Friday, December 31, 2010

Hope for a Happy New Year

Today is the last day of 2010, and I haven't posted in awhile. I've got two posts, stuck in the draft process, that I need to get finished, but I just haven't gotten the job done. And today in particular has been a bit of a rough one as far as Kaswyn has been concerned. Well, Kaswyn's ok today, but it's me that's been having issues.

I went to the barn today after being in California for a week visiting with my family. It was a lot of fun, but the whole time I was worried about Kaswyn's leg, and if he was getting out, if he was lame, etc. When I got there today the surgery site didn't look too bad. It's still not healed, but it's not horrible looking.

The shaved area of his skin, however, looked awful. I think all the wrapping gave him some skin crud. I decided to deal with that after I rode him. I was going to lunge him first to check soundness, but there were two people waiting to lunge (it's hard to ride when two people are lunging) so I just hopped on.

I completely tacked him up, and he got all excited. Tack = work, and he LOVES to work, so we was impatient in the cross ties as I got his bridle out. He didn't want to stand still when I tightened his girth or pulled down my stirrups, but he stood nicely for me when I mounted. He was a bit full of himself walking, but I couldn't feel any lameness.

Then I asked for the trot. Oh, THERE is the lameness. Got it.

So we just walked for ten minutes. Then I gave that scurfy skin a good scrub and put Nolvasan cream on it. Then I put Dermagel on the surgical wound, and put him away. Then I cleaned my saddle, conditioned it, and put it away.

And when I say that, I mean I put it in my tack locker that isn't with the rest of my brushes and stuff. It's away, in a place where I won't see it all the time. I think it might be there for a long time.

See, I think Kaswyn might be done. He is lame, and he still is hypersensitive on the back of his pastern. I thought maybe that sensitivity was just on the skin, so I tried putting Vagisil on it (it's a powerful topical numbing cream), but that didn't seem to take the pain away. He might be broken forever and that thought just tears me apart.

The whole time I was cleaning his tack I was trying not to cry. And then on the way home I was trying to hold it together. I called Craig to tell him I was on my way home, and he asked how my boy was. I told him he was lame and he could hear the impending tears in my voice. I held it together, but then after we hung up this song came on the radio -

Kind and Generous - by Natalie Merchant

You’ve been so kind and generous
I don’t know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you
For your selflessness, my admiration
And for everything you’ve done

You know I’m bound…
I’m bound to thank you for it

You’ve been so kind and generous
I don’t know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you
And I never could have come this far without you
So for everything you’ve done

You know I’m bound…
I’m bound to thank you for it

I want to thank you
For so many gifts
You gave with love and tenderness
I want to thank you

I want to thank you
For your generosity
The love and the honesty
That you gave me

I want to thank you
Show my gratitude
My love and my respect for you
I want to thank you

I want to…

Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you

And, of course, I finally cried.

Not the sniffly, softly tearing crying where someone offers you a tissue. This was hard-core, full on sobbing, can't catch your breath, where someone says "Oh my god, what the hell happened?" Or, "It's not the end of the world, pull yourself together!"

You see, I'm not a crier. I'm not weepy and I certainly don't cry in front of people, not if I can help it. Crying is something I do alone - in the car, in the shower, or locked in the storeroom at work (yes I've done that). So I cried my eyes out and came home. Craig asked how I was and I couldn't even speak. He said "That bad, huh?" and I just nodded.

I ate lunch and thought about Kaswyn. Yes he might be done, but I might also be jumping the gun. the fact is, he's not healed yet and still has some inflammation in the area. When he was at Doc's for those few days and they eliminated all the inflammation, Kaswyn was sound. So maybe, just maybe, once he heals and the inflammation is gone he will be okay.

I got in the shower, and didn't cry. Maybe this will resolve and I just have to be patient. If he's still lame, maybe he won't hurt if I don't ride him much and maybe I'll be able to let the showing and training part of our partnership go.

Maybe there is a chance for Kaswyn and I in 2011.

Oh, and thank you, Kaswyn. I love you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Leg pictures and video

Here are the current pictures of Kaswyn's leg.

First, the lateral incision site, meaning the outside of the leg.

Looks pretty good, right? You can just see two little areas of pink, but the rest is totally healed.

Next, the medial side. That's the side that teh surgeon said was a mess of scar tissue, nerve re-growth, and lots of inflammation and hypersensitivity.

Looks pretty icky. It's still open, but flat. By that I mean it doesn't have a huge canyon or hole down in there, but there is still exposed "meat". It also has that dark strip that I think is just dead, necrotic tissue that I'm hoping will fall off once the skin under it heals.

Besides that, Kaswyn is hyper sensitive in the area directly between the incisions at the back center of the pastern. Here is a short video showing that -

I sent all of this to the surgeon, so I'll post her opinions when she gets a chance to review the info. Right now I'm not very hopeful. I had the blacksmith pull Kaswyn's shoes so he can start going out in the snow. I can tell that he doesn't have any feeling in that heel, which is good, and that the medial incision is not painful (even though it looks bad), but that hyper sensitive area worries me. A lot.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yellow and Frozen Blue do not make green

It's 23 degrees at the barn. There is no bathroom, but there is a Port-A-Potty. Things... freeze.. in there.

The portable heater that someone put in there = WIN! It doesn't keep the "down below" from freezing solid, but is does make a nice warm breeze across the seat, which is awesome.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's with that leg?

It's been awhile since I've posted. That's because I've been so busy it's insane.

Work has been super stressful and very very busy. It's essentially 8 hours of go-go-go, sometimes more if the doctors run late, or the patients are late due to the weather. Then after work it's a mad dash to the barn to unwrap Kaswyn's leg, walk him, and wrap it up again.

Update on the leg is that it's not healed on the bad side. The good side is totally healed and looks great. The bad side, the side that the surgeon said was a mess of inflammation, scar tissue, and re-grown nerves, is still open and ugly. It's healing slowly from the inside out, but I think there is a strip of necrotic tissue on top that needs to eventually slough off.

There isn't a lot of swelling, but there is an area between the incision sites directly at the middle on the back of the pastern that is slightly swollen and SUPER sensitive. If I even touch it lightly with my finger Kaswyn jerks his leg. I'm not sure if this will go away when the area finally heals or if this is permanent.

I called the surgeon to ask her what her thoughts were, and she said that she'd like me to take pictures and send them to her. So I'll go out to the barn today and take some photos and maybe a short video showing how sensitive Kaswyn's leg is in that area.

Kaswyn did have another inflammatory episode that caused some lameness about ten days ago so I put him on 10 days of antibiotics. The wound is much more healed now and the inflammation has gone down a lot. I still wrap the leg every day because it's not healed enough to leave open yet. But it's slowly getting better.

In addition to work I've got Christmas stuff to deal with. Plus all the laundry and other household duties to get done. At least Craig cooks. I'm very lucky there.

Well I'm off to the barn again. I'll post the pictures and the video of the leg later. It's kind of gross looking right now, but it looked a lot worse ten days ago!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Horse Husbands, here's some food for thought.

These last few weeks have been a crazy time for Kaswyn and I. They've also been trying for my family. Fortunately, Craig recently did some thinking about my horse that has led to an epiphany of sorts on his part. I think there are those who can benefit from this line of thinking, so I asked Craig to write it up so I could post it.

Here it is -

Hi. Sheri’s husband here.

I generally don’t poke my nose into this odd and mysterious world of horse people, but Sheri's asked me to write a guest post concerning a recent revelation I've had. An epiphany, actually.

I should start by admitting that I don't much like Sheri's horse. I know that's blasphemous talk, and I certainly don't expect any of you to take my side on this. I know you'll probably say "You don't ride, you can't understand" and, to a degree, you're right. But I have my own hobbies that I'm passionate about, and they require a certain amount of dedication and time commitment, so I think I have a baseline understanding, even though I agree that I'll never share the deep connection Sheri has with her horse.

But, in my own defense, this isn't a knee-jerk "what's that gonna cost?" or "I never see you anymore!" thing (even though that has certainly played a part) but, rather, an attitude that has developed over time.

When we first started dating, Sheri made it clear that she and her horse were a package deal. And if I couldn't deal with her riding, then it wasn't going to work between us. And for the first five years it really wasn't much of an issue. Or, at least, not as big an issue as it would become. I wasn't passionate about riding or Kaswyn, but I didn't object, either. I was pretty neutral. Riding made Sheri happy, so why not? Yeah, it cost money for stabling and feed, but it wasn't causing financial difficulties, really.

But, in the past five years, Kaswyn has become a real money pit. He is constantly lame, and the efforts to diagnose, manage and treat this lameness has run up hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.

This stresses Sheri and makes her miserable. And I don't want my wife to be miserable.

Being a man and approaching things like a man, my thinking is that if you remove the stress-causing element (Kaswyn) then things would be better. This kinda came to a head recently with the whole affair of taking Kaswyn down to OSU, having him develop mysterious blood issues, postponing surgery, Sheri having to fetch him on Thanksgiving Day thereby missing dinner with my family, then having him develop new mysterious issues only to be rushed to another vet for an overnight stay… Sheri was a stressed-out, crying mess for most of a week.

Mulling these events over in my head, I started to form an analogy that would help convey to Sheri just why this series of events angered me so.

I thought: Let’s say Lily (our oldest daughter, who is now only seven) were 16 years old and dating a boy who she just LOVED. But every third date or so she came home in tears. And she was constantly spending excessive amounts of money on him. And even when things were good, she was still stressed and nervous, just waiting for when things turned bad again. If this were the case, there’s no way that Sheri or I would stand for it. We’d tell her that this guy is bad for her, and she should dump him, that there’s plenty of other fish in the sea. And even if she told us, "But I really love him! I need him in my life! I’d be less without him!" we’d stick to our guns.

Now here comes the epiphany part.

As I thought it over I realized that it wasn't a very good analogy. It would be closer to the case if Lily were an adult and married to a man who was suddenly faced with a serious and potentially life-altering issue. Cancer. Parkinson’s. Macular degeneration. Something like that. If THAT were the case, I realized, I wouldn’t tell her to dump the guy. I’d tell her that she’s in a relationship that she committed to a long time ago and that she should stick it out, support him.

Don’t give up hope.

This completely altered my perception of the situation. I mean, I still don’t like to see my wife unhappy, and I don’t like it that such a large percentage of our household income is spent on one animal… but now I think I have a tiny bit more understanding of what’s going on in Sheri’s head. And, for maybe the first time, I think she's doing the right thing.

Also, check out this post at Behind the Bit for a similar blog post about horses and husbands.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Not good. Not good at all. Part 4.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Kaswyn came home last night. Luckily my friend the barn manager was able to go pick him up with her truck and trailer. Doc was there when we arrived and he said my horse was doing great. Here's three great things that I found out from Doc -

1) He said Kaswyn was sound. He jogged him to check soundness and there was no lameness. Wowza. I didn't expect that.

2) He spoke with the OSU surgeon and both docs are sure that this inflammatory episode won't effect the success of the surgery. This is a huge relief, because I was fretting that this episode would really screw up all he had just gone through.

3) The computer system was down, so I got to pick up my horse and NOT pay the bill! Woohoo! Okay, okay, I know they'll just bill me so I'll pay it later, but it was kind of nice not to have to pay it right then.

Kaswyn isn't on any oral antibiotics because he got injectable antibiotics while he was at Doc's. He's to get some bute, but Doc was kind of vague about how much and when so I'm thinking it's not super critical. Even so, I'm going to give him 1 gram twice a day for two days, Then once a day for two days, then as needed I guess.

So what actually happened to Kaswyn? Nobody is coming right out and saying it, so I'm going to. I caused this. Here is what I think happened.

He had surgery on Wednesday, and OSU said don't change the bandage for a few days. So I changed it on Saturday. The incisions looked a little weepy to me, so I washed them gently with Nolvasan surgical scrub and sterile water.

This was error #1. I found out later that getting the incisions wet is a bad idea, because bacteria and get wicked up into the wound and cause infection.

I dried the area with sterile gauze squares, and applied some Dermagel. I love this stuff for regular wounds, so I thought it would be fine for the incisions. It's supposed to help with inflammation and infection. I don't know if this had any effect one way or the other.

Then I re-wrapped the leg, but instead of wrapping it like they had wrapped it at OSU, I just wrapped the fetlock and pastern with a thick cotton strip and secured it with vetwrap.

This was error #2. I should have wrapped the leg exactly as they had done it, using a thick cotton strip around the pastern, then some gauze to hold it in place, then wrapped the whole leg with a large cotton, and then wrapped the whole thing in a standing bandage. Because I only wrapped from the fetlock down, the wrap shifted up from the hoof and down from the fetlock, creating a band of vetwrap right around the pastern. And rubbing right on top of the incisions. Also, since the bandage slipped up, dirty bedding got under the wrap and up around the incisions.

Error #3? I decided not to go to the barn on Monday. If I had gone and looked closely at the bandage, or even decided to change it, I might have seen that the wrap had slipped or that it was getting swollen. But I might have also tried to clean it again, and that would have been bad.

Doc didn't say exactly what he thought happened. I personally think the incisions got infected (because I washed the incisions) and then the whole area got swollen, then further irritated by the wrap slipping (because I incorrectly wrapped the leg) and his pain was caused by the inflammation from the infection and the irritating wrap. Tuesday night when I called her the doc at OSU told me that I might not even be able to touch the leg without sedating Kaswyn because after having surgery on the nerve, severe inflammation in that area would be extremely painful.

So this was my fault.

But I'm going to forgive myself, say that I learned a LOT, and move on. Neither doc thinks this is going to mean anything in the long run, so I'm going to attempt to get over it. However it's very hard to know you caused pain to your horse by doing a dumb things.

So for now Kaswyn still has another week of stall rest, then two weeks of hand walking before he can go outside. I feel sorry for the boy. But at least he's sound, which means he's not hurting right now. And that's GOOD.

Not good. Not good at all. Part 3.

Part 1
Part 2

We walked into the main exam room. The staff started taking his sheet off, taking his temp, heart rate, all of his vitals, and unwrapping the leg. Then Doc came in. I had briefed him on the phone so he knew what was going on. He asked what medications he had gotten, and I told him about the 2 grams of bute 45 minutes ago.

He examined the leg, then ordered two kinds of antibiotics, banamine (for the pain and the swelling) and dexamethasone (steriod anti-inflammatory). He injected Kaswyn with all four, then gave specific instructions on how he wanted the leg wrapped.

Five minutes later Kaswyn looked better already. I said "I'd like him to spend the night here." and Doc said "Oh sure." and I said "I don't care how long he stays...." and Doc said "Me either. We'll keep him here until we get this cleared up. Don't you worry"

But I DO worry.

I asked him if he thought I did the right thing or if I over-reacted. He said "Of course you did the right thing - did you see how lame he was?"

We walked Kaswyn over to a stall and they fed him some dinner. He was already putting much more weight on his leg, and the shaking had stopped. He looked SO much better. It was such a relief.

I said to Doc "So what are you thinking is going on?" and he said "Infection? Possibly. Irritation from the wrap? Also possible. But don't worry, he'll be fine."

I said, tearing up again "But I DO worry."

He put his arm around my shoulders and said "Look, we're going to take care of him. Go home tonight and try to relax. Have a glass of wine or something. We'll call you tomorrow. He'll be just fine. You did the right thing."

So I left Kaswyn there, and came home.

Unfortunately, when I got home my husband was pretty upset. Not exactly at me, but just at the situation. The past week has been filled with horse drama... EXPENSIVE horse drama at that. And when horse drama happens he has to be basically a single parent while I sort it all out. I know it's unfair, and it's costly, and I'm sorry it sucks so much. I know he just hates to see me hurting and upset.

Then my dad called, and we chatted about some other stuff, and just before we got off the phone he said "So, anything else going on?" So I gave him the simple version. I could just hear it in his voice. Not "Oh, your poor horse." or "I'm sure that's very hard for you." but "How much is THAT going to cost you?"

See, I'd like to say that I'm rich or something, and that spending lots of money on my horse's vet bills is no big deal. But that is not the case. Like most horse owners, we're in debt. It's really hard sometimes to know that people don't really understand why I do what I do for my horse. However, I understand why my actions are puzzling.

Without my horse, we wouldn't be in debt.

Without my horse, I'd have more free time.

Without my horse, we could go on family vacations that we could afford that don't involve staying at a relatives house.

Without my horse, my house would be cleaner.

Without my horse, I could cook dinner every night (Ok, maybe not every night. Nobody, including me, likes my cooking that much)


Without my horse, I'd be less whole.

Maybe that's the only thing that people really need to understand.

To be continued...

Part 4

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Not good. Not good at all. Part 2.

Part 1

I called my local vet practice. At first I wanted to see if I could get a vet out to see Kaswyn, but I only wanted Dr. B or Dr. G to see him, and Dr. G doesn't make farm calls. They were trying to get something to happen for me, since I was crying on the phone and they knew it must be bad.

Finally I asked if I could just come there and have Dr. G see him. It was 4:45 pm. Doc said he would be there, to come on over.

Thankfully one of the trainers at the barn happened to be there to see all of this unfolding, and had generously offered to haul me anywhere I wanted to go. She saw me melting down and knew that I could use a little help. So I took her up on it.

We loaded Kaswyn into her trailer and headed off to Dr. G's. It would take us about 40 minutes to get there, but that's a much shorter drive than the 2.5 hours it would have taken to get to OSU.

Oh, one more stress added to this whole thing? My phone was running out of charge. In fact, it died while I was talking to my trainer on our was to Doc's. So I had no way of getting a hold of anyone to tell them where Kaswyn was, when he'd be back, or what was going on.

We got to Doc's, and got Kaswyn off the trailer. The staff over there is great, and they were waiting at the door for us. "Bring him in!"

Kaswyn walked off the trailer, three-legged lame. He looked awful.

To be continued...

Part 3

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr