I thought we were going to lose Reuben this week.
Now, I’m not so sure.
On Tuesday, Reuben was having a really hard time walking around. Separation and oozing was starting at the coronary bands of his right fore and right hind. He was getting wrapped in the same honey + SSD mix as is getting put on the rest of his body, but the goo kept on coming (goo being a medical term that we learned in our second year in veterinary school, as I recall).
My concern with this was that Reuben was developing laminitis. I’ve been getting a lot of help, both from Dr. Herbert in Australia, as well as Drs. Madigan and Aleman at UC Davis. Yesterday, with reports of Reuben still hobbling around, I asked, “If the bone in his foot has shifted, what’s the prognosis?” Dr. Madigan said it would be poor (as can be the case with any case of laminitis). So I went out to look at Reuben today with my heart in my throat.
When I saw him, he was clearly uncomfortable: pawing and looking as if he wanted to lie down. But he ate willingly out of my hand, and his gut sounds were good. Amazingly, he walked out rather well. That gave me a bit of hope. Lateral X-rays of his front feet so no change in position of the bones (as occurs in bad cases of laminitis) and the pulses to his feet were not elevated. Honestly, I almost started crying (even after all this time, I still tend to get emotionally invested in cases).
Reuben is nowhere near out of the woods. He’s peeling skin as if he’s molting. That said, the areas where the skin has mostly peeled away, such as on the left side of his muzzle, are looking pretty good, although he’s very sensitive to the touch. But there’s a lot more peeling to go, and I still don’t know if he’s going to lose bigger chunks of skin. We’ve got another week or so before we get past that, apparently. He’s got the opportunity to stay inside or go out in a paddock, and he seems mostly to like being inside, which is a good thing, I think, because it protects him from the sun.
We have Reuben on a pretty formidable schedule of pain medications, using flunixin IV in combination with low-dose ketamine IM. He’s quite uncomfortable without them, and his resting heart rate is elevated (around 60 beats per minute at rest). His body temperature is slightly elevated, but, honestly, with as much inflammation as his body is enduring, that’s not a big surprise. I’d like to wean him off of them as soon as we can, of course, however, it’s always a balance between medication, pain, and a level of discomfort that is tolerable as healing progresses. Day-to-day, we reassess.
Another bit of happy news. People have been so generous in their contributions that the “Noah’s Legacy” fund which is currently paying for Reuben’s care is looking to spend some funds on emergency equipment and training. I’ll be happy to be involved in helping with that starting next year. Of course, they’d still be happy to accept donations at https://lacountyanimals.org/way-to-give/disaster-relief/ It would be kind of cool if Reuben’s story ends up helping prevent this from happening to other horses.
I’ll check him again on Sunday. I’ll probably post an article on another topic tomorrow morning, just so it’s not all Reuben all the time. But everyone involved appreciates your thoughts, prayers, and good wishes.
I really want to win this battle.