Thursday, November 7, 2013

Colic Surgery

The short version: Junior colicked on Wednesday afternoon and had surgery that night.  He's currently recovering well, but of course not out of the woods yet.

The whole story...

On Wednesday at about 2:20 I received a message from my BO that Junior appeared to be colicky.  He hadn't touched his afternoon grain - I knew that was bad.  I left work and headed out to the barn.  The nearest vet was already there. Junior looked bloated, but otherwise okay. The vet's diagnosis was impaction and he was concerned about the location of the large colon, but couldn't be sure what he was feeling in there.  Junior was tubed and oiled.

I was given the information that it was possible he could get through this on his own, but there was a chance he'd need surgery.  We could monitor him there at the barn and the vet would be back later that evening to check on him, but we are a 45 minute drive from the Ohio State Vet Hospital and we didn't want to risk him sliding downhill quickly and either not being able to get him on the trailer or not getting him to the hospital in time.  I totally trust the barn staff, but they were about to get busy with a full evening of lessons and I could only envision myself standing in his stall having a panic attack wondering if he was okay or not, trying to decide to take him or not. I don't know anything:  How would I know when it was too late?

For once, my Overanxious Horse Ownerness came in handy and I decided to play it safe and take him right away.   At 5:00pm Junior was on the trailer and we were headed into rush hour traffic to get to the clinic.  We arrived around 6 and they started their examination.  It was a blur with far too many big medical words for me to follow, but all his vitals were okay other than his elevated heart rate.  They re-tubed him, did ultrasound, another rectal... that poor boy had at least 4 peoples arms up his bum that day, took lots of blood, and they even drained some abdominal fluid which, thankfully, came out the "right" color and consistency, which is clear yellowish, btw. They could feel an impaction and were confirming that the colon was moving a bit.

They put him up in a stall and said he was stable and that it was possible that he'd recover without surgery.  They said it was a good thing we brought him in. The colic surgeon was in another colic surgery but as soon as he was finished he'd be in to examine Junior.

The BO and I headed back to the barn where Junior's Other People were having their weekly lesson. About a half hour after we got there (about an hour after we left the clinic), the vets called saying he'd gone downhill pretty quickly and they wanted to do surgery and gave me the quote.  I said do it.

The BO, the BM, Junior's Other People, and myself all headed back to the clinic.  We were able to watch a lot of the surgery but we didn't have a clear view of everything.  I could see his little white nose and the drapes covering his feet.  I did get brave enough to go look at his large colon out on the table.  It was absolutely surreal.

At midnight the vet came out and told us that everything looked really good.  He had both a small colon impaction and a large colon impaction but all the tissue looked healthy. It would be at least another two hours before he'd be up and moved back to a stall.  I looked around at the tired faces of Junior's Entourage and told everyone to go home.  I went home too.  They called at 2am to let me know he was in his stall and was alert and nickering. I tried to sleep. I cancelled my Thursday morning classes.

At 9am they called again to let me know everything was going well.  Due to the risk of salmonella with a small bowel impaction he was in an isolation unit to protect the other animals, so he's alone and not loving it.  I went to see him about 10:30am.  He nickered to me right away and put his head right up against me.  The vet re-explained everything and told me I could stay as long as I wanted.  It was hard to be there because I couldn't do anything to make him feel better.  He was wearing a muzzle which he wanted OFF but he had passed some manure so that was a very good sign.  He was terribly annoyed at life, but standing/pooping/annoyed is far better than the possible alternatives.

I got another update at 6pm today(Thursday).  They are VERY happy with his progress so far.  We're not out of danger, of course, but so far all is well.  They had taken him off the fluids, he had passed more manure, and they were giving him a hand full of hay every 2 hours.

I should get another update in the morning.  I'll do another post when there's more to tell.  Hoping he can come home Tuesday.

It all happened so quickly and I'm drained and really emotional. I've renamed my motion sickness bracelets (sea bands) the Emotion Sickness Bracelets as they went on when I got home from the clinic and didn't get to come off until about 6pm tonight.  I am SO thankful that I board in a barn where they pay close attention and therefore we were able to catch it so quickly.  I am thankful that for once, my Overanxious nature paid off in taking him to the hospital right away. I am thankful I didn't have to go alone. I am thankful that I have a job so that, even though it's going to be a tight budget for a good long time, I was able to give him this chance.  Obviously our goals for showing and cattle work and mounted archery are on hold indefinitely.  For now we will focus on getting him healthy.  The daily hand-walking for 6 weeks will be good for me, too.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday morning: "I do not like this muzzle of shame."

17 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! I am so glad to hear he is pulling through well so far. Feeling well enough to be annoyed should be a clinical sign, a good one! I hate to say this, for his sake, but that's a great picture with the muzzle of shame, he's pretty good at that pleading look asking for it off. I hope the rest of his stay and recovery is really, really, boring and as short as possiable!

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  2. Oh no!! Poor Junior, and poor you! I'm so sorry this happened to you both, but so glad you were able to catch it early and get him in. No doubt you saved his life! It's definitely a good sign that he's in good spirits (albeit grumpy spirits), and I hope he continues to recover on track so you can bring him home on Tuesday. Looking forward to updates!

    Hopefully you can get some rest! Sending hugs to you and Junior!

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  3. Oh Junior!! So glad to hear he is doing well and I hope he is home soon! It is that kind of weather around here, it makes me all paranoid.

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  4. I'm so glad to read that he's doing okay! That's a very scary thing to have to go through.....over-anxiousness isn't always a bad thing. Prayers for you and Junior!!

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  5. Oh wow! What a week you've both had...so sorry to hear you both had to go through this, but I'm so glad he's doing well! Keep us updated!

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  6. Sending well wishes to Junior! And I think you did prove that being over anxious is not a bad thing at all.

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  7. Oh no! I'm so sorry! Poor Junior and poor you - that must be sooo hard to deal with. Hugs to you and your pony - keep us updated! Fingers and toes crossed that he is home soon and recovering quickly.

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  8. Wishing you lots of jingles!! I'm so glad you took him to the clinic immediately, and I know he's glad too :) You're a great horse mom. Wishing y'all the best.

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  9. Sending Junior wishes for a speedy recovery and glad you and your BM caught it quickly and were on top of it.

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  10. Here is to a quick and full recovery!

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  11. So very sorry that you both had to go through this! Horse owner's WORST NIGHTMARE! I'm glad that the surgery went well and that he's responding to the procedure. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Keep us posted!

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  12. Oh no! I am so sorry you both are going through this right now -- its such a tough, tough thing. But you are in excellent hands at OSU -- from personal experience, the techs in the ICU are amazing and get to know every horse very, very well and treat them like gold.

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  13. Oh what a nightmare! *hugs* So glad he is doing well after surgery and I hope he continues to recover with no complications. You are in my thoughts!

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  14. Oh, how SCARY - I am so very glad you caught it early and Junior is doing well so far! I, too, know for a fact that he's getting the best of care. I used to hang out in the Large Animal barn as an undergrad, watching the students and vets in action. Sounds like, if your horse has to colic, Junior had a "good" kind and he's going to be just fine. We will all be thinking of you and pulling for him!

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  15. So so so glad that he is ok. So scary!

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  16. Oh no! I'm so glad that you got him to the hospital quickly and that he's doing good now.

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  17. Omgsh this was not the usual big post I checked me feed looking to see. :( prayers for you and junior

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