Monday, July 6, 2009

Nathan Update June 6

Nathan is making tiny improvements on several fronts. He is, by no means, out of the woods yet, but at the same time is giving us a tiny bit of hope for the future.

As we posted Sunday, we started first with Nathan’s maggot-infested foot. It appears all the nasty little critters have moved on to greener pastures.

(Sidenote……before anyone tells us we should leave the maggots to clean out the diseased tissue………it’s true that veterinarians sometimes use maggots for that very purpose. However. They use sterile "medical maggots," not those from “wild” flies. )

Back to Nathan and his foot. For the first several days, when we flushed the foot with a strong Epsom Salt solution, the buggers became irritated and began to frantically wiggle around, causing Nathan to stomp his foot. With each stomp, balls of maggots would fall out of crevices and pockets we couldn’t see. It was disgusting and not something I want to see again soon, but some days you just have to hold your breath and do what you gotta do. After three days, no more maggots emerged.

The trick now is keep the flies from re-infesting the foot. Wrapping was not working since it was holding too much moisture in the heel. We want to keep out the flies, but not to promote more moisture loving bacteria while doing so. We found one style of fly boot that fits fairly well down over the heel, but not quite all the way to the ground. Adjust the boot. Spray. Pick up all poop crumbs anywhere in the vicinity. Spray. Adjust boot. Another poop crumb. By the time this is over we’ll have become obsessive about the smallest manure crumb in a stall.

Now that the maggots are a thing of the past, how do we aggressively treat the underlying infection? The former owner told the Animal Control Officer that Nate had canker. We’re not at all sure, at this stage, that canker is the correct diagnosis. We’re hoping the problem is an advanced case of thrush, which will have a much better prognosis. Another vet evaluation will determine that. Meanwhile, we’re treating it as advanced thrush.

The good news about Nate’s feet, other than the departure of the maggots, is that he was able to stand on the infected foot long enough for us to lift and examine the other front foot. Miracle of miracles, it looks pretty normal! The hoof is overgrown and badly in need of trimming, but the frog and sole look healthy.

The second portion of this update concerns Nathan’s balance problems. The vet did not think the source of the trouble was a virus or protozoal infection, but more likely trauma to the spinal cord. That could be good. That could be bad. If the damage was recent, and we can reduce the inflammation, Nate’s neurological symptoms might diminish significantly. If the damage to the spinal cord is long standing, the chances of repair are much lower.

Not knowing the history of this specific issue, we began with a hefty hit of anti-inflammatory medications. Three different drugs were administered the first day, continuing one of them daily until the next vet exam.

Bring in the second wave:

Starting Monday, June 29, we invited quite a few Reiki practitioners to join Nate’s caregiver team. Seven practitioners have been offering Reiki treatments for the past week. Today, a bodywork specialist worked with Nate as well, integrating several techniques into one treatment.

Now…….whether you believe only in Western medicine, or only in “alternative” modalities, it’s undeniable that in some cases, the combination of pharmaceuticals and complementary therapies produces results that can’t be explained.

In all honesty, when Nate first “stepped” off the trailer one week ago, we did not expect to be able to do anything for him other than offer him a few days of good, frequent meals, and then help him on his way “over the bridge.”

Today, we’re thinking there will be much more to the story.

This afternoon, I watched Nate pick up the leg we thought was significantly paralyzed to stomp at a fly. Not once, but three times. And remember the lifeless tail? A week ago, it hung limply with no movement at all. Several days ago, Nate began to lift it slightly. We first noticed this when he lifted it and held it up while having his temperature taken. He could lift straight up, but there was no movement from side to side. Today, however……….Today, Nate not only lifted his tail, but moved it noticeably to the right. To his stronger side. If we see that tail move to the left, you may hear us shouting from somewhere out in Idaho.

The “listing” is also almost gone. Nate now stands more squarely on this hind end, although he does rest the left leg quite often. One more tiny milestone for today was a very (maybe only 20 seconds) short episode of bearing his weight entirely on the left hind to rest the right for just a moment.

Baby steps? You bet. Reasons to keep trying a while longer? You bet! Hope is a powerful thing.

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