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Archive for February, 2010

Doing good

Life update : I am almost 100% certain that I will move back to Seattle this summer, with or without employment.  At this point, I think I would rather be in a place I love, with the people (and animals) that I love, and not having the “perfect job”, rather than finding a potentially-great job somewhere else.  The good thing about my job outlook is that the job I want is long-hours and hard work, and the “less perfect” jobs are actually fewer hours and maybe even better pay.  So, at least it’s not the other way around!  I’m confident I can find employment *somewhere*.

Work update : I’ve been doing my part keeping the in-hospital clinicians busy.  Have sent in a few horses recently, and so far they are all doing well. One had  a really swollen stifle, puncture wound in her ground, and was feeling dumpy (don’t blame her).  Sent her in, they knocked her down to have a good look around, and found a big stick up in the wound.  She felt better almost immediately, and has gone home!  Yay!  The other was a laceration on the back of the horse’s right hind pastern (bad spot!).  Sent him in out of concern for the tendon sheath, and it turned out that it did in fact get into the tendon sheath.  Knocked him out a few times to flush it out and treat it aggressively, and he’s been sound in it since the first night, which is a great sign.  A contaminated tendon sheath or joint is never a good thing, and it is always appropriate to send them into a hospital and treat them aggressively if there is any concern, because if you wait a couple days to see if they get more lame you are already way behind in treatment.  If you want a performance horse in the end and you have the financial means, potential over-kill on the treatment is much better than a wait-and-see approach.

In other news, because it has been kinda slow this week, I’ve been putting in some more hours on a couple teaching projects I’m working on.  They are both power-point reviews for 4th year vet students.  One is a “diagnostic challenge” of sorts, with images of horses with fairly readily-identifiable conditions, and questions are posed to the students about that condition (what is it, how would you treat it, etc).   The other is all about toxic plants.  I have found that the curriculum here (and probably other schools as well) seems to focus on memorization of the names of plants and what they do, and in the end the students still have no idea what the plants look like.  Not much help when you’re out standing in a field trying to figure out if any of the plants are toxic.  So I’m putting together a pretty simple power-point that has a couple photographs of the plant on one slide, and then next has information about the plant.  That way it can be used to study or review, and it could also potentially be used to quiz yourself.  It would be better, I suppose, if I couple put it into a program that had the slides come up randomly so your brain wouldn’t just memorize the order that the plants come in on the power-point, but I’m not smart enough for that.

That’s my life at the moment.  There’s always something I “should” be doing.

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A sad story

Been a bit busier, and there are officially foals on the ground.  Definitely an improvement.

I’d like to summarize the plight of an unfortunate horse whose story has now sadly come to an end.

I first saw him a while back because he has a weepy eye.  The pupil was very constricted, but otherwise his eye was normal, so treated him with some topical antibiotics and steroids, and topical atropine.  Seemed to do the trick.  A week or so later, he came up lame in a hind foot, and we dug out a subsolar abscess.  Besides being a particularly nasty abscess, it was not overly concerning at the time.

However, it soon got more concerning.  Usually, once an abscess is opened, the horse gets better fairly rapidly, although the actual healing process takes weeks.  This particular horse remained non-weight-bearing lame on that foot even after the abscess began draining out of a whole pared out in the bottom of his toe.  Then, a few days later, both of his hind legs were stocked up and his coronary band looked like thing:

Perhaps the worst abscess ever, but certainly concerning!  At this point, he refused to move and his coronary band was very, very sensitive.  There were monetary limitations and referral to a hospital was not an option, so we treated him conservatively.  Concerned about potential separation at the coronary band and sloughing of the hoof, we took two x-ray of the foot and saw that the coffin bone was not rotated or sunken.  The coffin joint was uneven, but that is hard to evaluate when the limb is not bearing full weight.

He improved a little bit over the next week, to where he would willingly walk on that limb, and the coronary band stopped oozing and began to dry up.  Small steps in the right direction.  But all was not well, because the hole in the bottom of his foot continued to drain, and he was still very lame.  Regardless of what was going on inside that hoof, every day that he favored that limb increased the risk of supporting limb laminitis on the other side.  You can be certain I was watching him like a hawk.

Another x-ray confirmed our suspicions.  He had an infection in his coffin bone (pedal osteitis), not detectable on the first x-rays because it had been too early to see the changes in the bone.  But now it was very clear, and an infection that is set up in a bone requires debridement of the bone and aggressive local antiobiotic therapy.  That was out of the budget.  And, to make the case final, his other hind leg finally succumbed to the weight and developed laminitis.  Up until that point, he could hold his painful foot up and be relatively comfortable.  However, once his other foot began to give way, it was impossible for him to stand comfortably.  The best thing we could offer him was humane euthanasia.

Cross-sectional image of his hoof after the break.

(more…)

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