August 26, 2006

Bay Wonder Mare in the hospital

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Five second summary: Isis had colic surgery today (VERY BAD). I had written a long post about Isis being in the hospital with colic and a slippery-finger mistake caused me to delete the entire entry. It’s too raw to rewrite now.

She was okay at breakfast this moring. The barn manager called me at 9:30 AM, the vet was at the barn about an hour later, and Isis was at the hospital being prepped for emergency surgery by 11:30 or noon. She was out of surgery and in recovery by about 4:30 or so this afternoon. All praises be to close veterinary hospitals.

Isis in the hospital before surgeryOne day she was happy and being her normal playful self. The next she’s lying on her back on the operating table… and you don’t know if she will be there the next day. And this only after a month when she had been showing and doing so well. I’m still in shock…

During the surgery, the vets found a lipoma(1) that had wrapped around Isis’ small intestines. A lipoma is a fatty deposit in her abdomen that, in this case, was suspended from a stalk several inches long. The stalk got twisted around her intestines. On top of that, she part of her large intestine was twisted around, and she had a minor impaction-in-the-making towards her sicum. This type of colic is one of those fluke things that happens. You don’t know when it will strike, or what will happen. It wasn’t caused by any external factors. It was all internal. There was nothing that anyone could have done to prevent this. For being such big, powerful animals, horses are so fragile.

The barn owners were so awesome and supportive. Isis has been boarded at their barn for over eight years. I was one of their first boarders. Isis is like one of their family, just like she is mine. They hauled her in for me and stayed for several hours while we watched her go through tests and surgery.

I’m one of those people who would prefer to watch the surgery instead of waiting some place pacing and not knowing what is going on. As hard as it is to see a horse on her back and her intestines being examined, it’s harder still to be waiting and not knowing. Your imagination has an opportunity to run wild, and that is counter productive, especially when you have to keep your wits about you. I was grateful to the vets for keeping me posted during her surgery and letting me know what they found almost real-time. It was hard to watch, but at the same time, it was a relief to be included in the process.

Keeping focused on getting her care and how she was doing was the only thing that helped me keep my sanity during the day. All I could remember was the last time I’d been on my way to the hospital with a colicky horse. That horse was Isis’ grandmother, Indian Symphony. She died on the recovery table, and left an orphan three-month old chestnut filly (Isis’ dam).

I remembered Symphony’s surgery and the way the small intestines looked grey instead of bright pink. During Isis’ surgery, it was heartening to see that the intestines at least looked pink and had some mobility so they were still functioning. Some of the intestines did look red and aggrevated.

Surgery lasted about four hours. I stayed and watched most of it (except the initial incision, something about that I can’t watch). After she was sutured and closed, she was wheeled into the recovery room. While she was gradually coming around, the anesthesiologist came out and talked to me about her. The two vets who did the surgery also gave me updates. They were all very communicative and helpful. It was comforting and frightening at the same time. They were candid with me, which I appreciated.

They felt that she has a good chance to recover from the surgery (maybe 60%?). One major concern is that she has had laminitis in the past. Any shock or trauma can trigger laminits, as can excess toxins in a horse’s body. The surgery could have both factors. It is possible that she could have some toxicity from the damage caused by the colic. She was given anti-toxin medications as a preventative. Everything that can be done has been done to prevent complications. You just don’t know.

For now, it’s touch and go. I don’t know what will happen. I hope and I pray that my kid will get through this without any problems. Her recovery will be long and hard — 30 days stall rest after she comes home, 30 days small paddock turnout, 30 days pasture rest. It will be much worse than that if she has any complications.


(1) Lipoma: benign fatty tumors that develop on the mesentery around the digestive tract. Some are attached to the mesentery by a very long, narrow stalk. These pedunculated lipomas may entwine around intestine causing a strangulation obstruction. From Terminology Used in Equine Colic, Athletic Animals.

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