Friday, October 8, 2010

A very sick horse

It’s hard to blog sometimes. Life gets in the way, as it did this week. My Icelandic horse, Honey, is very ill, and I don’t know what the outcome will be.

She’s only been with me for 7 months, and she is 20 years old (we think), so some of my decisions on her care are influenced by her age and the fact that she is not my main riding horse. She was adopted as a pasture pet, but I’ve been lucky. She is rideable, her gaits are very smooth, and I’ve had fun with her. She’s given pony rides to some great kids and everyone who meets her has fallen in love with her sweet disposition.

But now Dr. Martin (of Large Animal Veterinary Associates in El Cajon) is struggling to make a diagnosis without spending thousands of dollars. Every test we’ve done comes back normal. Her liver numbers are off, but her liver function is normal. He suspects a tumor. She is not eating or drinking.

An expensive hospitalization might, or might not, give us an answer. X-rays, more extensive ultrasounds (she’s had one)–the tests could go on and on. He pointed out we may not know what the problem is until a post-mortem autopsy. Ugh.

I wish all doctors would talk to their clients the way my vet does. He gives me credit for understanding a lot of what he says, and explains what I don’t. He doesn’t talk down to me, and he doesn’t try to sell me a lot of treatment. My own medical doctor isn’t as forthcoming.

My dog and cat vet (Dr. Singh of Animal Medical Hospital of Poway) is equally thorough with his explanations. He explains how he came to his diagnosis, explains what tests we could do next, and what they might tell us. If we aren’t going to find anything treatable, he is likely to be conservative in his recommendations. I appreciate that.

With a beloved pet, sometimes the decision comes down to money. The sky is not the limit here. I have to carefully analyze what I’m willing and able to spend, and whether the outcome will be worth it.

I really love Honey, even though she’s been part of my family such a short time. But I hope I will do what is best for her, and know when to keep trying treatments, and when to let her go. I will keep you posted.  

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