Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Crow Hopping Chronicles: Update 3

Well, there is good and not so good. Here's the scoop:

One of our wonderful boarders offered to haul us up to Athens last Wednesday for the ultrasound. The appointment was scheduled for 10:30, but it was an extremely busy day at the hospital and it was closer to 1:30 when Kwik was seen. My doctor watched him walk and trot out, and he confirmed the severity of Kwik's right hind lameness. The ultrasound revealed "very mild protrusion of the medial meniscus" and "mild effusion and synovitis of the medial femerotibial joint." All in all, there wasn't anything to really go on save the mild protrusion of the medial meniscus which he said could indicate possible cruciate damage. NV was able to attend the ultrasound, and after discussing the findings with her, we decided the best way to proceed would be to leave him overnight for arthroscopic surgery the following day.

I was a nervous wreck at work all day on Thursday waiting for the phone call, and I finally heard back from my student around 6:30 that evening. The arthroscopy revealed trauma to the synovial membrane over the cruciate ligament. While no tear was observed in the visible portion of the ligament, the presentation along with the displacement of the medial meniscus is highly suggestive of a cruciate ligament injury. The surgeon couldn't give me a definite prognosis, but he was encouraged by the appearance of the cartilage and the rest of the joint. Kwik will be on stall rest for two weeks, and once his sutures come out at the end of the two weeks, he can go out in a small medical paddock for another two weeks. At the end of this two weeks, he'll get an HA injection (no steroids at this point) and can go back out with Sky. He will enjoy a nice long 6 month vacation after which we can then reassess whether or not he will be able to return to work.

So, the way I understand it, it could be much worse. Hopefully the injection and rest will be just what the doctor ordered and he'll make a miraculous comeback in the spring. In the meantime, I'll hand walk him, groom him, and love on him, and hopefully I'll be able to pick up some rides here and there. I'm so glad to have a diagnosis and a plan, and 6 months will fly by!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Headed Back to Athens Town

Kwik is scheduled for a 10:30 am ultrasound at UGA on Wednesday. My BO has graciously offered to haul Kwik, and NV wants to be there for the ultrasound if possible so I won't be alone this time! I spent the week frantically researching stifle injuries, their diagnosis and treatment, and prognosis. Then I started worrying about what I would do if Kwik needed to be retired and basically drove myself crazy thinking about different scenarios all week long. Adam and my sister were very understanding and let me have my little pity party. I even got "Cheer up!" flowers and ice cream :) They're the best!

Don't mind the price tag on the picture frame :)

This morning I woke up and decided the pity party needed to be over. I'm going to be optimistic about this no matter which way it goes. This is not a life or death situation, and it will all work out in the end. I just have to believe that or I really will drive myself crazy. I spent some much needed time at the barn with my pony today. He was extra affectionate- it was almost as if he was saying, "don't worry mom- it'll all be okay!" I really do love this sweet horse. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Crow Hopping Chronicles: Update 2

Today was by far the most educational veterinary experience I've ever had. I tried my best to keep mental note of everything I learned today, but I don't have the notes from the exam yet. Hopefully I remember everything accurately.

When New Vet (NV) arrived, I gave her Kwik's back story, and she asked if I had noticed any inconsistencies in his race record. I pulled his record from equibase, and he kept a fairly consistent 3 week schedule from August 2005-September 2009. Then he had a nine month break (September 2009-June 2010), raced twice more in July, and retired thereafter. It's possible he sustained an injury in September 2009.

I sent NV the notes from his past two lameness evaluations and chiropractic adjustments, and we went straight to flexing the hock/stifle. He flexed extremely sore in his right stifle, and we went out to the round pen to watch him at the trot and canter. Kwik obviously didn't want to leave anything on the table, and he made sure NV got the memo that something wasn't right. The crow hopping, bucking, and kicking out was the worst it has ever been.

We decided to x-ray the stifle next (I got to hold the cassette!), and while NV set up the equipment, she gave me a great overview of the joint's composition and what exactly you can see on a radiograph. I had no idea how complex the stifle joint is, and apparently radiographs are only capable of assessing about 30% of the structure since they do not detect soft tissue. Ultrasound and arthroscopy must be used to assess the soft tissue structures. Surpisingly, Kwik's stifle x-rays did not show anything concerning.

NV decided to block him since the radiographs were clean, and we saw significant improvement after trotting him out. We headed back to the round pen to see what we had at the canter, and in NV's words, "he went from bucking rodeo bronc to children's hunter!" He did not kick out, he did not crow hop, he did not buck, and he picked up the correct lead every time in both directions. The difference was absolutely incredible.

Sooo... it's likely Kwik has some sort of soft tissue injury (worst case scenario) or inflammation in the stifle joint, and ultrasound is the next step. NV has an ultrasound but thinks it would be better to take advantage of the mega fancy equipment at the UGA Veterinary Hospital. The plan is to haul up to Athens in the next couple of days to have the ultrasound, and if necessary, the arthroscopy performed and then go from there.

 I'm trying to be optimistic and not worry too too much until we have a diagnosis. Thanks so so so much for all of the well wishes yesterday- it really does make things a little easier having some cheerleaders on the sideline!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Roller Coaster of Emotion

As per K's recommendation, I contacted the lameness specialist and set up an evaluation for Monday. Yay! For better or worse, I was looking forward to having some answers!

In an attempt to keep myself busy, I volunteered to help out at GDCTA's dressage and CT schooling show on Saturday. I left home at 6:30 (ouch!) and made it to the equestrian center by 7:30. I was put in charge of dressage warm up and had to keep track of which riders were currently riding their tests and sending the riders from warm up to the arenas in time for their tests. It was a little tricky keeping track of two arenas and whether or not they were running on time, early, or late, but I got the hang of it eventually. Around 9:30 I saw my barn owner's name on my phone, and I immediately excused myself to take the call. Thank goodness it wasn't anything major, but L wanted to let me know that Kwik had lost a front shoe. Great. How in the heck was I supposed to get a shoe tacked on before the evaluation on Monday? I went ahead and emailed the vet to let her know, and she told me to keep her updated. My farrier was scheduled to come out on Wednesday regardless, but I really didn't want to push the eval back!

I spent the day watching some lovely riding, and I couldn't help remembering that when I volunteered at the same show last year I was having major problems with Finn. I hadn't met Kwik yet, but I was hoping I might be able to ride at this show next go around. Now, at the next go around, I'm dealing with soundness issues again. Sigh.....

I made a beeline to the pasture when I got to the barn today determined to find the missing shoe. L and the barn staff combed over the field several times yesterday but weren't able to find it. I finally gave up and headed back up to the barn to groom my pony. J was riding Sierra, and I waved and told her they looked great. J called, "I'm almost done warming up if you want to get on her!" I didn't even bring my boots out, but thankfully I had an extra pair of breeches in my car. J loaned me her boots, and I went for a spin on her lovely mare. SO MUCH FUN! Sierra is so light in the bridle and moves like a dream- such a sweet girl!

This is just half of Kwik's pasture. I bet lost shoes go to the same place lost bobby pins and hair ties go.     

J and Sierra

Much to my delight, my barn owner had heard back from my farrier while I was riding, and he agreed to come out to put another front shoe on Kwik. An hour later Kwik had a new shoe and we were back on track for the lameness evaluation tomorrow. I'm so grateful to my farrier for driving an hour out to my farm on a Sunday- I'm definitely making some brownies or something to leave for him on Wednesday. Everyone cross your fingers, toes, and anything else for us- I hope to have some answers tomorrow!