Monday, November 30, 2009

The Vulnerability of Her

As they say, that Monday night, just last week, seems an eternity ago.

My vet came to the barn the next day. I walked Scout in from her paddock. Dr. B palpated the leg. We moved to the indoor arena. Scout trotted willingly next to me, once out, then back. No more was necessary. Four X-rays. Between each one, Scout called to the horses, all of them outside, quiet in their paddocks. She has a deafening scream, the kind that moves her whole body. She means it when she speaks.

But even then, I had a sick feeling. It wasn't a matter of what if an injury, only a matter of what kind of injury. You begin to prepare, even though you don't know for what. I felt I was beginning to ready myself, but maybe I was only bracing myself. Maybe I was only kidding myself.

It was 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday when Dr. B called and told me that Scout had multiple fractures of her splint bone. By then, I had convinced myself that it was going to be nothing more than a bad bone bruise.

I managed to listen and scratch some notes on the back of a phone bill, but I was shocked. There would be a surgical consult, but Scout was to be put in a standing wrap and confined to stall rest, 24-7, immediately. "Mm-hmm, mm-hmm," I said, but -- 24-7 confinement? No way. Scout grew up living outdoors, no matter wind, rain, heat, ice. I had to train her to understand that coming into a well-bedded box stall every night was a wonderful thing. That took some time, and she accepted it only when she realized that all the other horses came in at night too.

On Wednesday night, E, my trainer, taught me how to do a standing wrap. I took a picture of the first wrap I did by myself, last Friday night. I need a little more practice, but Scout is making it easy. She stands still, and occasionally arches her neck around to watch me fumbling at her feet.

Thanksgiving happened in a kind of suspended reality, and then came Friday night and the results of the surgical consult.

There are multiple fractures of the upper half of the splint bone and a clean break in the lower half. Most of the bone must be removed. An ultrasound could determine whether the suspensory ligament ( a principal component of that architecture of the leg that so amazes me) has been damaged, but surgery will also reveal that.

"When I look at the X-rays, I think your mare has an incredible tolerance for pain," said Dr. B, remarking on how difficult it had been to elicit any signs of discomfort in Scout.

"Pardon my language, Doc," I said. "Scout is one tough bitch." And she is. She's always been an easy keeper and a quick healer. It's not her physical recovery that I worry about, but her mental ability to withstand the constraints of the recovery process.

Tomorrow night, E and I will trailer her to the clinic. She'll have surgery on Wednesday morning. We'll bring her home Thursday afternoon. Every step of the process is new to Scout and new to me. I want to manage my anxiety and anger -- and yes, there is anger -- by throwing myself into learning as much as I can about everything that will happen, as it happens, over the next few days.

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