This morning I slept until 8:05 am, after going to bed at 8:45 last night. It has been a long week, to say the least. I was originally supposed to be on vacation, spending some time in California before coming back and doing a cabin weekend at the mountain with a group of other women.
Monday night a text came in that my horse wasn’t eating and seemed off. Oh no… He’s 32 years old, but his appetite is rarely a problem… I cut California short and traveled home Tuesday – there was almost no traffic in Washington due to the growing COVID-19 outbreak, the school closures and all the recommendations to work from home.
The vet arrived Wednesday morning to a horse with a very high fever of 105 degrees (normal is about 100), a heart rate of 72 beats per minute (normal is 30-34) and labored breathing. Blood work showed a very high white cell count and a systemic reaction to some unknown inflammation. A urine sample showed a lot of blood. Biz was a very sick boy…
My vet gave him a double dose of a fever reducing anti-inflammatory, a heavy duty dose of antibiotics, and an IV line for administering fluids. And then, all was quiet… For those of you who don’t have horses, the veterinary care tends to be pretty do it yourself; they show you how to do it and then off you go! Over the years I have given intramuscular injections, flushed IV lines, changed IV bags, changed bandages, dressed wounds, given pills and ointments, removed stitches, and done all sorts of holding him still, upright and positioned as vets have poked and prodded him in countless ways.
My mom and I gave him four – five liter bags of IV fluids over two days; one of those was loaded with B vitamins and electrolytes. I had to flush his IV line every 6 hours and check his temp. Thankfully, it quickly returned to normal and stayed there.
Getting up in the middle of the night to drive out to the barn to flush his line is exhausting; and even more so when I was working remotely all day on the COVID-19 response. My employer already has a lot of remote work ability, but trying to roll that out on an even wider basis reveals that that there are still a lot of reasons that people are needed in a central space. It isn’t as easy as snapping one’s fingers and saying, just work from home!
I canceled my cabin weekend, because with temp checks, IV line flushes and antibiotic injections, it wasn’t going to be possible. I’m bummed, but Biz is never going to make it up to me…
Thankfully, Biz is on the mend, with a normal temperature and an appetite that is returning to normal. He will receive another dose of the four day antibiotic on Sunday, and then we will check his blood work again on Monday morning to see if the infection is going away. As for the cause? We don’t know. There isn’t any widespread equine flu going around, and he doesn’t have any visible injuries to cause an infection. He’s just an old guy that possesses a unique talent for acquiring whatever strange and mysterious illness is going around within 1,784 miles of him.
I’m just thankful that he also possesses a unique talent for healing, and for proving the vets wrong… Biz, you keep doing you.