2019 Blogger Gift Exchange

I’ve watched the blogger gift exchange happen the past couple years and felt sad because I’d missed out on sign ups. I hadn’t known sign ups were happening actually. I wasn’t following every blog out there so I didn’t realized until too late that it was being run by Tracy at The Printable Pony. The second year I was following but missed the sign ups. I was determined to not miss it this year!

I got a message from Amy of Quantum Chromatic Abberation before thanksgiving telling me to look out for a couple of things headed my way. I got really excited! And then immediately felt guilty because I hadn’t purchased my gifts yet. (I’ve purchased them and they are on their way to the recipient now!)

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving a package arrived at the door addressed to me! I put it aside since I had guests over and wanted to enjoy opening it. After all the craziness of hosting at my house I was finally able to open it over the weekend.

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OOOOHHHH!!!!

There was a lot of stuff packed inside! Opening gifts is always fun but opening distinctly horse themed gifts is a step above that.

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We have some delicious German Horse Muffins for Scarlet. Treats are always a welcome addition, though he really is getting spoiled with his variety right now. I’d actually considered buying these when I went to the tack shop a week ago so I’m glad I didn’t.

I’ve been looking for a softer horse treat to try to use to feed the Equioxx pills. I’d been putting the pill in my hand and then piling some sweet feed around it but I’ve been worried that it would drop out of his mouth as the pills really aren’t much bigger than an oat. A soft treat would be able to be squished around the pill and keep it in place. I had the chance to try these out this morning and it worked pretty well. The longer grains in the treat made it a little difficult but it managed to keep the pill well enough. They also broke apart into chunks easily so I can make these treats stretch as my pill giving treats! Scarlet loved them. He isn’t a picky horse but man does he love himself a nice treat.

Next is a miracle brush and some brush therapy. My brushes are disgustingly dirty right now. I generally keep them cleaner but got a bit lazy and then stuff got crazy so it hasn’t been on the top of my list. So this cleaner is very timely. I’m also interested to see what the miracle brush does as far as mud on a blanket. I just bought Scarlet a new blanket (I hope it fits) and he is definitely going to roll and get it muddy. I’d like to keep him looking at least partially respectable this winter so being able to clean it would be amazing.

img_20191130_155538695 The last thing in the box was a cactus cloth. I had zero idea what this was. Obviously it was supposed to be a horse thing but for what?! I had to go look it up.

Apparently, it is an all purpose grooming tool. It’s supposed to be great for getting mud off horses. Great for getting around joints and areas a brush doesn’t normally reach. Great to use in the bath.

I’ve never had one before so I’m interested to see how it looks. Scarlet isn’t particular about his brushes so I don’t think he will care one way or another as long as he is able to get treats in the process. I’ll report back once I’ve actually used it.

On Monday, a second little package was waiting for me after work. Amy is a really thoughtful and generous secret santa! (Thanks Amy!) I opened it up to find this adorable little guy.

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It’s a little Scarlet felted ornament! I unfortunately do not have a tree to hang it on this year. But I will find somewhere in the house to display it. I have to be careful though. I’m sure this will be extremely interesting to my two cats and they will happily tear this apart in a heartbeat. It is adorable and I don’t want it to die an untimely death!

It was super fun to both find gifts and receive them this year in the blogger exchange. I’m so happy I managed to get onto the sign up sheet. It definitely started the holidays off right for me. Thank you Tracy for setting this up year after year. And thank you Amy for being an amazing secret santa!

A Conclusion of Sorts

So I got the rest of my blood results back from my vet on Monday like she said I would. I’ve taken some time to process the results before talking about them as they are both good and bad.

Everything that we tested for tested negative, including EPM. Definitively negative for EPM this time. So his levels went down from the last test we did. And considering it’s been a month since we first notice the symptoms and he hasn’t gotten worse, I’m inclined to think that this isn’t a false negative. This is also what my vet thinks.

So based on this test and how Scarlet responded to the bute, the vet thinks that it is some sort of spinal compression. Now, there could be a couple of causes of this. It could either be due to an actual pinch in the spine (ie wobblers) or it could be trauma based swelling that is compressing his spinal column.

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The thing is, finding out for sure is an involved process. It would involve neck xrays and a myelogram at the minimum. And that would likely be just another elimination factor. I’d also have to bring Scarlet to the hospital in order to do those. I’m concerned about the trailer ride with Scarlet’s current balance. Trailer rides aren’t physically easy on horses in general and I’d be worry he’d hurt himself by being knocked off balance during the ride.

So for now, that is not what we are going to do. Since Scarlet did well on bute, we are going to switch him to a different anti-inflammatory for a longer time. We are putting him on Equioxx with a helping of omeprazole every few months to keep his gut happy. He seemed to be improving on the bute but I can’t say if the Equioxx will do the same as it’s been raining constantly since I’ve given it to him.

I’m still giving him light walks (when rain allows). The vet said I could increase the walks and see about adding in things to make it more interesting/complicated. Walking over a pole and then more if he does well, raising them up etc. I’ve got some stretches to do to try to ensure that he remains flexible and hopefully to help with whatever is hurting his spine.

Another thing she suggested is doing weekly acupuncture and PEMF treatments. That would be over 200$ each time. She suggested we start with three treatments and see how he responds. I talked to the husband and he isn’t against us trying it. But I’m not sure. I don’t know how much they help. I don’t know if the help they give is worth the extra money. But I also don’t know if they are the key to recovery and if I will regret not doing it. I’m going to ask the vet more questions next week regarding the treatments before making my decision. But I would appreciate anyone’s stories about how their experiences have gone.

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Video Spam!

I drug my husband out to the barn with me on Saturday to film Scarlet walking on the line. The vet had asked me to send some video after about a week so I wanted to make sure I got that. Plus I wanted to see. It is hard for me to tell how he is moving sometimes as I can’t see him from the side.

I did a little walking with him for the videos and then continued onto our walk. He was pretty up for a lap as it was the first time he had been out of the stall in three days due to the rain. He settled down in the second lap and was a very good boy for his exercises. He even managed to do the cross with his back left leg without me having to stretch it manually. I’m very pleased with him for that. His neck is definitely still stiff bending to the left. I’ve been trying to make sure that I only bend it just a little so that he doesn’t try to back away from the pain.

After the exercises I turned him out to roll in the arena. Last time I did that, he had a bit of a crazy run after the roll and I wanted to see if he did it again. And he definitely did do so. He rolled and then stood there for a second before having a little rear and prance. I am definitely keeping him on antiinflammatories since I can tell they make him more comfortable if not make the neuro issues better.

On Sunday he didn’t roll again but he was a good boy for the exercises. I wanted to try him going down a step and down a slope like the vet had done to see what he looked like. He did it so well, not a single stumble. I wasn’t prepared for that and had to do it a second time to get video. It’s very difficult to video while leading a horse and walking backward so forgive the terrible quality. One thing I did notice with these is he is still flipping his front right toe some which indicates that he is fishing for the ground and isn’t fully aware of where his feet are in relation to it.

I’m hopefully going to bet getting the rest of the blood tests back tomorrow, which should help us narrow down what is going on. I really would like to have a conclusion to this. I don’t know that I will though. It might just be we keep him comfortable from now on. I could potentially take him to San Luis Rey to get an xray but that comes with its own set of problems in addition to a fairly hefty price tag. I’ve got a list of things I want to talk to the vet about so hopefully it will be a very productive conversation.

Partial Results

On Thursday the vet called and gave me a few of the blood test results that had come in. He is negative for herpes and shows as vaccinated/exposed for West Nile. There are two indicators for that and without him showing the second, it’s all a good thing. So two negatives at this point. Which is great.

But she said we might not get the rest of the results by EOD Friday. So I may have to wait until Monday. I’m not very patient so this has been hard. I’ve been hoping with every fiber of my being that we get a positive EPM test and I can work on that. Because I’m not sure what will happen if I don’t have that. So I will have to face that if/when that happens.

It’s been raining the past couple of days here in SD. So Scarlet hasn’t gotten his walks for a couple of days. I was slipping in the mud so if the human with decent balance and only two legs to manage was slipping, it’s going to be even worse for the horse with neuro issues. We have been doing his stretches in the stall. I’m hoping it dries up for the weekend so we can go on some walks together.

Mostly the Same

No real update over the weekend. Scarlet doesn’t seem to be any worse. I’ve been giving him reBalance every day. He is not loving it but he is a fairly mild mannered horse and isn’t trying to do more than turn his head to avoid me.

I have been giving him bute for three days now. I cannot say for sure, but I think he is feeling better. It doesn’t seem to have helped his neuro symptoms but it does seem like he is moving easier. He has started to clean up all his food even when it’s just grass hay. This makes me feel a lot better. I don’t necessarily want to give him bute constantly for the rest of his life but I’m super open to finding a different antiinflammatory to give.

One funny thing. On Saturday I let him out into an arena after our walk and exercises. I thought he might like to roll. He definitely wanted to. He wandered around for a few seconds and found the perfect spot to roll. He rolled and then leapt to his feet and galloped back to the gate. It really freaked me out. He can’t feel his legs! Don’t run!

I think he might have been spooked by some dogs barking behind him and decided to run. I wasn’t able to see if it was him feeling good as I haven’t gotten another chance to let him roll since then. I do hope it is due to him feeling good. I’d like my boy to be sound again.

A Change

So as of the day this blog posts, Scarlet will have been getting dosed with reBalance for seven days. It’s not really enough to tell if it is helping him but it helps me mentally. He’s definitely not in love with it. I’m pretty sure he feels tricked when I go out there and don’t give him any treats. And it probably tastes awful as well.

Physically, Scarlet seems to have gotten slightly worse? It just seems like its a bit harder for him to move comfortably. He can still move and still gets down to roll so I’m concerned but trying to tell myself not to be too concerned.

My goal for this week was to find a new vet with whom I felt supported and would have easy communication. I got a couple of numbers from friends and made some calls. It was a bit difficult to make myself call (phone anxiety gah) but I did it.

The vet I ended up going with had amazing office staff and she called and spoke with me for twenty minutes about the situation before I ever had to schedule an appointment. I felt more supported in that call than I ever felt with the last vet.

Even more amazing. I spoke to her for the first time on Tuesday of this week. They got me scheduled for Thursday of the same week. (Shout out to the random client who allowed their appointment to be rescheduled for mine.) So quickly. And I was so grateful. I needed someone else to come out and look. I’d had another breakdown early this week. It just felt like I was watching Scarlet slowly slide into oblivion. And I’m really not ready for that. And I dread finding out that that is the only option.

On Thursday I took a half day off work and met the vet out at the barn. She started loving up on him immediately. He seemed pretty cool with it. Scarlet isn’t an attention starved horse but he doesn’t mind it. The vet began doing just some basic physical tests in his stall: making him cross his feet to see if he puts them back, visual acuity check, pulling on his tail etc. Scarlet just kinda stood there. She asked me if he was normally this chill as the leg thing can sometimes make horses frustrated. I told her he was. And he is. He can get spooky but he is really tolerant of you on the ground messing with him as long as monsters aren’t coming.

Then we had to take him out of his stall. I was a little nervous about that as I haven’t done it in about a week. I am just overly concerned with the drainage ditch in front of his stall. I can’t avoid it and I have visions of him tripping and breaking a leg or his neck or his head exploding when he falls. You know, normal worries.

He navigated the walking portion fairly well. We did a tiny bit of trotting and lots of tight circles. He didn’t like to walk with his head up or down but walked fine blindfolded. The vet even commented on how little he freaked out about the blindfold being put on. She tested his skin reflexes. We walked up and down a curb and up and down a slope.

She agrees (obviously) that he is neurological. She notices that he is very tight muscle wise and flexibility wise and that his hind is more the issue than the front, though he searches with his right fore sometimes when walking. We drew blood for the neuro panel and she suggested adding on an elecro magnetic pulse treatment and acupuncture to the visit that day. It was about $100 more than the rest of the cost. (Wow am I feeling the hit of the cost of everything right now…) We did that. Scarlet wasn’t too sure but he was okay to let us try it if we kept a steady stream of  treats. It was feeding time though so I don’t blame him for being distracted.

I now have some bute to try to see if it helps him move at all. I’ve got ten days worth so I really should be able to tell if there is a significant difference by then. I’ve also got some stretches to do for his neck and back legs. The vet also told me to start walking again as he can’t afford to lose muscle. Yes, ma’am.

The blood test is being sent to Cornell. We will be able to retest EPM, and test for four virus causes of neuro stuff. We will be able to at least eliminate some things based on those results. I was told it should take about a week. So I’m assuming I will hear back Friday or Saturday of next week.

She also said that she’s had great results with electro pulse and acupuncture for other neuro horses and suggests once a week for a month for those treatments. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s going to end up being just over 200$ a time between the cost for each thing and the farm call. Which really sucks. And I don’t know how much I believe that those things actually help. Some of it is woo-woo and some of it is not. I haven’t been fully convinced that these aren’t. I’ll have to see how Scarlet reacts. I believe I am going to wait until after we receive the blood work back to even try again. But in the meantime, what is your experience with electro pulse and acupuncture? Any studies done on those and their benefits/cons you can share?

Meds Started

So the vet contacted me on Friday and said he’d gotten the meds. He said I could meet up with him on his way in a town that is roughly 45 minutes away. I got this text while I was at work. It was safe to say that running out of work to get this dealt with definitely was not on the schedule for me. Luckily, I’ve got amazing friends at my back and Karen was able to meet him and get the meds from him.

I had been contemplating saying no to these meds last week but I didn’t. I still somewhat question why I didn’t. I think it all comes down to: they wont hurt, they aren’t stupid expensive, they might help, and I need to feel like I’m doing something.

So I got the medication (reBalance) started on Saturday. It’s kinda a pain in the butt, how it has to be fed. It’s directions state that it must be fed more than an hour before food. I did some research on it and it is supposed to decrease absorption if they have food in their tummies. Alfalfa is supposed to decrease it by up to 50%. So obviously that’s not something I want.

Saturday I made sure I got to the barn at 7am. Scarlet generally gets fed around 7:15 so I dosed him with the meds and then took him out to wait in an arena for an hour. Dosing him was okay. Scarlet’s never been a bad one to give wormer to. I just filled the syringe and put his halter on. Shoved it in his mouth and held his chin up so he couldn’t just spit it out. Its only slightly more viscous than water so I couldn’t let him spit it out.

He was good for about half an hour standing in the arena. He definitely was annoyed I wasn’t giving him grain but he stood well enough while I groomed him. Then I just let him chill. He rolled once (brushed him off again after that) and then got annoyed that he was in there and food was out there. He started pacing the fence line and calling out occasionally. I was sitting inside the arena with him. He’d periodically come back and nudge me. It felt like he was asking me “What’s up mom. Food is out there. We done here?”

I felt like a monster. He was definitely convinced he was going to die waiting for food. He was starting to pace the fence a lot more. It worried me given his his back legs definitely didn’t look like they were supporting him steadily. So I put his halter on and held him still (more or less) for the last twenty minutes for an hour to pass. He tore into his food like he was starving when I finally put him back in his stall.

I got permission later that day from the BO to get to the barn before it’s open to give him permission. So on Sunday I hauled my butt out of bed at 5:45, grabbed the meds and got to the barn before 6. I am so grateful to be literally 3 minutes away from the barn. I pulled all the leftover hay out of his stall and gave him the meds. He got it all early enough that by the time food got tossed into his stall, he’d have them for an hour. I then went back and crawled into bed to sleep in for another hour.

So this will be my life for a while. It’s not so bad on the weekdays as I got up at 6:15 anyway. So just another half an hour earlier. The weekends wont be as awesome but I’m going to try to just get back into bed after I’m done.

I am planning on looking for a new vet this week. I didn’t have the mental energy needed to call and ask questions last week. I needed some time to recharge before I did it. I feel a little better. I think feeling like I’m doing something and having a plan for the future helps.

So, I plan on talking with the new vet about what has happened so far and that I’m wanting to do the larger equine neurological panel so that I can retest EPM and hopefully get a better idea of what exactly is his issues (it will at least eliminate a few things). Any other questions I should ask them when I’m interviewing to see who I’ll go with?

Infuriating

So Thursday I make sure to have my stuff to work from home. I do my normal morning check of Scarlet and have a literal hour countdown going on in my head.

When 10:30 rolls around I go out to wait for the vet. Scarlet proceeds to uppercut my boob while begging for treats so I smack him for that.

11 rolls around. I’ve started doing stuff around the barn. Vets are always late so I’m not too worried. Annoyed because I’m a punctual person but not worried.

I get a call from the vet, he’ll be there in about 30 minutes. Oh but the two month long expensive meds for EPM were out of stock everywhere he checked. So he ordered a different one. Similar efficacy, 3-7 month treatment. Oh and it won’t be here till tomorrow the earliest. Do I still want him to come out since I’m not sure about doing the blood test?

FFFFFFFFFFFFF

Again, the communication with this vet is horrible. I’m probably going to call around to other vets to see what they say today. I do feel slightly on the hook for the medication he did order as I requested it. Luckily this one is significantly cheaper (~$150/m) than the others so it’s not as crazy.

As if dealing with Scarlet being neurologically unsound wasn’t enough, I have to deal with a vet who doesn’t feel like he’s working for me.

Worse but not The Worst

Mid week update as everyone’s support has been so important. Also, writing this out is like therapy and helps me get my thoughts straight.

Monday morning Scarlet stumbled a couple of times while walking. I wasn’t sure if it was him or something else that caused it. I tried not to think too hard about it. He still did our 10 minute walk without any other issues that seemed different. So I told myself that it was just a bad day. I had to or I wouldn’t have been able to get through work.

Monday evening (I’m out twice a day and have a friend who will check on him when she is out) I went out and Scarlet was dragging his back right toe. Not fully in a I can’t lift this manner but not the same way he has been walking recently. I could tell his back end was worse. It’s probably a minor tick more worse but I’ve been analyzing his movements super closely for the past two weeks. I know when something is different.

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Monday I had called the vet around 1:30ish in the afternoon. I got a voicemail and left a message. I didn’t hear back so I called again around 4:45. Voicemail again. I was getting annoyed. We drew blood on the 23rd of Oct. It’s been close to two weeks. It seemed like way too long for any blood test.

When I confirmed that he seemed worse on Monday night, I decided I was going to be so annoying on Tuesday. I needed to speak with the vet. What I had told myself when I decided to wait for the results of the EPM test was if he got worse, I’d start doing the treatment regardless. So I wanted to start doing the treatment.

I had my phone on me the whole time while I was spending time with Scarlet on Tuesday. He seemed more or less the same as the night before. I pulled my phone out to check it and I’d had a missed call from the vet two minutes before. I had no idea how I missed it but I called back. Got the voicemail. I waited ten minutes and called again. Voicemail again. This time I left a message. Since I didn’t get a voicemail from the vet, the call might have been an accident.

I had to go into work so I called once I hit the parking lot (roughly 1 hour after the last call). I actually got someone on the phone that time. I told her what was going on and asked her to have the vet call me. So she said she would.

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I finally got a call around 1:30 from the vet. And he starts the call off with “So his blood results are inconclusive”

Excusez-Moi?

Blood results? When did those get in? Unfortunately I didn’t think to ask that while talking (its so much easier to think of things after the fact). But he continued on explaining that he had antibodies in his blood but not enough to indicate that he was fighting an active disease versus just being exposed to the parasite at some point. So he had wanted to wait until 2-3 weeks after the first blood draw to test again to see if he had a higher antibody count.

From those words, it seems to me that he had the blood results early enough to have made that decision to wait himself. It’s two weeks as of today since the first blood draw. I may be wrong because I didn’t ask when exactly he got those back. But the wording and the way he talked about it made me think he’d had them for a bit. So I was furious about that.

We talked about using the EPM treatment regardless of the blood test being inconclusive. There aren’t likely to be side effects so I told him to order it regardless. He did tell me that I could go to San Luis Rey and get a full work up and figure out what it would be. But it would cost me at min $1500-2k. Just for diagnosis. I can’t do that. We don’t have the money for that, not after having just bought a house. And it might not even be something treatable. I don’t know how far I can chase this honestly.

So my plan right now is to start the EPM treatment on Thursday morning. I’m waffling on doing the further blood panel he offered which would test for a few other virus caused neurological issues as well as retest for EPM. It would be $400 dollars. So our costs are now $380 for the blood panel/EPM test, $900 for the EPM treatment and then another $400 for this new panel for a total of $1680. That’s getting quite expensive. I just don’t know. I also neglected to ask which diseases it tests for and what the time was for that test. I emailed to ask but I’m not sure about the blood draw.

The EPM treatment is getting started and I’m leaning toward waiting to see if the treatment seems to have any effect. What I’ve read seems to indicate that it works pretty quickly to at least show you some results. It’s hard to decide. I’ve got to think about all the possibilities and what is the best for Scarlet, for me and for the rest of my family.

The Eve of Being the Squeaky Wheel

I still have heard nothing from the vet. It is driving me up the wall. The only thing keeping me from completely losing my damn mind is the fact that Scarlet seems to be doing okay.

He is still moving fine, I can still do everything I’ve been doing for two weeks now. I even saw him actually cock a hip on Sunday night when I went to see him to check on him. So he seems to be roughly the same.

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Dis my begging face.

I’m getting lots of sympathetic noises from the other ladies at the barn who know the deal. It’s nice but honestly I just hope I don’t see anyone that I talk to when I’m out there. Talking about it in person is hard. The more I talk about it the more I seem to be losing my mind. I don’t want to avoid the subject but sometimes I just want to cry instead of being strong.

I really really need to figure out what the results of the blood test are. I feel bad for the lady on the phone as I’m going to be bugging them literally every day until I get results. I do know that my vet cannot control the lab, but they can bug the lab themselves if they get tired of me checking on the results. I need to be able to make a decision on treatment and do something to make Scarlet better. So here comes the squeaky wheel.