It happened again. T and Nollind went on a holiday and Nevada got into trouble. This time it wasn’t gut trouble but rather stick-buried-in-thigh trouble. The stick was less life threatening than his colic of a couple of summers ago, but nasty, painful, and shockingly deep.
It all started innocently enough. The old guy just went down to roll out in the pasture. Thing is, as he’s aged and gotten stiffer, he doesn’t fold his four legs and go down gently like the rest of us, but folds in front and lets his hind end flop onto the ground. He’s a tall guy, his rump at probably five feet, and he weighs over a thousand pounds, so there’s a lot of momentum behind his dropping to the ground.
And on that night three weeks ago, he landed on an old, dead willow stump that drove right through his spotted hide and deep into the tissue.
We knew he was hurt as soon as he was on his feet. There wasn’t a lot of blood but the right side didn’t want to move. So we did what domestic herds do, we rallied around him, not moving too far or too fast, and waited for help to come.
Judy arrived the next morning and came to collect us from the back of the pasture. She knew right away the wound was a job for a veterinarian. The vet was out in the early afternoon, cleaned some pieces of wood out of the wound, stitched up the hanging flaps of skin on each side, put Nevada on antibiotics and painkillers, and left instructions and supplies for twice daily flushing with a diluted iodine solution. At that point, they knew the wound was at least five inches deep, since that’s how far the forceps reached inside.
T and Nollind were home the next day and T continued with Nevada’s daily treatments and medications. By Friday, one week after the injury, the poor guy was hurting, reluctant to move, and the wound was oozing more thickly than the previous days. The vet was called again and, because she couldn’t rule out a couple of nasty possibilities via the farm call, they hauled him to the clinic on Friday afternoon.
We were all worried … waiting and watching the driveway as the hours ticked by. Surely this wasn’t how we’d lose our great patriarch?
In the early evening, the truck and trailer returned. Was it empty? We all held our breath, listening. And then that familiar whinny echoed from the trailer. He was home! The vet had expected an overnight stay for monitoring but the old boy passed all of his blood and clinical tests with flying colours, ruling out any serious complications like Clostridial myositis (gangrene) or Tetanus. He also had the wound ultra-sounded and x-rayed, and even had a long, skinny camera shoved up inside. Which gives me the willies but is also ultra-cool, don’t you think? Very Fantastic Voyage-esque.
The next morning his treatments continued—more antibiotics, more anti-inflammatories, deeper flushing. After seeing how well the camera snaked in there and flushed the wound with many litres of fluid, Nollind asked the vets about some kind of hose rather than just the syringes they’d been using and was given a thin, 16-inch rubber hose. Every morning and every evening since, T and Nollind have taken Nevada in the barn and flushed the wound. For the first few days, they used the iodine solution and then switched to saline which is gentler on the tissue.
I was in the neighbouring stall for last Saturday night’s wound flushing, and that hose nearly disappeared inside him. There were only six inches sticking out which meant ten inches were inside. Wow. I nearly fainted. The two of us stayed in the barn overnight because the weather was nasty and Nevada seemed a little under it, the weather that is. We’d been given our spring vaccinations earlier that day and he had a bit of a reaction. Anyway, it meant I was still in the barn for Sunday morning’s flushing and, would you believe it, that hose went another two inches inside. Twelve inches disappeared into the caverns of that wound!
The humans were pretty excited about the extra two inches after a week of flushing, hoping they’d hit the pocket of infection and/or debris that was keeping things from healing. And, you know what? I think they did, because since then Nevada has been healing like crazy. There hasn’t been much discharge since Monday, and yesterday morning Rosa was in keeping him company during the wound cleaning (I was brought in initially but apparently wasn’t behaving well enough to be helpful) and she told us the hose is only going in about four inches now.
We’re all pretty relieved, especially Nevada. If the flushing hadn’t worked, the next option was surgery to remove whatever might be lodged deep in the wound, beyond where the ultrasound and camera could see, and none of us wanted that. As second in command, I’m always pushing to raise my station, but it doesn’t mean I want to lose my Number One of the past sixteen years.
The old guy, well, he’s back to his feisty, 29-year-old self, moving around a lot better, and much more willing to make the trek out back to graze with his underlings. The boss is back!