July 21, 2015

Gem Update: Forward Progress

At the last update, Gem had been placed in a second cast with instructions for stall rest, daily wrapping above the cast, twice daily oral antibiotics and ace as needed. The vet wanted her back in 10 days exactly and so I cleared my schedule at work for the afternoon.

Gem has done exceedingly well on stall rest. Her legs have remained nice and tight,  has gobbled down her antibiotics, ate the barn nearly out of hay and has remained calm and mature. I love this mare.

Monday afternoon I hooked the trailer up and got her out of her stall. I felt really bad about leading her straight onto the trailer and she did balk upon loading. I understood her complaint loud and clear as this was the first time in 10 days that she had been out of her stall at all and 3 weeks since last in the pasture. Sorry mare, but this is just how it has to be right now.

I hit the road 30 minutes ahead of schedule and called my dad to confirm some details on the funeral and what they were planning on doing. Life is very complicated right now.

As I merged onto the highway 10 minutes later, a man in a mini van pulled up beside me in the next lane and started honking his horn and staring at me. It freaked me out. So much so that I slowed way down in the hopes that he just wanted over before the exit that was coming up.

He slowed down as well and continued to honk and then rolled down his window. This really freaked me out, so I slowed even more and he eventually pulled ahead of me. He then slammed on his breaks and honked. Um??

The exit came and he got off, but then stopped on the exit ramp and continued to look at me through his open drivers side window. I apologized a bit to Gem and sped way up to get past him and hoped he wouldn't sped back onto the highway in pursuit. I didn't feel like being murdered that day.

I continued on holding my breath and looking into the rearview mirror hoping never to see his dark blue van again. Thankfully, I didn't and I arrived at the clinic in one piece.

Or so I thought.

When I got out, it was over 90 and I figured Gem was getting pretty hot in her metal box. I went to open the rear top doors to give her air and noticed a big problem: the electric cord that I had assumed was nestled nicely in the plug on the truck was in fact dragging on the ground. Apparently the man did not have visions of rape and murder, but had in fact been trying to warn me of my broken trailer. Oops. 

The plug is cracked and the wing on the right side is completely worn off.

At first I was naively hopeful I could still get it to work, but the entire thing was smushed into an oval versus the circle it needed to be
 I texted Dusty that I had arrived safely, but had broken the trailer. Sorry, honey. Hopefully they can just replace the plug and it won't cost a fortune.
I opened up the trailer and headed inside to check in. I gave them Gem's name and told them we had a 3 pm with Dr. B for her cast removal. The receptionist told me that that was impossible since Dr. B was off that day and I must be mistaken.
My head exploded.
Seriously, this place has the absolute worst customer service ever. The medicine may be good, but I will never use them ever again after this injury.
I informed the lady that my mare was going to have her cast off at 3pm, that I had stood in that same spot 10 days prior and made the appointment per the insistence of Dr. B and that they would be seeing me. She gulped and told me to unload as she figured it out.
Gem came off the trailer fine and immediately tried to pull me over to the small patch of grass lining the drive. I apologized again to her for the solitary confinement and led her over to the barn. A nice tech met me halfway and took Gem to one of the outpatient stalls. She told me to wait in the lobby and I replied that I would not be leaving my horse.
I was 30 minutes early and so I settled in with my phone to vent to friends as I awaited some vet to come care for my Gem. In the meantime, Gem drank half a bucket of water and dropped for a nice roll in the clean shavings. Good mare!!!
Eventually the owner wandered over, gave her a dose of Ace and had me lead her to the treatment area. On the way he asked if her cast was bi valved. I admit I was annoyed. Why didn't he either look up her chart or communicate with the surgeon? I asked him if he knew her case at all, he stammered out something and then disappeared to text with Dr. B. Sigh.
Eventually he came back and got to business. With the gigli blades already in place under the fiberglass, it took about 30 seconds to remove it and Gem was none the wiser.
Outer layers removed with the gigli saw wires exposed

The inside portion bi valved

I was very anxious to see what the hoof looked like. Would it be healed? infected? Dehisced open? Necrotic?

It seemed like forever as he unwrapped the hoof and finally revealed her injury.

Unwrapped with sutures still in place

After sutures are removed.

I let out a huge sigh of relief once it was exposed. It looked really, really, really good. The wound is still young and very fragile, but the skin is doing it's job at healing. A lot of the swelling was gone and there was zero signs of infection.

Gem is healing this about as good as is possible right now and it is both amazing to see and slightly terrifying at how much damage was actually done.

After he cleaned it all up and removed the sutures (he left the wire in the hoof wall) we talked about the plan. Well, actually I talked about the plan while he hemmed and hawed and took pictures for Dr. B.

Eventually a plan was hashed out and I even got an explanation as to why.

Going back into the bi valved cast

Cast still fit well
  Ok...so the plan moving forward:

- No more antibiotics  - yay!!!
- She was placed back into the bi valved cast with wrapping above it.
- The wrapping will need changed daily
- The cast is to be removed on Friday with the wound cleaned and the cast put back on
- On Monday the cast is to be removed permanently - yay!!!
- On Monday she is to be placed in a bar shoe on both fronts
- Bell boots at all times on the fronts
- Even with the shoes she will need to have the heel wrapped with gauze and elastikon daily. This is to keep swelling out and to provide support for the fragile heel bulb flesh.
- Continue strict stall rest for 2 more weeks
- Return in 2 weeks

I was pretty happy and relieved with the news, the way it looked and the plan. I put Gem back on the trailer and went to check out.

They told me I owed $3800.

Now to me that seemed like a lot for a dressing change and suture removal appointment.

She rolled her eyes at me and explained that I had never paid her previous bill. Um...yes I did. I have the invoice in the truck to prove it. Once I showed her that I had in fact paid it, she rung up the $30 fee for the day.

$30 seemed awfully low, but I wasn't going to argue.

The drive back didn't involve any crazed men trying to get me to pull over to have their way with me, so I considered that a win and we arrived back at the barn safely.

I spoke with the BO and he is going to care for her in the mornings now which is a big win for me. It means I can once again take Wyatt to school before work. I will still go out in the evenings to change her dressing and make sure everything is still going well.

She is off the antibiotics, no bute and has been off the Ace for nearly a week. I am planning on adding her Grand Vite daily to help and am starting to research hoof supplements to help that injured hoof wall.

All in all it was a great report. Back to waiting for 2 more weeks!!


  1. Such good news and every time I see that hoof I think how freaking lucky she is.

    And I would have freaked out about the strange man honking at me on the highway.

  2. Wow, that does look terrific! Whew. I'm so glad things are going more or less smoothly (terrible customer service aside...).