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I See The Light…Maybe. Sort Of.

These last couple weeks I’ve really struggled. P’s eye has taken an inordinate amount of time, money (insurance denied it…long story), and energy, and last week was the end of the road for me. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally, and it looked as if I were going to have to decide between removing the eye and putting P down.

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Sounds dramatic, I know. But this last year has been hellish. I rehabbed his tendon strain oh-so-carefully every.single.day and right when he was healed, he decided to chop half his hoof off. So I oh-so-carefully went out to bandage and baby his foot every.single.day until *that* healed, then as soon as that was a non-issue, he punctures his eye. Typically eye things take a week or two to heal. But not P’s. Oh no, P’s eye has taken my soul hostage. This eye has cost me thousands of dollars and virtually all of my time, since it has required round-the-clock eye meds to be administered. So when I decided to have the surgery to remove the ulcer mid-May, I did so to give it the best possible shot at healing. And it looked promising until last Monday, the day after we got back from WHES, when suddenly it took a turn for the worse.

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Because that’s how life with P is. One second you’re good….
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And the next second you’re not

I noticed it Monday morning when I went out before work to shovel eye meds in. His eye just seemed droopier than usual. And when I went back out after work, it was MORE droopier still. We had our weekly vet visit scheduled for the next day, so I just cried all the way home and forced myself not to have the vet out on an emergency call. At the previous vet visit, which was Monday the 10th and 2 weeks post-keratectomy, the vet and surgeon concurred that it should be all healed within a week. So this obvious setback was devastating.

P 5-24
4 days before the keratectomy. It had stayed this size/shape since the diagnosis on May 6th
P 6-4
One week post-keratectomy
P 6-10
The wound was almost completely closed and both my regular vet and the surgeon said it should be done within the week. P said, “Hold my beer.”

The next morning I was driving to the barn to do meds before work and I got a text from my BO, saying she had woken up to P running the fence line, so she brought him in to hose him off and took off his bug mask, only to find his eye completely closed. I called the vet to see if she could come out earlier, who said yes and that considering the length of time this has taken, it might be time to consider either taking him to NC State or having the eye removed.

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One potential scenario for P

While it might be a no-brainer for some to just have the eye removed, I was also factoring in the fact that, hello, it’s P, and with his recent track record there would obvi be some rare complication that would send me even more into financial and emotional oblivion, should that be the path that I chose. I don’t consider pets disposable. I do consider horses as pets. But I also have a family, and as such, financial obligations like food and shelter for them, and I was lost when it came to gauging how much more of our resources I should continue to throw at this horse. This may be unpopular, it sure as hell wasn’t fun to think about, but it’s honest.

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One of these has drained our emergency savings account. The others are the humans.

So I talked to Trainer B, who has infinitely more experience with all sorts of crazy horse things than I do, who said to see what the vet found when she got there and not to make a single decision that day. That eased the pressure I was feeling quite significantly, so I calmed the F down (somewhat) and got to the barn.

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Me to myself. Kudos to Husband, Trainer B, BO, and the vet for dealing with me that day

The vet arrived shortly after, stained his eye, and found a piece of necrotic corneal tissue hanging from the eye. Why or how that happened is anyone’s guess, as both the she and the surgeon hadn’t seen that happen before (because only P would manage to come up with something no one’s seen before). She removed the piece of tissue, re-stained the eye, and the stain took to only the faintest, tiniest spot.

P 6-18 I
Dead tissue hanging off causing irritation
P 6-18 II
Only the faintest of stain could be detected in the middle of the scar

She sent the pictures she had taken to the surgeon, and he was very happy with how it looked (post-dead tissue removal) versus a week ago, and wanted to continue the meds as usual and re-check in 3 days.

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How I feel when I hear the term “recheck” at this point

I had already promised myself that no decision would be made that day, but I also knew that at some point, I had to draw the line. This thing has been stretched out way past the initial 1-2 week prognosis and was reaching into 2 months, with some weeks having 2x/week vet visits + a surgery. Enough was enough.

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Way back when we used to do things besides see vets nonstop

So my resolve was to give it to Friday, when the vet would come back out. If it wasn’t healed over, there would be no more “Let’s give it another week,” talk. This was it. I just had to figure out how to decide after that. Remove the eye? We’re talking a surgery + recovery + possible complications (remember…it’s P) + the whole uncertainty of whether P would be able to adapt. I’ve only ever known two horses who have had their eyes removed: one was insane and had to be put down for dangerous behavior and the other never skipped a beat. Obviously there’s a middle ground, but I had no way of knowing which camp P would lean towards, and wasn’t sure I wanted to even chance it. So I did another likely unpopular thing and assigned it a dollar amount. If on Friday it came down to making the decision and the surgery were over a set amount, that would be it and P would be put down.

P6
Stupid bug face making me make impossible decisions

So Friday came and I got to the barn before the vet. I pulled off his bug mask and the eye was open, then shut, then halfway open, then shut, then wide open, then shut. So I cried some more, put the bug mask back on, and gave him a bath and pulled his mane to kill time.

The vet finally got there (she was on time, life was just dragging at that point), asked me how he’s doing, and I think I choked out something like, “I don’t know, looks the same as before to me,” so she stained it, shined the light in his eye (which I resolutely didn’t watch), then turned and said, “I think you’re done.”

giphyI was firmly deep in the rabbit hole of despair at that point, so I figured she meant I had to make my decision about surgery vs. euthanize. Which of course set off the water works again, but she grabbed my shoulder and said, “No, it’s good. You did it. There’s no sign of the wound anywhere. No stain uptake at all,” then she showed me his eye and sure enough….no sign of green anywhere.

P 6-22

So that sets off ANOTHER round of tears (and I’m not even a crier, good grief), but I managed to ask her why his eye would still be closed the way it is, and she said (duh) the Atropine that he’s been getting daily to dilate his pupils (duh..I’VE been the one giving it to him) makes the eye incredibly sensitive to light. Which…I know what Atropine does, and I know what it’s like to have your pupils dilated, but in my crumbling sanity, didn’t put those things together.

P1
And idiotic me had been riding him sans bug mask, then wondering why after 20 minutes or so, he’d start to act up. SMH.

She said to take him off the Banamine + Atropine completely, and drop the antifungal ointment and antibiotic drops to 2x/day, because we’re both terrified of just completely stopping everything. We’ll continue those for the next 2 weeks, which is how long it takes for the Atropine to wear off.

I sent the pictures to the surgeon, along with her instructions, just to get his take on it and he said that the eye does indeed look healed and that I could opt to drop all the meds, but that of course it wouldn’t hurt to continue them.

Naturally P being P decided that the bug mask was no longer acceptable and rubbed his face raw right where the strap is (after being in this thing for 2 months without issue), so I had to switch him to a regular fly mask and put duct tape over the eye. I feel like the “x” I made with the duct tape is fitting (and yes, I did that on purpose). While he hates the nose of the fly mask (see video below), too bad, so sad.

If you made it through this novel, congrats and you’re a champ. I haven’t really talked about this with anyone besides Husband, BO, and Trainer B, and really needed to spill my guts. The last couple months haven’t been fun, but the last couple weeks have driven me to drink.

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I’ve been a solid “realist” lately

While I’m not exactly celebrating yet, I’m no longer in the depths of despair. As much as he frustrates me, I really can’t imagine not having the P-Bug.

 

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Not really sure there’s another horse out there like him. Whether that’s good or bad is a different opinion!

 

 

 

40 thoughts on “I See The Light…Maybe. Sort Of.”

  1. YAY! And OMG cliffhanger during this post. I almost cried in relief for you when I finally got to the conclusion. I was on my seat a bit totally in your camp of “THE END OMG SOB”. I think your decision making ideas were very responsible and make total sense considering everything you’ve gone through. Thank fucking goodness that something FINALLY went right though and all of your time and effort for that damn eye turned out well. Cheers to moving forward into a better chapter with P-Bug. I hope he can go on to win you many more awards (preferably monetary lol) to help pad that savings account back to a good place!

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  2. Wow. He has really put you through everything. I actually don’t know anyone who would do as much as you have. I mean, when was the the last time you could actually ride and enjoy him?
    It’s been quite the emotional and financial strain and I’m glad you can see the light. And so can he! Ha ha I’m so funny….

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    1. Bahahaha he can’t see the light yet! Not until I take the duct tape off his mask 😂😂 Let’s see, the last time I enjoyed riding him was June 2018 😫

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  3. Ugh, what a roller coaster. I’m sorry P put you in that position — it’s never an easy decision to face. Fingers crossed this is the end of the crazy injuries for Mr. P!

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  4. OMG I thought the same thing when you said she said “I think you’re done”

    I totally feel for everything with this post. I would not have blamed you in the slightest for letting him go. Pets are not disposable, it’s true, but they are also NOT PEOPLE. I hope P just… is. for a little bit. And I’m glad you have Leo to keep you company.

    Everything you’ve said about Trainer B has made me like him more and more, I wish he was more local to me because I’d totally ride with him!!

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    1. That’s what’s so hard- people could tell you how much something hurts- guessing with a horse requires a vet visit 🤦‍♀️

      And Trainer B is the best! I was just there today with Leo and I really am quite lucky he’s local. Move to NC! 😂😂

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  5. Oh man. Well, as a devoted P fan, I am glad that he is improving! (I won’t dare say that he is clear yet because… P). But I can’t imagine how stressful it has been for you.

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  6. What great news! And I think everything you outlined about making decisions about how far to continue with him makes perfect sense. No, they’re not disposable. But no, we also don’t have infinite resources. All we can do is our best for them, and I think anyone would say you’ve gone above and beyond for this horse. I’m so, so glad to hear some good news finally, I feel like I could cry happy/relieved tears for you!

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  7. ugh you have seriously been through the wringer for this past… god, year??? here’s hoping you can eventually catch a break. for now tho i’m glad that things are looking better! don’t give up now, you’ve already dragged P along this far haha, despite all his apparent kicking and screaming!

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  8. God damn horses! So happy that things are finally looking up.
    I would hope no one would have judged you if you had had to make a difference decision in the end. You know your horse the best, and money doesn’t grow on tree’s !

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    1. Thank you! I don’t think anyone here would’ve judged me, but you never really know. It’s a pretty taboo subject, as no one (understandably) wants to look like they’re giving up.

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      1. Ohh I am sure that someone somwhere probably does, but they can stuff it.
        At some point you have to stop though. And you know your horse. I did colic surgery on my last horse, but if I needed to do it on this horse I am not sure that I would because I don’t know that she would take the recovery well.

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    1. That was the hardest part. But something really had to give. 2x/week vet visits added up insanely quick, and his eye meds ranged from $45-120. I’m glad also that so far, so good. That was a sucky thing to keep talking about

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  9. Oh man. You’ve been through the wringer with P for this. I totally get your thought processes though on your decisions, and it can be hard, but I’m so very thrilled for you that you didn’t end up having to make them. What a roller-coaster through that post! I’m not going to say anything that may jinx it haha, but I’m happy for you 🙂

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  10. Jesus H Rosevelt Christ P!!!!!!!! I think you deserve sainthood after this ordeal with Pilgrim. I also feel like P can become his own swear word… people might start yelling at their horse “Don’t be such a Pilgrim!” or something like that 😉 I’m not going to congratulate you yet (b/c its P) but I do hope he gets his act together and starts his new job as the best Tiny Dictator transportation 🙂

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    1. Pilgrim could definitely be a cuss word!! And yeah, no congrats because I’m pretty sure he’s FBI-level spying on me. I swear the horse understands English.

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  11. Jeez, he has really put himself and you through the ringer! I’m so please that it sounds like you are nearly at the end of it all. I just hope that P now leads a long and healthy life to a very old age, since he seems to be getting all his injuries and ailments out in one hit.

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  12. Wow. That’s so much stress. Good thing P is adorable. I don’t know what I would have done in your position. I definitely feel you on having to potentially make the hard decision to let go for money/time reasons. It’s hard to have to think about these things but we have to be practical.

    Still, I’m glad that his eye looks clear now. If only he keeps himself from hurting something again. Maybe we should sacrifice something to the horse gods…

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  13. Ugh. That’s a lot to go through. P is lucky to have you. Not many would be so dedicated. Or could be. I can’t imagine how I’d be able to do 4x a day meds with the horses at home and my work schedule.

    I think it is very reasonable to put a monetary limit on it. It sounds harsh but it’s reality. I’m so glad you didn’t have to make that hard decision. Now it’s time for your liver to heal and for you to have nothing but fun times on the back of your two amazing horses.

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    1. I remind P of that fact every day- that he’d likely be lion meat if it weren’t for me. The 4x/day was super rough, with having to get there before work (then BO thankfully did lunch time meds), then going after work and again at midnight. My sanity was slipping for sure. I felt as sleep deprived as I did when the kids were babies!

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