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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Big Picture

Future Hubs has spent more than one evening consoling me lately when I get myself wound up about looking at the whole Big Picture of life instead of little bite-size day-by-day pieces, the likes of which are easier to swallow and deal with in general. He tells me I have a tendency (and he's right) to let myself get overwhelmed by huge, long-term things that seem too big to tackle, instead of just breaking things up into sizable and doable pieces. I had been very good up until now about just letting Gogo's rehab situation cruise along at a day-by-day speed, keeping my thoughts positive and forward-thinking. But last night, as I watched my horse and her ever-worsening lameness hobble around in the roundpen, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed.

She was terrible last night. Ever since the potential reinjury earlier in the month, her RH has just looked terrible. I've done what I can for it while she is in turnout, but it's not enough. The last few times I've seen her, her lameness has been worsening, and last night she was hip-hiking, toe-dragging lame on the RH. I would give it a 2.5-3/5 on the lameness scale. It was bad.

She's not resting it any more than usual, and she's still resting the other hind normally and also standing four-square when the mood strikes. She is also still sound at the walk, like she has always been. She seems happy. She still struggles with pivoting around on her hind end.... she plants both hind legs and shuffles awkwardly around, which is a relatively new thing (past several months or so). Last night was also the first time I saw her struggle when I asked her to move backwards - she hopped painfully back, avoiding putting too much weigh on the RH.

Little increasingly bad signs that just keep adding up.

Looking at the entire big picture, we are now 2 whole years out from the original injury, and she is NO better. (It will be 2 years on September 12th). If anything, she is now worse off than ever because there is such a mess of scar tissue, adhesions, and other structural involvement in the area where where was simply a tendon sheath issue after the first injury. A reinjury, a second reinjury, and now a THIRD reinjury... this past time while doing nothing at all. She reinjured just being out in her field.

It is not ethical to make a mare like this go back and stand miserably in a stall for another period of who-knows-how-long for for a chronic, perpetual injury like this one. It's not fair to sacrifice her quality of life at this point. Qualify of life is about all she has right now.
It is also not ethical to consider euthanasia for a horse who is still walking around fine and happy in her field. Again, quality of life is what we're basing everything around right now. When she stops being comfortable and happy is when she will make that decision for me, if it ever comes down to that.

I can't not look at the entire picture and go hmm, she is now just as lame as she was two years ago during the original injury, only now there is chronic and proably permanent damage in the leg... which leaves her worse off than ever before. And it's only getting worse. Right now, there are no steps forward.... only steps back.

I hate to say it, but I also have to think of it in an economical way as well. I have poured so much time, money, and emotion into this injury, and not a single thing we've done has had long lasting healing effects. I could keep pouring money into fancier and more extreme treatments, but to what purpose and with what guarantee?

Stall rest, controlled exercise, and daily sedation were all things I was willing to do for her legs at the temporary expensive of her mental stability when this injury was fresh and her chances for recovery were very good. It's a different story now.

WHAT is the right thing to do? I don't know anymore.

There are lots of small options and things I could potentially change - moving her to a new facility where she can be in a smaller drylot with a stricter diet, E-Stim, Aquatread, homeopathy, castor oil wraps, essential oils, etc. - but again, are any of these things going to help? I'm willing to give them a reasonable try, or at least some of them, but at this point I'm just grasping at straws.

She's happy, and she's still getting around well enough. So long as she shows me she's willing to keep moseying, I'll keep trying. But you better believe I will do the right thing if she ever tells me that she's done trying and she's had enough.


Melissa said...

Oh, damn. I am sorry. That is a pretty bleak picture as far as recovery goes.

Financially, I'd say you're right to throw no more time or money at Gogo's leg than you can comfortably afford, and only try stuff that you think has a decent chance of helping without hurting her quality of life. You've given her every reasonable chance to heal, and her body just hasn't done it. That's got to be heartbreaking.

As long as she's comfortable and her care isn't wrecking you financially, you're doing right by your horse. We can all see how much you love her and how hard you're working to take care of her. I'm confident you'll make the right choice for her, whether that ends up being pursuing more treatments or just letting her be a pasture puff until something changes. Either option is ethical at this point.

Beckz said...

I know my attitude is mostly based on the fact I'm a farmer so my attitude to euthanasia is different to most people, but even just walking around a paddock and being happy is not really so much quality of life- especially if she is a 2.3-3.5 at the trot. I'm not trying to say what you should do and obviously that's your choice, but I know after 2 years of the sort of care you have given her I personally would be euthanising.

I'm really sorry it has turned out this way, I have been reading for years now and always enjoyed reading the exploits of another blogger who competes a lot.

Lisa said...

I'm sorry Andrea. This is just horrible. I think everything you have done for her has been the most morally and ethically right thing for her, and I think that as long as she is happy it is ok to let her get around as she is as long as it is not too painfull.

I was really hoping she would be ok, I'm really sorry to read this. :(

Lauren said...

Andrea, I came across this list last week and think it might help.

I have never had to look at putting down a horse in Gogo's position (not aged, no disease, but only semi-ambulatory) but I would think hard about the list at the link above.

You could also try to win the lottery or come into a large inheritance :)

eventer79 said...

Hey, Andrea, I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of y'all. I totally get that feeling of helplessness even after you've done everything right. You've gone above and beyond the call of duty for sassy Gogo and she certainly looks happy enough to me in your pictures. What mare could complain about a life spent wandering about eating? My best to you both-

*Sharon* said...

As we say here - Bugger!

Cygnata said...

*HUG* I hope everything goes well for you and Gogo. That sucks, she's a wonderful mare. If you do breed her, name the foal for her?

Also, I've taken over FloaterRant from Gryph, and changed the focus to my time here at school. I get to learn how to ride for the very first time this semester! Please feel free to drop by.

I hope everything works out for you, Andrea. *hug*

sweetbay said...

I am so sorry. (((hugs))) I hope your blaming yourself was just a passing mood, as you have done the best for Gogo that you could. You can't control everything.

The only suggestion I have is to try to put her in a small turnout with a quiet buddy. Difficult to get specific conditions when boarding I know.

SprinklerBandit said...

I don't envy you the decisions you're making, but I know you're absolutely the best person to be making them. Thoughts are with you.

Mo85 said...

Future hubs seems like a pretty reasonable guy!

appydoesdressage said...

I'm so sorry to hear she is doing so poorly, I am sending good vibes her way and am really hoping the stall rest helps.

achieve1dream said...

I'm so sorry things aren't getting any better. I was really hoping she would heal . . . and maybe she can still. You never know.

I know a lot of people are suggesting euthanasia, but keep in mind YOU know YOUR horse better than anyone else and you know if she is happy and how much pain she is in. Don't feel pressured into making that kind of decision until both you and Gogo are ready to go there. We all know you would never leave her standing out in the pasture in too much pain to walk. She's happy wandering around and grazing, so I see no harm in letting her continue to do so.

Sending lots of happy, healing thoughts and praying for a miracle.