Saturday, April 28, 2012

In which Fiddle returns home, and there is another nice quiet day

Two days after surgery, we got the call: "She's doing fine, come get her."

Fiddle seemed quite pleased to be back at home, in her own stall again.
Back in her own stall, eating her own (boring) hay
When she figured out that the feed was soaked hay + beetpulp, she was unenthused...but agreed to eat what we'd provided.

Later in the afternoon, I set up her "lawn-mowing paddock", and she spent about an hour (enthusiastically) eating fresh grass.
We can move this paddock around the yard so she can spend time eating fresh grass each day.  

The enclosure is small enough that she doesn't really have room to misbehave.  Also, she's very familiar with it, because she lives in it whenever we are in a ridecamp, so she doesn't mess around: she walks in and immediately starts eating.
Ride side incision, Spay Day +2
 Her incision sites are a little puffy today, which appears to be leftover air (from the surgery).  There is no heat and no seeping, and she doesn't mind if I touch them.
Left side incision, Spay Day +2

She's "careful" still about the way that she moves--she would like to roll, but gets down to her knees and then decides that getting down and up again won't be worth it.  When I see her do that, I get out the brushes and give her hide a vigorous scrubbing, which she appreciates.

The vet sent home enough doses of Banamine (pain killer) and TMS tablets (antibiotics) to last a few days.  

She will be confined to her stall (and the lawn-mowing paddock) for about 10 days, until the staples are removed.  After that, we'll gradually move her into confinement in stall + paddock, followed by a slow release onto pasture and back into saddle work.  

The goal is to have her working again in time to do trail-building work before the Renegade Rendezvous ride in late June...and then, if all goes well, she and I will sign up to do the ride, too!

Friday, April 27, 2012

In which Spay Day is followed by a nice, quiet recovery day

Fiddle was brighter of eye if not bushier of tail when I showed up at the vet hospital this morning.  

Apparently her temp went up slightly overnight, so she got a dose of Banamine this morning, but that was mostly worn off by noon.  

Today, the plan was to stay quiet and not do much.  
"I helps you edit, okay?"

I brought my laptop so I could camp out by Fee's stall and do some work on the Endurance 101 book.  Fiddle helped.  

I've never had horse spit on my keyboard before.  I guess horse people will find a way to work horses into every aspect of life, given a chance.

Periodically, we'd stroll out to the edge of the parking lot so she could snack on some grass.
 Here's a close-up of the bandage:

This evening, we ripped off the bandage to expose the staples.
Spay Day +1, right side
 The left side shows a little more swelling:
Spay Day +1, left side

If all goes well, she'll come home tomorrow morning!  

Her stall is clean and waiting.  

I'm eager to have my Dragon home again.

In which the vet staff is a great bunch--they even got Fiddle to smile

There were photos from Fiddle's vet in the In-Box this morning when I checked email!

Here's a photo of The Team. 
L-to-R: Dr. Ragan Garrett, DVM (anesthetist), Dr. Crystal Williams, DVM (assistant surgeon)
Dr. Michelle Delco, DVM, DACVS (Surgeon), Erin Stecher, LVT (technician).
Note that Dr. Williams (who was getting understandably cranky yesterday at Fiddle's refusal to stay sleepy yesterday during surgery) is bribing her with food.  That's the way to this mare's heart, y'all! 

Anesthesia Record.  If you haven't read THIS BOOK yet, Vet Team, you might want to try it.

The team, including Fiddle, smiling for the camera.

Life is good--and now, I'm off to the vet hospital to visit everyone!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In which Spay Day is explained in text and photos (not icky/graphic)

Big props today to Dr. Michelle Delco, who not only headed up the surgery on Miss Dragon Pants today, she spent time after answering my questions and then more time answering my email queries!

Here's an account of Fiddle's Spay Day, start-to-finish, with most of the narration provided by Dr. Delco:

Fiddle gets her "pre-meds":  Banamine and antibiotics.  She also gets sedation before she goes into the stocks.  Note the upright ears and interested face.  This will haunt us later in the day.
 9:00am:  The dripline is installed, providing a steady infustion of 1) fluids 2) Sedivet infusion (sedation) 3) Butorphanol infusion (feel-good/happy drug.)  .  Ears still upright.
"Not a cheap date, mate."
 While waiting for the drugs to bring her ears to "airplane posture", the surgery site is cleansed again.
(Ears still upright, no sleepy pony yet)
scrubbed and shaved...again
 10:00am, she is outfitted with gear to minimize outside stimulus, including cotton balls in the ears, a drape over the eyes, and a soft blankie to catch the drool.  Ears are at "half-airplane."
"Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil"
 10:30am  Fiddle is "steriley draped" and ready to start...but airplane ears.  She's actually trying to look around!   They've given her more sedation, and waiting patiently for her to get sleepy.  Notice Dr Williams looking at Fiddle scornfully- you could imagine a little bubble above her head "go to sleep, you little stinker!"  

Po-Nee, the newest Teletubby
 11am  She's finally sleepy!
Inserting the cannula.
Inserting the first cannula.  Dr. Delco says, "This is the portal through which I will pass the laparoscope.  The scope is attached to a camera, and the image is displayed on a screen (positioned directly behind Fiddle- not in any of the pictures.)"    
Fiddle has joined the Borg, at least temporarily.
She described watching this surgery as being about as interesting as watching somebody play video games...the surgeon doesn't look much at the patient, but instead keeps her eyes mostly on the monitor.

Dr. Delco says, "In the picture (above), the left ovary has been ligated and passed over to the right side of the abdomen.  In the left flank, you see the three cannulas (portals) still in place so we maintain insufflation (Aarene in:  "balloonism").  Through one portal, you can see the black instrument--that's the grasping forcep that is holding onto the left ovary.  When the right side is finished, I will make a pass-off:  I grab the left ovary with another forcep from the right side, then let go with the forcep on the left.  That way we keep track of the left ovary and they both come out of one incision on the right side."   

Meanwhile, in the waiting room:
Visiting Fish (and puppy)
 I've never been through a horse's surgical procedure, so I didn't realize how fretful I would be during the process.  Fortunately, my friends from Fish Creek did realize it, so they came to the clinic to keep me company.  Patty brought food.  Dory brought Poppy.
Nothing like some puppy breath to relieve worries!
 12:30pm  Dr. Delco came to the reception area to update us:  surgery was finished, and Fiddle was recovering and still groggy.  They gave her fluids while she was still in the stocks to help with her recovery.  When the sleepy meds wore off and the airplane ears returned to the fully upright and locked position, Fiddle was returned to her stall.

Her fleece cooler as a snugglie, and the muzzle to keep her
from trying to eat before the sedation was fully worn off.
 1:30pm   Mostly awake, and ready to eat!
The vet tech was a little astonished at my horse's enthusiasm for post-surgery food.  I wasn't astonished at all: this mare loves to eat!

She will gradually be returned to regular food, starting with wet Equine Senior and moistened hay through the day and into tomorrow.  She will be watched carefully for signs of colic and discomfort; if she's good to go through the end of tomorrow, they will release her to come home on Saturday morning!

So far, so good.  Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts and prayers during this process.  I'll update tomorrow -- hopefully with "not much to report!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In which we ramp up to Spay Day : preparation before the event

It's a rainy, dreary day in the Swampland when I load up Fiddle and ferry her over to the vet hospital for the pre-surgical routine.

The parking lot is nearly full at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital

The barn was full when we arrived, so we tread water for a little while,

waiting for patients to be discharged and stalls to be cleaned and turned over.

When this place clean the stalls, they really CLEAN THE STALLS
 Soon enough, Fiddle was settling into her stall, making the acquaintance of the horse-next-door.
"Hey, you got food?  Why don't I have food?"
 The "restricted diet" prior to surgery has been the hardest part of the process for me so far. 

A muzzle.  Not popular, but she accepted it without fuss.

Three days prior to surgery, hay is gradually cut back and replaced with a complete pelleted feed like Equine Senior.  As an endurance rider, it's against my very nature to withold food from a hungry horse, but the reasoning is sound:  when the gut is less-full of fiber (like hay), the surgeon doesn't need as much air pumped into the belly to make room for surgical instruments. 

Less air = more comfort = less colic risk.

But that doesn't make it easy for me! 

I expected Fiddle to be in DefCon 1 Dragon Mode this morning, because her dinner was small and breakfast was not served at my surprise, she was quite placid about the lack of food. 
"Hey Dude, you gonna eat all that?"
 Hungry, but calm.  I do love a Sensible Mare.
Dr. Michelle Delco with her patient
 Doctor Delco endeared herself to me (and to Fiddle) by expressing her appreciation for a Sensible Mare.  She told me that she had done an internship in Lexington, Kentucky, where many of the patients are...(insert tact here) ... not especially Sensible.
 Although Fee isn't allowed meals prior to surgery, she gets to take short periodic walks around the property to nibble grass...or as Fiddle calls it "FOOOOOOOOOOOOOD" in order to keep her G.I. tract functional (but not full).
pre-surgery exam and dress rehearsal
 The pre-surgery exam allows Dr. Delco to discover some baseline stuff about Fiddle, including her response to a new and potentially scary room (not a big deal)

Fiddle thinks the vet tech is really nice

her tolerence for the seditive Sedivet ("wheeeeeeeee?"),

Fortunately, she's a friendly-drunk
 and her basic reaction to being poked and prodded ("wake me up when you're done, okay?").

not exactly a glamour-shot, Dr. Delco, sorry.
Rorshach test?...I think this one kinda looks like a bunny...
 After the ultra-sound, we're almost done.  But first:
Artistry in action
 time to clip the surgical area.  The incisions won't be nearly this big!  The area is clipped to make keeping things clean much easier.
Maybe she could clip in a skull-crossed-bones pattern? No.  Just a square.  Boring!
 After the clipping comes the scrubbing.
This is a pre-pre-scrub with Betadine.  She will be shaved again (with a Bic razer)
and re-scrubbed again just before surgery in the morning.
 We all know that as soon as she gets back to the stall (and wakes up from the Sedivet)
"I am totally planning to roll...probably in manure"
she's gonna roll.  But the pre-pre-scrub also gives the vet a good idea about how ticklish the horse is. 

In Fiddle's case, not ticklish.  Which is a good thing.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early:  SPAY DAY!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In which there is blue sky and some unusual winged folks on horses

Fairies! (and a DragonFly)
 It was the kind of bright, warm, spring day that brings all the winged things up out of the ground and into the sunshine!
Any resemblance to the Bad Idea Fairy is purely coincidental.
Well.  Mostly coincidental.

Theoretically, the wings provide LIFT!
 Swampland Fairies enjoy sunshine as much as the floaty, fluffy kind of fairy. 

This should not surprise you.

On a day like today, you could easily fly all the way to Canada!

The Dragonfly

 Everybody enjoys a bright, sunny day in the Swamp! 

Take a good long look, Fee.  We won't be back here for a while.
This is the last chance we'll have to ride before Fee's spay surgery. I'm so glad it was a blue sky day.  

I'll be able to ride Hana while Fiddle is recovering, and Patty's young horse Rocky needs some practice on trails, so I won't be grounded for a month.  But now that I've gotten used to flying Dragon Airlines, nothing else is ever quite the same.