Wednesday, September 03, 2008

weathering storms

We got the surgical consult recommendations today - the surgeon at the local vet school recommended surgery to fuse the bone, insert a plate, and cast the leg. Rafer would be at the vet school for 2-3 weeks, and would then be on stall confinement for 3 months. The cost would be upwards of 7k by the end of the hospital stay.

The alternative recommendation was to have our vet cast Rafer's leg here at our farm, under general anesthesia so he could be lying flat out for the casting. He would be re-cast every 4 weeks for 12 weeks or so, and would be on stall confinement for 6 months total to give the bone plenty of time to fuse completely. His turn-out would be limited for one full year, and we would not be asking him to bear any weight or learn driving, etc. until he is 5-6 years old.

We've decided to do the casting here and deal as best we can with the long confinement. The idea of sending Rafer to the hospital for up to 3 weeks, and opening up the leg/joint to possible infection when the end results will be basically the same is too much.

So... our vet told us to leave the leg wrapped as it is until Friday when he will be getting his casting done.

Rafer had a tough day today - he was subdued and seemed sad to me. I sat with him for a couple of hours and cleaned bridles, and he moped around the stall. Salina gave him a nuzzle at one point - he perked up for that. But it was when I came in from the barn that I got the vet's call and it was hard to hear the two options. Neither seems ideal. But we'll manage.

Tonight he was much brighter. Maybe on some level he knows there is a plan, and that he won't be going anywhere. As boring as the stall is hour after hour, it is close by his herd and we all pop in many times during the day and evening.

I also want to say that Rafer's breeders have been amazing throughout this process. Not only have they offered ideas and shared their many years of experience with donkey care, they have graciously agreed to let Redford stay with them (and his large donkey herd!) until things are settled here and Rafer is ready to welcome his new donkey pal. It has meant a lot to us not to have to worry about Redford - he is in good hands and he will come when the time is right.

On Friday we'll be getting Rafer's leg ready for the next 4 weeks of healing. Saturday we'll be weathering whatever Hurricane Hannah brings our way.


I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.

-Louisa May Alcott

8 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think you made the right decision. The outcome will be the same and Rafer will be with his family. If he is sent away for 2-3 weeks or more he may be depressed and not heal as quickly. I'm not a vet and that's my opinion only.

As for his recuperation time, it does go by faster than you would think. Our horse Mellon was confined to a pen in the paddock or his stall and he got through it. He is a somewhat nervous type horse and we thought he would never be able to stand it, but he adapted rather quickly to his circumstances. Good luck with Rafer I'm sure everything will go along just fine. The news about Redford is great, when the time is right he will come to live with his new family.

the7msn said...

Oh, Billie. Such tough stuff for you and for Rafer to deal with. I know the good days will soon outnumber the rough ones – your positive energy will have a huge effect on his recovery.

I had been wondering about Redford and am relieved that he is in good hands until you are ready to receive him. He would be welcome here at any time - I wish we weren't so far away.

billie said...

Arlene, I'm not a vet either but my take on this is the same as yours. I do know something about trauma and depression and I can't imagine it would help the healing process.

Of course, if the surgery were needed to make it possible for Rafer to LIVE, or walk, that would be different.

I know this won't seem as long in the end as it feels right now. Rafer is such a trooper - he can do this.

Keep reminding me of Mellon - it helps me to know he made it through and is now fine and back out in the field!

billie said...

Thanks, Linda - the 7msn is absolutely a place I would send any of my animals - any donkey would be in heaven there with that amazing dust pit! Not to mention all the loving care.

I had a tough afternoon but Rafer was so much brighter tonight I came in feeling better too.

Maddy said...

I feel so badly for poor Rafer. His story would make it's very own book.
As difficult as this experience will be for him, he is one lucky donkey to have so much support. Sadly, I know kids who don't come close to receiving that kind of caring. I cannot help but believe that it will make a big difference in his recovery.
I wish you all the best and good healing wishes for Rafer. He is very special.

billie said...

Maddy, when I read your comment just now I was suddenly transported back in time to a young client I had who lived through a very similar experience as Rafer.

The thing about him was that he was very quiet, almost nonverbal, so it was tough to know if he was in pain or okay when he was immobilized. I remember wheeling him around in the clinic watching his face for smiles, b/c that was the only way I could tell.

Rafer was back to braying for his morning hay this morning, so I think we passed the rough spot of yesterday. Thank you for your good words!

Victoria Cummings said...

Billie - I would have decided to do what you're doing with Rafer too. Spending weeks away from you would be so hard for him. That said, I know that it won't be easy to do what you are planning to do. As we live day to day with our dog, Pepper's, decline, I realize that things swing up and down without warning when you're dealing with illness, and I'm trying not to put too much significance on anything that happens, good or bad. It can change just as quickly as it came on.

billie said...

Victoria, thank you - that is a really important thing to remember about the swings up and down. If I can remain steady it will all go more easily. I can tend to swing up and down with whatever is going on, so this will be good practice for me in balance.