Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flashback: Cricket's Eye Ordeal

In my never-ending struggle to purge old emails, I came across the following message I'd sent to our local Yahoo! group. It was written just a few days after I brought Cricket home from the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital.

In mid-April 2007 we began treating a small spot on Cricket's right eye. For just over three weeks, I applied three different ointments 3x a day and Cricket also received 7.5ml of Banamine (orally) to control the inflammation. When it was obvious things weren't getting better, we took her to UT for a consult. Four weeks, three surgeries and over $6,000 later, Cricket came home.
"What has only been a matter of days feels like a lifetime (or more). Cricket came home Monday and I don't think I've stopped moving since!
Now I just don't have two minutes to string together. It's been a very hectic process - sorting out her different medications, getting the process and the timing down and just trying to do everything that needs to be done. Four times a day she gets three different medications through the lavage, twice a day I also give her a dose of Atropine. She's getting Gastro/Ulcer Guard once a day and Banamine twice a day. She also gets an oral antibiotic twice a day and flax oil twice a day. . . [Cricket] absolutely HATES getting meds through the lavage. It's .2ml of meds, 2ml of air (to push it through) and then wait 2 minutes before starting again. I know it could be worse - at least I manage her by myself - but it certainly isn't any fun."

After I wrote this, it got worse. Cricket would shake her neck violently the instant I even reached for the lavage port. I don't know if she ever ran into me but she caused me to stick my own finger several times. The final straw came when she shook so hard she launched the entire syringe out of the port and over the stall wall. I hit her. On the shoulder. I was so mad, so tired, so frustrated and so worried. Then I took a deep breath. I put her out in the round pen while I cleaned her stall

I gathered my thoughts back together and remembered that it was just a Friendly game, albeit an extreme one. Over the next few days, I helped Cricket become more of a partner for her meds. With some cookies and experimentation, I soon had a horse who would approach me at liberty, position herself for her meds and then ask for a cookie. She became so focused on the cookies, she would often cut me off as I tried to leave her paddock, "asking" for more cookies by positioning her lavage port in front of me. Gotta love the LBI!

Cricket spent about four weeks on stall rest where she perfected the removal of her halter/hood (something she had to wear 24/7 in order to protect her eye as it healed) without disturbing the lavage tubes. It's been two years since the ordeal and Cricket is, for the most part, no worse for the wear. She has a funky scar on her right eye from the conjunctival flap graft surgery. She has a strange place in her eye where it appears the pupil "leaked" down into the iris. She has two cataracts on that eye. As far as we know, her vision is in tact and the scar just creates a shadow in her field of vision.

I am forever grateful to my local vet, Dr. Vikki Trupin, and the team at UT - Dr. Ward, Dr. McLain and Dr. Hendrix, and the team of students and technicians who took such wonderful and loving care of my horse.

I am also grateful to Parelli. Because Cricket knew how to be a partner, she trusted the people handling her and was calm and relaxed through daily sedation and nerve blocks as well as three rounds of general anesthesia. With a little bit of Friendly Game I helped Cricket's vet student understand how a little trust and a loose line were better for my horse (something that was remembered when I returned a month later to have the graft cut). Approach and retreat, coupled with appropriate motivation, allowed me to administer Cricket's meds at liberty with no stress for either of us.

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