Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Road to Hell

Jaz colicked on Wednesday, October 28. I took him to my regular vet (Dr. G), they tubed him, and I took him to Heather's. He improved, and I brought him home on Saturday, November 7. Sunday, November 8, he did it again. I couldn't get hold of a vet less than 30 miles away. I took him back to Heather's, where they loaded him up with Banamine. As soon as it wore off, he started again, and a local vet was called (Dr. H). He said it was gas colic, gave him meds for it. Heather said he acted off the whole week following. All these times, it never got to the point of wild thrashing, rolling, or kicking his belly. We'd give him Banamine, he'd poop, and in a short while, he was ready to eat again.

foreshadow |fôr'•sh•adō| verb [ trans. ]
be a warning or indication of (a future event) : it foreshadowed my preoccupation with jazz.

I found it funny that the dictionary example mentioned jazz. I didn't make that up.

I visited him at Heather's on Sunday, November 15, and he was down again. It was no different from the other incidents. By this time, we all agreed something else had to be going on. I pointed out a tender spot on his offside flank to Heather. I noticed he'd been goosier than normal the last few times I rode him, but when I mentioned it to the vets, they all said it was probably unrelated.

I made an appointment for Monday, November 16 at a huge clinic called Performance Equine Associates. Of course, Jaz seemed fine. Bloodwork and vitals were normal. We showed Dr. E the goosey spot before they doped him up, but he, too, said it was unrelated. Dr. E found nothing abnormal in the initial stages of the rectal exam. When he was in up to his shoulder — Jaz was so stoned he didn't bat an eye — he thought he felt a tumor. The ultrasound showed something entirely different: a bulging spot in an artery with a honeycomb pattern of damage.

Strongylus vulgaris in the cranial mesenteric artery
— blood worms. The artery is just below that goosey spot on Jaz's back. He doesn't drink enough when it gets cooler, which makes the poo hard, which puts pressure on that area when he tries to pass it. When he's able to poop, relief.

Normal diet. He got tubed with 275 ml of Panacur, and Heather has to take him back the next two days to do it again. 1 gram Bute per day. They will ultrasound again after 30 days of stall/pen rest. Two weeks after the last dose of Panacur, 400 kg dose Quest.

Watch for:
Unusual signs, like numbness or other neurological anomalies, which are indications a clot has dislodged. Dr. E was optimistic, but made it clear we could still lose him.

Where we are now:
Heather says Jaz is already feeling better. This afternoon will be the final mega dose of Panacur at the vet.

My continuing lesson:
All equine professionals have their own idea of how things should be done and what's right/best for horses.
• I followed Dr. G's worming instructions to the letter: daily wormer and Ivermectin in April and October. Dr. E says strongyles are making a comeback because they have become resistant to the limited array of drugs currently available. He gave me an elaborate rotational worming schedule developed for this climate.
• Dr. E asked me when Jaz's teeth were floated last. Not since I've had him. I ask Dr. G every time he sees my horses if they need it. He always checks their teeth. Poco has had his done once since I got him, but Dr. G has said both Boyz are fine. Dr. E says all horses should have their teeth floated once a year, some even twice a year. He did, however, say Jaz's teeth look fine, so go figure.

I started down the primrose path of guilt, but aborted the trip when I remembered: all you can do is the best you can do. This did not happen because of my neglect or irresponsibility. Now I know things I didn't know before. Will I change vets? No. Dr. G is actually a great vet who has more than satisfactorily cared for all our animals for 10 years. I made him a copy of all the paperwork from Dr. E and sent him a letter detailing everything that happened since he last saw Jaz. He'll call me and we'll talk about it. Do I now have a list of 5-6 vets to call if he's not available (instead of just 1)? You betcha.

But why not switch to Dr. E? It's 2 miles from Heather but more than 20 from here.
Performance is a center specializing in reproduction and severe trauma cases. It's extremely expen$ive. Would I use them again if I felt it was warranted? Absolutely.

The adventure was not without it's comic moment. Jaz is famously goosey about his tail, butt, and boy parts. When I try to clean that boy's sheath, he sucks it up so tight you can be in up past your elbow and not reach it. When Dr. E was done and writing up the diagnosis, I grabbed a handful of wet paper towels and cleaned that thing like it's never been cleaned. It's an ill wind indeed that blows no good.

Thank you all for the good wishes for my little man.

Any many, many thanks to Heather, Jason, Nita, and Jim for nursing Jaz. You guys are the BEST. I see homemade pies in your future...


Mrs. Mom said...

Holy crap Leah.... First, I am WICKED glad Jazman is on the road to recovery, and second-- THANK YOU for posting all this info.

Jaz's colic episodes are very similar to the ones Sonny has had this year. We too stay on a tight working schedule, but now I am thinking we'll do a Panacur blast to be on the safe side.

Give that sweet pony a smooch from our little corner of the world, and keep us updated on how things are going when you can.

Mrs. Mom said...

errr that shoulda said WORMING, not

Tammy Vasa said...

I was scared when I read the title of your post, but glad it didn't go where I thought it might. And you are right. We know what we know. And we do know our horses well. Look how you picked up on his goosey spot & what it meant. Hoping Jaz has a speedy recovery! Take care!

Once Upon an Equine said...

That is scary what you and Jaz had to go through. Glad you got a diagnosis, good treatment, and I hope he recovers fully and those worms are banished. Wonderful that you have a good support group too.

Your post is very interesting though and you are right, we do the best we can with current medical knowledge and the advice of our vets. Recently, I've also been told that worms are becoming resistant. I switched vets recently and my new vet's recommendation is to paste one more time, then 6 weeks later bring manure samples in to be checked. If no worms are present, then I'm to stop the rotational wormer and test at regular intervals, and treat accordingly to what is found. I only have my two at home with no other horses rotating in and out. We'll see how this goes, but it makes me a little nervous to give up my wormer rotation because it has been such a standard for a long time.

Best wishes to Jaz!

Anonymous said...

That's quite an ordeal for your boy and you. Glad the vet's optimistic - keeping fingers crossed. Sounds to me like you did the right things as you went along - causes of colic are notoriously hard to pin down.

AareneX said...

Wow...(heart starts beating again) an ordeal indeed. I'm so pleased that Jaz is still with us, and you've got a good diagnosis. Interesting about the worming, too. I'll ask my vet when I see her to learn the local take.

As for horse dentistry, it's changed a LOT in the short time (15 years) I've had horses. Used to be, the vet would pull out the tongue and run a hand my gang gets done every year with sedation and a speculum. You'd be astonished at the stuff an equine dentist with power tools can find and fix.

Jeni said...

I'm so happy things seem to be turning around for Jaz. What a scary thing to go through but I'm very glad you stuck to your instincts. No one knows our horses better than we do.

Paint Girl said...

I am so glad to hear that Jaz is feeling better! And that you found out what kept causing him to colic! I also thought really bad news by the title, and was scared to even visit. Thank goodness that is not the case!
Thanks for all the great info!
I will keep you all in my thoughts!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

When you said he was colicking again, I worried that he might have some sand built up in there. I'm glad it turned out to be a treatable condition. I hope your boy feels better soon.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Keep getting better Jaz!
Leah you are right, we can only do the best we can based on what we know. Now you are wiser which means you will be even a better horse mom and you were already a great one.
Take care of yourself and smooch your boyz

Desert Rose said...

So sorry to hear that the saga is continueing!!! But olny now you may be able to get Jazz healthy and sound again!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh man! I'm so sorry Leah! You must be so worried, especially having to keep busy with work and such and not being able to check on your handsome boy every day.

Sounds like a terrible thing for him to go through, too. Colic is horrible in itself, but the blood worm and artery damage is just so scary! I hope he pulls through strong and healthy. Like you said, you can only do your best, so I'm glad you're not feeling guilty.

You're a good horsie Mom, and I love that you also found some humor in the situation and that Jazz's wee wee is now spic and span clean! (Reminds me to be grateful I have a mare. lol!)


lytha said...

i find myself praying for jaz as i go about my day. i really want him well again!


City girl turned Country Girl said...

How SCARY!! I am so glad someone finally figured it out for him!! And you!! Great thing to have some back ups for sure!! He will be in my prayers to stay well!!

Leah Fry said...

Thanks everyone. Heather says Jaz is feeling better, exhibiting signs of his normally playful, sweet self. Of course, he's been stoned since Monday, so who wouldn't be?

The BIG lesson here is that sometimes colic is the problem, but sometimes it's only a symptom. You don't know and can't know until you you DO know.

Although this certainly can be fatal, especially to foals and seniors, most bounce back within a month or two. Jaz is only 10. After seeing the honeycomb worm condo, I'm amazed they can heal from that, but they do.

Nuz, my Boyz get Sand Clear faithfully, which was another reason this was so baffling.

OUAE, I will probably make testing a part of their annual exam now.

If y'all are thinking of doing rotational worming, make sure you get one developed for the climate in your area. Mine is a 2-year rotation, with January and July purges with Ivermectin and Quest in alternating years. There are other drugs used every other month. The timing is important. We usually have a hard freeze prior to January and triple digit temps in July, during which time the eggs can't survive outside the horses' guts. That's when you hit the horses with the big guns. According to Dr. E, if you are religious about this, you can virtually eradicate worms on your property within 3-5 years.

The only bad news is that with having to worm so often, I bet my normally easy-to-worm guys will catch on and be stinkers about it. I'll have to concoct some appetizing ways to get the job done.

Laura said...

Wow - poor Jazz! I hope the vigourous worming schedule works for him.

Sorry to hear about this whole story - you must be so stressed...

Good for you for noticing the tender spot - turns out your hunch was right.

Glad you were able to get to a bigger clinic that could do the right exam to find the problem.

Thanks for posting this info - there is so much to learn and watch out for with these big beasts that it can get overwhelming at times (to say the least)...

Keep us updated on his progress!

Jenn said...

I am so glad the vet found the cause of his colics! Poor guy, I'm so glad he's feeling better!

Worms are scary in all forms. They are becoming resistant to so many drugs out there and sometimes, even diligent rotation doesn't work. Then you have to worry about what frequent worming with those harsh chemicals is doing to them. Yes, it's getting rid of the worms, but WHAT ELSE is it doing?

I rotate the crap out of my wormers and practice very diligent pasture maintenance to help prevent the spread, but I still worry about them!

Hoping Jazz keeps on riding the improvement bus and has no backsliding!

cowgirljlynn said...

So glad to read that Jazz is getting better.

the7msn said...

Dang. The good news in all of this is that you can hang your hat on a definitive diagnosis and treat it, and you didn't have to put Jaz (and yourself) through colic surgery to find it. Wishing Jaz a very speedy return to his normal self!

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SolitaireMare said...

Hi! I was referred to your blog by one of your readers as my horse is going through a colic-like situation right now. My vet is on the whole worming clean-out and today he was supposed to have been ultrasounded to see if they can find anything in his gut. I'm glad your horse came through okay. I'm hoping I get some answers and a similar end result.

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