Thursday, August 30, 2018

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

Horses are said to only have two thoughts running through their heads: suicide or homicide.
No matter what contingency plans you make, they break them.  
Jack came home from his  sojourn at the vet school with a clean bill of health.  Goodbye colic.  Didn't stop him from finding more trouble.

Genius found a freshly painted replacement fence board.  One in a thousand... that's luck.

This is not what luck looks like.  This was Cody's eye shortly after Jack came back home.
Cody is special.  You know the term "nerves of steel"?  Well, he's the opposite.  He's one of my favorite riding horses, but you have to be prepared for him to freak out at butterflies, gum wrappers, leaves falling, squirrels chattering... the list goes on.  Let's just say you shouldn't attempt to fiddle with your cell phone whilst on his back. That said, he's also prone to throwing his head in the air when startled.  He's hit his head so hard that the ensuing bruise left a calcinosis on his poll!! And now he's bashed his own face and eye against a hard surface.  Genius #2.

Our ever patient Dr. Brown referred us to the vet school. My equine ambulance has been logging some miles lately.

Once again all the trucks in the client parking at the vet school are at least 15 years newer than mine and my trailer predates theirs by 50 years... and yet I gloat about my rig.  See how much taller and wider mine is to the others?  That's called not packing your horses like sardines into flimsy tin cans.

My trusty copilot and I make tracks for Auburn.  

Cody is sedated for a long opthalmic exam.
Drugs are good

My own horse, Axel, has been followed by the excellent team of Dr. Mcmullen and his interns for months since Axel's eye surgery. Cody receives the same 5 star treatment.  I'm told his eye injury is healing as fast as can be expected, everything on track for a successful resolution... so I have the brilliant idea to ask the internist (fellow Canadian, BTW) if they can further evaluate Cody's asthma and COPD.  

Me and my big mouth.

Half a day later....

... I am consulted by three different internists who plot a different plan of attack, diverging from our current twice a day administration of meds.

As Cody had also had an impressive asthma attack immediately after scaring us with the bashed eyeball, it became apparent that his condition had worsened beyond the scope of what his current drug regiment could suppress.  My suspicion was that the rainiest Summer in eons has spawned too many mold spores for him to handle.  After a tracheal lavage and various blood tests, the vets agreed with me.  Mold.  That's what I'd been saying for $1000 cheaper!!!
Onto a new treatment protocol that involves inhalants.

Two different inhalants twice a day.  Not just one puff apiece either, try 32 puffs per day, spaces 30 seconds apart.  This is where having established a bond of trust with a horse becomes crucial.
After almost a week at the vet school in an air conditioned isolation stall, Cody is released... after I'm given a tutorial on how to administer inhalants.
In preparation for his return, Flynn and I have feverishly cleaned everything in the barn.
Hay loft, vacuumed.
His new isolation pasture, clipped low to expose mold spores to UV light.
His stall cleaned and lined with non allergenic shavings.

Yes, we've paid $15 a bag for chipped cardboard.  Recycling at its finest!!!
Dax and I fetch our boy, Cody.

All this work sure does tire a puppy out.

Not to mention his morning runs and swimming.

And don't try to pull him out of the water before he's done either, he'll pull you in with him.

His obedience is stellar, not.
But I stray off topic. Back to Cody, who had settled in to his old stall.  New program included keeping him in his stall all day while the mold spores are at their worst and releasing him to graze only at night.
Two problems arose:  he wasn't nearly as cooperative with the inhalants as he had been at the vet school and he started coughing again. His stall location in the barn wasn't the best.
Flynn and I spent all of last weekend reconfiguring stall arrangements to better suit monsieur Cody.
We moved him to a stall directly under the misting fan to keep dust abated. Involving removing the rubber mats from that stall in order to bleach the wooden floor below to kill allergens.

New hypoallergenic shavings installed.

Corral panels dragged around by two tired old people and by Sunday night Cody had his own access to a small evening pasture (that he shares with his BFF Oreo).

As for the contraption that he now hated being applied to his nostril, I devised a new tool.

I cut some webbing in a grazing muzzle and affixed the device in it. Where would I be without Duck Tape!?!

It works so well that the vet school asked permission to copy my design.  My chief goal in life is to alleviate animal suffering and promote animal husbandry.  YES!!! This is a big moment for me. Plus, it will keep Flynn and I from getting stomped by an impatient horse!

Small things can make such a huge difference.
Here's the part where all this comes together: while talking to the optho team, I asked if the procedure they want to try on me is used in animals.  The answer is yes, but by the time it's performed, eyesight is so poor that the results are also poor.  I was told that having had multiple RK surgeries, corneal ablation surgery and last year's lens replacement and repair work, it's no wonder my corneas are failing.  Plus, just like my horse Axel with uveitis, I never wore sunglasses.  UV light breaks down the collagen holding the surface of your eye intact.  The vet sternly advised not waiting until the end of September to even be seen by my old eye surgeon, he said to go to the experts at Emory University in Atlanta who perfected cross linking. To make a convoluted story short, thanks to my horse's vet, I landed an appointment with the big cheese at Emory this Friday.
As my Dad has always told me, "It's not what you know, it's who you know".  On top of my all time favorite Scotty-ism "the harder I work, the luckier I become".