Thank you for following the story of Tessie’s sickness this past month. Thank you for your advice, well wishes and just plain kindness.
It’s been a tough time walking out to the barn, and every time I saw her, sticking something nasty tasting into her mouth. The first round of antibiotics was particularly nasty because it was a thick paste mixed with applesauce and sat a bitter taste in her mouth. Fortunately the new antibiotic, Baytril, was in a suspension and very easy to squirt into her mouth. I chased it with plain applesauce because Tessie drooled after the first time I gave it. The instructions said it could irritate mucous membranes. I kept expecting her to kick me and I couldn’t blame her because every time she saw me, I had that bitter tasting tube. But she didn’t. She stood, unhaltered, while I dosed her.
Well, on this past Friday she finished that drug and soon began eating with gusto. I can’t tell you how rewarding it feels when your animal starts eating the food you’ve prepared. She began eating her supplements minus the milk thistle. I swear these animals know what sick animal food is and won’t touch it. As Lynn Morrissey said, their eating is something you take for granted until they stop eating. It can be a frustrating trial and error exercise in looking for something that will taste good enough for them to eat. It can be frightening when they stop eating completely. A vet told me you can tell an animal is giving up when they stop eating. Seems to me appetite goes along with the will to live. As I wrote before, the day Tessie stopped eating I was terrified. But she came back late when she took hay cubes from my hand.
This past weekend I eased Tessie away from loose hay to her extreme hay bags, which are made by Hay Chix and offer inch holes in the netting. They seem to keep the horses entertained for hours and keep hay from being wasted. My other hay bags had bigger holes and the mares could tear through them in about the same time it would take to eat loose hay.
On Monday, when Dr. Sink came out she wrapped a weight tape around Tessie’s girth to check on her weight. To my eye Tessie hadn’t lost any weight even though she didn’t eat much, but according to the weight tape she’d dropped a 100 pounds. Dr. Sink remarked about how much brighter Tessie looked. I felt so relieved I could float into the air like a hot air balloon was lifting me over the fields. The next day, Dr. Sink wrote saying, “Wow look at these beautiful results! All is good. The GGT will continue to go down and back to normal. That one takes the longest.” Tessie’s blood work came back into normal ranges.
So it looks like this long month of Tessie being ill has finished up with the end of February. While I’m too washed out to go out and enjoy these first warm days of the year, I think about the kindness of Smart Pak and Cherry Valley Feed who saw to it that the supplements I ordered came quickly, and the kindness of Facebook friends who commented and said prayers. A few like Cherrie, Ann, Willow and Kathleen offered concrete advice and support during the days I felt tossed about about by worries. I think about the kindness of Dr. Sink and Dr. Easm who answered my questions and provided medications that healed my horse. There were random people, who listened, while I told the story and relayed my fear for my horse. My therapist, Christine, had tears in her eyes when she asked how Tessie was doing. Bruce just plain keeps helping me manage the horses. We finally put up some boards that had been down all winter. At any rate, thank you for being there and for reading these stories.
Well, if it’s not one thing, it’s another, I was petting Little Dog, before she went in for her dental and felt a big lump on her shoulder. I’d not felt it before. Dr. Guedet called while she was under (it’s never good when your vet calls during surgery) to ask permission to take the tumor off and send it for biopsy. The cells that came out of it didn’t look like fatty cells from a lipoma. “I’m on the fence as to whether it’s cancer or not, ” he said.
At least we got this removed before it became even bigger. Little Dog is doing well despite the long suture line down her shoulder. I am not too worried. I think she’ll be bossing us for a good long time. Bruce says she’s a good little dog, except when she barks at him.
But I think of C.S. Lewis’ words: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
With animals, most of whom live fewer days than we do, it’s inevitable they will leave us. Loss shadows our loving because anyone we love is mortal. Their days may be shorter. Ours might be. Sometimes keloid builds around our hearts whether we want it to or not. And we pray that our hearts of stone be turned back to hearts of flesh. And sometimes there is a mercy and a horse gets well and a dog is tended to. And the genius of Christianity, the true good news, is that death is not the final word.