Tuesday was Biz’s surgery day – I left work at noon and loaded him up in the horse trailer for an afternoon at the vet clinic. My vet and the equine dental specialist were teaming up for Biz’s latest tooth extraction. If you have been following this blog, you know that Biz had his first tooth pulled two years ago, because he suffers from a degenerative tooth disease called EOTRH. Now, Biz is two years older, 26, and we continue to watch his teeth. About 6 weeks ago, he developed an open sore below this latest tooth, indicating an infection, and it was now time to make a move.
We got there and went through the “process”, beginning with bloodwork and the beginnings of the anesthesia. It was raining, so we took Biz inside the exam area right away, instead of giving him the first doses of drugs outside in the sunshine as we had on his previous trips. I think being closed in the treatment area made him nervous, and he danced all around until the drugs took effect.
But soon enough, the drugs took hold, and I walked him into the stanchion for the procedure. For you non-horsey folks, the stanchion is a holding cell for horses and cows – see photo below – this will become relevant later in the story.
Gordon and Bob set about further numbing Biz up, with lots of tiny little novacaine injections into his gums. Apparently, there is almost no fluid in the gums, so you can only inject a little tiny amount each time. It looked like hard work – Gordon was squeezing the plunger on the syringe with all his strength, and he even bent a couple of needles (mom don’t read that part – it will just freak you out…). Then finally, after many tiny injections, Biz was ready for his nerve block – the last anesthetic that would ensure he felt no pain.
Now, they were ready. If you read the post about his previous extraction, you know it was quite traumatic, with lots of tapping on a hammer and chisel to loosen the tooth. Well, there are some new tools on the market! Gordon and Bob used a sharp ended tool with a small curved spoon-like end to insert underneath the gum on the side of the tooth. The sharp tool cuts the ligaments that hold the tooth in place, and they can wiggle the tooth to loosen it enough to pull it out. It looked like a much more pleasant experience than last time!
So after inserting the tool all around the tooth and wiggling and cutting, it was ready to come out with a pliers. There wasn’t quite as much ooohing and aaahing over this tooth, probably because the ball of hypercementosis was not as pronounced on this tooth. Then we had to do some new X-rays to see where any remaining pieces were so they could make sure to remove them.
That’s when trouble hit. Biz was quietly standing in the stanchion and the vets were looking at the X-rays with their backs turned to Biz. I was curiously watching a little mini-horse who was getting an ultrasound in the bay next door. We think Biz, in his sleepy state, leaned forward on the stanchion just a little too much and cut off his blood flow. I heard a noise, turned around and watched Biz drop to his knees! Then a split second later his hindquarters dropped and now he was laying on the ground! He had fainted dead away!
Now things are immediately dangerous. Horses’ legs are very delicate, and those support posts on the stanchions are solid steel placed in concrete. If he had started thrashing, he could easily have broken a leg… The vets immediately got to work, and were joined by the vet who had been doing the ultrasound next door. They released the side walls of the stanchion and swung them out of the way. Two vets each grabbed a front leg and started pulling, sliding and rotating Biz away from the steel support posts. Gordon grabbed his tail and pulled it, helping rotate him away.
The whole time, Biz lay quietly, allowing the vets to maneuver him away from the posts. He just looked at me with his one eye, seeming to say “Mom, I don’t understand how I got down here?” Once he was clear, he was able to quietly stand up and the panic was over. I’m happy to say that I didn’t panic either, but I was very worried.
Since he was still pretty sedated, they didn’t put him back in the stanchion while they removed a few remaining chips of tooth, and packed and sutured the hole. He did go back into it for some IV fluids, as he was just a touch dehydrated. They left the front panel open though, so in case he leaned forward he wouldn’t have anything to lean on.
Biz now has one tooth left on his bottom right side and all three on the bottom left. And a big gap just like a little kid! And the process of watching the remaining teeth continues, because this disease will continue to march on – there is no cure…
After about two and a half hours, Biz was done and awake enough to get back in the trailer to head back to the farm. He’s probably never been so glad to see home…