Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I could have done without the adrenaline rush on Saturday and the last couple of days of stress that ensued because of the wreck. For I'm hardly a thrill seeker since I have a limited store of adrenaline and take medication to make up for my inadequate supply. Yet even if you aren't short of the hormone like myself, an emergency that sets your heart racing and your mind scrambling for a solution to keep death abroad, probably isn't something you seek.
So when I slowly drove past our friend's pens after doing our own livestock chores, I wasn't expecting anything but horses placidly chewing on a round bale of hay. I'd been asked to glance over as I passed to see if all was well. The owners were gone to South Dakota to a funeral. That's when I noticed Cricket, a black filly, that wasn't theirs but was being house in their pen. She was laying on her spine, her right pastern hung up, pinned at the top of the fence and wedged between two pipe fence panels. Her eyes were starting to roll back in her head and I knew I didn't have much time before she'd die. Horses can't remain on their backs for long because they need to stand often in order to place pressure on their hooves forcing the frog inside to pump blood back up through their legs.
With a hefty blow from both hands, I hit her hoof upward but it was stuck fast and I knew I was going to have to move the fence panels up and angle them differently while at the same time removing her hoof. I prayed fervently, "Lord, I need some help and fast. I can't do this alone.", and just as I completed my prayer, a burgundy colored suburban came into view. I waved for help like a panicked maniac, no clue who was behind those tinted windows. A gentlemen stepped out and headed toward me. Surveying his size, I thanked the Lord once more for sending me someone who could obviously help with the heavy work ahead of us.
(The spot in the metal panel where Crickets leg was caught.)
I ran for the tack shed as he approached to grab a pitch fork and shovel. Meanwhile, he tried to move the hoof upwards while I was hauling the tools back - but it didn't budge. I handed him the shovel and we worked our way underneath the fence and began to pry it loose. The manure packed up against the metal panels was frozen to the ground. Once the fence was loosened, we torqued it at the joint to try and find more room but it just pinched her pastern tighter. So my male assistant asked for a bar in case we had to bend the fence and I ran once more for the tack shed. Upon my return, I suggested we tilt the fence more horizontally and see if that wouldn't work. It did and the filly was freed.
(Her pastern was caught just above the top pin that connects the fence together and it was resting sideways.
But laid up against the fence like Cricket was, she couldn't get her feet under her to stand and we needed to restore circulation in her legs fast. Leaning with my back then progressing down to holding the fence up with my foot, my assistant grabbed a back leg and I a front and slowly, lest we twist a gut from rotating her too quickly, we rolled her over. She remained dazed and didn't fight our efforts. I was grateful for that but it also meant she had been in the fence a long time and we were running out of time to save her.
We pushed her on to her chest and waited a couple minutes to see if she would rise on her own. She didn't. So we once more got under her the best we could and heaved upwards encouraging her to stand. After a few attempts Cricket was on her four legs weaving unsteadily. When she walked off swaying slightly, I thought the hard part was over and I thanked the gentlemen profusely for coming to my rescue. He said he was just driving by so that his kids could look at the animals. I knew it wasn't a coincidence that he had come at just that moment when I needed him so desperately.
He left and I hadn't even had the presence of mind to find out his name. Probably because I wouldn't of remembered it. I'm terrible with names at the best of times and my mind was focused in on the two year old filly. Walking off to go get a halter to put on Cricket so I could assess her injuries and pour whatever kind of antibacterial I could find in the tack shed on the wound, I noticed from her pastern a steady stream of blood shooting out four inches before falling to the ground. It hadn't been there a few moments before. The restoration of circulation to her legs had set it off.
I realized the first panic was only a warm up and now I was terror stricken when I realized she'd severed an artery. How I wished I hadn't released my rescuer so soon.
I grabbed a halter to restrain her and while I bent down, I cooed reassuringly, "It's okay girl. Hold still. You've got to help me. Whoa... girl." and I probed into the wound with my fingers to find the bleeder and pinch off the flow of blood. Slipping my hand that held the lead rope into my pants pocket, I flipped open my cell phone, the one I'd felt prompted to bring that day to chores, and dialed our home phone. With the phone pressed against my coat collar and ear, I gave instructions to my husband while I tried to keep Cricket from walking off and my fingers clamping down on the artery.
Kirk walked around the house collecting items as I named them off, "The Betadine is in the bathroom closet. The vet wrap in the livestock Rubbermaid containers in the basement."
"What do you want to stuff in the wound?" Kirk asked and another rush of adrenaline surged through me as I couldn't think where the gauze pads were and doubted there was enough.
Then inspiration illuminated my thoughts and I told Kirk,"Grab the roll of paper towels."
Continuing to send prayers heavenward, I pleaded, "Lord, help me to save this horse for Travis. He loves her so much."
And the sweet little filly remained calm, though occasionally, she grew restless took a step away and my fingers slipped from the wound. I wanted to hold her leg up and better control it but she was too unsteady on all four feet. I couldn't ask her to try to stand on three. So I just continued to sweet talk her and press on the artery the best I could.
(Monday's wrap where we used up left over rolls of vet wrap. The turquoise area is the pastern.) (This picture was taken on Tuesday. Most of the swelling is gone.)
When Kirk arrived, he became my assistant handing me the supplies as I asked for them. I packed the wound with paper towels and wound vet wrap tightly around the cut to form a pressure bandage. To our relief, the green vet wrap did not turn crimson and it appeared we had stopped the flow of blood.
As Kirk held her halter, I jumped in the car and headed for Travis's house. I don't know his cell phone number and they don't have a land line. His wife was home but the situation was beyond her and Travis was on a trip a long distance away. So I called the vet and he assured me that I was proceeding correctly and asked," How deep is the wound?
"I don't know. There's too much blood to see. Deep enough to cut an artery." I replied.
"Good point." he said and didn't ask anymore questions.
He did instruct me to keep the bandage on until the next day and advised me at that time to disinfect it, then cover it again. Luckily, the profuse flow of blood cleaned the wound and a few hours later Kirk and I returned to check on Cricket in the box stall that we'd placed her into. Her leg had started to really swell and the vet wrap was gouging into her flesh. Slitting the bandage down the front of her leg to remove the pressure, I then wrapped vet wrap over the top, far more loosely than before, keeping in mind the leg would continue to swell.
It didn't appear that Cricket had damaged any tendons or ligaments and we thanked God. The situation could have been worse. I don't know how she didn't break the leg. She had to have been playfully rearing at the horse in the next pen.
Jackie came home from the funeral and we doctored Cricket on Sunday and Monday. Today, her owner should be home and taking over her care.
NOTE: The paper towels worked awesome as they were very absorbent and didn't stick to the wound. A huge advantage for if it would have adhered, the wound would be ripped open and start to bleed again. Paper towels would work great soaked in Betadine to pad a wound. (I used Scott's paper towel. Don't know if cheap paper towels would be as good.)
If you have read the James Herriot books you will remember they used sugar on prolapsed uteruses to shrink them so they could stuff them back in. I was having a conversation with my doctor, (not vet), on Monday and he recommended that I use a mixture of sugar and Betadine on the wound. He said they made a commercial product that mixed sugar and iodine and it worked wonders. So always game for an experiment, Jackie and I placed sugar on a gauze pad and poured Betadine over the top forming a type of poultice. Then clamping the mixture over the wound we wound vet wrap to hold it in place. The swelling receeded substantially. Now I think one could just use a simple antibiotic on the wound. But I'm filing away that trick to use in future emergencies.
I haven't forgotten about the canning goat milk recipe but I wanted to post this before the day is over so check tomorrow for the recipe. I'm typing it right now.