Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Loooong day

Planned to take half a day off work for Lizzie's vet visit this morning.  Ha!  The entire day was shot.  Dr. Chapman did get there at 10 AM on the dot but by the time she finished up and headed out it was after 3 PM and I was completely wrung out!  

It all started with a flexion check of all four of Lizzie's legs that required that I run with her for 75 feet or so after each leg was held up for 90 seconds so the vet could observe her gait.  It was in the upper 90's and I was dressed for work because I THOUGHT I would be going on in when the vet finished.  Well, by the time we had checked the first two legs I was already dripping wet!  Usually the vet has 2 or 3 vet students with her and they do all the running and hard stuff.  But although she was scheduled initially to deal with Lizzie's ear (more about that later), I asked if she would also do ultrasounds on all four of her legs so I could send the results to a vet in California who specializes in DSLD diagnosis.  So since Dr. C. knew this was going to be a very lengthy exam (even if I didn't), she came alone today, and it was all up to me to do the running.  Whew!  

So once we finished that, she went on and did the ultrasounds for Dr. Mero.  First Dr. C. had to shave Lizzie's legs.  As far as I know, Lizzie had never been clipped at all before.  So Dr. C started with the clippers on "low" and was very careful to stay back in case she were to kick.  But it didn't take long for her to realize there there was no WAY Lizzie was going to move, let alone kick!  By the time she got to the second leg the clippers were on "high" and she was leaning over behind her back legs!  Lizzie is the absolute BEST horse in the world.  There is no way she would ever try and kick or run or even move. 

In fact, Lizzie was SO good that, although Dr. C said she normally sedates horses before doing an ultrasound, she thought she would "try" a leg without sedation -- "just to see."  Well, Lizzie was an absolute ANGEL and stood like a statue.  In fact she stood absolutely still through the entire TWO HOUR process!   Dr. C. placed her feet where she wanted them (one far enough forward of the opposite one that she could reach both) and Lizzie left them exactly where she put them.  She never moved a single foot. 

In fact, by the time she finished with the first couple legs, Lizzie was snoring!

Before Dr. C. placed her feet in the appropriate position, Lizzie was standing as she often does with her back feet completely together.  That can't be normal.

Dr. Mero's form is three pages long and requires many, MANY ultrasound readings on each leg.  I had no idea how much extra work I was asking of Dr. C. when I asked her to fill it out for me.

But I really want to have Dr. Mero's opinion sooner rather than later so I can know whether Lizzie's problems are caused by arthritis (in which case she would need MORE exercise, including being ridden, and joint supplements) or by DSLD, in which case she would need to be allowed to graze but NOT be worked.  And the treatment she would require would be very different.

Janet recommended I ask Dr. Mero for a diagnosis because she was the one who helped Janet with the diagnosis on her Peruvians.  They had been misdiagnosed by numerous vets (AND by LSU) here in Baton Rouge before it was finally determined that they had DSLD, and that's why Janet suggested I have the ultrasounds done now on Lizzie and that I send Dr. Mero the results.  I'm hoping she will have time to check them out for me because I doubt that anyone else would be able to determine this early on whether it's early DSLD or something else.   If Lizzie does have DSLD, it no doubt IS very early, and that will be a very good thing.  Janet's last remaining Peruvian was diagnosed about five years ago and he has been under an experimental treatment regimen for about the last four years and is doing very very well, all things considered.  There is no cure yet, of course, but unless you know he has problems, it's really hard to tell when you see him out there in the pasture.  He's comfortable.

Anyway, once the ultrasounds were done, Dr. C moved on to Lizzie's ear.  I wasn't sure if the swelling was an abscess, or a hematoma from shaking her head and rubbing her ear against the iron fence posts (which I saw her doing the morning that egg appeared).  It turned out that it was a hematoma and not an abscess.  Ultimately, that was probably my own fault.  Lizzie's ears are very sensitive to fly bites so I keep a fly mask with ears on her, but her two masks were both filthy, so I took off the one she was wearing and brought them both home to wash them and when I went back the next morning her ear was swollen to egg size.  My fault.  Dumb.  I won't make THAT mistake again.   

Dr. C said Lizzie appears to be ultra-sensitive not just to flies but also other things and we need to (1) pick up those tags they put on cow ears to fend off flies and weave one into both her mane and tail, (2) shampoo her with sensitive skin shampoo of some sort, and (3) use a leave-in conditioner with steroids in it.  So we have our work cut out for us this weekend, for sure!

Dr. C did give her a little sedation while she worked on the ear because she had to make an incision to drain the fluid out of that hematoma.  Then she packed the ear with medicated gauze, taped a tongue depressor on there to keep it upright, and we put her (clean!) fly mask over it and a breakaway halter over THAT to be sure she doesn't take it off and expose the ear to more flies. 

Here she is "sleeping it off" in the catch pen (since we didn't want her to have access to the hay in her stall). 

Dr. C. will be back on Friday to check on her ear, and to do another set of x-rays to compare to the ones she did six months back when Lizzie first came up lame.  We thought it was laminitis as a result of her having been turned out on spring grass, but the x-rays were inconclusive.  So . . . while we're at it, we might as well do another set and see if there's been any change.

This is going to be one expensive "bargain" horse.

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