On veterinarians, that is. Between the dog and the horse, I’ve been paying the mortgage for some vets this month. Too bad there aren’t any punch cards or frequent flyer points for vet clinics.
It was ironic timing when Henry colicked last Thursday (he’s been totally fine since then, btw), because he already had an appointment on Friday morning to get his teeth done and his SI looked at. The vet that came out specializes in equine dentistry, but also does regular veterinary work as well. I’ve been searching for someone good to take a look at Henry’s SI (which I think is the source of many of our dressage issues) and this one came highly recommended by several people. When I heard he was coming out to do teeth, I called and tacked an exam onto Henry’s appointment.
The vet did his exam before he started his teeth (obviously, because it’s hard to trot drugged horses) and I talked him through the entire history of these random minor things that have come and gone, what I notice under saddle, everything we’ve done so far, what patterns we noticed with the acupuncture, etc etc. He’s worked with my acupuncturist before so it was nice to be able to hand him her exam paperwork from Henry’s appointments so he could see exactly what she had noticed. He palpated his back and SI area, watched him w/t/c on the lunge line, flexed his hocks, and then watched him walk and trot away and back.
Henry was basically non-responsive to the hock flexions, which we were both really happy about. The vet was happy with the fetlocks, stifles, and hocks, but agreed that it looked like something intermittently just wasn’t quite right higher up. The SI palpation showed what is pretty typical for Henry – very reactive over the right SI. And considering Henry has had a pretty light last two weeks, the vet was probably seeing a best case scenario. He recommended we try injecting the SI, which is what I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while, so I was 110% on board with that. Henry really has been ticking almost every single box for a horse with SI issues.
But first: drugs and teeth! Henry’s jaw doesn’t line up in literally any direction, so his teeth are always kind of a mess. The vet had a couple other people with him (another dental expert from Australia and one other guy who’s story I have forgotten, sorry guy) and they took turns being amazed by Henry’s weird mouth. Like at one point they were all gathered around, shining the light in there, oohing and aahing and taking pictures. Poor little mis-aligned Henry.
Once they were all
done marveling satisfied with the float, Henry was released from the jaws of steel and the vet recommended that we do him every 6-8 months instead of every 12. Like I said… some kind of punch card would be nice. Anything for Henny, though. #worthit
Then we got the ultrasound stuff out for the SI injections. The SI is so far down in there (like 6″+) that it’s much easier to do those injections if they’re guided by ultrasound. Otherwise you’re kind of just guessing about being in the right spot. And no one wants to spend $180 per injection on a guess.
I apologize for the following pictures if you’re squeamish but damn, you don’t realize how far down in there the SI is until you see this. The vet got everything lined up, then guided the needle into the correct place.
Then all the juice went in. The vet injected with Depo-medrol, giving Henry a little bit extra considering how reactive he was to palpation and given all the history and details I provided.
He felt like it was prudent to start with just the right side (since he really wasn’t seeing any sensitivity on the left) and see if that does the trick. I was on board with trying the less expensive, less invasive option first. The fewer needles we stick in, the better. Once the injection was done, he ran the ultrasound up Henry’s spine looking at his vertebrae, just because he was already up there with the machine, to make sure he didn’t have any kind of kissing spines going on. All looked good until he got to the middle, right at the lowest part of Henry’s back. Then we could see that there were a couple spots where the space in between his vertebrae was reduced.
We went ahead and took an xray (yay, more machines) and yep – there are definitely two spots where there is reduced space and a little bit of degeneration. However, the vet thought that it was fairly mild and didn’t see anything that he felt would definitely warrant treatment at this point. He stuck some cortisone in there just because he had it and figured it wouldn’t hurt, but said that for now we shouldn’t be too concerned. If it starts to become a problem later, we have several options, but hopefully that’s not a bridge we ever have to cross.
Poor Henny had quite a day (and so did my wallet) but fingers crossed that we’re finally on the right road. Hopefully this is what we needed to get Henry’s SI area back on track again. The plan is to keep doing regular acupuncture so we can hopefully keep that area feeling as good as possible for as long as possible (also because see first note about my affinity for making it rain on vets, and acupuncturist is also a vet).