by Laura Crum
As those of you who have read my blog posts know, my son’s horse went to colic surgery last year to save his life. They removed a stone as big as a cantalope from Henry’s large intestine as well as about two gallons of sand (which he didn’t ingest here) and smaller stones. The date of this surgery was Jan 31st.
So last Sunday, Jan 31st, I’m thinking about the whole ordeal, which is indelibly impressed on my mind. The sleepless nights, the worry, the anxiety and tears. I’m feeling glad we made it through and Henry is back to being a riding horse. Then I go down to feed the horses in the evening. Guess what I found? Yep, Henry was colicked. Exactly one year later.
He wasn’t colicked in any extreme way—he’d been bright eyed and normal all day. But he wouldn’t eat his dinner and he kept trying to lie down; he wouldn’t graze and he kept on trying to lie down when I got him out. He stood camped out, looked at his sides, and was droopy and miserable. He was definitely colicked. The scary thing was that these were all the signs he ever showed when he had the colic that led to surgery. He never got real painful, he did not sweat or thrash or have an elevated heart rate or respiration. But for 48 hours, as soon as the current dose of banamine wore off, he went back to showing these minimal colic signs. Exactly what he was showing now.
OK, I admit it. I freaked. I simply couldn’t believe it was happening. I yelled at my husband to walk the horse while I called the vet. My husband gave me a look. It was getting dark, it was Sunday night, I know we were both having the same déjà vu.
“I don’t want to do this again,” my normally very sweet husband said. “Just call the guy with the backhoe.”
He was kidding, sort of.
I ran up to the house and called the vet (cellphones don’t work here) only to discover that (hard times all over) they had no on call vet Sunday night. Nifty. Now my choices were to adlib (give banamine paste myself and walk Henry) or call a vet I’d never used for a first time emergency call. My husband and I looked at each other.
“Or,” I said, and I knew he was thinking the same thing. “We could just haul him to the equine center now.”
“Lets,” he said. “Let them deal with it. It’ll be worth it.”
We both knew that by the time we had a ranch call, holiday charge, after hours charge, emergency charge, exam charge…etc, the cost would be almost the same as what the equine center would ding us. And at the equine center, somebody else would be checking on Henry all night long. And if his colic went the wrong way, they could hook him up to fluids. They had the drugs, the equpiment, the big clean stall, the crew of interns to observe and do the work. I’m not sure I would have made this choice with another horse in different circumstances, but neither my husband or I could face a rerun of the two sleepless nights that led up to Henry’s colic surgery. We loaded him up and hauled him one hour to the equine center and I kissed him on the nose and dropped him off.
Well, as fate would have it, they gave him the dose of banamine that I could have given, they watched him all night and called me in the morning and said he was fine. I picked him up the next day and so far he’s been fine. So I pretty much wasted the five hundred dollars it cost. Oh well, hindsight’s twenty twenty. At least my husband and I got some sleep.
So how weird is that? Henry just happens to colic exactly one year after the colic that led to surgery? Do horses have "anniversary reactions" like people do?
I have to say, there are moments when I almost wish I didn’t have any horses. How about you? Any strange stories to share?