Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sad Day

I lost my horse Docs Driften Rebel today. After various attempts to geld him (castrate him), and dealing with nasty weather, the vet and I finally scheduled today to work (I'm his assistant as he is semi-retired and I have a vet assistand background). A month or so ago we found out he was a cryptorchid (meaning only one testicle had dropped), so we scheduled an invasive, but usually uneventful surgery.

After cutting him open the vet couldn't find the testicle. He searched forever and came up with a vas deferen - not connected to anything. We both were extremely confused but decided to sew him up, take the dropped testicle and wait to see his behavior in a month or so. If nothing else his testosterone level would drop, and if he had tendencies to act stupid as a 'proud cut' (still producing hormones) horse, then the vet said he would go in through the side to try and find the missing bit up around the kidneys from a different angle.

For those of you unaware, the kidney and testicle are one and the same in utero, so when one goes 'missing' it's usually hiding up there because it never fully developed or dropped into position.

He came out of anaesthetic great, was moving around, eating some, drinking and a half hour later was dead. Somehow his intestine slipped through a less than 1/4 inch space between sutures, started filling with fluid and the brought another loop of intestine with it. Our choices were to put them back and restitch, cut them out and sew the remaining intestine together (and with two lengths this was quite long), or put him down. In my experience, and almost everyone I know who's had a horse with intestine surgery, has lost the animal. Such a large, strong animal is so surprisingly fragile when dealing with these types of wounds. It's why a twisted gut in colic almost always results in death - even after surgery.

My vet was sick about it. He felt his 'digging' around, no matter how gentle he was helped this along. He offered to perform any surgery I asked free of charge, but I just know - I just know it would have resulted in the infection that most likely was already forming, or a rupture inside later, or death of a length of intestine and then a more painful death for my colt. I had the option to haul him up to CSU after securing the already dropped intestine, but that would have taken hours and we probably would have arrived with dying intestine and a horse in a lot of pain. And with that I made a decision to put him down. I've watched too many friends with colicy horses who have gone through the surgery, think they have a great recovery going only to watch them die in pain. I couldn't do this to him because of my selfishness of wanting to try and try and try some more.

I'm sick over it. And it gets worse.

Afterwards the vet performed an autopsy. He couldn't explain the vas deferens and felt horrible as he's a family friend I've known since I moved here. He needed to know why he couldn't find something he's found hundreds of times before.

There was no second testicle. The vas deferens wasn't ruptured like he thought. It literally wasn't connected to anything. The surgery was completely unnecessary. However there was no way anyone could have known this since the odds are so completely - out there. It's like a million in one. I can get a horse that I lose in that kind of odds, but never something good. Why is that? Why at the expense of a life?

We're disgusted. I'm so sad - and the vet feels so bad over this freak occurrence he won't charge me anything since I'm tutoring his son this summer and has given me pick of his private herd to replace the horse. It's hard for me to tell him I really don't want a replacement, I want the horse I bought as a baby and spent the last three years starting back, but his heart's in the right place and I feel so bad for him even though I cannot find anyway things could have gone differently. Any other vet would have done the same thing, and Rebel could have slipped the intestine anyplace else as well. It's not like he didn't have the best of care and was watched closely. And it happened so fast, under watchful eyes. I can't imagine if I'd taken him home already. It could have happened on the trip back, or worse, overnight and then things would have been really bad in the morning. The only good thing that came out of this was that Rebel probably never was in pain. He still was slightly drugged from the surgery and most likely never felt anything. That's the only thing that I can think of that makes me feel any better.

Maybe there's a bigger picture out there, but as Rebel was a replacement to the filly that was killed three years ago, I thought he was the bigger picture - and I just can't see where this is going anymore.

12 comments:

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry Danielle :( I feel so bad for you....it's hard to lose a family member; two legs or four. Please know that I am praying for you!

alanna rose said...

I'm so sorry.
Take care of yourself and try to get some rest. I'll send up extra prayers for you.

Dreaming said...

Danielle, I've just begun to follow your blog so I haven't 'known' you and Rebel for long. But, this is so sad. How hard to go through this. Thank you for taking the time to explain it all to try to help your readers understand.

Jericho Rose said...

Ahhhh my heart sank reading your post. I feel soooo bad. I can't imagine losing a horse. How heartbreaking!!

randi said...

Danielle, I'm sending you lots of hugs and prayers. If you need to talk, just call...

JJ said...

I'm so sorry!! Sending you lots of hugs!

rae rae said...

Aw, RIP sweet Rebel boy

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I am so sorry. I have just never heard of anything like this. How terrible for you...and for your friend the vet.

Laura said...

I'm sorry!! Here's to an amazing bigger picture!

Charlie and Kara said...

So sorry Danielle. I know Rebel will be missed. You did the right thing allowing him to pass peacefully!

Crystal said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Rebel!

The Wades said...

Huge, gigantic, sad bummer! I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for your vet too.

Hugs, my friend.