When I started this blog, I promised to myself that I would be try to be as open and honest as I could, and not fall into the all-to-tempting blogger habit of writing like crazy when things were going well, and clamming up when they weren't. Well, this has been a week to test that promise.
On Sunday I was already stressed about the week ahead, anxious at being able to handle the work load I'd set out for myself (extra barn chores plus house sitting for a friend plus my courier job plus coaching plus riding plus agreeing to ride a friend's horses plus trying to plan for a whirlwind trip to California that I'm supposed to be leaving for on Friday), especially in the miserably cold weather we were supposed to get this week.
In retrospect, all those worries seem so petty, because on Sunday night my dad came up to my room with the worst news: Dually was very sick.
Since then, we've been on a pretty intense diagnostic roller coaster, with Dually swinging from bright and perky and the vets and us hoping that everything was cleared up and on the way out to him being very listless, feverish, and painful, and us not knowing what to do. For around 48 hours Dually cycled between pain and relative normalcy, and none of the diagnostic tests the vets performed turned up anything major (rectal, tubing, scoping, first round of bloodwork). The theories of what was going on were as wide ranging as colic to a virus to possible ingestion of a toxic plant. The one symptom that the vets coming back to was his fever, which, while inconsistent, had spiked to as high as 102 on Monday night.
It wasn't until yesterday that we were able to actually get some purchase in the diagnostic department, but unfortunately not in the direction we were hoping for. Our vet decided to do a belly tap, a procedure where they make a small incision into the abdomen to collect some of the interstitial fluid that surrounds the intestines. Normally, there is not a lot of this fluid, and it is usually light yellow in color and low in protein and white blood cells.
When our vet performed the belly tap on Dually, a large quantity of bloody, dark-red fluid came out. Not good. They sent the sample away for testing and the results confirmed the visual suspicions: Dually's sample had nearly 10 times the normal limits of white blood cells (464,000 verse a normal max of 5,000) and over three times the normal limit of protein (6.4 verse 2). Additionally, they had taken another blood sample at the same time and it had come back with significantly worse numbers than the sample that had been taken only 12 hours previously.
As a result, we rushed Dually to Tufts last night, where he's currently being treated with a series of broad spectrum antibiotics for what is believed to be an acute infection inside his intestine somewhere. He will be examined by specialists today to try to determine exactly what's going on. My impression at the hospital last night seemed that they were guardedly positive, but at this point it is clearly very serious.
I am, to put it succinctly, a wreck. The fact that last night was the first night since Saturday that I slept for more than 2 hours continuously, after 48 hours of round the clock check ups for the Dude, is not helping, but I'm feeling super frayed and scared. I literally cannot quantify how much this horse means to me, or how much I owe him. He is my favorite face in the whole world, my beloved companion and friend. I know my dad feels the same way, as Dually's other main rider over the past 10 years. We've both been pretty subdued this week.
(One of my favorite pictures of all time: me, Pa, and Dually after coming off steeplechase at the Galway long format CCI* - the best feeling in the world)
(Galloping to the last fence at our first Intermediate - this was also the very first header of this blog, nearly five years ago!)
(The very best horse a girl could ever ask for)