Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Buh-Bye 2012

It's been a "Long December" and November and October... so much has happened since my last post that this one is going to be lengthy.

At the time of my last post, I was not so patiently waiting for another pocket of abscess to burst in the same foot.  The evening of November 2nd, I got my wish.  When I arrived at the barn to soak and re-wrap his foot before I went out of town, the abscess had burst out the same hole.  The drainage shocked me at first because it was so gooey and... bloodyI thought, oh crap, he's stepped on himself or something AND I am supposed to be leaving town!  After I soaked his foot and had a quick conversation with my vet, I wrapped him back up.  Then I called my friend Stephanie, who had agreed to take care of Alex while I was gone and updated her on the latest developments.  Once all ducks were in a row, I reluctantly left town. 

Over the next two days, I got my information second hand... which absolutely killed me, because I am a very hands on owner.  The abscess continued to drain out the original hole and then began breaking through his sole.  This thing truly was a monster!  I arrived home Sunday night to find that Alex had conveniently ripped his bandage off in the paddock.  In the process of cleaning his foot up, a portion of the sole (where the abscess had been sitting) began to shed off.  You can still see the other drain hole at the coronary band on the same side of his foot.

Alex's foot after pocket of abscess #2 burst

Now, one would think that this would most certainly be the END of this whole series of events.  We had finally slain the monster.... right?  I thought so, and went about getting his foot dried up so we could finally put a shoe back on him.  Alex was still slightly lame, so my farrier and I agreed that he was probably a little tender from being without a shoe.  No sooner than we got a nice pretty shoe on than I got another surprise.  He was shedding his frog!  I know this happens all the time, but usually in the field or trimmed by the farrier.  I've never seen it like this and must admit it's pretty wild :-)

November 18th - Shedding Frog

Then a few days later, he started shedding more sole....

November 20th - Shedding Sole

During all this "shedding" Alex continued to be lame, even with the shoe.  I packed his foot with Magic Cushion in hopes that the extra padding would make him jog/lunge sound, but he was still just slightly off.  I kept feeling like there had to still be something in there, another deep pocket of abscess.  Grrrr....

On November 23rd (the day after Thanksgiving), I had the vet out to look at Alex's foot and tell me if he thought we needed x-rays.  Alex was of course wound like a top, wiggling all over the place and basically being naughty (which is my pet peeve when a farrier/vet is coming to look at my horse).  After a jog and some "hoof testing,"  the vet said he thought Alex just had a rotten foot and that we hadn't used strong enough antibiotics the first time around.  Translation, there's more abscess in there, yank his shoe and go back to wrapping with ichthammol and soaking; get it to open up so we can hit it with Penicillin and start working him to push all the crap out.  He couldn't give me a timeline, said it could take a few weeks or two months and that we'd have to wait a bit on mother nature. Although it wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear, I was elated that he didn't think there was rotation of the coffin bone or that it was time for xrays.

So back to the drawing board... November 26th my farrier came and pulled his shoe.

November 26th - Shoe Pulled
After about 4-5 days of the wrapping/soaking protocol, a small soft (and painful) spot appeared in the opposite side of his hoof toward his toe.  I was hopeful this was the "break through" we'd been anxiously awaiting.  It was, but we didn't have your typical "burst."  A hole opened up, but the "gunk" inside was very thick and didn't really burst through.  It was time for Penicillin... unfortunately it was also time to start soaking twice per day which is hard for a working gal.  My mornings started coming earlier and earlier.

For those who don't know, injectable Penicillin is very thick and must be kept cold.  The thickness means you have to use a huge (18-16 gauge) needle to get it in, unless you want to be there all day. Adding to the fun, it needs to be injected right into the muscle.  You can't inject the same place twice because it becomes painful to the horse, so the injection sites need to be rotated, meaning you can't just use the neck (every one's favorite injection site).  You can imagine how much I was NOT looking forward to injecting my horse twice a day with a huge needle full of several CCs of thick antibiotic.  Lucky for me, my mom was around to help.

I cannot overstate how proud I am of Alex and his reaction to this treatment.  We did put a lip chain on him to keep him still, but he endured 10 days of twice a day injections and only threatened (pretty weakly if you ask me) to kick my mom once.  For any horse this would be awesome, but for my 5 year-old barely re-started OTTB, it's downright amazing.

By December 10th the hole tracked deeper and some new gunk came out along with a little more blood, we were really getting somewhere now. 

December 10th - Abscess Tracks Deeper
December 14th - Farrier Trim/Clean-up

Alex started a second oral antibiotic (the second part of the 1-2 punch) on December 15th and will have that twice per day for 30 days.  In the mean time, I continue soaking/wrapping and working him in his bandage. 

Slowly, painfully slowly, he got more and more sound.  Finally, I got an early Christmas present!  After nearly three months of killing myself, worrying, waiting and hoping...SOUNDNESS!!!  Not only that, but the "hitch" in his trot that I had originally thought might just be "part of him" was gone.   Oh boy was it gone, he has a TROT and he's not even fully schooled on the flat!  I don't think I stopped smiling for about 24 hours.

So, we are currently on day 18 of the oral antibiotic, still soaking/wrapping/working at my vet's request, but there's light at the end of this tunnel :-)

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