Wouldn’t it be Nice if They Could Tell You Where it Hurts?

Kroni is still sick. He’s lethargic, shows signs of colic and has mild neurological symptoms. His temperature has been normal now since last night, but prior to that he’s been running a low-grade fever since Monday.

It all came to a peak yesterday morning when I came to feed my horses. Kroni was standing outside when I got there. My immediate response was one of relief. Since Monday he’s spent most of his time hiding in his stall and I was encouraged to see him out. When I’d checked him at 11 p.m. the previous night, he’d seemed better and his temp was normal.

Then I saw him try to walk and I realized that he had taken a turn for the worse. He started by taking tiny steps and when I went up to him he turned and almost fell. I took him slowly to the barn and took his temperature. His fever was back and now, with the neurological symptoms, I was really worried.

I immediately called my vet, who managed to fit me in first thing this morning. I’ve been talking to the practice since Monday, so they knew how his illness had progressed. First, she did a standard physical. She noted that he had gas in intestines, but that he was still digesting food and producing manure. She found that his heart rate and respiration were slightly elevated. Next, she performed a neurological exam. He was less uncoordinated than he’d been that morning, but he had little resistance to being pulled sideways by his tail. His cranial nerves were fine. To learn more about what a neurological exam entails, read this excellent overview from Tufts: The Neurological Examination.

The problem is that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s bothering him. It would be so helpful if he could just tell us where it hurts! I had two choices: treat him in the field with a more “shot gun” approach, or bring him to a clinic where they could perform more diagnostics. He seemed so uncomfortable that I decided to treat him at home first. I thought that trailering him and taking him to a strange place might add unnecessary stress.

To treat his colic symptoms, he got tubed with mineral oil, electrolytes, and DMSO. The DMSO was added as a way to help bring down his fever and because it’s an anti-inflammatory. Kroni hasn’t been tubed in the 12 years that I’ve owned him and was not happy about it. If he hadn’t been so sick, I think he would have really put up a fuss.

He got an additional shot of Banamine to bring down his fever. I discovered that my thermometer had not been accurately registering his temperature and that it was about 1/2 a degree below the vet’s. She explained that with digital thermometers, you need to leave them in and repeat the cycle 2-3 times to get an accurate reading; the 15-30 seconds that those thermometers use to obtain a reading just aren’t long enough.

Next he got IV fluids, antibiotics and vitamin B. You could see after just 10 or 15 minutes that he was looking more comfortable. There was a palpable look of relief on his face and he took a nap. I’d brought an audio book and spent the hour or so during the drip, hovering by his stall.

The good news is that his temperature has remained normal and he’s been much more alert since the treatment. The bad news is that he’s still suffering from a gas colic and I don’t yet know what the underlying cause(s) of these symptoms could be. My vet has mentioned as possibilities West Nile Virus and EPM, or it could be an upper respitory infection. Hopefully the blood work (due back later today) will give us a better idea.

One thought on “Wouldn’t it be Nice if They Could Tell You Where it Hurts?

  1. I am SO sorry he is suffering. And that, as a result, you are, too.
    Have you tried some palliative TTouch such as Lick of the Cow’s Tongue or some simple massage to help him feel batter? The human touch is sometimes the best medicine. Not that it will fix a neuro or infectious problem, but it might make the both of you feel better.

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