No words. Don’t know when I will get back to work. Columns will come out on time. Can’t promise more than that.
Our horse is very likely going to need to be euthanized. While her intestinal problems are improving, the systemic inflammation has caused severe damage to her hooves, which were already compromised. It’s a long story and I don’t even understand all of it. But the short version is that her family line, we have discovered, suffers from metabolic problems which translate into hoof problems. The main bone inside the hoof is rotating. If it does not stop, it will a) come out the bottom of her foot, which is understandably BAD, and/or b) put so much pressure on the wall (outside) of her hoof that it will detach from her leg, basically, which is understandably BAD, GROSS, and HORRIFYING. That happened to her mother. There are no words for how awful this is.
If this was the only option, we would not hesitate to put her down. But we have another horse with the same issues and we managed to stabilize him and he’s been fine (relatively speaking) for several years. He moves slowly, but he does get around. He eats well and keeps his weight up. He acts like himself. So there is the possibility that, even with severe rotation, we can care for her such that she is fairly comfortable and can maintain her quality of life. At this point, we are not sure if this is a possibility. Our regular vet is guardedly optimistic about this possibility, knowing our past successes. The vet at the hospital assigned to our case is DEEPLY pessimistic. She called us yesterday, before we had even seen what her new situation was, and told us we should be putting her down. And yet another vet at the hospital with whom we have worked, while not optimistic, agrees that there is enough of a chance such that delaying our decision is reasonable.
So we’re going back up tomorrow to see her again and reassess. We don’t want her to suffer. But my mother (who makes the final decision on all horse-related things) is always hesitant to put one down, believing that sheer force of will and mind-boggling effort can save anything. Plus, this horse is one of her particular favorites. She is going to have a very hard time making any decision. So I’m along to consult. I… I cope with death better than she does. I cope with prolonged suffering a lot worse. But even I was not comfortable making a decision today, though the assigned vet was definitely pressuring us towards immediate euthanasia.
It’s just hard, knowing that there’s a chance, knowing that we’ve succeeded in the past, to make the call to give up trying. I accept, whereas my mother still does not, that death can’t be outrun. But a decent life, a few more years of being okay… it would be nice. Let them die of old age, for once, damn it. We’re more than willing to put the effort into caring for her if it will actually do any good. But after what happened to her mother, we swore that we would not let it get that far. Having seen for the first time just how terrible it could get, we do not want to drag things out to that point again. But are we justified in cutting her life short if there is a chance that it could be extended? How the f*** are we supposed to make a decision like that? It never gets any easier.