Making it Rain

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.

Doped Up Henry is not on board with this

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.

When you u$e almost all of the equipment in the vet’$ truck in one appointment (power float, ultra$ound, xray)

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.

blurry pic but look at all the cool floats

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.

smile for pictures!
Yes, everyone gather ’round…

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

Brain rubs for Drunk Henny

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.

LONG. ASS. NEEDLE.

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.

AGHHHH!!!
what it looked like on u/s

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.

img_5003
Here

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).

36 thoughts on “Making it Rain

  1. I’m not squeamish by any means, but when the vet did Duke’s SI last year I found it hard to watch. That was easily the BIGGEST needle I had ever seen and to know it was going in such a sensitive place? Shudder. But it was worth it because it helped greatly. Hopefully it’ll do the same for Henry!

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    1. It was HUGE. He pulled that thing out of the wrapper and my eyes just about fell out of my head. It’s one thing to know how far down in there it is, it’s another to see the needle!

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  2. Holy sh*t that needle! Thank God for drugs, I would have needed some for myself. I bet this makes Henny feel so much better. Depo is like the cheapest wonder drug ever. Gotta love steroids. (And at least the drug is cheap cause wowzers the other stuff isn’t- did they leave ANY toys at home??)

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  3. Horse ownership is kind of like lighting your money on fire and watching it burn some days. Here’s to hoping that Henny is feeling better!

    I may be the only person who didn’t know how far down the SI joint was, but that’s pretty cool to see!

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  4. i had an injection in my shoulder this past December for my ac joint (and it was similar) the doctor was like dont look (LOL I wasnt about to) and he said it is at such an odd angle it looks even worse going in. Still guarantee my needle wasnt as a big as Henry’s but glad Henry had drugs. I only had skin numbing stuff and boy oh boy that shit hurt going in. Hope iit helps (it def helped my shoulder!!). YAY for spending money like there is no tomorrow. PS how is Stewie??

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    1. Stewie had been better all the way up until Friday. No vomiting, and he’s eating fine, but now he’s waking up in the middle of the night shaking again. Called the vet back today for another appointment.

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  5. wow ive ALWAYS wanted to see an SI injection… that’s sooo interesting (and gross and intense!). i hope you see some results from it.

    my vet has a wellness program… for $350 for the year you get a general checkup, teeth done, the ‘normal’ vaccines for the area, coggins, and – MY FAVORITE PART – 5% off on everything else

    which, considering how often i see the goddamn vet, that’s a lot.

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    1. That’s a great deal. I thought this guy was super cheap for teeth (esp considering that’s his specialty and he has all kinds of cool shit and certifications above and beyond a normal vet) – it was $150 plus $51 for drugs plus my split of the call fee was $13. So $214 for that part. I think I usually pay like $130 for shots and coggins? I write so many vet checks, I forget. 5% off everything else would be nice! I swear sometimes vets end up giving me stuff for free because they feel sorry for me. I think I project a general “help me, I’m poor” aura.

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  6. Omg that’s intense. I always kinda wondered if Isabel had something going on behind too but was never able to secure permission for a closer looksie. Glad you were able to get some answers and solid therapies!! Hopefully you see a difference!!

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    1. The SI is so weird to try to diagnose. And it usually presents more as a “looks sound but something just feels weird” thing. We know how fun THAT is for everyone (including the vet who thinks you’re crazy).

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  7. Ooohh that needle. When you work in the medical field, you lose all squeamishness after a while. But yeah, my dad used to joke he was putting our vet’s kid through college. Hope this helps Henry out and gets at the issue!

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  8. OMG I would be so excited to pay $180 for an SI injection. Here it is $600 per side for ultrasound guided injections from a good sporthorse vet.

    My guy has really funky teeth too. My BM happens to be an equine dentist and she touches him up by hand every 3 months and I get one powerfloat from the vet in the spring. That seems to be working out and he can be hand floated without drugs so that makes it easier on him as well.

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  9. Rio and Jamp have both had SI injections, so I know the needle size well. But still, every time you see it, it’s impressive. Pretty glad I’m not a horse when that thing comes out.
    We’re thinking Romey has some kissing spine, though I was waiting until spring to really delve into it. In talking to one of my vets, he said a REALLY high percentage of TB’s have it, and most are never bothered it by it. So hopefully Henry is one of those most!
    I hope he’s feeling super after all the maintenance!

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    1. He said he was less worried about it, given it’s location? I didn’t ask a lot of questions at that point because it was like 4 hours later, but the fact that he didn’t seem particularly worried made me not feel particularly worried either. He did say that kissing spines is one of the hardest things to guess about, especially in a PPE, because you see some horses that have it TERRIBLY and never have a problem, and then others have it mildly and can’t even function. Luckily these days there are lots of treatment options.

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      1. My horse Cosmo had it. It was a problem when we weren’t aware of it, but once we found it and kept it maintained it was a complete non-issue. Eventually it fused, and he had no pain. A little less range of motion, but it didn’t cause any problems.
        I’m hoping if that is Romey’s problem, that it’s easy to care for. And maybe once we get a handle on it, he won’t be so mean? Probably not. But a girl can hope.

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