Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Camelbak for the Equine Eye

Aside from stowing away the mountain of packing boxes and paper that I scored on Craigslist last week when I thought we were moving, I've been busy playing backyard vet to Bree.

What I thought was a minor flare-up of his eye with a slight "infection" (he does this about every 2 years or so) turned into something serious.

We used to call it "Moon Blindness" but the veterinary community is waging war against that rather dire, unPC term and is pushing hard to have it known as "recurrent uveitis".   Essentially they really don't know what's happening (immune response or bacterial infection) but the prognosis is that with each attack the horse loses more sight until you've eventually got to use that unPC term and your horse is blind.

Right now he can barely see out of that eye, and has a chance to regain the sight if we can get the inflammation in the posterior of the eye under control.  Complicating things is the fact that he has a huge ulcer across the cornea.  He's had two trips to LSU where yesterday he actually had an eye ultrasound to verify that his retina wasn't detached and general anesthesia in order to have direct injections of antibiotic put into his eye and fluid removed to send off to labs for culture.

So here on the homefront for the past 10 days, I've been helping the petrochemical industry by churning through 16 hypodermic syringes and needles a day..... that's 160 so far..... the barn looks like a heroin den.  And should we ever have a surprise house showing, the island and refrigerator will probably look a little suspect!


The only thing saving me from total insanity as I do this every 6 hours.... and unfortunately Mr. Biggs' nightly trips out for pee breaks don't usually coincide with the 2 AM alarm to go to the barn.... is the eye lavage system that they sewed into his head.

The tiny tube which I can best liken to a camelbak system for eyedrops ends in his eye and has a little "foot" sort of like a contact lens that keeps it from wiggling around inside his eye.  It runs back between his ears and is woven through braids in his mane to a little port taped to some tongue depressors.  It took about two "injections" for him to realize that when I stood back by his shoulder on the right, he was going to have something nasty happen to his eye on the left.  So while he's not a happy camper, I can do it without help and a minimum of fuss.

The ophthalmologist at LSU is predicting another 5 weeks of treatment (!!!!) so plans of moving the horses to VA to the boarding stable in early May are on hold.

Aren't the little pieces of duct tape a nice touch?  (If you can't tell, the sutures go through the duct tape in order to help hold the tube in place.


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