Blog .:. August 2011 4 Entries
There’s something disconcerting about standing in a room with half a dozen people, most of them vets, while they ooh and ahh over your horse’s unusual sinus condition.
Here’s the backstory, since I have not been posting much recently.
After we flushed Ro’s sinus out in May, she got better. Then she got sort of iffy again, and we decided to try a stronger antihistamine. A week after that, I got off Ro after riding and stared at a bloody nose. I was, I’ll be honest, freaked out—and I hadn’t even been on the interwebz looking up possible causes of nosebleeds yet (incidentally, don’t do that. You’ll never sleep again). Ro was unperturbed, although she thought I was insane for leaving her tack on and dragging her all over the property trying to find my phone to call the vet and the keys to my trailer in case we needed to trailer out and… Ro just wanted to eat grass, and if I would remove the saddle, that would be peachy.
Ultimately, we determined that the antihistamine had dried out her sinus and she’d gotten a nosebleed. No different than people getting one. Nothing to worry about. But in the course of making sure this was the case, we rescoped and discovered the snot was coming back. Rather than wait for her to actually start dripping snot, we reflushed her sinus very aggressively, including a long-acting antibiotic that left her nostril coated in foamy white stuff.
After the vet left, Ro and I were standing in the barn aisle in front of a fan while I waited for her to wake up enough from the sedation so I could turn her out. One of the trainers walked in, looked at Ro’s foamy white nostril, looked at us standing in the middle of the barn, all unconcerned, and asked tentatively, “Is she all right?” I think this was code for, “When is the vet coming, and why is your snotty horse standing in the middle of the barn and not isolated somewhere?”
I explained what was going on, and then tried to figure out how I had reached a point where I could talk cheerfully about drilling holes in my horse’s head. The trainer seemed confused about that, too, but decided we probably weren’t incubating the plague and wandered off.
A week or two after this, Ro came in from a ride with her nostril covered in thick, yellowish mucus.
At this point, I think both my vet and I were ready to cry uncle, and he referred us to a specialist. Naturally, the snot disappeared and Ro began to look healthier than she had all summer.
I didn’t believe her sudden symptom-free self and we went to the specialist today anyway. I figured we’d either get a clean bill of health and know this was all behind us, or we’d find something brewing and just waiting to rear its ugly head in a week or two.
Incidentally, I have reached a new high in my ability to get lost while driving. I can get lost on a straight road. With a GPS. I am just that awesome.
At the specialist’s, we started with the obvious: re-Xray her sinus to verify it was not a tooth issue. Xrays looked fine.
Then scope the guttural pouch to make sure we didn’t have anything going on there. Ro had some blisters on her tonsils that the vet said were not unusual in horses her age, although possibly a little enlarged. She had the same blisters in the guttural pouch, which he said is unusual but he didn’t think it was the cause of the recurring snotty nose.
At this point, we stopped to talk about options. Here was Ro, looking perfectly normal. She didn’t even have the decency to have the clear watery discharge she’s had all along—nope: clean, dry nose. Here’s the clean xrays. Here’s a scope result that the vet thinks suggests allergies.
If I wanted, we could drill into her sinus and scope that way (top down instead of bottom up, essentially, and with better access to see everything). The vet didn’t think we’d find anything—we’d be doing it to confirm the sinus cavity was snot free. All signs certainly pointed that way. The next step would probably be treating allergies aggressively via steroids—either now, or waiting to see if she got snotty again.
Honestly, I think if I had been standing in that room with that decision even a month ago, I would have skipped the additional scope. But I was so tired of it all, and so frustrated, that I wanted that confirmation that her sinus was clean. I was afraid that if we skipped it, we’d end up doing it in another two or three weeks anyway.
Fortunately the surgeon was available this afternoon and we were able to do it all in one day. The plan was to drill one hole below her eye and a little towards the cheek; depending on what that showed, we might drill another hole on her forehead, near where we had drilled to flush before. These holes would both be small—just large enough for the scope. If necessary, the next step would be to take a big flap out of her skull and scrape stuff out.
But we started with the first small hole—hand drilled it, put in a metal tube, threaded in the scope… honestly, it’s weird to see metal tubes sticking out of a horse’s skull. Just saying. Everything looked good, up until the surgeon said, “Huh. That’s not normal.”
Indeed not. There was a little yellow mass that clearly did not belong.
They drilled the second hole and went in that way to get a different view on it. Much to no one’s surprise, it was still odd, even from a new angle.
Then they sent one of the techs to go fetch my vet, because he “might like to see this.” Another vet wandered in shortly after. Plus the intern.
And everyone staring at the little yellow mass going, “Huh. That’s not normal.”
I kind of wanted to start charging admission.
Initially, it was the placement of it that intrigued them. It was just not a location where they expected to see anything. Granted, they weren’t expecting to see anything at all, But if they were going to find something, this was clearly not where they expected it to be.
Then the surgeon moved the scope back to the lower hole and stuck a metal pointer thingy (this is a technical term) into the upper hole. Remember, the scope was threaded through a metal tube. It was like a giant pair of chopsticks were sticking out of her skull.
They had already rinsed the mass a little with saline and it hadn’t moved, so when they poked it with the pointer thingy, they were all surprised to see it was unattached to the sinus. This, too, I think intrigued them. Things they hadn’t expected to find in places they didn’t expect to find them behaving in ways they didn’t expect… fun times. Basically, the mass was just a ball of mucus and bacteria positioned where normal flushing wouldn’t get it. So when we flushed earlier this summer, we cleared out the worst of the infection but this pocket stayed behind and regrew.
They grabbed a sample to culture and then broke the ball up and flushed it out. Ro was a rock star through the entire process—we did this standing, with her sedated, and she was very cooperative, even when they were poking around at the mass. She’s staying at the vet’s for a couple days while we wait for the culture to come back, and they’re going to keep flushing the sinus out to make sure it’s clear.
The blisters on the guttural pouch are still a little bit of an unknown. For now, we are going to focus on the sinus cavity—get it flushed out, run a course of targeted antibiotics, make sure it is well and truly cleaned up. Then we’ll reevaluate the blisters. We know they were not present in February, so it’s possible they are secondary to the cycles of infection/inflammation of the sinus cavity. With any luck at all, they will disappear once the sinus infection is wiped out.
And then, knock on holey skulls, this entire thing will be behind us.
I may be winning the Goat War.
After a couple standoffs, the goat realized he could not win if I was between him and the paddock.
Did I mention he’s smart?
He figured out that every time I visit, I pull Ro out of her paddock, do stuff with her, and then put her back. After she goes back in, food appears.
The goat started waiting for me to pull her out, then he went and hung out in her paddock, waiting for me to bring her back. The first time he tried this, I led Ro into the paddock and we both started at him in confusion: What are you doing here?
He nosed the food dish and looked back at us: Mine. Fill it.
I chased him out, dumped Ro’s food, and we went back to the standoff.
Then we had a brief respite: Ro got an abscess and for a week or so I was soaking her foot. Feeding her while I soaked it solved several problems at once, and the goat was uncharacteristically slow to catch on. However, after a few days of Ro being turned back out and food not appearing, he realized tactics had changed somehow and started wandering through the barn while I had her soaking, sizing up the situation. About the time he was getting bold and thinking about challenging her for her bucket, her foot was good to go and we went back to feeding in the paddock.
And now he thinks it’s serious. He doesn’t wait for me to take Ro out any more. He just hangs out there all. the. time. If he sees me looking at him, he’ll lick the salt block, like I’m going to believe that’s all he’s after.
Fortunately, the fact that he is in the pen means I’m often holding Ro’s lead rope when I chase him out. Ro is figuring out that he will run away, even if you have to run into him to get him to budge. Plus, some of the other horses are more aggressive about defending their food, and the goat seems a little more cautious about equine body language now. I actually saw Ro chase him off her hay the other day, so I think she might—might—start defending her grain as well.
In the meantime, the poor soul has grown so fat on all the grain he steals that he can’t do much more than waddle around, so I can often catch him and tie him up again.
The barn owner says she might have found someone who will take him, and I hope that’s true. Even though Ro and I seem to be winning this war, it’s annoying.
I am battling a goat. On behalf of a horse.
You couldn’t count the number of things wrong with this situation if you tried.
I understand that in the past I have mocked you.
I have done things like wave pencils in front of malfunctioning computers. I have owned an abacus. I have persisted in using a phone that can barely make phone calls, much less triangulate my location and give me GPS directions that will get me to lunch at exactly the moment I complete my call.
I am deeply and abjectly sorry. I have tried to atone.
I thought that I would update the software and synch all my units with the latest and greatest code. I have been remiss. I would make amends.
I plugged my iPod into my computer. As you know, I rarely buy music and, consequently, rarely need to update the iPod. I had not realized that “rarely” had turned into “once in the long-ago and far-away,” and so I was mortified when iTunes flicked me the busy signal, flicked it again, and then popped up a message saying “WTF buttercup? This is the software equivalent of an 8-track… my god… do you realize what I’m going to have to….” and flicked me the busy signal again.
I am deeply and abjectly sorry. I have tried to atone.
I plugged in my Kindle and, when if flashed a sullen “This is just to tell you that my battery is so dead I can’t even bring up the ‘charging’ screen” screen at me, I removed it carefully from the leather cover, laid it softly on the fluffy new mouse pad I bought my computer, and humbly cleaned and conditioned the leather case. My Kindle would come back to life in luxury, as it deserves.
Unfortunately I did not consider that the cleaning products I use on my tack may be a little more… conditioning… than an eBook carrying case requires.
I am deeply and abjectly sorry. I have tried to atone.
I have tried, technology gods.
But you do understand that Texas is having a historic drought? We are under mandatory water restrictions. There is a burn ban in effect, and they say they will press gang your first born child and make them haul water from someplace more fortunate than us, like the Sahara, if we break the burn ban.
I cannot burn an abacus for you. I cannot light a torch of broken pencils and allow the scent of burning erasers to bring you greater glory.
I do not know what you want, Technology Gods.
I am deeply and abjectly sorry. I have tried to atone.
I tithed to Amazon. I bought Max Barry’s Machine Man, which was a more appropriate homage to Your Bytes than I could have ever imagined.
And still you are not pleased.
You have withdrawn your favor from me. Was it not enough that you monitored my blog for every definitive future statement and carefully rearranged reality to cause the opposite to happen? How else to explain the number of times I have said “Ro and I are going to…” only to find out that we most certain are not going to after all?
Was this not enough?
Was my crime so great that you had to tap into my email?
How else to explain that after a week of maybe-maybe notting over Ro’s intermittent offness I finally caved and emailed my vet: It’s probably an abscess. It’s worse than an abscess, except the part where it’s not as bad as an abscess. It’s still probably an abscess. But I give up. Please try to fit us in this week…
How else to explain that within hours of caving in and emailing the vet, the abscess popped with a vengeance?
I do not even know how to tell my vet that we’re all good now.
If I call, will that offend you more? Carrier pigeons snigger at my phone as they fly by. Calling will hardly exalt the glory of your eternal RAM.
If I email, will you… I can’t even think about what would happen if I send an email saying “It’s all good!”
I am deeply and abjectly sorry for what I have done.
I will break all the pencils in the apartment and drain the ink from all the pens if it will help.
I will upgrade my phone to one that is merely from the Dark Ages.
Whatever it takes, whatever you want, if only you will stop torturing me.
“Job Had It Easy” from Houston
Today I had a standoff with the goat.
The goat is surprisingly intelligent.
Let’s digress for a moment. The barn has two stalls set up as feed stalls—one for the barn manager’s horses and horses on full board, and one for partial boarders. I have a stall at the end of the barn that I use to store hay (I like to feed more hay than the barn provides). I figured, logically, that I might as well store my feed in my stall as well so that I have everything in one place.
This worked fantastically. Before the goat.
And then, one day the goat saw me prepping Ro’s feed. The next day, I came in and found he had knocked over my container and eaten half my food. Like I said, he’s surprisingly intelligent. He only needs to see a thing once: There is food inside this thing? And you get to the food by removing that cover? So if I knock the container over…
My feed is now in the feed room, which is goat proof.
Problem solved, right?
Nope. Although I moved the grain to the feed stall, I left my supplements and the bucket I use to prep her feed in my hay stall. I don’t want to clutter up the feed stall, and all of these are theoretically goat proof.
But since Ro gets fed her evening grain when I am there, which is invariably not the same time as the full boarders get their grain, I have the goat’s full attention when I am prepping. He watches me put grain in my bucket. He watches me go back to the hay stall and put stuff from the small containers in my bucket. And then he watches me feed Ro.
His conclusion: the bucket and all the little containers must be edible. Or contain edible things. Or both.
Every day he knocks down my shelf, kicks around the supplement containers, and noses the empty bucket around my hay stall. I thought he’d give up after a day or two and realize the bucket is always empty and the supplement containers can’t be opened, but he knows there is edible stuff there, somewhere, and is determined to get to it. Intelligent and tenacious. Great.
But I have a bigger problem on my hands: Ro, who will chase off the horse in the next paddock if he so much as looks at her grain, is confused by the goat. He waltzes right into her paddock as if she isn’t there. She pins her ears at him, and he ignores her. She looks at me. She makes Nasty Mare Face. He ignores her. She pins her ears and snaps at him. He ignores her. She looks at me, at a complete loss: OMGWTFBBQ. Make him go away!
For a couple days, I was able to catch the goat and tie him up.
This taught Mr. Rocket Science an important lesson: now he runs away from me so that I can’t tie him up.
This is how we ended up in tonight’s standoff.
I dropped Ro’s feed for her. She chased off her neighbor, who was looking in her direction, and started eating with all the urgency of a Lady Who Lunches. This is not a horse who will ever be in danger of choking from bolting her food. Entire empires could rise and fall in the time it takes her to finish a meal.
The goat stood at the end of the row of paddocks and looked at me: Hmm? What? I don’t want your horse’s stupid grain. I’m just scratching my head on this fence. See? Itchy. Oh, look, is that a bird over there? Look at the pretty birdy. Don’t pay attention to the goat. The goat is not walking forward… whaaaat? I’m just eating this grass here. Yummy grass. Mmmmm. I could live my whole life and never eat anything but grass, but hey, see that bucket? I’m not interested in your stupid grain, I just want to make sure that other horse’s bucket is empty. Even though I could live my whole life on grass, sometimes that horse leaves feed, and feed can ferment in the heat, so I’ll just lick this bucket clean and save him from an agonizing death. And then, um, that rock. It could be edible. Swear to Bob, I am not trying to get closer to your horse’s feed. I just want to check out the rock…
I believed him as much as he believed that I wasn’t out to catch him, really, I just wanted to scratch his head, honest…
It worries me that the standoff ended in a tie. Like I said, the goat is smart. I expect him to Have A Plan tomorrow night. Which means I need to have a better plan. I need to find the book Goats for Dummies: 1001 to Outsmart Your New Nemesis. If it doesn’t exist, I have a feeling I’ll be able to write it by the end of the week.
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