WHAT was wrong with Ally we still did not know, but the search was on. I started researching all his symptoms …. and found out that nearly all the major equine illnesses presented with the same batch of symptoms (midline edema, anorexia, weight loss, lethargy, etc).weight
That Ally was losing weight now was without question. What seemed like regular weight loss from a new climate/cold was obviously something MUCH more as he lost muscle tone, fat layers, and most everything else. And all VERY quickly.
I searched the internet, I got into veterinary databases of articles, I asked CoTH and a dozen other sites (a few lucky guesses, but of the possibilities, it was statistically going to happen).edema
Within a few days the edema got rapidly worse. First it went away for a day (oh ye devilish false hope…) then came back with a VENGANCE, filling up his entire midline from sheath to chest, then including his chest. Then it started down into his legs, first just the hind legs.
His fever was spiking by this point, 103, 104, whatever it felt like. Drugs of all types were being used and it finally got to the point where he was eating so little we HAD to get him into the hospital (which fortunately charged $17 a day for a stall vs. UC Davis' $275 a day). One of my first goals was to bring him home. Obviously way ahead of myself.
Midline edema and weight loss before the last hospital trip, you can see the pronounced hollows over his eyes even at this point:lethargy
At liberty with Denali, Ally would run but only just barely. This was a horse locked up in a 12x12 stall nearly 24 hours a day (no more pasture, he was being picked on -- they knew he was sick) and by all rights should have been extremely insane with energy. THIS was ALLY, for crying aloud. The horse I HAD to ride 6 days a week just to barely keep him sane.
Early lethargy and an oddly weak hind end:The Suspect
We started to think it was the heart, such as an infection in one of the valves, but the only way was to try to test him some more, ultrasound and get him into the clinic. So off Ally went:
At the clinic, catheter in place and obvious weight loss in his neck but perkier because of the fluids and grain we were giving him (Ultium):
I lived at this clinic. They didn't mind if I stopped by at 1am or not. As the only major large animal clinic in the entire state, most folks had to ship their horses there from far away and keep updated through phone calls. I stayed, I hung his xmas stocking on his stall, I bought and left treats there, we kept up with his bicarb doses, we bought Ultium and Succeed and anything else to stimulate appetite and let him eat whatever he wanted (bags of carrots and Mrs. Pasture cookies galore!).
Dr. Hammer let me raid their veterinary text book collection and I read up in the warm office, alternating between that and wool and down layers to hang out with Ally in the 12 F weather and take him for short-short walks where there was no ice on the ground (tricky to do!).
By this point the Edema worsened. It finally hit one of his front legs (but not the other, no idea why the delay) and we had stack wraps on all three. I did furazone wraps and stacks and vetwrap galore on top of hydro therapy and anything else that I could do between work and sleep (all there WAS for me) that they might not have time for or time to get to yet. Without the wraps, his legs would have split open. We had to wrap down to the coronary band, swearing off any damage we might be doing with pressure that tight in order to ensure as much pressure as possible to keep the edema down and keep him mobile (as mobile as you ARE with wraps like that …).
I didn't take photos of this. I didn't WANT photos of his legs with absolutely NO definition between the bones and joints. They weren't even legs anymore.
Yet, we still felt we had hope, these were just SYMPTOMS. We had to find the problem.
Thursday evening, Dr. Hammer calls me and suggests that we get a cardio ultrasound. He tried with the probes they had at the clinic, but they didn't have any specific for the heart. The only way to do that was to take him to Idaho Equine Hospital (about same distance as UC Davis and Colorado State, but those two involved extreme up/downs in elevation that would stress his heart too much).
Oh, and let's do this TOMORROW and by the time I got there it would be emergency hours but their Cardio specialist Dr. Knight had already promised to stay around and take care of us.
Somehow, I got a trailer - Judy's, and then a truck (rental, Judy needed hers although I would have rented her a SUV to use and used her truck if needed) first thing Friday morning, loaded up Ally and hit the road.
In a white out snow storm.
On nearly no sleep.
And an 8 hour drive.
THAT'S how bad I needed answers.