Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. It was a long day at the vet.

Dr. Rustebakke is a great guy, and he worked hard and long to figure out what we had going on. At first he was convinced Soxy had a mass in her nasal passage. But when he scoped her he was able to get the scope up in there, which surprised him. But as it passed the nasal passage closed up on it. He said it looked like there was maybe nerve damage there, keeping it from staying open. He had another appointment coming in so we waited a while and then he came back and did x-rays. The right side showed up cloudy in the sinus area, but no defined boundaries that would be expected with a tumor. He tapped around, and strangely the problem side sounded hollower than the good side. Then he felt around the pointy part of her face bone and found a divot that seemed to be filled with edema. He decided to drill into the sinus and flush it. I'm not queasy and I deal well with vet procedures, but seeing him take a power tool to her skull was rough. Luckily he deadened the area really well first. What he found when he inserted the catheter to flush the sinus, is that he couldn't. There is a solid mass in there. He said we could biopsy it. I figured I'd already spent more than I could, so I asked how much that would cost. Which is when he got down to the bitter truth. Whether it's cancerous or not, it's inoperable, and there's nothing we can do but enjoy the time we have left with her while she still has good quality of life. He thinks she's still breathing well enough, and he doesn't think there's a lot of pain. I'm not so sure. I talked him into trying antibiotics again, and he gave us a steroid as well. If we can get her breathing easier and looking happier I'll feel better. Right now she's not looking too happy, but she has a hole in her face and her skin is stapled shut, she was sedated more than once, plus she got her teeth floated and had to stand in stocks for almost 4 hours, not to mention the long trailer ride each way, so it's been a stressful day.

I appreciate what they did today IMMENSELY. He doggedly pursued every option until we had an answer and then he gave me a huge break on the price. I need to send him a thank you note.

I also have to give big kudos to the Les Schwab tire store a couple blocks away. When I unloaded Soxy I noticed that one of my trailer tires was pretty much shredded. I called Les Schwab, told them the situation and that I might have a horse in the trailer. He said he had a tire for me and I could unload her or leave her in the trailer while they fixed it. Dr. Rustebakke gave me a stall for Soxy and I went down and had a new tire within 15 minutes. I guess I was VERY lucky the tire didn't blow out on me on the way there. On the Lewiston Grade? No thanks! Someone was watching over us today.

I owe a lot of gratitude all around.

I'm really upset to find out for sure that Soxy's days are numbered. I tell myself we're all going to die someday, and she's old. But that doesn't help much. On the way home I thought, "wouldn't it be easier if I was a painter instead of a horse person?" Sure, you probably get emotionally attached to your art. It would hurt to have it destroyed. But you don't have to wonder whether it's in pain. Or make the decision when to end it.

And then I thought about how many, many lives this horse has touched, and that I have also touched through her. Experiences that will never be forgotten. She'll live on in some people's memories long after I'm gone. So many kids love her. So many adults love her! I love her. And it's worth it. But it still hurts like hell.


Linda said...

I'm going through MUCH the same feelings, Andrea, and I appreciate how you put the question--would art be better. Lately I've had this thought of traveling--anywhere--which I know represents the feeling of NOT being attached. Wondering if they're in true. I haven't had it in my heart to train or ride lately. I'm putting all my effort into comfort control. I have seven, so no small commitment--I won't be pulling up stakes any time soon. I'm SO glad Rustebakke found an answer for you though...answers are great in their own right. Best wishes making her last days wonderful for her, but sorry you have to say good-bye.

Mikey said...

Oh Andrea, I'm so sorry for the diagnosis, but at least you do know now. This is going to be a tough time. Sending a huge hug your way.

Kara said...
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Kara said...

Can he give her some medication for pain? I can't imagine that having a mass in your sinuses is pain-free. I agree, I really liked Dr. Rustebakke when he visited my horses when I lived in ID. It's been a long time since I've had an older horse, and I can't imagine getting to the point with mine where I am preparing myself for them to pass on...I'm sorry. I guess all you can really do is appreciate the time you have and make her as comfortable as you can. I'm also doctoring a horse. I noticed that Griffin's right eye was watery and squinty the other day. He has a circular lesion on the cornea and surrounding it it is all cloudy and bluish. I've been using antibiotics and it doens't look like a deep cut/scrape, but I sure hope he heals up without scar tissue and that the cloudiness goes away when the inflammation leaves. Kachina had something similar a couple months ago (same eye) and it healed up just fine.

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Linda, I feel your pain. I feel like a doctor, not a rider. This too shall pass, but for now it sucks.

Thanks Mikey. After seeing how good she feels tonight I hope we have a lot of good times still ahead. But we'll be preparing. My poor son is pretty upset.

He said pretty decisively that long term bute is not a good idea. He did give me dex, which I think is a pain med as well as a steroid, for the next 10 days or so. I think it's already helping. He gave the first dose IV.

I've had 3 horses get lesions on their eyes over the years. Interestingly, the first one happened after she got a burdock stuck in her forelock - I think one of the spines got in her eye as I removed it. I wonder if your horses might have the same problem?

I caught them all right away and started treatment with antibiotic ointment and kept a fly mask on to protect the eye and try to keep dust out of the ointment. The only one that left a small cloudy spot was Tonka. His took the longest to heal, starting with ointment and then using an antibiotic eye drop. We quit treatment, figuring it had scarred. It did eventually go away, but I think it took about 6 months. I hope Griffin's heals up with no problems!

Kara said...

Interesting about the burdocks...I noticed it when I was cutting burdocks that day, so that's when I put the fly mask on. And the mask was on when I was pulling the already accumulated burs out of his forelock. But there are so many things in the pasture he could have scraped it on...brush, down trees, tall weeds, thistles, burdocks...It's really blue right now. I'll try to get a picture of it, but I have had his fly mask on since I noticed it. I couldn't get to town right away to get antibiotics, but I'm now treating him twice a day. He's taking it quite well.