Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Being An Emotional Wreck

Usually I hold it together pretty well. Losing animals is never easy but some losses are harder to grasp than others. Jackson isn't gone yet, don't worry, but his days are numbered and whenever I am faced with "it might be now" -- well, I don't do so hot.

In January of 2012, two years ago, after months where Jackson was lame more than he was sound our vet took some x-rays to see if we could see what was causing the pain. Sure enough, the coffin bone showed rotation. It was official... Jackson had a terminal condition. Previous to the diagnosis, we had thought he was having a series of abscesses. They never broke and the lameness would eventually dissipate; sometimes after days and sometimes after weeks. I soaked his feet and packed his hoof full of epsom salt poultices; but the problem wasn't abscesses. We tried pads and special shoes but nothing worked for long. I was an emotional wreck then, too.

In February 2012, after a 10 day acute flare up, our farrier told me that Jackson could go at anytime; that he was beyond repair. I didn't put him down but I did retire him. I told Jackson that it was up to him; that he needed to tell me when he was ready; that he could live as long as he was pasture sound. In April, I had his shoes pulled and, amazingly, he did better barefoot. His feet which had always been thin and soft got nice and hard. He grew out new hoof which was strong and his "off" days decreased. He still had episodes here and there but other than a severe episode in December 2012, he was only off when turning.

2013 was a very good year for Jackson. I was lulled into thinking he was going to be fine forever. He survived the ten hour trailer ride up here, walking off the trailer with no problem. He has been loving life in the oak pasture with Flash; maybe loving it too much. Lately, he has taken to cantering up from the far end for breakfast and I've seen him playing hard -- bucking and rearing and carrying on. He felt good and it made me incredibly happy to watch his antics. He is only ten, afterall.

I'm guessing all those antics caused concussion on the coffin bone. This has been by far the worst I've seen him. The vet is coming on Friday to take x-rays. If the coffin bone has rotated further, I'll put an end to his pain. I've been working my way to that decision since Monday; dancing close and then running backwards from the thought. I spent much of today fighting tears and not always winning that battle. I'm exhausted. Today he was slightly improved. He met me at the gate for his bute and cookies. Brett said he didn't lay down except to take a mid-day nap. He's still head bobbing lame, but he can walk. Now, it's up to the x-rays.



11 comments:

  1. Head over to visit Dawn at Horse and Man. Her mare is dealing with severe laminitis and she has done a lot of research into treatment options. She might have some suggestions and support for you.

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  2. This is so hard to read because he was doing so well at his new home.

    Re: the Horse & Man blog - that story is killing me because the horse has been in tremendous pain for *months* and not able to stand much of the time. However, since the horse has an appetite, the owner is keeping her around despite the vets' advice that she won't improve. I hate watching a horse go so long in pain, but I cannot really judge because if my horse were to eat so enthusiastically despite pain, I don't know I could give him up either. That Jackson is so young makes this even worse. Oh, and the fact that it comes and goes.

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  3. It's so hard...but I have found that the horse usually tells you when it is time. I did not realize that Jackson was only ten. Encouraging that he was up more today. Sounds like he has an awful lot of heart, sweet boy.

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  4. We're all thinking of you and wishing you and Jackson the best option to help him be more comfortable.

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  5. I am sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you.

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  6. I'm glad to hear that he's doing at least a little better. Hopefully he'll pull through this time. Hugs to you - it's so hard to be on that emotional rollercoaster.

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  7. Oh Annette my heart is with you. HUGS HUGS B

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  8. Praying for support for you, Annette, and the strength to make a hard decision.

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  9. Sometimes as owners we just need to have the permission to let go...Let the xrays decide.

    (((hugs))

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.