loses his balance on the turns, even if you go really slow. The first time L hauled him for me I wasn't there, and I told her "You have to go REALLY slow around corners." and she thought she took her first corner slowly but she said it sounded like he fell down so it must have been too fast the The Princess. After that she went really slow with him, like granny slow, and he was fine.

This was his first trip backwards, and I think he liked it because we only heard one little bump on the first corner and after that he didn't move at all. Traveling backwards must make it easier for him to balance or something.

The drive to OSU from our area is about two and a half hours. It's almost all highway so it's an easy drive. We caught up on what's been going on with each other and talked the whole time so before we knew it we were there. We pulled up to the main entrance and unloaded the boy.

OSU Vet Hospital, Main Entrance

The Big Hallway

L unwrapped him in the big main hallway while I went inside and checked in. They called the dermatology vet and had me sign some paperwork. By the time I walked back out to the hall the vet (I'll call her Dr. Derm) had come to meet us. First we got Kaswyn's weight on a gigantic scale (he's 1140 pounds). Then we headed down to one of the four aisle ways with horse stalls.

An aisle of horse stall fronts

The stalls are set up to be easily cleaned and disinfected. The walls are all concrete, and the floors padded with nice thick rubber mats. The backs of the stalls have two openings - one very skinny people door and one feed door with an observation window. These doors open into another hallway where they store the bedding and hay.

Aisle way in back of the stalls

There are stalls for cows too in another aisle, and they have pipe fence type fronts instead of the traditional horse stall fronts. They see all kinds of large animals there, not just horses. There were alpacas, cows, sheep, and llamas there for us to take a look at later.

Observation and feed doors as seen from inside of stall

Kaswyn in his stall, just a little nervous

Dr. Derm showed us to the stall and then went off to grab students and the equipment needed to get the test started.

To be continued...

Part 2

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Playing catch up

By now this is old news, but here's what's been going on at the barn...

I had a few great rides on my horse, so it was inevitable that something would happen to slow our progress. On Tuesday of last week I had just started to groom Kaswyn when I noticed a large swelling on his neck that wasn't there on Monday. Upon closer inspection I saw that he had a little hole in the swelling, and that he also had a few small splinters in random spots on his neck. I squeezed the area and pus came out. Great. I could feel a very large splinter in there. Susan said that she had seen him rubbing his neck on one of the posts by the gate, so that's how he must have done it.

I called Dr. B, who had just been out to give yearly shots, and had to wait a few hours for him to arrive. Since Kaswyn was outside when I got there, I put him back out and got some pizza with Marge and Susan. I figured I'd let him have some grass while we waited.

We brought all the horses in for the evening feeding, and a few minutes later Dr. B showed up. He checked out the swelling and then gave Kaswyn some geneticin and some sedatives. He had his tech shave and scrub the area, and then he tried to dig out the splinter with his fingers. No luck, so he went to the forceps. That didn't work so well either. He said he was going to have to open the hole a little bit to try and get to the splinter. He was really hesitant about just slicing it open because of course it was located right over Kaswyn's jugular vein.

So once more with the scrubbing, and Dr. B got gloves on and made a teeny incision just to widen the hole. I was watching him dig around in the hole, and as I was holding Kaswyn's heavy head I started to get a little woozy. I said to Marge "Here, can you hold him for a sec?" and then I walked rapidly out of the barn. Luckily there is a bench right outside the barn and I had to sit with my head between my knees for a few minutes. It got a little dicey for a minute or two and I really thought I was going to pass out. I got the ear ringing, tunnel vision, and little spots of light swirling around. I stared hard at a rock on the ground and begged my brain not to shut down. Somehow I was able to return to normal and walked calmly back into the barn.

Dr. B still was digging at his neck. Kaswyn was starting to wake up a little and he was beginning to fuss a bit. Dr. B said "Come on, please don't make me have to open this up. I really don't want to do that!" I made sure I focused on Kaswyn's face and not the hole so that I wouldn't almost faint again. That's why I didn't see Dr. B finally pull the monster splinter out. It was about an inch and a half long.

He decided to leave the hole open to drain and put Kaswyn on ten capsules of doxycycline twice a day for five days. That meant that I had to open up all of his feed containers and mix the capsules in. Just when I thought I was done breaking little capsules in his food. Ugh. It's been a week now and the hole looks great. Just a little scab and the swelling is almost gone.

In arena news, I've been in contact with Mr. K. He is now able to come and work on the arena, but we're having scheduling issues. He was going to come out today but that's just not going to work for me because I have to stay a little late at work and Craig's car is in the shop. So I'm hoping next week we can arrange a time. I've been watering and dragging the arena which has been improving the footing somewhat since my truck pushes a good amount of the extra footing up into the corners. It's not fixing the problem by any stretch of the imagination, but it's making it more ridable. I do need to be careful not to effect the base.

One afternoon I was lucky enough to see Marge's older son in his shop and I asked him to take a look at the drag to see if it could be fixed. It's broken and I wasn't going to come right out and ask him to fix it, but was hoping that he'd offer. We went over and I showed him where it had been broken and asked if it could be welded back together. He said it couldn't be welded because an important piece was broken off, but he figured out how it could be cut and reassembled to be a smaller fixed drag. I just nodded and said "Uh huh, okay." But never asked him if he'd fix it.

He looked at me while I was nodding and looking at the drag, and when he realized that I wasn't going to say anything, he sighed and said "Well, I suppose that on a day that I don't have anything going on I could fix this for you." I told him that would be great and we'd really really appreciate it, thank you so much, etc. He just said "Yeah, okay." It might take him a month, but at some point the drag will be fixed. It will be missing one row of teeth in the reconstruction, but that will just make it lighter and easier for me to pick up and move around. That damn thing is heavy!

Besides trying to get Kaswyn back in shape I've also been riding Susan's horse Albert a little bit. He's a real blast to ride but he's really out of shape. He was Reserve National champion at First level in 2003, top Ten in 2005, but he hasn't done much since. Just for fun I'll be putting him back to work. It will help both of us get back into shape! Maybe Susan will want to show him at some point. It would be fun to take both boys to a schooling show. I guess we'll see how that goes. For right now we're just doing body building with some serpentines for suppleness.

Lastly, tomorrow is our big trip to Ohio State for Kaswyn's skin test. It's a really cool place to visit, especially since I'm going there for something simple and not life threatening. I'll get lots of pictures!

So that's just the barn update. We've got other stuff going on like some drainage work for our yard, my parents coming to visit, and entertaining the girls. I'm ready for a vacation!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meet Molly

It's kind of a cheater post, I know, but I got this story from my buddy Cheryl and I have to share it. It turns out that this story is from a book called "Molly the Pony" written by Pam Kaster. For ordering information on the book, you can click here. A portion of the sales price will go toward Molly's fund.

Meet Molly. She's a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit southern Louisiana , USA . She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier, and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to LSU for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn't overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

"This was the right horse and the right owner," Moore insists. Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She's tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood (that) she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly's story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana . The little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports. And she asks for it! She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too." And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. "It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse", she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people. And she had a good time doing it.

"It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life", Moore said, "She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.""She's not back to normal," Barca concluded, "but she's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself."

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. The bottom photo shows the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Out of breath

Things have been crazy lately. Nothing bad (well except one thing but it's all okay now) but I just haven't had time to sit down and write about it. I've got things to talk about, just no time to type it out. I also don't have time to sit and read all the blogs I usually read, so I'm not up on what everyone else has been doing. Riding, I hope, since winter has finally decided to go away (around here anyway).

So everything's cool, just super busy. I'll update when I get time. Have fun!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Funny horse pictures

I found these pics here.

This horse is not fooling around. That dog better get out of the way!

I tried to walk up to a drive-thru and they wouldn't serve me. I guess ride up is okay in Russia.

Back to the original plan

Susan decided to check out the cost of renting a Bobcat, just in case we could convince Marge to let us give it a go. Turns out that the cost of renting one and getting it delivered would be 60% of the cost that Mr. K would charge us to come over with his equipment and do all the work himself.

So I think we just need to wait for Mr. K. Better to have it done right, I guess. But I'm ready to train again NOW!

Yeah, I'm whining. It's been two and a half years since my horse has been sound, and now that he is I can't safely ride him. Dammit!

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr