I was at work last November, it was morning and it was about 10:15 when I got the phone call that all horse owners dread. “He’s colicing” the voice on the other
line said. My trainer had just given the horse a work out, had a good ride and
her working student had un-tacked him in the stall. He looked like he wanted to
roll in the stall but when he wouldn’t get up right away she knew something was
wrong. I was out the door in 10 minutes flat and on the way to the barn. I
called my vet on the way and told him to meet me there.
When I arrived at the barn my friend was walking him and he was breathing heavily and wanted to roll occasionally. The vet soon arrived and he listened
for gut sounds, took his temperature and pulse. Everything seemed fairly normal.
We gave him a shot of banamine and after a few minutes he started acting more
comfortable. I watched him for another 2-3 hours and decided to go home for a
break. I got home and about 20 minutes later I got a call from the barn owner
that we were not out of the woods yet because he was going down in his stall.
Back in the car I go, and I called my vet. This time I knew in my gut I should
get him into the clinic. I called my friend and told her to meet me at the barn
with her trailer hooked up and ready. Thank god for good friends.
This time when I arrived the horse was much worse. The barn owner was walking him in the indoor and he was trying to throw himself down on the ground without
any regard. I felt sick. My best friend’s horse had just died a few weeks ago
from colic so I knew there was a very real possibility I might loose my horse. I
took over and started walking him myself and then got a call from my vet that
the colic clinic was ready for him. How was I going to trailer him like this? I
called the colic clinic vet and he was there in minutes and gave him another
shot of banamine and that made him a lot more comfortable. We then loaded him
with ease and got to the clinic in about 10 minutes.
Upon arrival at the clinic the Dr. tranqued him and proceeded to perform a rectal exam to feel for abnormalities. What he found was some very hard,
impacted stool in the lower intestine which is very painful because it stretches
the delicate membrane. That being his diagnosis (a lower intestine impaction) he
put a tube down my horse’s nose and pumped several gallons of mineral oil into
his stomach. He put the horse into a stall, and hooked him up to fluids via
I.V.. He ran some blood work and it all looked normal. “Now we wait for it to
pass” he said “it could be several hours.” So I went home with a good feeling
that we found the problem and that the oil and fluids should clear out my
horse’s system by morning and I can take him home.
I got a call at 5:30 am from the Dr. “He had not a great night but not a bad night” he said. I thought to myself what do you mean? I thought for sure he’d be
good to go home. He was still acting colicky but his vitals were all still
strong so maybe it just needed more time to pass. The day went on and on and
still nothing. Several rectal exams later showed that there was nothing left in
is lower bowel and that there must be more to this puzzle. That evening the Dr.
said, I really did not think this was going to be a surgical case, but now it is
looking that we may not have a choice. We need to draw a line in the sand, so if
by 8:00am the next morning, he was not better, they were going to open him up.
They would do it sooner if he went into distress throughout the night.
I prayed that night that he would pass a big oily poop like nothing I have ever prayed for before. I called the insurance company and alerted them that I
for sure have a major medical claim but also a possible colic surgery. I was
only covered for up to $5000. I never thought the unthinkable would happen, but
here I was, faced with my worst nightmare. I did not sleep that night.
At 5:30 am I got the call. I was so hoping to hear that yes, he’s passed something! But the Dr. gave me no such relief. “Nothing has changed since last
night, except for the fact that a little bit of the mineral oil has found its
way out of the rectum.” This meant there was something else blocking its way,
something bad. It could have been a number of things, from very hard stool, to a
twist in his gut, to an entrolith (sp) stone, a polyp, or something else totally
unexpected. This was a very mysterious colic and the Dr. did not know what he
would find in there let alone if he could fix it. He assured me he would try his
best, but there were a lot of risks, and I would not hear from him until early
evening because it would take all day and then they wait for the horse to get
out of recovery before they call you because even though the surgery may be
successful, a lot can go wrong in recovery. He said the only way he would call
me from the table is if the surgery was going to be more complicated and more
expensive then the 9-12 thousand he quoted me with a poor prognosis and a more
difficult and expensive recovery. I would then have to make the decision if I
wanted him to keep going or not. I felt sick to my stomach and chocked out a few
words and got off the phone. I bawled my eyes out, called the insurance company
and buried myself in my husband’s arms. We said a prayer out loud together.
The whole morning I prayed I would not get a phone call. A phone call this early would only mean bad news. I held my phone in my hand and my hand was
shaking. It felt like I was holding a grenade that was going to go off at any
second and I did not know when or if it would go off. I was mentally preparing
myself to let my horse go and I cried all morning.
At around 12:30 the horse had been in surgery for about 4.5 hrs so I was starting to feel some relief. I would have heard something already if it was
really bad. At 1:45 the phone rang and the Dr. told me my stock had just gone up
and that everything went a smooth as it could have gone and my horse was now
standing on 4 legs, was looking at him and was recovering as good as can be. I
instantly burst out in tears; they were tears of relief and gratitude. The Dr.
said my horse had a displacement of the lower bowl. It was basically kinked like
a hose with 3 feet of blocked manure behind it. They made a small incision in
the intestine, and put a tube of warm water in it to gently flush out all the
manure. They stitched the intestine back up and put it back into its right
place. I was very lucky because nothing was rotten in there and they did not
have to cut anything out of him. The prognosis for a full recovery was very
good. The Dr. told me to go out and buy a lucky charm and whenever I felt down
or unlucky to hold it and remember that on this day I was lucky. I thanked him
and thanked him again and told him how grateful I was to him.
My horse was doing so well that I was allowed to go and see him the day of the surgery. Usually they look so bad that the owners are not allowed to come
until the next day. When I got in front of his stall he looked up and nickered at
me. I chocked up and thought that alone was worth 10K. I went in the stall and
he rested his head on my shoulder.
It's now been 4 months since the surgery, and after 3 months of stall rest, he has been back under saddle for a month and we hope to compete later this year although I am not pushing it. They say his chances of colicing again are no more greater then any other horse. I am so lucky, it's like it never happened.
So this is my colic story. It helped me to read the stories of others when I was going through this experience, and hopefully this story will help others that are going through a similar situation. If anyone has a colic story to share I would love to hear it. Or if anyone has any questions regarding colic surgery or the rehab afterwards, feel free to ask away. :)